Las Vegas Sun

October 17, 2018

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Famed Westgate venue shimmers with history; ‘Duck’ director drives Lincoln musical

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Aerosmith rocker Steven Tyler at Jennifer Romas’ “Sexxy” at Westgate Las Vegas.

‘Sexxy’ at Westgate Las Vegas

Rehearsals for Jennifer Romas' Launch slideshow »

Catching up while looking down on the city from The Kats Report Bureau at the SBP in Newport Lofts. Let’s gun it (in a figurative sense):

• Once thought to be headed for the disassembly line as David Siegel of Westgate bought the former LVH, Shimmer Cabaret is instead enjoying a deserved renaissance. The room will be renamed Suzanne’s as Suzanne Somers starts her series of performances in May. This announcement was made in concert with plans for an expensive refreshing of the carpets, seating and video boards in the cozy showroom.

Along with Somers’ throwback cabaret show, Shimmer Cabaret is busy with the new adult production “Sexxy” and the great Prince tribute “Purple Reign.”

And lest we forget, you know who else has a connection to that room? Brandon Flowers. The Killers frontman caused a ripple with his performance at Bunkhouse on March 23. But that was not the first small-venue show hosted by Flowers since The Killers became internationally famous. Flowers performed at Shimmer in August 2010 for the release of his debut solo album “Flamingo.” The place was packed, too.

Others to play that room have been the original “Scintas” production (more on that family in a moment); Lorena Peril with Sunset Strip/Sin City Bad Girls; Frankie Moreno (in the days when his dad, Frank, was guitarist in the band); Earl Turner and Lani Misalucha; “Menopause the Musical”; Elvis impressionist Trent Carlini (multiple runs for him); and the “Icons of Comedy” series featuring Andrew “Dice” Clay, Gilbert Gottfried and Hal Sparks. The room also has some personal provenance, but I’ll just leave that to history …

‘Duck Dynasty’ on A&E

The Robertson family of “Duck Dynasty” on A&E. Launch slideshow »

• Just before arriving in Las Vegas this month to work on “Duck Commander Musical” at the Rio, Jeff Calhoun directed the musical “Freedom’s Song: Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War,” at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.. The production is in line with a series of shows commemorating the 150th anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. The production interweaves words from Lincoln’s writings and speeches with a music inspired by letters of those who lived through, and served in, the Civil War.

“It was just an incredibly powerful experience to tie all of this material together,” Calhoun said during a phone interview last week. “The theater looks the same as it did the night Lincoln was assassinated. The box where he sat still overlooks the stage.” The musical’s score was written by “Jekyll & Hyde” composer Frank Wildhorn, who is a recurring headliner with Clint Holmes and Jane Monheit at Cabaret Jazz.

• The shuffle of shows at The D Las Vegas has led to the departure of ventriloquist Patrick Murray’s “Ja-Makin’ Me Laugh” in the hotel’s showroom. Swapping shtick with the dreaded (reference to her hair) puppet Matilda, who is of Jamaican origin, Murray was the hotel’s 2:30 p.m. show throughout this year before closing last week. “On hiatus” is how Murray’s website terms the show. The D now is host to “Defending the Caveman” one-man show, playing at 4 p.m. daily, and 8:30 p.m. when Frankie Scinta is off.

Scinta is back onstage at The D on Saturday night, but his show, featuring brother Joey, singer Janien Valentine and longtime drummer Peter O’Connell, has not settled yet on an attack plan after the end of April. Frankie is still in talks with the hotel, so a return to The D this spring remains possible but not something on which I would bet good money.

• When seeking a new conductor for the Las Vegas Philharmonic, orchestra officials needed to ensure that the applicants were interested in embracing Las Vegas — and not just Reynolds Hall at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts.

“We had 17 candidates, and most had never been to Las Vegas before,” L.V. Phil President and CEO Jeri Crawford said last week. “Through our screening, we wanted someone who didn’t want to just play the Smith Center.”

The Phil wound up with early favorite Donato Cabrera, a native son who remembers a Las Vegas dating to before the groundbreaking of the Smith Center and when the orchestra played Ham Hall at UNLV.

“I can’t imagine the Philharmonic playing anywhere else than where it is right now,” Cabrera says. “I don’t mean to disparage Ham Hall at all, and I do think there is an opportunity for a performing arts center in a city with a thriving university culture to have them work in tandem. This happens in other cities with great universities and off-campus venues, and we can make it happen here, too.”

• A little Las Vegas is found in the music in the new Will Ferrell-Kevin Hart film “Get Hard.” The single “Delicate Fever” by Las Vegas band Fans of Jimmy Century is featured in the movie. Fronted by singer Alicia Perrone and guitarist Victor James, the electronic/pop/dance band was launched in San Francisco about eight years ago but is now based here. The blazing band has been featured in the Modern Noir Series at Baobab Stage at Town Square, and Perrone has appeared as the Blue Lady with the rock band Tinnitus at T Spot at Tuscany Suites.

• “Commotion” seems the order of the day at Sin City Theater in Planet Hollywood. There is some sort of news pertaining to the theater’s schedule and operations in the offing. Keep an eye on that place is all I’m saying. I know that I will.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.

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