Vegas: A Night on the Strip

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Stage Door Theater in Association with Kevin Black Productions.
Conceived, Choreographed and Directed by Kevin Black.
Musical Director Ben Bagby.

What Happens in Vegas Doesn’t Stay There!

Kevin Black — watch for that name. It may not end up a household word,
but it now resonates with South Florida theatergoers and deserves
expansion throughout the country. Black has just mounted three fine
productions exclusively for the Stage Door Theater in Margate. The first,
“The Soul of Motor City” — a tribute to the music of Motown — was so
successful that it was extended several times. “Swing! Swing! Swing!”– a
compendium of Jazz and Swing classics — soon followed. Now, his latest
work — “Vegas: a Night on the Strip” — is enjoying a World Premiere at
the Stage Door before moving on to the Willow Theater in Boca Raton on
Feb. 3.
Having just seen this fine production, I sincerely regret having missed
the two earlier ones.

How do creator, choreographer, director Black and musical director, Ben
Bagby hold the audience spellbound in a production that — without a story
line — manages to transcend being merely a string of songs. There are at
least four immediate answers:

•    By the sheer talent and showmanship of the six vocalists: Daniel
Bourgoin, Jar’Davion Brown, Arlene Coutee, Chantal Deshaies, Gabrielle
Graham, and Brad Rakushin – -who enter and exit in various combinations
(wearing vivid changes of costume) — as singles duos, trios and the
entire ensemble — as they ebb and flow from number to number.

•    By the choice of material, grouping it into theme and era. Highlights
cover the Rat Pack, and Elvis, and include such legends as Celine Dion,
Elton John, Tom Jones, Sonny and Cher, and Wayne Newton. All are
reinforced by pertinent video backdrops as they belt out such favorites as
“Aint that a Kick in the Head,” My Way,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Hound Dog,”
“Delilah” and “The Beat Goes On,” for a total of 32 numbers.

•    By shifting from specific entertainers to specific Vegas motifs — such
as delicious Vegas weddings complete with “Chapel of Love” and “Love and
Marriage,” foreshadowed by wonderful photos of Elvis’ own wedding to
Priscilla.”

•    By moving beyond the music to culminate in that icon of Vegas
experience, a trip to a Cirque du Soleil spectacular And what a change of
pace this offers with talented, young (12 year old) Emily Taylor Kaufman
providing a stirring transition with her rendition of “Nature Boy.” The
circus features superb aerialists and acrobatic contortionists Cherrise
Pawlak and Derick Pierson performing dazzling feats above and against the
backdrop of the six singers.

It is all amazing, especially considering the limited stage in this cozy
theater. Once again, Stage Door rises to the challenge and proves that
“less can be more” — much more.  “Vegas: a Night on the Strip” may not
replace an actual trip to Nevada — but this production is a work of art
in and of itself.
.
Highly Recommended.

Beverly Friend, PHD.
Member, American Critics Assn.

Stage Door Theatre, 8036 W. Sample Rd., Margate, Fl
33065.www.stagedoorfl.org  954-344-7765 .Tickets $38-42 , 8 p.m. Friday
and Saturday, 2 p.m. Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, through Jan 22 before
moving to the Willow Theatre in Sugar Sand Park in Boca Raton, Feb 3
through Feb 12.