Performed in the Chi Showroom, Planet Hollywood
April 24, 2011
“Broadway Bares” is a fundraiser show created by Jerry Mitchell in 1992 in New York City. It benefits Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. The event challenges members of the performing community to “strip for a cause”, daring performers to creatively strip down to pasties and g-strings to help raise donations toward the charitable groups. This event has raised $6.6 million in New York City, and debuted in Las Vegas just last year.
“Las Vegas Broadway Bares” is an example of the eclectic cultural events for which professional Las Vegas entertainers create new works. Typical of these events, it is a one-show event and occurs late-night after the close of the long-running shows, which allows cast and crew from major production shows in Las Vegas to participate after their regular shifts. Tickets cost a mere $20, a bargain to see such talent all in one place.
Last year, performers were given just 3 weeks to put together seductive numbers. Highlights of that show included a striptease solo on a cello, a reverse striptease by a Chippendales dancer and handstand acrobatics from Le Reve.
This second annual edition was a bit different in that the participants had months to prepare, only group numbers were allowed and each number had to incorporate the theme of the night, “2 Hot”.
Since the core idea of “Broadway Bares” is complete de-robing, every number involved lingerie (whether lace or leather) and the removal of it in some way. For experienced Las Vegans, near-nudity is commonplace and no longer shocking. What makes a show like this interesting to Vegas veterans is the style of dance, the approach to the striptease, and the innovative concepts of the choreographers.
Case in point was “Simply Barerisistible”, featuring lingerie-clad girls body-spinning on barstools in different poses; it was intriguing and sensual. Could this be the next sensation to follow pole dancing from the strip clubs to the health clubs?
Three numbers stood out because of choreography and performance value. “Hit Me With a Hot Note” featured sharp dancing, lots of great partnering, and exhausting-to-watch choreography. “Nice N’ Slow”, choreographed by Saleemah Knight, was a grooving, gratifying hip-hop number with excellent live vocals by Jelani Remy. “Bringing the Heat”, choreographed by Erin Barnett, was a heart-pounding, burlesque/dance club fusion featuring simple, lusty moves that built to a fevered climax.
Alberto del Campo and David Underwood of Le Reve did a terrific spoof on the now ubiquitous male-on-male hand-to-hand duos, highlighting the homoerotic positions often used by these acrobatic acts. Del Campo and Underwood, to their credit, included many authentic moves that required genuine strength and balance, all the while deadpanning and playing it intensely straight, which just added to the hilarity.
Acting as host was Edie, the cross-dressing host of Cirque du Soleil’s Zumanity. Impeccably attired, and keeping up a clever stream of banter, Edie gave a fetish, after-hours feel to the show.
A few numbers were a bit difficult to watch, either because the performers were not in “stripping shape”, or because they were awkward on stage. “Le Jazz Hot” and “Hot Clowns” fit that category. “Looks That Kill”, while fierce because of the powerful heavy metal music, suffered slightly from the use of toy-sized hatchets – props that were brandished but never used for anything meaningful in the number.
Audience reaction was very loud and supportive of every number. It was clear that everyone enjoyed the show immensely.
Events such as these serve a dual purpose: participants have a chance to express their own style and message, and donations are raised for a charitable organization. But the third beneficiary is the audience, who has the singular opportunity to witness this outpouring of talent and passion. There is no better way to appreciate the enormous amount of talent in Las Vegas than to attend special events like this.
Huge kudos go to all the performers and crew of “Broadway Bares” who fit in extra rehearsals for this event before and after their full-time gigs in various production shows, including Zumanity, Jubilee!, Le Reve, Disney’s The Lion King, Naked Boys Singing, Vegas The Show, Peepshow, Jersey Boys, The Viper Vixens, 12:30 Clown Show, Bite and Donny and Marie. Even former cast members from Les Folies Bergere returned to the stage for this event.
For a more PG-rated version of this kind of special event put on by the performing community, don’t miss Golden Rainbow’s “Ribbon of Life”, held every June. This event runs for two days and is a matinee show in a casino showroom. It benefits Golden Rainbow’s mission to help Nevadans with AIDS. “Ribbon of Life” has been an annual show for over 25 years, and always features top-notch dance and song from the best performers on the Las Vegas Strip.