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February 19, 2017

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Coolly confident Belinda Chapple is ready to throw a light on ‘Sydney After Dark’


Sam Morris

Dancers rehearse for the new production “Sydney After Dark” on Saturday, July 5, 2014, at Planet Hollywood.

‘Sydney After Dark’

Dancers rehearse for the new production “Sydney After Dark” on Saturday, July 5, 2014, at Planet Hollywood. Launch slideshow »
Click to enlarge photo

Dancers rehearse for the new production “Sydney After Dark” on Saturday, July 5, 2014, at Planet Hollywood.

Click to enlarge photo

Dancers rehearse for the new production “Sydney After Dark” on Saturday, July 5, 2014, at Planet Hollywood.

Belinda Chapple starts the conversation near the edge of the stage at Planet Hollywood Showroom. But this won’t do.

“Let’s try back here,” she suggests, moving to the row of padded seats several feet back. She stops there and says, “No. Office.”

So we meander through the back of the theater, to a small office just off the hallway leading to the stage.

“This is better,” she says, finally, and orders the door shut. “It’s so noisy here.”

All of this relocation is so Chapple can speak of her new show, “Sydney After Dark,” moving into Planet Hollywood. How does she feel entering tonight’s opening of previews?

“I have a quiet confidence,” she says. “I have some nerves involved, some adrenaline. I am excited, but I’m also working very hard. Everyone is.”

If Chapple is quiet, her show won’t be. This is to be a towering, high-volume and ambitious endeavor by everyone involved. The selling points of “Sydney After Dark” are at once topless and Down Under.

The show, set in the former “Peepshow” theater, joins such long-running adult revues as “Fantasy” at Luxor, “X Burlesque” at Flamingo Las Vegas and “Crazy Girls” at the Riviera. And similar to its companion all-male revue (also produced by SPI Entertainment), Thunder From Down Under at Excalibur, every cast member is from Australia.

Every one is a classically trained dancer who has performed before being cast in “Sydney,” and each stands taller than 5 feet 8 inches. An ex-model and a pop singer in Australia (a member of the all-women pop outfit Bardot from 1999-2002), Chapple says, “I have a soft spot for tall dancers in shows like ‘Moulin Rouge’ and the classic showgirls in Las Vegas. I like tall.”

Choreographer Wil Sabin and Chapple toured Australia in a mass audition to select the final cast. More than 200 women tried out for “Sydney.” The lineup will be eight dancers, an aerialist and a vocalist of impressive resonance, Natalie Conway.

The music will be a heavy sampling of Australian pop and rock (expect INXS, for starters, to boom from the showroom’s sound system), and the numbers will feature tight choreography with long strides and a lot of sway.

When asked what would set apart “Sydney After Dark” from other topless productions enjoying success in Las Vegas, Chapple said, “We are completely different in our creative direction, our choreography. The costume design is a whole other ballgame. When people see it, they will understand how much work has gone into this show.”

Chapple, who says one of her favorite Las Vegas productions is Cirque du Soleil’s “Zumanity” at New York-New York, came up with the idea of a topless revue a little more than four years ago when she was living and working on a TV show in Singapore and saw the topless show “Maxine Dolls” at Resorts World Sentosa on Sentosa Island. She envisioned a lineup of Australian “dolls.”

She was familiar with SPI Entertainment and founder Adam Steck through her affiliation with the all-Australian Motown tribute group Human Nature, also produced by Steck’s company, and a showroom opened for a topless show at Planet Hollywood when “Peepshow” closed in September.

“I saw Las Vegas as a hub of entertainment, and I saw many shows a couple of years ago after I started working on the project,” Chapple said. “I really felt that a show that was a celebration of Australia would work well here.”

Chapple is sometimes asked what she does in her spare time, but after spending five minutes with her, it’s obvious that question is folly.

“Spare time?” she says, smiling. “I don’t have any.”

“Sydney After Dark” is at Planet Hollywood Showroom at 9:30 every night except Wednesdays.

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