Top Las Vegas show comes to MontBleu |

Top Las Vegas show comes to MontBleu

Tim Parsons

A part of Las Vegas is coming to Stateline on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, July 12-14.

Folies Bergere, the longest running show in the world, will be performed three nights in the Showroom inside MontBleu, which took on a French theme under new ownership a year ago.

The show also played at Tahoe on April 28.

“It was very well received,” said Paul Reder, the president of PREntertainment. “Obviously, Folies Bergere is a staple in Vegas, one of the last living examples of a true French showgirl revue. We are pleased to present Folies Bergere here in Lake Tahoe.”

The show began in 1869 in Paris where it entertained the European elite. Some of the notables who played at the Folies Theatre were Josephine Baker, the Marx Brothers. Will Rogers, Maurice Chevalier and Charlie Chaplin.

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The first nude Folies showgirl appeared on stage in 1918 and the show’s popularity increased. It went on to tour across Europe and in 1959 came to Vegas. While the strip has outlandishly grown, the Folies’ tradition remains.

The show celebrates women, their fashions and attitudes from the cancan days in 1860 to the pinups of the 1940s to contemporary times. Ballet dancer Stephanie Shaw and lead singer Traci Ault are the stars. Comedian Michael Holly performs halfway into the show.

Because of a huge, elaborate set, the 70 minute shows at Tahoe will vary slightly.

“The opening that we’re going to show up there is going to have a lot of elegant feathers,” said Entertainment Coordinator Lorrie Mancini. “The big headpieces, beautiful gold G-strings and rainbow capes are just phenomenal. We are making some sets. The beautiful stairs that will go up there will stay up there. … If it goes well hopefully we can do more up there.”

The nonstop show moves at a frenzied pace. There are 110 costume designs and 4,000 costume pieces and accessories in the shows wardrobe. There are seven costume designs in the first set alone.

“It’s down to a science,” said Blair Chenoweth, a dancer and Miss Alaska 2007. “Everything – the traffic back stage, the dressers waiting for you with your exact costumes. It’s definitely its own different world back stage.”

Spectators get to see the choreography on stage. Jerry Jackson, who has been with the Folies since 1966, has directed and choreographed it since 1975.

“Jerry has a great way of utilizing space and colors,” Mancini said as she watched a recent show. “One of the things that’s really exciting is that one group of dancers come up this way and another group this way. He knows how to maximize space and have a lot of traveling energy. There’s not much time when the stage is ever just still. There’s always movement happening and that’s what I love about the show.”

Chenoweth agreed.

“It’s just a high-impact show,” she said. “Every number is just going at you. It’s nonstop energy with quick changes and a lot of running.”

Line captain and acrobat Karen Marentic, a 14-year Folies veteran, is looking forward to performing at MontBleu.

“I am absolutely excited,” she said. “We’ve been rehearsing and putting together the show. We’re taking some of the best of the Folies from the older editions and a lot of the new stuff and mixing it. It’s just been exciting to put together such a great mix of the Folies to bring up there.”

The players get to play the roles of women and men from different eras, Marentic knows the era in which she would like to live.

“I love the ’40s,” she said. “There was more expression from stepping out of the glamour of the 1930s with the feathers. Women were taking charge a bit and expressing themselves more and taking the liberty with their roles being able to flirt with the men.”

Showgirl Sue White said: “I would want to be one of the ladies in the 1860s because that is when they wore all the fabulous gowns. It was all about ladies and gentlemen and it was the golden age of Paris. Everything was decadent and jeweled, and of course I would be a rich person, not someone who was shoveling the coals.”

Folies Bergere’s grand finale ends with a cancan spectacular with some dazzling acrobatics. Marentic performs the most deft bit of acrobatics when she flips off a balcony and into the arms of a male dancer.

“We’re all really excited to go to Tahoe and show what a great show’s all about,” she said.

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