Last night I attended the 30th-anniversary performance and celebration of Las Vegas’ greatest showgirl production “Jubilee”.
It’s hard to believe, but 31 years ago I hired by famed Costume Designer Bob Mackie, (who had met me while I was working with entertainer Ann-Margret,) to be his assistant for “Jubilee”. In the next six months, I worked full time assisting Bob in the production of thousands of thousands of lavish costumes, all the time learning everything about costume design from a true master. I also assisted the co-designer Pete Menefee, who taught and mentored me as well.
During this time, I also met my husband to be, actor Dominic Calandra, who was working for the transportation company that brought all the costumes from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.
On November 21st, 1981, as we were in final dress rehearsals for the opening of the show, there was a huge fire, in which the entire hotel was devastated and many people died. I was on the eleventh floor and was able
to make my way down the fire escape to safety.
I returned to Los Angeles and worked with Bob Mackie and Pete Menefee for another 8 months, starting from scratch, and recreating all of the costumes. All new feathers had to be imported from France, fabrics bought, shoes re-made, and there was such a shortage of Swarovsky crystals that a team of costumers had to pluck the existing rhinestones off the jewelry, polish the settings, clean the stones, and re-insert. It took months to complete. In August of 1981, the show finally opened and has been playing ever since, still looking as gorgeous as it did on opening night. Over the years costumes and feathers have been replaced, but always true to the original designs, and today this show is the one and only showgirl spectacular in Las Vegas.
So as you can see, this show has had a HUGE influence on me - my career, my husband, my life itself. Now as I drive down the Las Vegas Strip or along Flamingo Blvd I can look up at the huge electronic billboards with images of the girls in their costumes and know that I had a part in it.