Thursday, March 10, 2016 | 7:20 p.m.
The Kats Report Bureau at this writing is Chateau Nightclub at Paris Las Vegas, which is a terrific way to spend a Thursday afternoon in VegasVille. The purpose of this visit is to track the progress of the new stage show “53X,” which opens Friday night in this refurbished club venue.
This is the sort of production I refer to as an “Elliptical Show” because that’s where it sends me after I talk with the cast. All of Cirque’s shows are “Elliptical Shows,” and even some acts, such as “Absinthe’s” Duo Vector, are “Elliptical Acts.” That show’s newest cast member, David O’Mer, is an “Elliptical Bathtub Guy.”
I could go on, but no need. Loaded with uplifting dancers, “53X” is an offshoot of Chippendales at the Rio and unlike that show features women onstage and a drag-queen host, Shangela of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” “53X” is to extoll broad appeal, no pun intended, under the guys of a Chippendales production, pun intended.
It’s adult but not totally topless, sexy but not raunchy. I’ll be back, but not Friday. The show needs time to get warmed up, evidently, but already looks ready to deliver.
More from the scene:
• Las Vegas producer David Saxe has pulled the reins on his “Spoofical the Musical” production, which has been pushed back by several weeks from its originally announced Feb. 8 opening date. The wide-ranging satire of entertainment in Las Vegas and beyond has yet to perform to a ticketed audience and is now scheduled to throw open the doors for previews at 7 p.m. Monday at V Theater at Miracle Mile Shops of Planet Hollywood.
Much tweaking has been enacted since Saxe talked of the production a week before that Feb. 8 starting date. Some of the more inflammatory acts have been cloven, including the evisceration of Criss Angel as a feminine product, Siegfried & Roy as Siegfried & LeRoy and a searing sendup of Celine Dion. Also out, at least for now, is “Poop Man Group,” a comedic tarnishing of Blue Man Group. The Las Vegas targets have been edited away to make room for more nationally known figures such as Donald Trump and Kanye West.
Saxe said he adjusted his original blueprint of the show after reading and hearing the critiques of the similarly styled “Twisted Vegas” at Westgate. What piqued Saxe’s attention is that a number of the elements of “Twisted” are lost on audience members who have no frame of reference for such Strip vehicles as Cirque du Soleil and Blue Man Group.
Again, familiarity is crucial to the success of satire. Without it, you’re just practicing a lot of hand puppetry. Beyond the Las Vegas connection, the chief difference between these shows is that “Twisted” is meant for the whole family and “Spoofical” is for adults. Family fun vs. “Family Guy” is how I previously compared these competing projects.
Interesting to note in Saxe’s bird-dogging of the response to “Twisted Vegas” is his show was originally announced to begin previews a day before “Twisted” opened. In that plan, there would have been no account for him to review the first version of the show at Westgate. By waiting, he was able to track the feedback of that show in the same way a golfer reads a competitor’s putt on a tricky green. But he has to take his shot sometime, and Monday it is. Can’t wait to see what he trots out, even if “Poop Man Group” has been scooped and tossed.
• The totals are still being tallied, but it seems the “Share the Olive” appearance by Chazz Palminteri at the Italian-American Social Club of Las Vegas on Wednesday night raised at least $12,000 for the club’s scholarship drive that provides funds for Italian-American students in Clark County. About 200 guests turned out for the stage interview that I was honored to navigate in the IASC’s event center. It was a cozy chat in which Palminteri spoke of the development of “A Bronx Tale.”
Palminteri began writing that script after he’d been fired at a nightclub in Beverly Hills, where he worked as a doorman to subsidize his fledgling career as an actor. That uncomfortable incident occurred after Palminteri got into a snit at the club with super agent Swifty Lazar. “Swifty told me he would have me fired in 15 minutes — and he did,” Palminteri said from the stage. That night, he pulled a yellow legal pad and wrote about a shooting he had seen as a kid.
That piece of writing was the first 10-minute scene Palminteri staged in L.A., and the seed for “A Bronx Tale.” Years later, Robert De Niro wound up seeing the fully realized one-man show and agreed that Palminteri should appear in the film version of the play and also write the screenplay. By then, Palminteri had turned down several offers, including one for $1 million, to turn over those rights, but he never cratered and wound up realizing that dream.
Today, “A Bronx Tale” has been adapted to a musical that has just played Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, N.J., a favorite showcase venue for shows headed for Broadway. And “A Bronx Tale,” born from a firing and notepad, seems headed for there.
• Auditions have come and gone for a singer in “Steve Wynn’s Showstoppers” at Encore Theater. A casting call went out Feb. 18 to replace the departing Lindsay Roginski, who tears the place apart in “Cell Block Tango” and “Big Spender.” No timeline yet for who will step in to fill the second of the three female singing roles that have opened up since the show premiered in December 2014.
Original cast member Kerry O’Malley opted out of the show last summer to return to L.A. and was replaced by Rachel Tyler. The call went out to performers in Las Vegas and New York, asking for “belters” with Broadway experience. It’s a choice role, and a demanding one, in a show that might be the most lavishly appointed production in the city after the closing of “Jubilee.”
• On the topic of lavish … you must check out the Cameo show at Westgate Theater if only for the stage attire. Some funky gear is on parade as the band rumbles into this residency in Las Vegas. Larry Blackmon continues to front the band, which has been active for more than 40 years, and, yes, he’s still wearing the black leather suit and red codpiece.
We also are treated to a spiked, silver mask; guitar that looks like it was fashioned from a hubcap of a ’58 Ford Fairlane; black-and-white checkered jacket; and another in zebra stripes. And, also onstage, the requisite black kilt and knee-high platform boots.
But this band can play. It is a funk-fest, folks, topped by the thumping classics “Candy” and “Word Up.” There is an enthusiastic effort out there to induct Cameo into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That enthusiasm is sparked specifically by production company Red Mercury Entertainment, which posted the petition at Change.org. (Find the link to the petition here.)
This one’s a long shot. The argument for Cameo making the Rock Hall is that funk-rock-R&B legends such as George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Prince, Earth, Wind & Fire, Isaac Hayes, Donna Summer, Bill Withers, Darlene Love, The O’Jays, Gladys Knight & The Pips and Sly & The Family Stone have been inducted. The argument against is aside from the two hits already noted, Cameo doesn’t have an abundance of crossover hits.
Let the debate ensue on this one, but that show at the former Shimmer Cabaret is anything but boring. There’s no debate of that.
Catering to the young and modern crowd, Planet Hollywood is a one-stop shop for entertainment with its massive shopping mall, slew of restaurants, spacious casino and clubs.
The ambiance of the casino is retro-chic meets high-tech with black granite floors throughout and colorful LED lights throughout the space. The theme carries into the 100,000 square-foot casino with 250 flat screens topping off slot machines. The casino is also home to 87 tables, a sports book and a poker room.
There's also the Miracle Mile Shops, one Vegas' largest malls, with 140 stores including BCBG Max Azaria, bebe, Urban Outfitters and The Discovery Channel Store.
Following an afternoon of shopping, guests can satisfy their appetites at one of the gourmet restaurants in Planet Hollywood, like the non-traditional approach to steakhouses at Strip House or check out the exotic Far East motif at KOI restaurant and lounge. And if guests are still looking for more, they can spend the after hours at Privé, Triq or Krave nightclubs.
Perhaps one of the resorts biggest attractions came in March with the addition of "Peepshow." The naughty twist on the story of Little Bo Peep is modern-day spin on the run-of-the-mill Vegas topless review. The "Peepshow" stage has seen visiting celebs like Scary Spice Mel B, "Dancing with the Stars" Kelly Monaco and Playboy's Holly Madison.
With world-class dining, shopping, spas, golf and entertainment, there's no shortage of things to do at Wynn. The resort’s aquatic acrobatic show, “Le Reve—The Dream,” a creation by Cirque Du Soleil veteran Franco Dragone and Steve Wynn, will leave guests wanting more with its breathtaking performances that conjure an imaginary world. The Wynn Esplanade offers a unique shopping experience with stores including Chanel, Manolo Blahnik, Christian Dior, Oscar de la Renta and many more. Tryst is its signature nightclub, offering a secluded lagoon inside the club and spacious dance floor. Blush, the Wynn’s ultra lounge, draws swanky party-goers. Tryst, Wynn’s signature nightclub, is situated along a private lagoon under a 90-foot waterfall and plays host to some of the world’s most renown DJs.