Paul Citrone/Kabik Photo Group
Thursday, May 23, 2019 | 2 a.m.
Caesars Entertainment execs have been making waves on the Strip in recent years with some intriguing and sometimes experimental live entertainment options at venues like Cleopatra’s Barge at Caesars Palace (with Cee-Lo Green and Puddles’ Pity Party, among other acts) and the Donny & Marie Showroom at the Flamingo (including Paula Abdul’s upcoming residency). But this week’s venue-less announcement that Caesars is teaming with Texas blues rock trio ZZ Top to develop an original musical takes the taco when it comes to being intriguing and experimental.
The team behind “Sharp Dressed Man” is Michael Gruber, Caesars’ chief new business officer and former managing partner at Drai’s Nightclub; Jason Gastwirth, Caesars’ president of entertainment; Carl Stubner, ZZ Top’s longtime manager; Prem Akkaraju, co-founder (with Sean Parker) of Screening Room, a service that could deliver new movies to your home at the same time as their theatrical release, and producer of documentaries and feature films; and ZZ band members Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard, along with writers Robert Cary and Jonathan Tolins. The show is described as “an outrageous, bawdy musical romp about a Lone Star auto mechanic who becomes a modern-day Robin Hood.” Hits like “Legs,” “La Grange” and “Gimme All Your Lovin” will power the production, expected to open in 2020. “We’re excited about this fantastic project and look forward to hearing our music in a new innovative context,” said Gibbons in the shows announcement. “Fans have often told us that we’ve provided the soundtrack to their lives, and this is very much in line with that kind of enthusiastic thinking.”
Caesars has been involved as some kind of partner, not just a host, with several new shows opening at its properties recently, including the short but energetic run of “Greatest Piano Men” at the Flamingo and the current “Elvis Presley’s Heartbreak Hotel in Concert” at Harrah’s. “Sharp Dressed Man” seems to be an extension of that effort and hopefully it’s a trend that will continue to grow as many small or midsized shows that have opened and closed quickly on the Strip could have had a better opportunity with additional support from its casino venue. It seems like Caesars wants to make things work, and a new musical built on familiar sounds from a beloved band could be a fitting formula. “We are at a time where Las Vegas is recognized to have some of the most amazing artists in the world from all eras, and we are excited to have the opportunity to bring to the stage a musical that has some of the best songs of a generation,” said Gruber.
Lounge alert! Trumpeter and singer Brian Newman, who’s been serving as bandleader for Lady Gaga’s “Jazz & Piano” shows at Park Theater, is expanding upon his Vegas gigs with “Brian Newman After Dark,” a new hang reimagining the history of the vintage Las Vegas lounge at the NoMad Restaurant at Park MGM starting on May 30. Newman is known for his New York City club circuit engagements at the Oak Room, the Rose Bar, Birdland and others and recently released his debut jazz album “Showboat.” He also co-produced Gaga’s cover of “La Vie en Rose” on the soundtrack for “A Star Is Born.” His NoMad gigs, set for 11 p.m. May 30 through June 15, coincide with Gaga’s next residency run so, yes, expect a drop-in or two from Mother Monster. This is going to be a hot ticket.
There’s some new funny downtown. Comedian and promoter Philip Peredo opened the Tickle Me Comedy Club on April Fools’ Day at the Eclipse Theaters on Third Street, presenting stand-up shows Tuesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. Performers operate on two-week residencies in the 300-seat showroom and there are plans to build a podcast station to accommodate the comedians. This week’s lineup includes Thai Rivera, Jeffrey Peterson, Nikki Carr, Evan Green and Rick D’Elia. For more info, visit ticklemecomedy.com.
The cool alternative programming continues at The Space, the home of Mondays Dark and my Las Vegas Weekly podcast All The Vegas. On May 29, Mondays Dark main man Mark Shunock hosts “Comedy for the Caveman” with Joe Stapleton and friends, a wild night of laughs to benefit the Gavin Smith Memorial Trust. Smith was a Canadian poker pro and father who passed earlier this year. And this weekend, and continuing through June 1, “Together We’ll Be Okay: The Musical” with father-daughter duo Mike and Julia Jane Urquhart takes the Space stage. Find the tickets and the place at thespacelv.com.
Speaking of All The Vegas, our next guest is Angela Stabile, co-producer of the trio of successful “X” female revues. That episode is coming on Monday, but tonight Stabile and her cast and crew will celebrate 17 years of “X Burlesque” with a special show at the Flamingo, which just renamed Bugsy’s Cabaret in honor of its long-running resident show. “X” marks the spot.