Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017 | 2 a.m.
Jason Tenner has taken his “Purple Reign” Prince tribute show to so many venues around Las Vegas over the years, it’s hard to keep track. But the show has never been to the Tropicana, until tonight.
After a successful three-year run at the Westgate — including the last year and a half in the historic International Theater — “Purple Reign” begins its new residency this week in another classic Vegas room, the Tropicana Theater that was once known as the Tiffany Theater and home for almost 50 years to “Les Folies Bergere.”
“Hopefully some of that magic will rub off on ‘Purple Reign’ and we’ll have a show that will last there for a long time,” says Tenner. “I think it’s a testament to Prince and everything he was as an artist that our show has such appeal for people, and can hold down rooms of that size in Vegas. If we deliver it well, it has staying power.”
Clearly, Tenner and his crew have been delivering. “Purple Reign” is one of Vegas’ favorite tribute shows and has been around (and toured the country) in some version for nearly two decades, and Tenner is looking forward to bringing it back to the Strip and converging with the latest renovations at the Trop.
Recent changes to the show will see full bloom when it opens in its new home. A larger, multi-tiered stage set in use at Westgate will make the move, and Tenner has added two new guitarists as well as additional female performers, resulting in the addition of a Vanity 6 segment of the show. “Purple Reign” had long included a tribute to Morris Day and the Time, and now the Vanity 6 portion recognizes the other act immortalized in the 1984 film “Purple Rain.”
“We’ve added some numbers we didn’t do before, stuff with more choreography we couldn’t do without the girls like ‘Cream,’ updated costuming, and we’re looking to add some new video elements to the show that should be in before the end of the year,” Tenner says. “I don’t want to do a whole lot of dancers like the typical Vegas thing because I want to keep it all about the music, all performed by this live ensemble, but we are beefing up the production.”
Homing in on the music is essential to maintaining the spirit of Prince. The middle portion of the show will be a time to play it loose and experiment, and sometimes even take requests. “We want to be able to do what Prince would do,” he says. “I’ll say, ‘What do you want?’ and we’ll take requests. Somebody yelled out ‘Free Bird,’ and we played it. We keep it fun.”
“Purple Reign” debuts at the Trop on November 1 and plays at 9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. For more information, visit troplv.com.