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December 22, 2014

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Lorena Peril leaves ‘Fantasy’ for a trip through Europe — and Rydell High

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Christopher DeVargas

Lorena Peril from “Fantasy” at the Luxor poses for the camera during the Fantasy 2013 Calendar shoot Monday, July 9, 2012.

Fantasy With Lorena Peril

Rehearsals at Fantasy featuring new lead singer Lorena Peril at the Luxor on July 29, 2010. Launch slideshow »
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"Fantasy" at the Luxor star Lorena Peril and Ray Jon Narbaitz arrive for the "Showbiz Roast" of former Mayor Oscar Goodman on Tuesday, July 23, 2013, at Stratosphere Theater.

2013 'Fantasy' Calendar Release Party: Red Carpet

The red carpet for the 2013 Launch slideshow »

2013 'Fantasy' Calendar Release Party: the Show

Launch slideshow »

The musical is “Grease,” but, at the moment, Lorena Peril is more concerned with “hair.”

“I’m getting extensions put in, making my hair straight,” Peril said during a phone conversation from a Las Vegas salon Thursday as she had her curly mane worked over for her upcoming role as Sandy. “Sandy is going to have longer hair.”

The lead singer in “Fantasy” at Luxor for the past three years, Peril has just left that production to perform the lead role in the upcoming European production “Grease the Arena Tour” produced by Music Hall Belgium. The company has staged adventurous and well-received European tours of “Peter Pan,” “Camelot,” “Aladdin,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Dracula,” “Amadeus” and “The Wizard of Oz.”

The new adaptation of “Grease,” featuring a cast of 43 performers, opens Dec. 21 in Antwerp, Belgium. The show is to tour extensively for two years in Europe (including the U.K., Germany, France, Holland and Italy). The potential for a lengthy run with Music Hall is evident in the revival of “Peter Pan,” which started on a two-year schedule and is still touring after four years.

The final schedule has not been released, but that Dec. 21 is locked in, and it happens to be a handy time for a world premiere.

“It’s my birthday,” Peril said, laughing. “It’s meant to be, right?”

Similarly convenient is that Peril’s husband, the esteemed Ray Jon Narbaitz, also is in the show. He’s playing smooth-operating DJ Vince Fontaine. An established musician and singer who most recently fronted the classic-rock cover band Red Light at Planet Hollywood’s Extra Lounge, Narbaitz also is modifying his hair (snipping off the ponytail next week) to take the Fontaine role.

Peril was happy in “Fantasy,” and it took a whopper of an offer to wrest her from that show’s cast. The pieces began to assemble when a pair of prominent directors and a choreographer with ties to Las Vegas, Bart Doefler, was signed to direct the “Grease” tour. He had worked on “Chopper Betty” at Excalibur, “American Superstars” at Stratosphere and “The Vamps Girlie Revue” at Paris Las Vegas (the latter featuring new “Fantasy” singer Jaime Lynch).

Even so, Doerfler had never worked with Peril, even during her run in “Superstars,” but knew enough about her powerhouse singing voice and stage chops to offer her the role of Sandy without even an audition.

It helped that Doerfler and his partner, Michael Colby, directed a show in Europe called “Speed,” which needed a female singer to provide vocals for the song “The Italian.” Peril, who is Hispanic, sang the song in an Italian accent, which impressed officials with Music Hall and heightened the company’s interest in signing her in “Grease.”

“The thing was, I didn’t want to leave ‘Fantasy,’ and there was a lot of negotiating,” said Peril. “We knew it had to be a really good offer, and when we got the final offer, there’s no way we could have turned it down.”

The decision was made in swift fashion. Serious talks to bring the couple to “Grease” began in May. Peril’s final night in “Fantasy” was July 22. Crucial to the decision to leave Las Vegas was the opportunity for the couple to travel and perform together.

“To tour with my husband … I don’t think I could have left for two years without him,” Peril said. “I just wanted to share that with him. I am happy that he’s so talented.”

Peril also is being given a chance to perform and sell her own music. She is scheduled for an appearance at the club Carre club in Antwerp, where she will perform a remix of “Born to Hand Jive,” which is featured in “Grease.”

For Peril and Narbaitz, the media sprint begins at the end of this month during a 10-day promotional tour. Rehearsals begin in November.

Peril’s ride in Vegas might well be over, and it’s been a wild run. She moved to the city in 2005 after a stint with Carnival Cruise Lines. She had no job and was living at Motel 6 on Tropicana Avenue, just east of the Strip, when she landed a singing part with Sunset Strip at Las Vegas Hilton’s Shimmer Cabaret. The act was subsequently renamed Sin City Bad Girls.

The producers of “Superstars” hired Peril two years later, and “Fantasy” producer Anita Mann set up an audition for a possible swing role in that show.

The timing was right for Peril in the summer of 2010 to move to “Fantasy.” The show kept up its aggressive marketing campaign with Lorena at the center. Now she’ll be singing in arenas full of thousands of fans overseas.

“This is all new. I’ve never done a musical. I’ve never worked with a script. They say we’re going to be flying around the stage, and I’ve never done that. But I do know how to sing my heart out,” Peril said. “I don’t know what will happen after this. It’s a new life, and we’re taking it one day at a time.

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

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