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October 30, 2014

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Guest Columnist:

It’s a double win for twins Tiffany and Brooke Engen of ‘Rock of Ages’

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Rock of Ages Las Vegas

Darren Criss and Tiffany Engen at “Rock of Ages” on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, in the Venetian.

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New “Rock of Ages” at the Venetian cast member Tiffany Engen.

'Rock of Ages' Grand Opening at Venetian

The Launch slideshow »

2012 NASCAR Champion's Week: 'Rock of Ages' at Victory Lap

Cast members of Launch slideshow »

'Surf: The Musical' at Planet Hollywood

Launch slideshow »

Robin Leach is winding down from his annual summer vacation under the Tuscan sun in Italy, and many of our Strip personalities have stepped forward again in his absence to pen their own words of wisdom. As Robin gets ready to pick up pen, notepad and tape recorder to resume his Strip coverage, we continue today with “Rock of Ages” at the Venetian stars Tiffany Engen, Becca Kotte, Mark Shunock and Justin Mortelliti. Here’s Tiffany.

Some call it a dream come true. Industry peeps call it a booking, but in Las Vegas it’s called a win. Such as scoring your dream role in a hit Broadway musical that is rockin’ the Las Vegas Strip.

For me, playing “Regina” in “Rock of Ages” at the Venetian is not just a win; it’s a twin win because my twin sister, Brooke, also is part of the “Rock of Ages” family. Around the same time that I found out I would be playing “Regina,” Brooke was hired to set the “Rock of Ages” production for Norwegian Cruise Line.

But this was not the first time we had been hired to be a part of the same production here. In fact, our first time working in Las Vegas was in The Beach Boys musical “Surf: The Musical” at Planet Hollywood. It was on that project that we first worked with Tony-nominated director Kristin Hanggi, and now we get to work with her and Tony-nominated choreographer Kelly Devine in “Rock of Ages.”

Brooke and I also have been fortunate enough to perform on Broadway at the same time just five blocks away from each other. Brooke played “Tammy” in “Hairspray” at the Neil Simon Theater while I was performing in “Legally Blonde” at Palace Theater. In addition to performing, we both served as dance captains for those shows.

They say that the likelihood of making it on Broadway is about the same as getting into the NFL, so we feel very fortunate that each of us has had that experience since twins on Broadway at the same time might be even more rare!

After “Legally Blonde” closed on Broadway, I played “Serena” in the first national tour of “Legally Blonde.” After “Hairspray” closed on Broadway, Brooke eventually joined me in “Legally Blonde” as the understudy for “Kate/Chutney,” “Pilar” and “Brooke Wyndham.” That was an amazing experience because we were able to tour together playing different roles.

We love to work together because we are each other’s support system, and in this business, you need that. Sometimes you need a cheerleader, and sometimes you are the cheerleader. But our favorite projects tend to be the ones we work on together.

The top of the list would be “Hairspray” the movie starring John Travolta, Queen Latifah and Michelle Pfeiffer. I played “Noreen” and Brooke played “Doreen” (roles that were created for us) on “The Corny Collins Show.”

Initially there weren’t roles for twins on The Corny Collins Council, but we auditioned together, and director/choreographer Adam Shankman took a chance on us. Thank you, Adam!

Throughout our separate careers and jobs where we have worked together, we have never been competitive with each other. That’s difficult for people to understand in such a competitive business. We grew up in the dance-competition world and were often up against each other for overall awards, but it never affected our relationship.

Even today we inevitably are up for many of the same roles, but we each want the other sister to get the job. There also have been jobs where one of us will really go for it and the other sister will step away and offer help and encouragement.

We sometimes do this because we never want to confuse casting and creative teams with the idea that twins can only come as a package deal. Far from it, we just want at least one of us to book the job.

We collaborate before, during and after each audition or project, and we have done that many times. We are working with our “honorary third sister” Laura Bell Bundy (a country singer and “Elle Woods” in “Legally Blonde” on Broadway) on two Web series and other projects.

We have choreographed concerts and industrial shows, music videos, films and TV shows. In fact, just this past season, Brooke choreographed dance numbers for the hit CW series “Hart of Dixie” starring Rachel Bilson.

Many of the projects happen so quickly that you barely have time to think. It’s lucky for us that we can divide and delegate the workload and take on multiple creative endeavors. As long as we have each other, we can get it done and have a blast in the process.

It has been great to play “Regina” in Las Vegas because I have been able to work with and meet so many amazing people who are doing exciting things here. While Brooke has been working in L.A., I was able to choreograph the opening number for Broadway Bares Las Vegas this year.

Additionally, I was a part of the 48-Hour Film Fest and have had the opportunity to perform and work on various cabarets and special performances like cast-mate Mark Shunock’s “Mondays Dark,” the Mixed Martial Arts Awards and “The Queen Latifah Show.”

Brooke and I knew we both wanted to perform and entertain. We wanted to be creative and have fun while chasing our dreams. And we’ve been having fun since the womb, so itʼs a good working relationship that we hope will continue to take us on more adventures!

Each job/booking/dream — whatever you want to call it — has felt like a win. But when we get to work together, it’s doubly sweet. It’s a twin win.

“Rock of Ages” celebrated its 600th show at the Venetian last Friday.

Be sure to check out our other “Rock of Ages” guest columnists Becca Kotte, Mark Shunock and Justin Mortelliti. On Wednesday, we meet up with Jennifer Aleman, who runs the long-running topless show “Crazy Girls” at the Riviera, and Las Vegas singer Franky Perez.

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.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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