There’s nothing like a pandemic to make you a little nostalgic. At least, that was definitely the case for performer Andrea Bell Wolff, who opens her show Adventures in Vegas with a scene at a pandemic-era birthday gathering. From there, Wolff dusts off from the pages of her diary memories of Las Vegas and suddenly we are transported. The year was 1970, when the Rat Pack still ruled the strip. A nineteen-year-old Wolff, fresh off a run playing Ermengarde and understudying Minnie Faye for the national tour of Hello, Dolly!, sets her sights on ambitious roles on Broadway and film. Passed over for the likes of E.J. Peaker and Georgia Engel instead, Wolff seizes the opportunity for a part in the cast of Bottoms Up!, a comedic burlesque revue playing in the famed Caesar’s Palace. The successful revue takes her from Vegas to Sydney and back, proving to be one–if not the most–formative experience in Wolff’s life.
When I previously wrote regarding solo shows, I mentioned that it takes “a certain kind of physical stamina” to fill a stage on your own. Luckily, Wolff (who cuts a tiny-but-mighty figure onstage) manages to deliver a punchy performance with the help of fellow actor Elliott Litherland, who fills the roles of various people in Wolff’s life. Together, they make a vivacious pair, bringing the Las Vegas of 1970 into clear, vibrant focus. As a whole, Adventures in Vegas is a smooth ride down a glittering memory lane, with each stop along the way punctuated by musical selections from such varied artists as Sara Barielles, Whitney Houston, and Tom Waits. (Thrown in for good measure are actual numbers from Wolff’s past, originally performed by Grant Smith and Rusty Warren.) Under the musical direction of Jude Obermüller, each piece felt timeless, perfectly underscoring each memory so that it felt as if the songs were written especially for the show.
All in all, Adventures in Vegas provides the perfect escape into a simpler time.
‘Adventures in Vegas’ is running at the AMT Theater (354 W 45th Street) until August 24th. For tickets, go here.