Erik Kabik / Retna / ErikKabik.com
Thursday, March 20, 2014 | 1:03 p.m.
The Kats Report Bureau at Mandalay Bay has been abuzz with word of the name of the club and show featuring Holly Madison: It’s 1923 Bourbon & Burlesque, the year used as a reference to the burlesque-period theme of Madison’s show, for which Gene Lubas is creative director.
May 1 is the targeted opening of the club. Madison and Lubas have been working for months on the concept, which is managed by the team that operates the Minus 5 Ice Lounge venues.
Madison entertained multiple concepts on the Strip before arriving at the space at Mandalay Bay, which sits at the base of the escalators from Mandalay Place next to Rick Moonen’s RM Seafood. Lubas was the creative director of Cirque’s “Viva Elvis” at Aria. Most recently, those two were spotted at the first anniversary of “Pin Up” at Stratosphere.
A lot of performers and producers are eyeing Madison’s foray at Mandalay Bay. So are executives. I ran into Mandalay Bay President and COO Chuck Bowling during Terry Fator’s fifth-anniversary show at the Mirage on March 4, and he said the city has not seen anything like what Madison has planned at his hotel.
Lofty praise. As Madison, who has recently changed hair hues from blond to red, likes to say: No pressure.
Onward with the rake:
• The Jacksons’ run in “Rocktellz & Cocktails” at Planet Hollywood is being trimmed by about three weeks. Originally scheduled to run through April 27, instead the brothers’ autobiographical song-and-dance production closes April 6.
The first, instinctive reaction to such an early closing is that ticket sales are soft. But show producer Adam Steck says the box office numbers have actually been improving for the show starring Jackie, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon.
He says the reason for the shortened run is that there was a second act expected to alternate the late time slot with the Jacksons, that 9:30 p.m. starting time following Meat Loaf’s 7 p.m. performances at PH. That act fell out, and it was too expensive for the Jacksons to hold that time slot in the Planet Hollywood Showroom on their own. So, they are out.
The upshot to all of this is Meat Loaf, who is doing strong business in his second swing through the “Rocktellz” series, will be back for another run beginning the first week in May. His current run closes April 8.
• The Celebration of Jeff Ray is set for Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. at Vinyl in the Hard Rock Hotel. Ray was tragically killed on Jan. 18 when he was struck by an Amtrak commuter train in the Seattle suburb of Auburn.
A highly educated, well-liked and respected guitarist, Ray was a member of the “Jersey Boys” band and a great jazz artist who was known to study the instrument voraciously. He was 42.
Ray was in Seattle to perform with the Top 40 cover band The Jone$ at Muckleshoot Casino in Auburn. The performances were booked by Jason Tanzer of Dustree Productions, whose wife, Trina Willardson, was with Ray when he died. The two were setting up a series of promotional photographs when the train sped past.
A performance is set for 3 to 4:30 p.m. Those scheduled to participate are “Jersey Boys,” Dustree Productions, “Rock of Ages” and “Dance With Me” cast members. Also planning to perform are members of Meat Loaf’s band, Cindy Lora-Renard, Michelle Johnson, Vita Corimbi, Joshua Adams, Skye Dee Miles, Penthouse Suite, Elyse Branch, Bella Electric Strings and The Amazing Wannabees, among others.
For information, go to the event’s Facebook listing, and those wishing to honor Ray’s memory are being encouraged to donate to MusicCares, the Grammy Awards organization supporting artists who are suffering critical need.
• Jeff Leibow is an expert singer and dancer. The “Jersey Boys” cast member is vocally adept and fast afoot away from the stage, too.
Leibow is again seeking support to raise money to fight Neurofibromatosis, the disease from which his 4 1/2-year-old daughter, Emma, suffers. The condition is insidious to those who suffer from NF and members of the health care community, a genetic disorder that preys upon the central nervous system and disables the body’s tumor suppressor gene. Without warning, tumors can surface and grow on any nerve in the body. Emma has been fighting NF her entire life, and the family recently learned that a brain tumor from which she had suffered was benign.
Leibow makes annual trips to Washington, D.C., in an attempt to persuade Nevada’s congressional representatives to pick up the fight to help fund treatment and research centered on NF. Federal assistance in the fight against NF is provided through Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, a Department of Defense initiative established in 1996 to appropriate public funding to support programs battling myriad diseases and disorders.
The CDMRP is the only federally backed program fighting NF, and Leibow is once again garnering support through an online letter-writing campaign to persuade lawmakers to authorize funding for research into treatment for NF.
It’s an easy process to fill out this form on the NF Network website. It takes less than 30 seconds, and do it soon because the deadline for submissions is Monday. The more letters are submitted, the more likely NF will receive some public money to fight the disease. Last year’s campaign tripled the number from 2012. Leibow is planning another “NF Hope Concert” on Oct. 19 at Venetian’s Sands Showroom.
Also, the scheduled May 19 “Mondays Dark” charity show hosted by “Rock of Ages” co-star Mark Shunock at Hard Rock Hotel will raise money for Leibow’s NF Hope foundation.
• The blistering performance by Lon Bronson’s All-Star Band at Cabaret Jazz in the Smith Center on Wednesday night is the latest in Bronson’s efforts to bring his top-flight assemblage of singers and musicians to Cab Jazz every month. Short of a total sellout, the crowd at Wednesday’s show was still pretty strong in Bronson’s third swing through Cab Jazz.
“The idea is to go back in bi-monthly and hopefully monthly,” Bronson said this week. “We’ll be back in May for sure, take some time off and be back in September, October and November, hopefully.”
Wednesday’s show featured Bella Electric Strings founder Nina DiGregorio, for years a highlight in Bronson’s shows, performing Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” and a soaring rendition of “Fantasy” by vocalist Tyriq Johnson (and he is trying to find a home for his Earth Wind & Fire tribute show, which would be a neat fit in Cab Jazz).
Another real treat was the three-song set by Michelle Rohl, who was a top vocalist on the Vegas scene many years ago before stepping off the stage to focus on family. As Bronson introduced Rohl, he called out, “Who remembers ‘Playboy’s Girls of Rock and Roll’ at the Maxim? I do! That was a great show!” That production ran in the late-1980s, and as Rohl showed, she can still rock it.