Wednesday, March 5, 2014 | 8:45 p.m.
Early in the performance, Geechy Guy ambled over to stage right.
He didn’t look right.
“I broke my glasses,” he said, peering out a pair of specs in which the right lens was noticeable absent. “It happened just as I was walking in.”
Hours later, Travis Cloer also ambled over to stage right.
“I broke my glasses,” he said, delicately holding a clear slit of glass in his hand. “The right lens just popped out.”
So, it can be said that the world’s fastest joke-teller and a man who plays Frankie Valli in “Jersey Boys” at Paris Las Vegas helped make the latest Stifler event a real spectacle (#SheckyKats).
Tuesday night offered yet another uniquely Vegas performance of the freewheeling entertainment showcase at the Tropicana Havana Room, again hosted by Frankie Moreno of the Stratosphere.
A crowd of about 480 filed into the lily-white and chandelier-decorated nightspot. The evening was rowdy, happily disorganized and again an impressive conveyor belt of talented performers from throughout the city.
How the night shook out amid copious quaffing and heavy reverberation:
Lorena Peril, late of “Fantasy” at Luxor and a European arena and stadium tour of “Grease,” thundered through “Proud Mary” with her husband (and Pleasant Valley High School graduate) Ray Jon Narbaitz. Zowie Bowie’s Chris Phillips — and you really do need him for such a Vintage Vegas-inspired event — produced “Trouble,” the Elvis tune from “King Creole.”
Ricky Moreno, celebrating his 12th ... I mean 25th birthday ... cut loose with Sublime’s “What I Got.” Tropicana Lounge mainstay Skye Dee Miles came up with “House of the Rising Sun” by the Animals. Sherry St. Germain, once of “Viva Elvis” and, all too briefly, the Lounge at the Palms, restlessly played some unidentified, boogie-woogie number while Mo5aic of the LVH Shimmer Cabaret led a sing-along of “Hey Jude” (and had to be the most physically fit act of the night).
Earl Turner, one of the truly amazing live performers in Vegas (who returns to Suncoast from May 3-4) belted out “Kiss” by Prince. Anne Martinez and Savannah Smith of the blazing production BBR (which is heading for a four-week residency at Tuscany's T Spot on April 9, 15, 22 and 29) sang "Titanium" a cappella. Melody Sweets from “Absinthe” took on “Come Together” to great effect (without having to resort to meowing through the tricky lyrics). A happily be-socked and besotted Martin Kaye of “Million Dollar Quartet” sang “A Hard Day’s Night.”
Matthew Banks of Blue Man Group at Monte Carlo, with that show’s percussionist Jeff Totora on drums, played “Miami 2017” by Billy Joel. Golden Nugget headliner Gordie Brown returned to Stifler for the first time since the July 2012 show for a five-minute sprint of impressions. Paul Shortino of “Raiding the Rock Vault” returned for Dobie Gray’s “Drift Away.” Shortino’s “Rock Vault” band mate John Payne roared through Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.”
Moreno and guitar great and studio master Pat Thrall played Moreno’s bouncy “Diva” as Lacey Schwimmer boogied across the stage and atop the piano. Stephanie Calvert of Starship (beginning her run in “Rock Vault” on Friday night) again wowed the crowd, this time with Big Brother and the Holding Company’s “Piece of My Heart.”
And Franky Perez, singing for the first time in one of these shows, blew up the room with “Hard to Handle” by the Black Crowes and “With a Little Help From My Friends.” Cloer hung in long enough to uncork “I Wish” by Stevie Wonder, leading to Moreno and “Shout” to close the night.
Or morning. The show lasted nearly three hours.
The core band featured Brown’s drummer (and a longtime drummer in Moreno’s band) Mike Zerbe alternating with Peanut Butter (his stage name, similar to Gazillionaire, Penny Pibbets and Sweets). John Wedemeyer filled in, on short notice, on lead guitar, and Moreno’s brother Tony played bass. The horn section was trombonist Caleb McKee, sax man Rob Stone and trumpet player (and busy amateur photographer) Chandler Judkins.
About all this variety package was lacking was a juggler and a comic magician. Wait! Jeff Civillico of the Quad juggled an adult implement, a purse and a cell phone (among other items).
He performed this act as a group of audience members that included Wranglers President Billy Johnson and Rx Boiler Room at Mandalay Bay chef Rick Moonen threw back a shot each time Civillico dropped an item, which was frequently (at one point, Johnson turned to the side of the stage and mouthed the words, “Help me!”).
Murray Sawchuck performed the familiar trick where he asks someone (Moreno) to select a card, memorize that card and flings the deck in the air. He pulled from the stage a 10 of diamonds, the selected card. Amazing!
Standing at stage left was Sawchuck’s wife, “Fantasy” dancer and February Playboy Cyber Girl of the Month, Chloe Crawford. Also … amazing!
Unlike the December show, which was pocked with such national names as Joshua Bell and Vinnie Paul, Tuesday’s show was hard-focused on Las Vegas performers. Those who had seen a Stifler event but had never seen such first-timers as Peril, Perez, Turner and Mo5aic were in for a treat. And not many realized the talent of an artist like Banks, who is typically muted and painted blue while in character at Monte Carlo.
As the night ended, Cloer realized that the temporary repair work he’d conducted on his glasses did not work. The lens popped out and was lost.
Chalk it up to another Stifler casualty.
Tropicana Las Vegas sits on the south-east corner of Tropicana Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard, an intersection which has the most adjacent hotel rooms in the world, also making it one of the most busy. The hotel has 1,658 rooms, three restaurants, a 62,011-square foot casino and a spa.