Wednesday, April 4, 2018 | 2 a.m.
There’s no telling what will happen next when a big casino-resort gets new ownership. Richard Branson has promised top-to-bottom renovations at the Hard Rock Hotel should be complete by the end of 2019 as his company transforms the legendary Vegas property into a Virgin Hotels product. New restaurants and nightclubs and refurbished hotel rooms are most certainly on the way, but where will these changes leave “Magic Mike Live,” one of the best things to happen to the Hard Rock in a long time?
After flying by the 500-show mark last month — known as “the cure to the common male revue,” the Channing Tatum-conceived production opened in April last year — and a year spent consistently satisfying and frequently surprising audiences, “Magic Mike” deserves to stick around. Much has been made of the show’s empowering themes and the two women who accompanied me last week (it was a four-feminist double-date) felt the vibe and stylistic approach was refreshing, clever and fun. It has definitely brought a new energy and extra traffic to the Hard Rock in the past year.
Of course it’s sexy, but it’s incredibly funny, too. When comedian Lyndsay Hailey isn’t playing the role of the emcee, who guides the appreciative audience through a journey of understanding what women want and how they can have it, you get Chelsea Phillips-Reid, a magnetic and hilarious performer who’s also appeared in “50 Shades! The Parody” and “Vegas The Show.” Ryan Carlson, from the original national tour cast of “Flashdance the Musical,” plays the part of Mike, a waiter who comes along for the ride and is up for any challenge. His unassuming style sets the perfect tone for the show and also belies some serious skill and sex appeal. Carlson teams with dancer Liinda Garisto, who initially appears to be a shy audience participant, for a soaking-wet number near the end of the show and it’s probably the hottest thing happening on any Vegas stage right now.
The men of “Magic Mike” are talented beyond their flawless bodies and just as charming. Some sing and play instruments and all dance well but some could clearly take their moves to any other kind of Vegas show. Their interactions with the audience are very careful but certainly far from timid, and the whole thing feels very big-hearted in the nicely redone, 450-person space that formerly housed nightclubs Body English and Baby’s. With a soundtrack replete with slinky R&B and uptempo hip-hop, it’s a party waiting to happen whether or not it’s your bachelorette. There will always be a selection of well-done and popular male and female revues in Las Vegas and that’s a good thing for our overall entertainment scene. But “Magic Mike” is different enough to slide into another category.
“Magic Mike Live Las Vegas” is performed at 8 and 10:30 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday in the cabaret nightclub space known as Club Domina at the Hard Rock Hotel (4455 Paradise Road, 702-693-5000) and more information can be found at magicmikelivelasvegas.com.