Friday, Nov. 29, 2013 | 5 p.m.
One of television’s biggest hit shows is becoming a live downtown theater production. ‘Pawn Shop Live!” is a parody blessed by our favorite History Channel “Pawn Stars” stars who promise to drop in and greet Golden Nugget audiences every now and again.
Rehearsals start next week for the Jan. 21 opening, with 4 p.m. performances daily Tuesdays through Saturdays (dark Sundays and Mondays).
I’ve agreed to be the show’s voiceover narrator, and producer Derek Stonebarger of Atomic Liquors, Las Vegas’ oldest bar, has made a donation, in lieu of a payment to me, to one of my favorite charities, Keep Memory Alive.
The show will feature celebrity video cameos and guest stars. One of the first will probably be rapper Flavor Flav playing a ninja version of himself in a dream sequence with the character Chump (for Chumlee) fighting evil villains.
The cast includes 20 recorded actors in film clips, plus, at least seven onstage actors and dancers working with a production crew of 10 led by local award-winning director and co-writer Troy Heard.
Troy is a Las Vegas-based writer/director, a recipient of the Gregory Hines Memorial Fellowship and an associate member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society. His directing credits include “Death of a Salesman,” “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and “Hell Cab.” His writing credits include “Summer Camp: The Musical and Seance!”
“Pawn Shop Live!” has been more than a year in the making, and the deal with Golden Nugget will be announced early next week. I was invited to participate three weeks ago but respected the producers’ request not to break the news until final contracts were signed. Strip performer Sean Critchfield is expected to play the lead role of Slick Garrison.
Derek, who also is the founder and creator of Theater 7, downtown’s first art-house theater, and the Las Vegas Indie Film Festival, told me: “There are a couple more surprises, but we’ll just have to wait until opening night to reveal those. The parody is based on the real story of the world’s most famous pawn shop. It’s a multimedia experience complete with Las Vegas showgirls and when possible the TV stars themselves, who also are seen in the videos in every performance.”
“Pawn Shop Live!” is a Broadway-style comedy show that begins with Slick struggling through a debilitating illness that forces him out of school and into a world of self-learning through books. He is a genius and a street-smart child who uses experiences and life lessons, often taught from his father, a puppet named Old Fart, to eventually influence the world with his knowledge and art of the deal. His son and his son’s dim-witted friend Chump, who work the family business and become international superstars in the process, join Slick.
“We’ve had discussions to have one of the actual stars show up to act in scenes, make a stage appearance and do some personal meet-and-greet sessions at the performances, and we are finalizing this portion of the deal. But the agreed plan is certainly to have video clips of them in it and then live appearances, when possible, around their already hectic TV production schedule.
“I have also been talking to Rick Harrison about having guest appearances from some of Rick’s buddies from the TV show — Danny Koker from ‘Count’s Kustoms, Rick Dale from ‘Rick’s Restorations,’ Mark Hall-Patton from the Clark County Museum and more.”
Real-life “Pawn Stars” hero Rick Harrison is credited in the production as the story contributor. Garret Harbison will play Chump, Gus Langley will play Lil Boss, with Enoch Scott and Anita Bean rounding out the cast and Kady Heard as the showgirl.
Derek continued: “We have made a six-month commitment with Golden Nugget, with both parties hoping that it will run much longer. With everything happening downtown, and the line that circles the actual Gold and Silver Pawn Shop, we believe that it’s going to be good for everyone — the downtown economy and the tourists looking for a reasonably priced late-afternoon show.
“Gordie Brown’s showroom at Golden Nugget is the largest, classiest theater downtown and in the premier casino. We believe this may be the largest afternoon show in Vegas in terms of cast, crew and seats.
“I actually came up with the ‘Pawn Shop Live!’ idea in May 2011, so it’s been a while in the making. We had just started a new show, where I played Oscar Goodman in a parody show, ‘Oscar: a Good Man,’ about his life journey. We had a pretty good crowd, but driving in I saw the huge line of people in front of the shop and thought, ‘We should do a show that tells the life of those pawn guys. We could pack the place!
“After reading a little bit about Rick Harrison’s life, I was hooked. I started talking to a couple writers, but after I got involved with Atomic Liquors in June 2012 and started its restoration, the project went on the back burner. However, in January this year, Troy Heard, a talented local director, expressed interest in co-writing and directing it. I had talked to Troy about my idea when he came to see ‘Oscar’ in 2011.
“So we decided to go ahead at full speed, even expanding the original Theater 7 venue into two larger spaces to accommodate what we thought would be a larger crowd than the original 70 seats at Theater 7.
“We were going to launch on June 1, but in late April, the pawn guys heard about it and asked us to read it for them. They really liked it and wanted to take it to the next level, so they had us read for Golden Nugget, and that’s where we are today.
“The ‘Pawn Stars’ do go out regularly to various casinos and other venues with tour dates, but ‘Pawn Shop Live!’ is actually a live, multimedia, Broadway-style show, a sort of Mad Magazine-type show with actors playing the characters through parody and even a puppet.
“Troy and I have just been so honored and humbled by the sense of family the ‘Pawn Stars’ have shown us. They’ve had us come hang out during filming of their episodes and behind-the-scenes to truly grasp their personalities. The most surprising thing to me is The Old Man. Richard [Harrison] saw me one day at the shop and pulled me aside. I thought for sure he was going to tell me how stupid his puppet looked or how dumb I was ... like he does to Chumlee on the show.
“But he said, ‘Derek, I really think you guys are on to something with this show. If I were visiting Vegas, then it would be a show that I would go see, and I think it’s going to be a huge success.’ ”
“That really caught me off guard, to know that he believed in it. It made me realize how lucky of a guy Rick Harrison is to have such a unique father who has supported his ideas over the years."
Tickets go on sale next Friday and are $24.95, $29.95 and $39.95 at Golden Nugget’s box office and PawnShopShow.com.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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