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December 22, 2014

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Golden Rainbow plays it big as ‘Ribbon of Life’ moves to Reynolds Hall

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Tom Donoghue/Picture Group

Golden Rainbow’s Ribbon of Life HIV/AIDS fundraiser at the Paris on June 26, 2011.

6/26/11: Golden Rainbow's Ribbon of Life at the Paris

Golden Rainbow's Ribbon of Life HIV/AIDS fundraiser at the Paris on June 26, 2011. Launch slideshow »

It used to be that a turnout of 380 wasn’t bad for Golden Rainbow’s “Ribbon of Life” fundraiser.

Not bad as a paying audience, specifically. In the old days, 380 in the house was pretty dang good.

But this year, for the 26th installment of the HIV/AIDS fundraiser, that 380 represents the total number of performers. The audience will be a lot more robust than that.

Without question, “Ribbon of Life” is larger than ever this year, by any measurement. Larger in scope, as the theme is “Ovation,” which requires the production numbers play big. Larger in attendance, as the 2,050-seat Reynolds Hall is easily the biggest venue the show has ever played to. The previous 25 shows have been staged in Strip showrooms or theaters; last year’s was held at Paris Theatre at Paris Las Vegas.

And, of course, the show is larger in prominence, as Sunday’s show (set for 1 p.m.) is the first “Ribbon of Life” performance at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts. The production’s move to Reynolds Hall is the overriding reason the production drew a record number of submissions.

In an unenviable task, producers had to whittle those who wanted to perform to a manageable number. The cutting was akin to a professional sports team making difficult decisions for its final roster.

“Around the first of the year, we put the word out, and by March, we knew it would be really competitive,” said “Ribbon of Life” director Shannon Hardin. “It’s really competitive, which is what you want. You want the best of the best. But, unfortunately, you can’t have a four-hour show.”

The "Ovation" theme speaks to big production numbers that lend themselves to Reynolds Hall’s vast stage.

“We wanted all submissions to be Broadway-themed,” Hardin said. “If you didn’t submit a number with a Broadway theme, you’re cut. You need a theatrical element in the number to play to this huge theater.”

Twenty numbers are lined up for the show, which is set to run about two hours. Tickets start at $38 and are available at the Smith Center box office, 702-749-2000, or at the Smith Center and Golden Rainbow websites).

As always, variety will be paraded across the “Ribbon of Life” stage. Adult reviews “Jubilee!" at Bally’s, “Peepshow” at Planet Hollywood, Chippendales at the Rio and “X Burlesque” from the Flamingo are on the bill. Vocalists Clint Holmes (monthly headliner at Cabaret Jazz) and Reva Rice (“Vegas! The Show” at Saxe Theater at Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood) are set to perform. Adam Steck’s SPI Entertainment is represented by Frank Marino’s “Divas Las Vegas” and Human Nature, both at Imperial Palace. Performers from two shows about to close -- “Viva Elvis!” at Aria and “Phantom -- the Las Vegas Spectacular” from the Venetian, also are scheduled.

The show raised $160,000 last year for Golden Rainbow. Organizers say the target this year is $200,000. In fitting with the theme of this year’s show, that would be the largest sum collected, ever, in “Ribbon of Life’s” long run. For a production that keeps blossoming, it seems an attainable figure.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWithTheDish.

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