After 15 years playing Off Broadway Tony 'n Tina's Wedding has made its way to Las Vegas. It's currently playing at the Rio Hotel in the same space where De La Guarda had a brief run. Blue Man Group continues to pack them in at the Luxor Hotel's theater while the Aladdin Hotel continues to bring in Broadway national tours of popular musicals. Chita Rivera must have liked her run in Chicago a year or three back at the Mandalay Bay theater; I hear she's in talks with the Aladdin for a production of Hello, Dolly! come this May. No deal has been inked yet, but the rumors are flying around the Vegas Strip.
The entertainment scene in the city of entertainment has been a bit chaotic in the last few years. Entertainment directors can't seem to figure out what type of entertainment to present. Some, when even hearing the word "Broadway", or "musical" feel it's the kiss of death! Still, musicals will always be kicked around. Forever Plaid played at the Flamingo for years and was a wild success; making one wonder why it's still not running. While that show was not an outright big Broadway musical, it was a terrific revue with a clever little book. Enter Tease.
Tease is an original musical revue conceived and written by Gary Ouellet. The action takes place in a Gentlemen's club (talk about a misnomer, if ever) where we are introduced to 5 strippers, or table dancers. Each has a different story, from a tough as nails seasoned broad to a newbie who hasn't got a clue on how to strip. We are the patrons in the club, and amongst us is a bachelor the night before his wedding. There's the club manager, and a wise-cracking busboy. Throw in an Elvis impersonator, and you get the drift of Tease, a little skin, make that a lot of skin, some sexy dancing and stripping, some corny jokes, make that a lot of corny jokes, tie it together with a little book, and you have a successful musical revue on your hands. Well, not quite.
The problem with Tease is its book. While we think we're going to learn something of the lives of the girls who work the club, and we do, but then the story changes focus on another subplot, perhaps the bachelor who falls for one of the girls, or the busboy not getting respect. One gets the feeling that this was thrown together based on what the author thinks Vegas audiences want. And that is skin, corny jokes, and Elvis, of course. As it is the show is one big piece of fluff without a sense of focus. What struck me I think, given time, Ouellet is onto something. He's, obviously, familiar with Broadway musicals. There were shades of other shows going through my mind as I watched Tease. The gal who wants to have bigger boobs is clearly out of A Chorus Line, the confetti from The Fantasticks, and even the busboy in the audience was used in David Cassidy's version of EFX.
What is very good about Tease is its excellent cast. Kathy Arianoff, Treasure Guffy, Jacqueline Holland, Charidy Sullivan Lafontaine and Judy Lombino make up the 5 table dancers, and there is also a chorus of back up dancers, all of whom are terrific. Lombino (center, in the photo above) nearly steals the show in her riotous first-time strip number. The bachelor and the Elvis impersonator are also very good, however, since programs aren't given out, I have no idea their names. The choreography was, at times, quite good, in particular, a pole dance, performed by two of the gals. It was quite erotic and seemed to be a crowd pleaser.
Ouellet needs to go back to the drawing board and figure out what he wants to do with Tease. Tell the story of the girls, and take us on a journey, let us learn something of this seedy side of the entertainment business. And while he's working on the book, do a little something with that score. It has its moments but a dick song bordered on vulgar, and you can only imagine what rhymes with dick.
But that's not to pick on Oullet. While it's easy to criticize a show, one sits through Tease thinking there is something here which could be pretty good, minus Elvis.
TEASE plays at The Blue Note, 3663 Las Vegas Blvd. Tix are $40 to $60. Bar and food service available. Reservations: 699-9196.
Photo, courtesy of Las Vegas City Life photographer: Bill Hughes
Tidbits: Speaking of musical revues, SHOWTUNE!, the show I workshopped last summer, is opening for a run in Vegas from February 21 to March 10 at the Whitney Library Concert Hall Theater. If you're in town, head on over. Reservations: (702) 263-6385, Thursdays through Sundays. Broadway songs, no skin. ;)
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