Tuesday, April 15, 2014 | 5:51 p.m.
The Kats Report Bureau at this writing is the sports book at Harrah’s, the home of the legendary Vegas lounge performer Cook E. Jarr (in the piano lounge) and the fabulous ’80s novelty/tribute/cover band The Whip Its (at Carnival Court).
It’s a couple of hours before Jason Alexander takes the stage in his new standup show, “Jason Alexander and His Hair,” in for an open-ended engagement (love that term) at the showroom where Clint Holmes once starred and is now home to “Million Dollar Quartet.”
The goofiest show I’ve seen at Harrah’s would be the musical “Hats,” from 2006, which was based on the ladies of the venerable Red Hat Society. The showroom was full of Red Hatters, to the point where many audience members had a tough time seeing the stage through the sea of crimson headpieces. But nobody dared asked those wearing the hats to take them off at the risk of inciting members of the society.
On that point, I wonder what would happen if the Red Hatters were to attempt to convene at Peppermill’s Fireside Lounge, which has a strict no-hat policy. I feel that they would be asked to head over to the adjacent restaurant, where hats are allowed, especially the Carmen Miranda-inspired order of fruit salad.
Having worn out that subject, let’s rake:
• The new, scaled-down but revitalized O’Sheas at the Quad (and the Linq, for its outdoor bar) is off to a torrid start. I am hearing that in the month of March, the 5,000-square-foot tavern famous for beer pong, its throwback marquee and Brian Thomas as Lucky the Leprechaun did more than $1 million in liquor sales. This despite its relatively small space and the fact that no single drink exceeds $10.
The booze sales at O’Sheas surpassed the numbers posted in March over at the 2,915-room Paris Las Vegas, which offers nine bars.
How does O’Sheas do it? Volume, volume, volume. Walk through that place pretty much any night of the week, and it is slammed six ways to Sunday, as they say.
• We’ve heard of yet another odd incident involving a rock star at Mandalay Bay. Earlier this month, Sebastian Bach got into a scuffle with members of T.J. Tyler Trio at the hotel’s Orchid Lounge. This is less than a month after John Popper of Blues Traveler was involved in an incident where he lost consciousness with a woman in his hotel room and wound up missing a $20,000 Rolex and $2,500 in cash.
The general, safe-to-impart version of this latest strange happening at Mandalay Bay: On or around his 46th birthday on April 3, Bach entered the lounge with the idea that he would sing with the three-piece band. Bach grabbed for a mic and attempted to sing along with "My Girl," which led to something of a wrestling match highlighted by the onetime Skid Row vocalist wielding a nearby cymbal. It was serious enough that hotel security was summoned, but Metro Police was not.
When asked if Bach was led off property or banned from the hotel for any period of time, a Mandalay Bay official said that the incident fell under the resort’s guest privacy policies and therefore was unable to share or confirm any information.
Regardless, next time he’s at Mandalay Bay, Bach should pop into Mizuya Lounge across the casino for a set by hard-rock cover band Phoenix. That would have been a better fit … and probably a better result.
• On the topic of high-energy haps at Mandalay Bay, the 1923 Bourbon & Burlesque by Holly Madison project is prepping for a launch in the face of inevitable construction delays that wiped out the speakeasy’s soft opening, scheduled for last Friday. Madison will sing, though the show’s main singer is Skye Dee Miles, and there is talk of a live band aside from the nights the vignettes are being staged (which are Fridays and Saturdays). Madison recently posed for a photo shoot to show off one of the bustier costumes to be used in the production, but the shoot was held at the Artisan, as the 1923 club wasn’t ready for photo treatment just yet.
Madison also recently sat for an interview as part of her most recent reality TV pilot, which began filming in November during the EDC event in Miami. Madison is not ruling out another reality TV-styled series, but the onetime star of “The Girls Next Door” and “Holly’s World,” both on E!, wants total control of the production of any upcoming TV project. She also says her husband, Pasquale Rotella, would be in such a show, as would the couple’s year-old daughter Rainbow.
“I absolutely would have to have the right production partner and right network,” Madison says. “ We’ve shot a pilot for this, adding to what we did in November, and we’ve shot an interview in 1923, with me in my red hair. So we’ve only very recently finished it, but I’m not in any hurry to be back in a reality show.”
As for Rotella’s involvement, Madison said with a laugh, “He’s supportive, but he’s not interested in being the star of some cheesy TV show. That’s my job.”
• The Smith Center for the Performing Arts President Myron Martin says “The Tempest” is performing better than expected at the box office. The production of the William Shakespeare play envisioned by Teller and Adam Posner sold out most of the performances the first week and is still selling well, with the Smith Center offering $20 tickets to any students ages 16 and younger through Friday night’s shows (these discounts are available online or at the Smith Center box office).
In this unique partnership with American Repertory Theater, Martin and the Smith Center were prepared to take a financial loss to stage the production.
“I will say that early on, we invested in the show with ART because we believed in it, and I suppose if we had not found the audience, we would have taken the hit,” Martin says. “So we took some risks going into it. This is Shakespeare, in a park, in a tent, a brand-new production, and you don’t know until you see if it is going to be fantastic or not, but it all turned out in our favor.”
Martin remembers a comment by ART Director Diane Paulus during the 2013 Association of Performing Arts Presenters convention when she told the audience at the Hilton Grand Ballroom in New York that she would never have expected to announce that the ART was opening a show in Las Vegas. But the ART reps who visited during the opening weekend of “The Tempest” were blown away by the caliber of talent performing regularly in this city and also by the Smith Center venues.
“Diane said that in a tongue-in-cheek way, but to the extent that Vegas is interested in evolving this relationship, we would love to do that however we can,” Martin said. “I don’t like to overstate these things, but something bigger than a show has happened here. … I believe people around the country are really perceiving Las Vegas in a different way.”
• Despite reports of acrimony, tension, an absence of adequate resources and irreparable artistic differences, the ouster of Frank Gatson Jr. from “Jubilee” at Bally’s is being presented as the common modus operandi for any relaunched production.
Gatson and his creative team that overhauled the show over the past four months have left reportedly to pursue other projects. A Caesars Entertainment spokeswoman said this week that the show is to be performed in its current form for the foreseeable future, with any changes to be made by the directors who helmed the show before Gatson was recruited last fall.
“It is not an uncommon practice for a show to contract a creative director through the launch of the show, and that is what we did. Our deal with Frank was to redesign and relaunch the show,” the official said in an email statement. “Commensurate with any newly opened show, the show will remain primarily the same with minor edits.”
And commensurate with any abrupt changes in a major Strip show, we have to ask what in the heck happened here. It is clear that Caesars was faced with a tough decision regarding the classic but antiquated “Jubilee”: Either modernize or euthanize. But the result has been something in between, with many numbers updated with contemporary music, staging and choreography — and the man who enforced the changes out of the show. This, of course, is all part of the fanciful journey of Miss Jubilee herself.