The production-show landscape on the Strip is as unpredictable and turbulent as it has ever been, evidenced by the scant number of shows—Cirque du Soleil’s offerings aside—that have been around for a decade or longer.
Golden Rainbow’s Ribbon of Life is an annual fundraising and awareness event and not a regular Vegas show, but over the course of more than three decades, it has offered a thread of stability and consistency in that show landscape. That’s why performers are always happy to come back and give their time and talent to support its mission.
“One of our directors, Jenny Ammon, has been dancing in the show since she was 15,” says Pietra Sardelli, producer of Ribbon of Life. “She danced, then she did choreography, and now she’s dancing, directing and doing choreography.”
Adds Golden Rainbow Executive Director Gary Costa: “We have a lot of stories, and we love the stories about someone doing the show for the first time and then getting it stuck in their head that they’re going to do it next year, too, no matter what the theme is,”
The theme of this year’s 33rd Ribbon of Life, set for June 23 at the Tropicana’s Legends in Concert Theater, is Woodstock’s 50th anniversary. It will be hosted by Zumanity’s “mistress of sensuality” Edie (aka Christopher Kenney) and Fox 5 TV personality Sean McAllister, and performers from many shows on the Strip will participate, including Donny & Marie, O, Le Rêve, Vegas! The Show, Raiding the Rock Vault, Tenors of Rock, X Burlesque, The Bronx Wanderers, Zombie Burlesque and Legends in Concert.
This year’s event marks the fifth time Ribbon of Life has taken the party to the Trop. Considering the classic south-Strip resort offers free parking—and that the vast majority of the show’s tickets are sold to locals—it’s a good fit. The Woodstock theme delivers plenty of beloved material to inspire the varied performers who “also look forward to doing something different from what they’re doing nightly onstage in their own shows,” Costa says.
As Ribbon of Life has evolved, so has Golden Rainbow, founded in 1987 as a grassroots organization providing housing and financial assistance to Southern Nevadans living with HIV and AIDS. Creating a successful show is another opportunity to explain why the organization and its mission still matter in a time when fewer people are dying from AIDS-related issues and illnesses.
“There’s still a misperception that the disease has been cured because we’ve been able to treat it effectively, so it may be that there’s not that sense of urgency in the community,” Costa says. “We have to remind people every year why we have to do the show, because after 33 years there are ways the epidemic hasn’t changed. There are just different needs today. And there’s still a large population of people that rely on Golden Rainbow to help keep a roof over their heads.”
RIBBON OF LIFE June 23, 1 p.m., $35-$90. Legends in Concert Theater, Tropicana, 702-739-2222.