Las Vegas Sun

August 24, 2019

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Curtain Up: Frank Marino talks ‘Legends’ and ‘Divas,’ ‘Atomic Saloon Show’ takes Edinburgh and more

Atomic Saloon Show

Mihaela Bodlovic

Atomic Saloon Show” wows audiences at Edinburgh.

As reported in Wednesday’s Sun on the Strip podcast, legendary Las Vegas Strip headliner Frank Marino is set to join the cast of “Legends in Concert” at the Tropicana starting September 11 and continuing through November 19, where he’ll be reprising his iconic tribute impersonation of Joan Rivers for likely the last time.

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Frank Marino

“I tried to take Joan out a few times in my ‘Divas Las Vegas’ show and every time I took it out, people would write letters and ask me to do it, at least just a little bit,” Marino told me on Wednesday. “I think ‘Legends’ is where it needs to be. I think it’s time now [to retire the character] because Joan has passed, and what a great honor to close the character in ‘Legends.’ I’m really excited and I don’t want to sound hokey, but we really think of it as three legends together with the show, the hotel and the character.”

Marino also said he’s been trying to guest-star in “Legends,” the celebrity impersonation production that’s been running on the Strip since 1983, for more than a decade but the timing has never fit. “I was always doing my own show so I didn’t have time but I’ve always been a huge fan and I’m constantly going to see it, every time they change the lineup,” he says. “They’re the longest running show and I’m the longest running headliner, so the marriage is perfect.”

The turn in the Trop’s resident show is a new beginning for Marino, who starred in “An Evening at La Cage” at the Riviera for 23 years and “Divas Las Vegas” at the resort that ended up being the Linq for nine years, with "Divas" shuttering last July. On February 6, he’ll open a new version of his drag musical in an intimate, cabaret-style room at a center-Strip property to be announced this fall.

“I’ll be a legend through November 19 then I’ll take a break to get everything together and get the sets built, then I’ll get the only accolade I haven’t gotten that I want, a showroom named after me,” he said. “It’s going to be something that has not been done before and I’m excited that it’s so out-of-the-box. Hopefully when people see it, they’ll think, ‘Why didn’t we think of that?’”

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Spiegelworld’s new “Atomic Saloon Show” premiered this week at the 2019 Edinburgh Festival Fringe in the U.K., showcasing a new blend of raucous cowboy comedy, music, acrobatics and more ahead of the show’s Las Vegas debut on September 8 at the Atomic Saloon at the Venetian’s Grand Canal Shoppes. The Edinburgh previews elicited standing ovations and the show was described as a “sexy circus that knows no limits by Scottish arts and culture web mag The Wee Review. “When a graceful performer takes the stage, you are lost in the majesty and drama of the moment. With others, you will be whooping and hollering until your lungs dry out. In all cases, nothing but the next breathtaking showpiece seems to matter,” wrote James Hanton for TWR. “Atomic Saloon Show” continues at the festival through August 25 in the Palais du Variete Spiegeltent before the cast and crew hits the Strip.

An important reminder in case your weekend gets too rowdy: If you’re planning to attend this week’s edition of Mondays Dark on August 12, it’s not at The Space per usual. That’s right, Mark Shunock’s charitable variety show is hitting the road. It will take place at the brand new Jaguar-Land Rover Las Vegas dealership at 6425 Roy Horn Way, just off the southwest Beltway near Sunset Road. The start time stays put at 9 p.m., the musical theme revolves around the songs of the Beatles and the money goes to the Xtreme Couture G.I. Foundation to help veterans wounded in action and their families. And this is just the beginning; expect to see some new Mondays Dark venues this fall.

In its nearly 21 years at Bellagio, “O” has become a cornerstone of the Las Vegas entertainment scene, one of Cirque du Soleil’s most popular experiences and an absolute must-not-miss show on everyone’s list. In January, the aquatic spectacular will do something for the first time: It will be performed seven nights a week. Tickets are on sale now for 2020 Monday and Tuesday performances and “O” continues its normal schedule until then, at 7 and 9:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. “We are grateful that the demand for ‘O’ has never been stronger and to be in the position where we can offer guests more opportunities to see the show,” said Matt Nickel, general manager of Cirque’s resident shows division. “This production has been an essential part of the Las Vegas experience from the day it opened.”

Also coming in 2020: The astounding eighth year of Carlos Santana’s “An Intimate Evening with Santana: Greatest Hits Live” at the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay. Tickets for Santana’s recently announced January, February and May dates go on sale this Friday, August 9. The free-flowing festival of rock, jazz and Latin sounds has only intensified since Santana added tracks from new album “Africa Speaks” into the mix, which you can hear for yourself when he returns to the House of Blues September 18-29.

V Theater male revue “Aussie Heat” will present its second annual Vegas Variety Show to benefit Opportunity Village at the local nonprofit’s Engelstad Campus on August 24. The all-ages show will feature performers from “Sexxy” and “Blond Invasion,” magician David Goldrake, singer Emily Blick, vocal trio the Swing It Girls and more. Tickets are $6 in advance or $10 at the door and all proceeds will benefit Opportunity Village’s arts programs. For more info, click here.

Motown legend Martha Reeves will receive the Casino Entertainment Legend Award at the seventh annual Casino Entertainment Awards ceremony on October 16 at Vinyl at the Hard Rock Hotel as part of the annual Global Gaming Expo. Neil J. Miller, executive director of entertainment at the Venetian and Palazzo resorts, will also be among the winners in the awards’ nine categories in casino entertainment.