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October 30, 2014

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Revitalized and amped-up ‘Jubilee!’ sets March 17 return to Bally’s

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Courtesy

New “Jubilee!” creative consultant Frank Gatson Jr.

‘Jubilee!’ Through the Years

Launch slideshow »

‘Jubilee!’ Auditions

Male dancers run through a choreographed piece during Launch slideshow »
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Jubilee! at Bally's photographed by Denise Truscello in May and June of 2011 for the show's 30th anniversary on The Strip.

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A singer auditioning for "Jubilee!" strikes a pose on stage while waiting for her music cue on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014.

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Male dancers run through a choreographed piece during "Jubilee!" auditions on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014.

The grander, more spectacular spectacle that is “Jubilee!” at Bally’s is scheduled to hit the stage on St. Patrick’s Day.

Announced this morning is that “Jubilee!” is due back after a two-month upgrade being directed by Frank Gatson Jr. Tickets to the made-over show go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. Members of Caesars Entertainment’s Total Rewards program will have access to a pre-sale from Wednesday at 10 a.m. through Thursday at 10 p.m. Tickets are $62.50 to $122.50 (minus fees) and can be purchased online at Ticketmaster and at any Las Vegas Caesars Entertainment box office and by calling (702) 777-2782 and (855) 234-7469.

The last standing show to feature traditional Las Vegas showgirls, “Jubilee!” was taken down Jan. 30 so that Gatson and his creative team could get to work on boosting the quality of the production, starting with a review of the entire cast. As Gatson has said since being recruited, every facet of the production is open to modification, including the theater’s staging and sound system.

Known as the choreographer for Beyonce, among many famous artists with whom he has worked, Gatson says he is not performing such an overhaul that the legendary showgirl production will be unrecognizable.

“Beyonce and I have a saying: Let’s make the classics better,’ ” says Gatson, who pulled a decades-old Bob Fosse move for Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)” video and stage number. “So, you take Act 1, and all the showgirls outfits you see. I’m just trying to make that act better. You take Act 3, Samson & Delilah. I’m just trying to make that better. How do you make that better? How do you make Titanic better?”

Gatson talks of using projection in the show, about upgrading the show’s costumes (he loves the women’s costumes but says the men’s costumes “need to step into this time”) and enforcing a strict workout regimen for the cast. He talks of boosting the music’s “presence,” with upgraded equipment and more contemporary arrangements of classic songs.

The creative team built around Gatson will help deliver his vision to a production that opened July 30, 1981, at the then-MGM Grand. Announced with the reopening date are a half-dozen experienced and accomplished pros who will shape the look, sound and feel of one of the Strip’s most beloved productions:

Anthony Burrell: The lead choreographer has danced with Beyonce, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Destiny’s Child, Mary J. Blige, Ke$ha, Brandy, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams. He has choreographed live performances and music videos.

Chris Grant: The co-choreographer was assistant choreographer for Beyonce’s “I Am … Sasha Fierce” world tour and also was assigned to choreograph Michael Jackson’s “This Is It” run of shows at London’s O2 Arena, cut short even before they began by Jackson’s death.

Danielle Polanco: The co-choreographer is the leading lady in Omarion’s “Touch” video and played Missy Serrano in “Step Up 2: The Streets.” Polanco also has choreographed for Janet Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, Usher, Chris Brown, Eve and Estelle.

Kimberly Burse: The show’s music creative director has been involved in the entertainment industry for more than two decades. She has worked at Motown Records, MCA, Sony and Music World Music and with Destiny’s Child, Beyonce, Jay Z, Mary J. Blige and Kelly Rowland.

Justin Collie: The show’s production and lighting designer has worked with Prince, Bon Jovi, Beyonce, Green Day, Maxwell and The Beastie Boys in a 30-year career.

Clonwerk: The production company founded in 1974 specializes in combining 3D motion graphics and live action.

Gatson began in-theater rehearsals Monday. On the night the show went dark for the last time before he began his serious work, the director and choreographer took an intuitive approach to his task.

“If someone were to quiz me, ‘What are you going to do here? What are you going to do there?’ I wouldn’t know what to tell them,” he said. “But when I look at the show, in my mind I know exactly what I want.”

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.

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