Las Vegas Sun

October 25, 2014

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Strip Scribbles: NeNe Leakes in ‘Zumanity’; ‘Once’ at Smith Center; Strip changes

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Cashman Photography

Ben Vereen at Cirque du Soleil’s “Zumanity” in New York-New York on Monday, Nov. 12, 2012.

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NeNe Leakes, center, and "Zumanity" at New York-New York cast members.

On this Tuesday, we have an abundance of …

WICKED WHISPERS & RACY RUMORS

If the short run of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” star NeNe Leakes as the Mistress of Ceremonies in Cirque du Soleil’s “Zumanity” at New York-New York is a success, I have learned that we can expect a revolving cast of additional reality TV characters to pop up from time to time as guests.

In fact, watch for news about a hip-hop overhaul with additional cast members in several dance routines in “Zumanity” as it starts its second decade of shows. Creative producers of all the Cirque shows on the Strip are taking a listen to the music to see whether modern tastes have to be incorporated into their shows.

What Las Vegas radio station is being lured to relocate its 24-hour DJ lineup to a Strip hotel for guests to watch and listen as the music is being played? Will a recording studio component for visiting stars be added to it so that tourists also can watch them plugging their music on air before their concerts?

What successful Miami chicken restaurant specialty operation is headed to the Strip for an early next year opening?

Are plans afoot for a hotel tattoo parlor to be shuttered in favor of a new celebrity chef bistro?

And is a longtime hotel lounge bar shutting this summer in favor of a hot new restaurant group from New York and South Beach?

Las Vegas’ Amy Purdy on ‘DWTS’

Tom Bergeron, Amy Purdy of Las Vegas and Derek Hough on Season 18 of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” on Monday, May 19, 2014. Launch slideshow »

‘All-Star Salute to the Troops’

Kellie Pickler and Staff Sgt. Baily Zimmerman perform during “ACM Presents: All-Star Salute to the Troops” at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Monday, April 7, 2014, in Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »

BUSY TV NIGHT: Las Vegas is represented everywhere you turn on television tonight, with Amy Purdy on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” and Walter “Sausage” Frank on Spike’s “Ink Master,” as we reported earlier today. Also tonight is “ACM Presents: All-Star Salute to the Troops” on CBS.

In honor of Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day Weekend, the two-hour concert hosted by LL Cool J and Chris O’Donnell was taped at MGM Grand Garden Arena the day after the 2014 ACM Awards last month. The special includes Merle Haggard, George Strait, Luke Bryan, Tim McGraw, Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton, Keith Urban, Florida Georgia Line and Lady Antebellum.

Toby Keith, who has sung with many service members of the United States Air Force, was presented with the Spirit of the USO Award in recognition of his many USO tours. Many of the artists also performed duets with the servicemen and servicewomen.

Carrie Underwood, an 11-time ACM Award winner, co-penned a song for the military tribute show, and her performance of “Keep Us Safe” will debut during the broadcast.

Once

FROM FILM TO STAGE:

The 12 ensemble actors onstage tonight for the six-night run of “Once” at the Smith Center also play their own instruments, and it’s impressive double- duty. The original Broadway experience based on the 2006 film won eight Tony Awards in 2012, and now this Best Musical and Outstanding Musical halts its road tour for eight Las Vegas performances.

“Once” is an enchanting tale of an Irish street musician who’s about to give up on his dream to escape a Dublin pub when a beautiful young Czech woman takes a sudden interest in his haunting love songs. The chemistry between them grows, resulting in his music soaring to powerful new heights. But this is more complex and complicated than your everyday romance, as is the show itself.

It may be the only time you can go up onstage and order a beer from the barman in the pub while the musicians are playing their warm-up jam session before the story and music get underway. “Once” is emotionally captivating and theatrically breathtaking. The score has been heralded as brilliant, and the talented touring cast is a perfect match in the dual challenging roles of musicians and actors.

AEG and MGM Resorts Arena Groundbreaking

Confetti flies as AEG and MGM Resorts International representatives and celebrities break ground on a new world-class indoor arena in Las Vegas onThursday, May 1, 2014.  The 20,000-seat sports and entertainment venue will be located near the heart of the famed Las Vegas Strip and adjacent to the I-15 corridor. Launch slideshow »

STRIP CHANGES: Overnight, just before dawn breaks, the Strip will get a new look as cranes maneuver a new façade onto the front of New York-New York. A towering 18-foot Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup will be hoisted to join a massive 64-foot Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar with a 38-foot-long Hershey’s logo composed of bright shining LED bulbs to all form the dazzling entrance in the shape of the world’s largest Chocolate Kiss for the new Hershey’s Chocolate World interactive flagship store. The dazzling display of deliciousness opens next month.

JIMMY BUYS KIMMEL: Former longtime Las Vegas resident and now late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel hosted the third-annual “An Evening With Dave Rice” gala at MGM Grand when he partnered with UNLV’s Running Rebels head coach. It benefits the Dave Rice Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to the education and support of health initiatives including developmental disorders such as autism and other charitable causes in Southern Nevada. Jimmy is an avid UNLV hoops fan and entertained guests, among them former UNLV basketball star Stacey Augmon and former NBA star Jerome “Junkyard Dog” Williams.

Speed painter Tim Decker creative massive works of canvas art in mere minutes, including depictions of Frank Sinatra and the Statue of Liberty. Both paintings were sold in a live auction, which also featured backstage passes to “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

The highlight of the night came when Tim introduced a portrait of Jimmy into the auction, with bidding starting at $2,500. Jimmy, cheered on by the crowd, outbid himself onstage until he wound up purchasing the masterpiece himself for $10,000. Other top-line auction items included entertainment memorabilia from Muhammad Ali, Michael Jackson, Bryce Harper and Jimmy.

CONGRATULATIONS!

Spike TV has signed Palazzo restaurateur Matt Johnson of Sushi Samba for a 10-episode series titled “The Chainmaker” about his restaurant deals in New York, London, Miami and Chicago.

Elton John’s 67th Birthday at Fizz

Sir Elton John, right, with David Furnish, celebrates his 67th birthday at Fizz on Friday, March 28, 2014, at Caesars Palace. Launch slideshow »

Fizz Grand Opening at Caesars Palace

Sir Elton John and David Furnish attend the official grand opening of Fizz on Friday, March 28, 2014, at Caesars Palace. Launch slideshow »

The lavish and elegant Fizz champagne bar opened by its creative director David Furnish and his partner Caesars Palace headliner Sir Elton John at Caesars will be named a winner of the 10th annual Hospitality Design Magazine Awards on June 4 in NYC.

More than 400 venues were nominated in the nightclub, bar and lounge category. Having enjoyed bubbly there on a few occasions, I can vouch for its beautiful palette of ivory, copper and cognac that embrace the spirit of champagne.

TONIGHT’S TIPS

Country songbird superstar Shania Twain returns to the Colosseum at Caesars to prove that she’s “Still the One.”

“Once” begins a six-night run at the Smith Center.

James Stephens and Ronnie Schell headline at the Improv at Harrah’s through Sunday.

And my favorite downtown artist Jerry Misko unveils his new Swing exhibit of Old Vegas at Program Gallery on First Street.

TOMORROW’S TEASE

Our preview tour of the eagerly awaited day-and-night Drai’s Beach Club and Nightclub rooftop paradise atop the Cromwell ahead of this weekend’s gala VIP openings, plus recaps of the season finales of “DWTS” and “Ink Master.”

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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