Showgirl Salvation: Classic “Jubilee!” Gets a Modern Makeover at Bally’s Las Vegas

Just when you thought “Jubilee!” at Bally’s, the last classic showgirl show in Las Vegas, was on its last legs, it now promises to get a hail Mary shot at being saved, thanks to a guy you never heard of, Frank Gatson Jr.

A remnant of a featherier time in Las Vegas.

A remnant of a featherier time in Las Vegas.

A topless Las Vegas show, “Jubilee!” has been seen by millions around the world since it opened 32 years ago. Sadly, times change, and the iconic show is dated and poor ticket sales have illustrated that fact for some time now.

Enter Frank Gatson Jr., something of a human defibrillator for the aging show.

Three cheers for the savior of all things showgirl, Frank Gatson Jr. Photo by Tibo Norman.

Three cheers for the savior of all things showgirl, Frank Gatson Jr. Photo by Tibo Norman.

Gatson will work with the cast and crew of “Jubilee!” to attempt to modernize the show while staying true to the spirit of the original show. The signature costumes are expected to stay, same for the sets, but Gatson will retool the choreography, staging and music.

The curtain will go up on the new version of “Jubilee! in spring of 2014.

Who is Frank Gatson Jr.? He’s been in the business more than 30 years, directing commercials for some of the biggest companies in the world, like L’Oreal, American Express, Pepsi and Samsung.

He’s also been involved with several movies, including “Living Out Loud,” “Blues Brothers 2000” and the Disney movie “Hercules.” Hey, we didn’t say they were movies you’d actually seen.

Thank you for giving us a reason to dip into our archive of showgirl photos, Mr. Gatson.

Thank you for giving us a reason to dip into our archive of showgirl photos, Mr. Gatson.

Most relevantly, Gatson has also choreographed and directed music videos and tours for artists such as Michael Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, Diana Ross, Usher, Mariah Carey and others. He’s won six MTV Video Music Awards for Best Choreography, the most in the 30-year history of the awards.

Gatson has a 15-year working relationship with Beyoncé, and was the guy behind the singer’s hand gestures in her hit (and hit video), “Single Ladies.”

The folks at Bally’s even got a quote from Beyoncé for their news release, “Frank has played an important role in my success and I know he will do the same for ‘Jubilee!’ His unique style and creativity is legendary and ‘Jubilee!’ couldn’t have picked a better creative director. When it comes to combining flavors of the past with a fresh, modern twist, no one does it better than Frank.”

We’d tend to be skeptical about such announcements, but hey, it’s flipping Beyoncé.

"Jubilee!" is the last bastion of the showgirl "bevel," that thing they do with their knees.

As “Jubilee!” goes, so does the showgirl “bevel,” that pose they do with their knees.

The somewhat awkward version of “Jubilee!” will continue to perform at Bally’s through the revamp process. Here’s the official Web site. Not many shows in Las Vegas get a chance to be saved, so we’re crossing our fingers Frank Gatson Jr. can pull off a miracle. No pressure.

Kudos to the Las Vegas gods (and the folks at Caesars Entertainment, who own Bally’s Las Vegas) for coming up with a strategy to potentially save one of the last remaining showgirl shows in the world. If Beyoncé’s BFF can’t do it, nobody can.

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  • Lexie

    This article appears to be written by A) someone who has never seen the show, or B) someone who doesn’t have much knowledge about Jubilee!…. I am a Vegas local and have seen this iconic show hundreds of times…. Every time I have friends and family in town the first thing on my to do list is take them to see Jubilee! In fact the last time my cousin was in town i tried to purchase Saturday night tickets on a friday and the show was completely sold out.

    I’m not saying that Gatson wont be a positive thing for this legacy of a show, but he definitely has some MAJOR shoes to fill, for this show has 30 years worth of fans, legacy, and superb reputation to uphold.

    My last thought… Showgirls are the bevel and the bevel is what classifies a true vegas showgirl as just that. If the showgirl ‘bevel’ and ‘dips’ are removed from the show, then Gatson will have proven to NOT be the right guy for the job. If I see anything that remotely resembles “Beyonce” and her style, I will be highly perturbed.

    Of course like anything, improvement will always make for a better product and Jubilee deserves the time and attention, but this show is over a 3 decade legacy, that has fans like me, people who have seen this show hundreds of times and have made this show and its performers a part of their family traditions.

    Perhaps the improvements will be just what Jubilee needs, as long as they are improvements and not a complete make over. So Author, check your facts! This show already is amazing!!!!

    • vitalvegas

      Thanks for your thoughts, Lexie. The show has lots of fans, but not enough to sustain it for much longer. An attempt at a revamp is its last hope. It’s going to be tricky balancing the classic vibe with a new one, that’s for sure.

      • showgirl fan

        vitalvegas, now that the devastating revamp is up, you should be walking away like a dog with it’s tail between it’s legs. You backed the wrong guy. You cheered the man who KILLED JUBILEE!!!!

  • concerned

    I work in the so called dying Jubilee show and I resent the derogatory comments the unknowing author of this article and the supposed “savior” of the show (Mr Gaston) have made.
    Jubilee is a timeless Gem. Don’t forget Mr Gaston, Donn Arden…you are not. Bob Mackie…you are not.
    I ask that you proceed carefully with our Pride and Joy. Spend the millions wisely please.

    • vitalvegas

      Agreed that this is tricky! The show might be a gem, but it’s not timeless, as time is marching on and ticket sales can’t sustain the production at this point. We look forward to seeing what this guy can do. I’m sure he’ll be cognizant of the legacy.

      • concerned

        I sure hope you are right. This is just another project for Mr Gaston, for the cast and crew of Jubilee it is our livelihood. I still don’t see who the author of this article is do they have a name?

        • vitalvegas

          Agreed, but if it’s a one-off project that helps, so much the better. My name is Scott Roeben, and I am the creator and sole contributor to VitalVegas.com. Very much appreciate your thoughts from an insider’s perspective and hope you’ll visit the site again sometime. http://vitalvegas.com/all-about-us/

  • Concerned 2

    Here is a video clip of the soon to be whatever title Frank Gatson… Guess what buddy this is not a gig that you can change and toy with… Its a corporate world and this type of acts and language will not work in a HR situation… Here is a video if you havent seen it yet…

    Good luck Caesars Entertainment

    http://youtu.be/XKEt8Z_3ZAk take a good look…

    • vitalvegas

      Guess some people would call that passion. We call it “sort of assholey.”

  • Merde

    Do you suppose Frank Gatson ever wondered why they never colorized movies like Casablanca, modernized the plays of William Shakespeare, rewrote Homer’s “Illiad” and “Odyssey”, rebuilt the Roman Colosseum, or “patched up the crack in the Liberty Bell?”