Club Vegas – The Spectacle

by | Jun 4, 2024

By Nick Pilgrim

Last September I had the chance to review Club Vegas – The Spectacle at the iconic Athenaeum Theatre. As luck would have it, I made a successful bid to review their newest iteration for 2024. My prime motivation for putting myself forward again being, how would this season compare to 2023?

Produced by Adam Dion Bahoudian and Nina Randall Bahoudian, they are known for producing top-draw live event entertainment such as:

  • Shake, Rattle & Roll
  • Gypsy Moon
  • Midnight Magic
  • The Great Moscow Circus
  • Carnivale
  • Welcome To The Pleasure Dome
  • Go Hollywood
  • Disco Inferno

The list goes on.

The team’s high-concept vision gathers some of Australia’s top pop and musical theatre stars, ballroom dancers, comics, and acrobats into two exciting and jam-packed hours. Club Vegas features twenty routines in total; there is clearly something for everyone.

Indeed, Club Vegas has no discernible plot or storyline. But that is beside the point.  What it lacks in narrative, is more than made up for with stunning costumes (by Nina Randall Bahoudian), slick choreography (by Alana Scanlan and Sue-Allen Shook), complex lighting design (by Craig Boyes), and outstanding multimedia (by Daniel Bahoudian). Combining those key elements truly transports the magic, sophistication, and glamour of sin city down under.

A mixture of new and familiar faces to compliment either fresh or familiar material, one thing is clear. In the nine months since last seeing the show, Club Vegas is still as sparkling, thrilling, risqué and delightful as ever.

This year’s star-studded line up featured some of the best in the business.

Rachel Beck is a leading lady on Australian television and the national stage. Her list of music credits includes Barnum, Beauty & The Beast, Cabaret, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Les Miserables, The Pajama Game, Singing In The Rain, and The Sound Of Music.

Beck performed four different sets which highlighted her versatile singing and dancing range. These moments included a dynamic tribute to Gloria Estefan (‘Conga’), Ethel Merman (‘Anything Goes’ and ‘Anything You Can Do’) and Cabaret. That Beck had played Sally Bowles in the national touring production, allowed fans and followers to revisit this special career tribute. Backed by the Club Vegas dancers costumed and choreographed to each theme, certainly added to the mood.

Lissa Dawson provided more contemporary fare in the style of Jennifer Lopez with a Latin medley that featured ‘Let’s Get Loud’, followed by Lady Gaga (‘Poker Face’ and ‘Bad Romance’), and Studio 54 (‘Disco Inferno’, ‘Never Can Say Goodbye’, and ‘Last Dance’). It must be said that Dawson has a powerful set of pipes, and used this opportunity to shine whenever she took to the stage.

A returning favourite from 2023, Jonathan Guthrie Jones knows how to work the crowd. Oozing confident charm, his inclusion gives Club Vegas that definitive showroom vibe. Singing classics such as ‘Ain’t That A Kick In The Head’, ‘Mack The Knife’, ‘Danke Schoen’, and ‘New York, New York’, Guthrie Jones conjured up renowned crooners such as Wayne Newton, Bobby Darin, and Frank Sinatra all rolled into one.

Special Guest Allan Raskall made the most of his moment in the spotlight. The veteran television reporter brought a cheeky small screen persona to the boards with aplomb. In two sparkling outfits that would make Liberace jealous, Raskall delighted the audience with numbers which included “In The Navy”, “YMCA”, “Cha Cha Cha” and “Quondo Quondo Quondo”. He even shared a hilarious segment with the show’s resident comic, Gino Star (played by the inimitable James Liotta), handing out tips on what makes a good reporter.

Duo Aussiebela took my breath away last year with their bag of tricks.
This time around, the pair refreshed my appreciation for their personal brand of mystery, style and elegance. Whether performing solo or as a pair, the couple’s extensive repertoire included feats of strength, daring aerial ballets, and quick-change artistry. These ‘how did they do that’ moments happened all before our very eyes.

The ten-strong team of toned and talented back-up dancers included Elisha Blood, Miranda D’unienville’, Zoe Keltie, Ashleigh Kempster, Josephine Lopes, Courtney Lowe, Maddi Luatutu, Fletcher O’Leary, Cameron Shook and Coleman Shook. Matching the many musical styles on display beat for beat, the troupe maintained the glamour and charm necessary for a show of this nature to succeed.

On the Saturday afternoon I went, viewers could have seen any number of live entertainment options now playing on Melbourne’s East End. Speaking on behalf of the appreciative cast the show’s resident crooner, Jonathan Guthrie-Jones summed up the experience best with the following self-deprecating quote. “We’re glad you chose us. This casserole of nonsense.”

I was very glad indeed.

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