Las Vegas Sun

May 25, 2017

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‘Bathtub Boy’ makes a splash for Reba; Cab Jazz is freshened up

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Chris Pizzello / AP File

Brooks, McEntire & Dunn reunite at Caesars Palace.

During Friday night’s Reba and Brooks & Dunn show at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Reba McEntire talked of bathing. Not herself, but a specific act she had just seen involving a boy and his tub.

“You’re cute!” she called to Kix Brooks early in the show. “But you ain’t no Bathtub Boy in ‘Absinthe!’” She was referring to David O’Mer, who performs the aerial bathtub routine in the show, which she saw Thursday night.

“How many out there have seen ‘Absinthe?’” McEntire asked, to great response. “This guy splashes around in the bathtub in just a pair o’ jeans … mmm hmmm …” Then her voice tailed off.

Count her as another fan. As reported here a week ago, the “Absinthe” cast has been told the show will close at Caesars and move elsewhere by the end of October. Still no formal verification of the show’s future from either of its producers, Base Entertainment and Spiegelworld, who are in a tug-of-war centering on the split of ticket revenue from the show. Caesars Entertainment, too, is not speaking to the disquieting news of the show’s potential bug-out of Caesars Palace.

Of this talk of moving “Absinthe,” I always believe this: It’s hard to develop a hit show in Vegas and harder still to move that hit show somewhere else and keep it a hit. There are scant rooms on the Strip that could take on “Absinthe” in its full and current form, but they do exist — and recreating the atmosphere of the Spiegeltent is likely to be the show’s top priority if it does move.

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Ronnie Foster performs the first of two shows with the Ronnie Foster Trio on Sunday, July 24, 2016, at Cabaret Jazz at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts.

Onward:

• Massively talented set designer Andy Walmsley has spun a new look at Cabaret Jazz. This was unveiled for the weekend’s shows, highlighted by Tyriq Johnson’s “Serpentine Fire” Earth Wind & Fire shows Friday, Alan Cumings’ “Singing Sappy Songs” performance Saturday for PBS, and the Ronnie Foster Trio’s two shows Sunday being recorded for an upcoming live CD.

Walmsley has been enlisted as the go-to designer, an artist in residence if you will, for the Smith Center. At Cab Jazz, he has disposed of the purple curtain that read “Cabaret Jazz” and replaced it with an image of the Strip. Artists can project logos onto the sheen curtain, or if you will “scrim,” at the front of the stage. Nice work, as usual, by Walmsley, in a room that was due for a bit of a makeover.

• Sliding into the schedule with not much notice was the 20th anniversary of the Australian Bee Gees show, which has performed for the past five years at the Excalibur Showroom. I’d not caught this act until the birthday was celebrated Thursday night. What I found was largely expected — a show filled with costumed singers performing the familiar hits of the Bee Gees. But the addition of such vintage videos as K-tel record and Hai Karate commercials was goofy fun. The show plays in two parts, pre-Disco Era Bee Gees and the groovefest that was the band’s hit catalogue of the mid-to-late 1970s.

So we were treated to a heavy dose of mirrored-ball action, spinning to such classics as “Night Fever,” “Nights on Broadway” and “Stayin’ Alive.” Off to stage right is a dance floor, and folks were actually resurrecting their best, or not, “Saturday Night Fever” moves. The room seats 374, and it was about filled on this Thursday night. What to make of it? If you are an act who can generate nostalgia, you can find a gig in Vegas. It’s great news for similar acts — Purple Rain, Yellow Brick Road and the Spazmatics — but the sort of reality that original artists trying to land a residency in Vegas find perplexing.

Regardless, I had a great time. It’s a show that serves its purpose, and that is not a bad thing.

• Add these names to Melody Sweets’ “Call of the Wild: Jungle Burlesque” show midnight Saturday at the “Absinthe” Spiegeltent: Brian Thomas, Lucky the Leprechaun at O’Shea’s; Jennifer Romas of “Sexxy” and her new “swing,” April Leopardi (also of “Alice: A Steampunk Rock Concert” and Murray Sawchuck’s magic spectacular at Sin City Theater); singer Eric Sean of David Perrico's Pop Strings; Nicki Taylor of "X Burlesque"; and new band members Rochon Westmoreland (the monster bassist for Santa Fe & The Fat City Horns and Donny & Marie and kind of the 5 minute, 20-second solo) and percussion powerhouse Pepe Jimenez (also of Santa Fe and, once of Carlos Santana, and currently, “Baz”).

This show is just stacked. It’s going to be a whole thing, bordering on epic. Proceeds go to the Siegfried & Roy SARMOTI Foundation to protect and preserve exotic animals; tickets are $40 and $25 (minus fees) and available at melodysweets.com.

• In accepting his Entertainment Pioneer Award at Saturday’s Silver State Awards event at Grandview Lounge at South Point, producer Jeff Kutash mentioned he has a new show to shop around the scene: “The Mob Musical” is the title, and the famed producer of “Splash” at Riviera says it will help return Las Vegas to the great days of live entertainment. Of a musical based on Mob history, I say to Jeff: Give it a whack … #sheckykats

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at twitter.com/JohnnyKats and on Instagram at Instagram.com/JohnnyKats1.

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