Las Vegas has become famous for a few things – gambling, of course, is one of them, but the other is undoubtedly its entertainment, represented for all these years by the Las Vegas showgirls. Now, it would seem that classic feathered headdress-wearing icon is slowly fading into the past, as a classic Las Vegas show prepares to close its doors this March. Les Folies Bergere, the famed showgirl revue at the Tropicana Las Vegas, will end its extensive run, the hotel announced this week, after 49 years of performances on the Strip.
Folies came from Paris to Las Vegas in 1959 and opened under entertainment director Lou Walters, the father of famed news correspondent Barbara Walters. With French and American talent, the show set the standard for the quintessential Las Vegas show with singing and dancing, beautiful Las Vegas showgirls in costumes that didn’t (and still don’t) leave much to the imagination, impressive sets, comedy bits, and a healthy dose of sheer spectacle. When it opened on the Strip, it was an immediate success.
Quite a few stars came out of the show – singing star Bobbie Gentry was a Folies showgirl at age 17, as well as French singer and former wife of Andy Williams Claudine Longet. Felicia Atkins also became known as a premier Folies showgirl and was discovered by Playboy while performing in the show.
In 1975, Folies moved from the Fountain Theater, where the show had run for 16 years, into the then-new 950-seat Tiffany Theatre. At that time, the show separated from its French counterpart and developed its own unique American production, conceived, directed, and choreographed by Jerry Jackson, who still holds the position to this day. And as the years went on, Folies continually added and upgraded the show, adding on more elaborate sets, creative choreography, and new musicians and performers. Dance numbers included the original award-winning Can-Can and steamy Latin Mambo numbers, making the traditional French-style revue a popular and varied production.
“Folies Bergere enjoyed an amazing and unprecedented run on the Las Vegas Strip,” said Ron Thacker, who was recently named President of the Tropicana Las Vegas. “We are extremely proud to have been part of such an iconic Las Vegas production and offer a sincere thank you to the cast, crew, and support staff for their many years of excellence.”
No reason was given for the show’s closure, though showgirl productions have taken a back seat in recent years with the influx of Cirque du Soleil shows on the Strip. Tropicana also recently lost popular attractions BODIES…The Exhibition and Titanic: The Artifact Exhibit; both attractions moved to the Luxor.
Tropicana did report that they are currently in discussion with prominent producers and will reveal definitive plans for the Tiffany Theater in the coming weeks. With the closing of Folies, Jubilee! at Bally's will now be the last remaining full-scale showgirl revue in Las Vegas (sorry Bette Midler, you don’t count).
Les Folies Bergere will continue its regular performances until March 28th, when its showgirls will wear their towering headdresses for the final time. Be sure to catch this classic while you can. And for more Las Vegas showgirl entertainment, check out the also amazing Jubilee! – you can score those Las Vegas show tickets here on BestOfVegas.com.