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December 10, 2016

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Dr. Alex Schiller basks in her layover; Matt Goss dials up British Invasion

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Pavel Antonov

“Never Sleep Alone” with Dr. Alex Schiller.

‘Jubilee!’ Auditions

Male dancers run through a choreographed piece during Launch slideshow »
The Kats Report Podcast

The Good Doctor

Dr. Alex Schiller is the character at the center of “Never Sleep Alone,” a stage show at the Spiegeltent at Caesars Palace. The satire of a sexual advice seminar mixed with a one-woman performance draws audience members onstage for some ribald interaction. The show ends its three-performance run on Valentine’s Day. Does it have a home in Vegas? The good doctor is always optimistic.

‘Never Sleep Alone’

“Never Sleep Alone” with Dr. Alex Schiller. Launch slideshow »

The Kats Report Bureau at this writing is Napoleon’s at Paris Las Vegas. Soon will be the finale of “Jubilee,” closing after 34 years, but there is much to impart elsewhere from the city, and this very hotel.

Napoleon’s is the piano bar that was not so long ago the home of Taylor Hicks' rip-roaring rock revival and is currently home to another performer who knows how to roar the rip, Cook E. Jarr.

The Jarr was on hiatus for a few months after it seemed he had retired for good following a stint at the Piano Bar at Harrah’s that ended in August 2014. But the Jarr, a Vegas institution, is back onstage in this nightspot, having returned to the stage last June. He plays from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Mondays, except when he doesn’t, as the room is busy with private-party bookings.

For the uninitiated, Cook E Jarr arrived in Las Vegas in the early 1980s, as the front man for Cook E. Jarr & The Krums, and played El Rancho in the post-Thunderbird days, then the Dunes, Sands and Nero’s Nook at Caesars Palace. I met him in the late-1990s at the banquet room at the Tap House on West Charleston, then he moved to Carnival Court at Harrah’s before winding up at the Piano Bar at Harrah’s.

Now he is here, pumping out such familiar numbers as “You Are So Beautiful” by Joe Cocker, “You May Be Right” by Billy Joel and “Bust a Move” by Young MC. He’s good for an Elvis medley, a soaring take on Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” (Greenwood also played the Vegas lounge scene for many years) and Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.”

To quote the Jarr: “Woof! Woof!” There’s still some bite in this man and let’s hope Napoleon’s is not his (wait for it) Waterloo (Boom!).

Cue the beat box for more lounge action:

• The woman who portrays Dr. Alex Schiller says she spent her first night in Las Vegas hanging out at Tilted Kilt with a bunch of guys she found on Tinder. Who’s to argue with Roslyn Hart, who plays the frisky sex counselor and stage performer Dr. Schiller in “Never Sleep Alone?” The production is shacked up at the Spiegeltent at Caesars Palace for one more performance late Saturday night at 12:30 a.m. — just in time for Valentine’s Day — and reportedly a high collection of resort execs took in the Tuesday night performance.

There is talk of a touring version of this show, with a trip to Edinburgh Fringe Festival this June, and/or a possible residency in Vegas.

Schiller (as we call her in the Spiegelworld spirit of alter-egos assuming real-life roles) is a lot of fun to watch, quirky-sexy with a surprisingly good singing voice. Yes, there is singing in the performance, with lyrics projected on the big screen, backed by a fiery live band.

The placement of real musicians inside the tent dispels the theory that a band won’t work for shows in that venue — principally “Absinthe.” I’ve long felt (as I digress) that the recorded tracks in “Absinthe” are the show’s lone Achilles’ heel; the production and tent are to reflect a turn-of-the-century burlesque show, and if I know anything about the early 1900s, it is that tracks did not yet exist. The music was performed by real musicians. Or maybe someone can show me evidence of a Victrola being used …

Anyhow, the band in “NSA” is a great touch and effectively animates the room. Schiller’s shtick is sharp and the show moves at an advanced clip, intentionally, to keep the audience “up,” and interested. Schiller employs performance-art scenarios and cajoles audience members to the stage for a game of adult Twister. She also stages a scene of simulated oral sex with a couple working with a banana and slice of watermelon (and the produce section at Smith’s has suddenly taken on a different hue).

I came out of this show with a two-word review: “Funny once.” It’s a novelty production that presents itself as a hook-up show. I did laugh at the novelty, I did not hook up, but I thoroughly enjoyed the one-night stand with the good doctor. Now, find a 300-seat suite and work your magic.

NBT and Matt Goss at the Smith Center

Nevada Ballet Theatre dancers Alissa Dale and Grigori Arakelyan rehearse at the Smith Center in Las Vegas on Wednesday, May 2, 2012. Launch slideshow »
Click to enlarge photo

Caesars Palace headliner Matt Goss performs at Royal Albert Hall in London on Oct. 21, 2011.

• Matt Goss often mentions his run of sold-out shows at Wembley Stadium two decades ago with Bros, the act he and his brother, Luke, fronted at the start of their careers.

Celebrating his 30th year in show business, Goss is returning to Wembley in London, at SSE Arena, on Oct. 1. The venue seats 12,500 and is being booked by Live Nation. Big moment for Goss, whose show at Caesars Palace’s Gossy Room continues to lumber along. Goss has been playing about two hours, solid, the last few shows I’ve seen and is in great performance shape.

Of the shows in Wembley, he says in a statement, “This is not just about doing concerts, it represents 30 years in the business. It represents never giving up on your dreams and it represents the love that we have shared for 30 years.” Tickets are onsale Sunday on the Ticketmaster site, case you want a very serious road trip …

• Clint Holmes once said of Santa Fe & The Fat City Horns, “I was told I could not afford them. But I couldn’t afford not to have them.” That was just before he recruited the band for his six-year run at Harrah’s, which ended about a decade ago.

Holmes and Jerry Lopez’s cracking 16-piece band are reuniting April 23 at M Resort Pavilion for a single performance. Holmes continues to headline the first weekend of every month at Cabaret Jazz, while Santa Fe is playing Mondays at South Point Showroom. The Smith Center has been the bridge, with Lopez booking two performances at Cab Jazz in December and again in January.

• Wassa Coulibaly, who is my hero, is hosting another burlesque performance at her Baobab Stage theater at Town Square at 9 p.m. Friday. Theme is “Valentines Burlesque,” with a host of burlesque artists lined up to perform. Kalani Kokonuts is on the bill, and she is reason enough to make the trip. Also scheduled is a fashion show of Wassa Wear — Coulibaly’s clothing and accessories line — and these nights never disappoint. Tickets are $20 in advance (hit Wassa’s Facebook page to link up) and $25 at the door.

• Just got word from Michael Grimm's wife, Lucie, that his recording of "Leave Your Hat On" is in the "Hawaii Five-0" Valentine's Day episode airing Friday at 8 p.m. on CBS. Grimm performed the song during his championship run on "America's Got Talent" in 2010. Now we all need to watch "Hawaii Five-0."

• There is yet another announcement from our favorite hovel of intrigue, Sin City Theater at Planet Hollywood. Once again, the news it is related to intrepid afternoon magician Murray Sawchuck — that he is again an afternoon magician.

Sawchuck is back in his 4 p.m. slot, which he never left except for the weekend his show was formally closed. He was to begin that run this afternoon.

To recount: Sawchuck had been notified that his show was closing on New Year’s Eve afternoon, the reason given that he was spending too much time away from the theater to fulfill terms of his contract. But he and room manager Pete Housley swiftly arrived at a plan to develop a 10:30 p.m. show this year. Now Sawchuck is returning to the more familiar 4 p.m. slot, which is just as well, given he would need to make some serious content changes to appeal to a late-night audience. Sawchuck’s game has always been a family show.

The new terms for Sawchuck, sidekick Doug “Lefty” Leferovich and assistant April Leopardi are for a one-year extension at the theater, five days a week (dark Tusedays and Fridays). Housley says there is still a possibility of working Sawchuck into the 10 p.m. slot, but for now Sawchuck is playing the cards dealt him — and letting Lefty fling them around the room.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats.

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