On Gertie’s Closing Night, Expect the unexpected

On Saturday, Sept. 24, patrons of Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall in Dawson City are in for a treat as Gertie and her gals put on the final show of the season.

Throughout the summer, the casino offers three different stage shows each evening at 8:30 p.m., 10 p.m. and midnight. Each show is different and more risqué as the night goes on, however coming up on the final Saturday, the midnight show will be something no one has seen before.

Considered the most anticipated show of them all, Terrie Turai, producer and choreographer of Dynamite Stage Productions, the company that puts on all the performances, says don’t expect the usual.

“It’s the last hoorah,” says Turrai. “We’re going out with a bang.”

Doing something different with the last show of the season started off many years ago with playing practical jokes on each other on stage, says Turrai, who has either danced, choreographed or produced shows at Gertie’s since 1998. But the finale has evolved over time and has become its own entity.

“It’s now a full on production for one night that everyone pours their heart and soul into,” she says.

Over the course of the summer, there is much appreciation and love given by the audience, especially the locals who frequent Gertie’s, Turai says.

“(This finale) is a way to give back. The locals look forward to it, so it drives you to do your best. It’s a goodbye production.”

While normally there are four dancers and two musicians per show, there’s more during the finale: six dancers, Gertie and her understudy, the male lead and his understudy, the piano player, drummer and their back-ups, and some floor staff, along with local musicians and singers added in who normally don’t appear in the show.

“Everyone is involved,” Turai says.

A month before the finale, the cast starts picking the music. The musical director then spends weeks arranging all the scores, while all new dances for each number need to be choreographed. Two weeks before the finale, everyone goes into full rehearsal mode.

The result can be quite impressive.

“We want people to leave and say, ‘Man, that was awesome!’” Turai says.

She points out that everyone involved in the finale is volunteering their time after working hours to put the show together; no one is getting paid for all the extra time or hard work that is put into this last show.

On the day of the final show, Turai usually feels quite nervous.

“I’m so excited the day of, I could puke,” she says. “I can’t eat at all and can’t sit still – I’m nervous for everybody.”

But in the end, it’s totally worth it.    

“I feel blessed to have such great people to work with,” she says. “Even though most of our performers are summer people, they feel at home in Dawson and supported by the community. They are totally willing to give back by preparing a fun half hour show of ridiculous energy and excitement. That means a lot to me, and I’m one lucky lady.”

For more information go to the Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Facebook page or call 867-993-5575.

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