Tuesday, March 29, 2016 | 2 a.m.
The Kats Report Bureau at this writing is Sands Showroom, a focus of intrigue for the last many months as shows have departed, been announced and — as is the case today — been relaunched.
Human Nature’s “Jukebox” is that show, being rehearsed just a few feet in front of me at this moment. We have a new format, as the Motown theme has been folded up and put in a dresser. “Jukebox” is a more wide-ranging production that lifts from pop and rock ’n’ roll songs dating to the 1950s and also encompasses a contemporary numbers.
To remind, Human Nature’s “soft” opening is tonight, with the formal relaunch April 21. Tickets are moving as swiftly as the choreography for “Uptown Funk,” I am told.
The number being fine-tuned now is “Good Lovin’ ” by The Young Rascals featuring dancer Jami Jones, who along with David Oliveri is new to the production. Expect “YMCA” by The Village People in this show, too, and “Gimme Some Lovin’,” also being test driven today.
Interesting, too, is the show’s jukebox-fashioned set, the work of ARDA Studios, the acronym of Anita Rob Design Associates taken from the first names of co-founders Anita LaScala and Rob Bissinger. ARDA has designed this stage for “Jukebox” and “Puppet Up! Uncensored,” which is expected to move into the theater in July.
Human Nature plays nightly at 7, with the puppets rolling in afterward at 9. It’s a tight fit, and the set needs to fit both shows, hence the use of a single designer.
Got it? Good.
Let’s groove elsewhere …
• The effort to position T-Mobile Arena as a civic venue has been long underway. The venue opens April 6 with The Killers and guests Wayne Newton and Shamir (how’s that for a jam session?). In the run-up to that opening night, to be followed by Nicki Minaj-Ariana Grande on April 7 and Guns ’N Roses and Alice in Chains from April 8-9, MGM Resorts and AEG officials have been moving to partner with competing resort companies to lease the venue’s 44 luxury boxes and eight “bunker” suites at T-Mobile.
Two companies who have already bought into the arena: Boyd Gaming and Wynn Las Vegas.
“The real key is to try to make it a civic venue, a neutral site,” Mark Prows, senior vice president of arenas for MGM Resorts, said in a phone conversation last week. “We have offered and generic-ized these areas as a pay-to-play concept for anyone who wants to buy into the building.
“This goes across the entire spectrum of what we offer, and companies have purchased individual suites. We have a couple now, and we have many other contracts still out.”
(Note: That is the first time I have ever heard or written the word “generic-ized,” pronounced with a soft “c.“)
Clearly, paramount to the success of T-Mobile is for arena partners MGM Resorts and AEG to expand to customers of such resort companies as Wynn, Station Casinos, Sands (Venetian-Palazzo), Caesars Entertainment, the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Silverton — the whole host of Las Vegas-based companies, in fact.
There are ticket-and-room packages being offered across the city for such shows as Garth Brooks, which by design will help boost business at partner hotels and the arena. However, such a cross-pollinating partnership is not always an easy sell. Officials at competing properties will justifiably ask, “What’s in it for me?”
Would a Garth Brooks image on a Strip marquee make sense for any non-MGM Resorts hotel? Would any hotel be willing to send its customers off-property to a concert or, say, NHL game at T-Mobile when those folks could be spending time and money in their casinos?
Important questions, these. Better make it worth the effort. The advancement of this strategy is something to keep watch over as T-Mobile opens next month.
• Oscar Goodman is hosting another of his dinner-series presentations Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Oscar’s Beef Booze & Broads at the Plaza. The title of this dinner talk, held once more in the speakeasy room off the restaurant’s entrance, is “The Goddess and The Bellman: A Tale of Murder and Injustice.”
Cue the organist!
The talk centers on Goodman’s representation of Hacienda bellman Frank LaPena, who was romantically linked to Rosalie Maxwell, aka, “The Goddess,” who in turn was romantically linked to Caesars Palace slot supervisor Marvin Krause.
In 1974, Krause’s wife, Hilda, was murdered, and LaPena was accused as an accomplice in that crime, allegedly for paying those who did commit the murder. For 25 years, LaPena maintained his innocence. Goodman fills in the sordid details in an oratory slalom that is never boring.
The food is great, too, a three-course meal prepared by the Oscar’s restaurant team. Also included are red or white wine pairings and an Oscar Goodman Martini. Tickets are $150 for all of it; call (702) 386-7227 for information.
• The audition process to replace Lindsay Roginski in “Steve Wynn’s Showstoppers” has led to a performer perfectly suited for the role: Lindsay Roginski.
One of the original cast members among six principal singers, Roginski had planned to leave the show to return to New York. A casting call went out, and singers in Las Vegas and New York scrambled to audition for the production at Encore Theater.
But Roginski is staying with the show after all, where her delivery of “Cell Block Tango” rocks the house, and, we can say gratefully, will continue to do so.
• My brother (I say that metaphorically) Clint Holmes has announced that his April dates at that haven of inspiration, Cabaret Jazz, are to be themed and titled “Inspired,” based largely on artists who have inspired his life and music. Those dates are from April 8-10, and half of the show will be dedicated to Holmes’ new album, to be released about that time.
More than two years in development, that album is yet untitled. “Clint Holmes: The Rendezvous” is one being considered, playing off one of Holmes’ tracks on the album “At the Rendezvous.” That led to this conversation with Holmes in text last week:
Me: “Ron DeVue could be your alternate ego. Velvet smoking jacket, slicked hair, bunch o’ honeys. The whole nine.”
Holmes: “One change: Ron Da Vue. More street.”
So, look for “The Rendezvous,” if not Ron DeVue or Ron Da Vue, to hit the streets this spring …
• Last week’s appearance by Third Eye Blind co-founders Arion Salazar and Kevin Cadogan at ARTTEC’s “Friendraiser” at Foundation Room at Mandalay Bay raised enough money to support 100 teenagers in the organization’s arts-education program.
ARTTEC pairs aspiring artists and musicians with established industry professionals to generate hands-on experience in their chosen fields. The organization this year moved its headquarters to Las Vegas and recruited Salazar and Cadogan to play five singles from Third Eye Blind’s self-titled debut album for the first time in about 15 years (included in that set were “Semi-Charmed Life,” “Jumper” and “How’s It Going to Be”).
Third Eye Blind’s original lineup has fractured over the years, with Salazar and Cadogan recently reuniting and Stephan Jenkins fronting the latest incarnation of the band. But the duo who performed at Foundation Room are interested in continuing a recording and live-performance career using the Las Vegas shows as a launching pad.
As Cadogan said before last Tuesday’s performance, “Las Vegas has a special place for me. I visited here a long time ago, when the Excalibur was shiny and new.” From Salazar, “The first time I visited Las Vegas? I can’t remember the year, but it was about the time Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson did their sex video (recorded at Lake Mead). Whenever that was, was the time.”
Feel free to Google that …
• A show that is reportedly rocking the room? “MJ Live” at Stratosphere. Officials there have been pulling in seats to fill the hotel’s showroom for the 7 p.m. tribute to Michael Jackson, which was scuttled from the Rio’s Crown Theater to make room for “Duck Commander Musical.”
That theater is now renamed Rock of Ages Theater for that show, which on Friday night pulled in a solid house for the production that relocated from the Venetian in January.
Also ably surviving is another former Crown Theater mainstay: “The Rat Pack Is Back,” which is regularly filling the Copa Room at Tuscany Suites. Granted, a smaller order for that show than Crown Theater (about 200 for the Tuscany room and 600-plus for the Rio), but impressive nonetheless.
• On the topic of impressive, let’s talk of Tyriq Johnson for a moment. He’s danged impressive as one of the three crazy-gifted vocalists in Santa Fe & The Fat City Horns (Tony Davich and Lannie Counts fill out the Santa Fe lineup).
Johnson is marking a significant moment in his career by bringing “Serpentine Fire” into Cabaret Jazz at 8 p.m. Thursday. As the name implies, this is a tribute to Earth Wind & Fire that Johnson also has performed at Veil at the Silverton.
Johnson is a wonderful talent, worth a look-see. Tickets are $35, $25 and $20 and available at TheSmithCenter.com. Get there to experience a life. Called. Fantasy.
"My expectations aren't that high for my place... just the best food, the best service, the best ambiance and the best broads!" - former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar B. Goodman.
Goodman, opened his signature steakhouse in December 2011, bringing memorabilia he accumulated during his 12 years as mayor. His restaurant, which is in the glass dome atop the front entrance of the Plaza Hotel and Casino, features aged steaks cooked over a 600-degree grill, which is accompanied by high-quality, made-from-scratch sides by Chef Jeffrey Martell. The libations feature a variety of hand-crafted cocktails.
The restaurant combines the meal and drinks with the opportunity to have one of Oscar's "Broads" visit with customers during dinner.
"These attractive women are reminiscent of the iconic showgirls who accompanied the former mayor to events during his tenure. However, instead of being showgirls, these women will be dinner companions who can discuss Las Vegas history or things to do downtown or on the Strip. When not mingling with customers, they stroll through the restaurant as hostesses, adding to the glamorous and uniquely Vegas style of Oscar’s," according to the restaurant's promotional materials. The restaurant opens daily at 5 p.m. Reservations can be made onlineor by calling 702-386-7227.
Oscar's Lounge is just outside the restaurant, featuring hor d'ourves, such as crab cakes or seared ahi tuna, and martinis. The lounge opens daily at 4 p.m.
Calvin & James, an acoustic jazz duo, from live entertainment from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
A private dining area, which can accommodate up to 100 people, is also available, serving Italian entrees and appetizers inspired by family recipes or named after legendary mobsters.