by D.W. Grant
Spend an hour or so in Hitzville and you couldn?t party heartier if you got on a bus, and grooved your way through the best clubs in New York City, Detroit, and Memphis.
?Hitzville, The Show, ? now playing in the V Theater in the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino, is just that good. It woos you off your chair with engaging Motown rhythms, romances you to sing along to irresistible old rhythm and blues hits, and then drags you on stage to make love to Pips, Temptations and Tops.
Not since 1965 would you even be able to get Aretha, Tina, The Temptations, Gladys and her Pips, Diana and her Supremes, and The Four tops together for one show. And even if you could, you probably couldn?t afford it. This show, however, feeds you tributes to all the great performers and their wonderful music in one great show. It?s like being in the presence of The Greats without getting back on the bus and traveling to another city, but Hitzville belongs to Vegas, baby. Sit back and enjoy the music.
Backed up by a trio of faux Supremes, a quartet of new Pips, and a seven piece band, Jin Jin Reeves, a former BMA Entertainer of the Year and the show?s producer, puts an audience through 90 minutes of pure energy that would exhaust other performers and audiences. It?s a pure Motown joy you?ll never want to end.
Every Reeves impression plays the audience, with teasing eye contact and taunting sexy gestures. Sexy, yes, but bawdy? No. This is indeed a family show. Perhaps the funniest sequence involves ?Aretha? bringing a man out of the audience and offering him the chance to sing ?You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman.? The audience is already singing the words to every song and swaying in their chairs, this just gives cause to add laughter.
In another set Gladys tries to finish up ?Midnight Tran to Georgia,? singing ?I gotsta go. I gotsta go,? but doesn?t seem willing to get off the stage. When Ms. Reeves walks on stage as ?Diana,? singing ?Baby Love? in a slinky black dress and fluffing a white boa around her long black hair, you know why MJ gave her a standing ovation. She is the diva!
And of course there?s the over energized and ditzy fright-wigged Tina in that red tassel mini-skirt taking soooo long to roll into ?Proud Mary? that Ike shows up to move her down the river. The band is pumping energy, the back-up singers are posturing, preening, and choo-chooing and Tina hasn?t even begun to power up. Then the ram jets suddenly kick on and the super-sonic beat hits the audience like the blast behind a hot after-burner. The river boat becomes jet powered and the song takes off like a rocket. You have to ask yourself ?How do they do this every night??
Slap hands for Ms. Reeves. That BMA Entertainer of the Year award wasn?t a mistake. She delivers a irresistible Gladys, parodies a delicious Diana, and almost wear us out as a ditzy Tina with so much energy I think her red tasseled dress had to be as tired as she was after the show. You?ll see Ms. Reeves, though, after the performance, in the lobby with her cast, wearing a real smile and the grace of a humble star, greeting her audience and signing autographs. She is a true entertainer.
Ms. Reeves points to her cast in appreciation. “I have the best band in the world… The guitar player comes from Stevie Wonder and the musical director from Gladys Knight, and of course the drummer from Diana Ross!” Indeed they have and they are. She boasts of her marvelous and beautiful back- up singers too. Both Tops and Supremes are eye candy for the ears and the eyes.
Jin Jin Reeves grew up in Detroit when Motown was groovin? and at its artistic peak. In her pre-teens she was already dancing, songwriting, and singing. Her talent brought her to the attention of Stevie Wonder and Gladys Night and she won a scholarship to the Julliard School of Performing Arts. She even appeared on Ed Mahon?s Star Search, finishing second. During her journey to Hitzville she performed with many of the men and women whose performances are featured in her show.
The production has been in various theatres around Las Vegas and it?s great to see it moving up to the V Theatre. And why not? Hitzville has earned standing ovations from Michael Jackson and legendary producer Barry Gordy. It got another enthusiastic standing-o from the audience I was in too. The production has earned greater respect and a better venue. My only criticism is that the V Theatre is not large enough. More audiences should experience this great review.
You don?t have to be a Motown junky to love this show, just someone looking for a great evening and the excitement of a great performance. Hitzville, The Show has both, and more.
“Hiztville – The Show” performs at 5:30pm nightly Monday – Saturday at the V Theater inside the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino. Featuring: Hitzville Cronners, Produced by Jin-Jin Reeves & musical director Scott Cannady.
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