Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012 | 12:27 p.m.
Las Vegas dancer Allie Meixner first saw “Rock of Ages” five years ago on Broadway, and she says, “Ever since, I have been trying to get into the show.” Now the dream comes true when she performs in the musical opening Dec. 18 at the former Blue Man Group theater in the Venetian.
“I am super excited, to say the least,” Allie told me on a rehearsal break. She still wears for good luck the shoes she donned as the original Lady Cross in the debut of “Peepshow” at Planet Hollywood. “I’d do other shows in town always hoping ‘Rock of Ages’ would come here and I’d get to join it.”
The 22-strong cast has taken over the closed Dos Caminos restaurant space in the adjoining Palazzo for rehearsals, which began Nov. 5. They are now into their third week under the direction of choreographer Kelly Devine, who has been with “Rock” since its Off-Broadway debut in New York five years ago.
The show is still running on Broadway -- I recently saw it there before the official Strip arrival and the theater changes that will be made here for its nonstop party during the show.
The furniture of the former mega-Mexican restaurant was removed and main dining area converted to a dance floor with two poles installed. The margarita machines are still at the bar but now serving as the wigs and hairpiece display.
Music supervisor Dave Gibbs told me: “The musicians for Las Vegas include drummer Alan Childs, who played on David Bowie’s 1987 tour, and lead guitarist Chris Cicchino. Both have played 700 shows on the national tour of ‘Rock’ and never missed one performance.”
One additional onstage band member has been added for the Las Vegas show, plus, two additions to the dance cast. The Las Vegas show has been trimmed from the nearly 2 1/2 hour New York production by shrinking a couple of song reprises and the intermission.
Mark Shunock, who plays club manager Lonny and breaks the fourth wall of theater talking to the audience, lives in Las Vegas and joined “Rock” after touring in Disney’s “The Lion King.” The role of rock giant Stacee Jaxx is played by Kyle Lowder, who starred in the daytime soaps “The Bold and the Beautiful” and “Days of Our Lives.” The other leads are Troy Burgess as Bourbon Room owner Dennis, with Carrie St. Louis and Justin Mortelliti as the young romantics Sherrie and Drew.
Rehearsals are fun, long and grueling as the cast is put through rigorous, nonstop, military-styled drills. Kelly adds a step here, speeds up a turn, slows down a move, repositions by an inch or so and takes out a wave. It’s necessarily repetitive until perfection is attained.
I was the first media member permitted to watch the preparations and was riveted as she put them through workouts and dance routines for Poison’s “Nothing But a Good Time.” The cast is beyond enthusiastic, and in rehearsals, they’re giving their best with high-energy, rock ’em and sock ’em run-throughs.
“They love this show,” Kelly told me. “We’ve brought together a tremendously talented cast, and they’ve meshed together perfectly. I can tell now they will be beyond sensational when we open. They put all their heart and energy into each day’s rehearsal. It’s sounding great and looking wonderful. I couldn’t be happier or prouder at this stage.”
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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With top accommodations, first-rate entertainment, high-end shopping and a slew of acclaimed chefs, the Palazzo has positioned itself as one of the most luxurious resorts on the Strip.
More than 3,000 all-suite rooms start at 740 square feet and are decorated in a modern, yet classic, Italian style. Each room features a sleeping area, with a king or two queens, and a sunken living room area with floor to ceiling windows.
A cathedral ceiling tops the Palazzo casino, while a second 80-foot dome brings natural light to the property's lobby. The 105,000 square foot casino features more than 2,000 slots and 80 table games but lacks the stale smell of cigarettes, as the property is LEED certified with smoking off limits in most of the Palazzo — including 50 percent of the casino floor.
Dining at the Palazzo is among the best of the Strip, starting with Wolfgang Puck's CUT. Chef Simon To serves up authentic Chinese cuisine at Zine, while Sushisamba combines Brazilian and Peruvian flavors with Japanese techniques. At LAVO, club-goers can dine on Mediterranean dishes before heading upstairs to the bath house-inspired nightclub.
In the spirit of Venice, The Venetian is a little piece of romantic Italy right here in Las Vegas. The Venetian is an "all-suite" hotel, with rooms accented with plush linens and Italian marble. The 4,027 suites are divided into two towers: The 36-story Venetian Tower that offers guests a taste of luxurious Las Vegas and the Venezia suites, which guarantee 12 floors of high-end elegance. The top five floors are the hotel's highest level of luxury with its private access, concierge lounge, upgraded features and even a dedicated staff.
The flagship of Venetian nightlife is TAO, an ultra-hip nightclub located inside of TAO Asian Bistro. V Bar is The Venetian's super smooth ultra lounge, made by the owners of New York City's club Lotus and Los Angeles' super swank Sunset Room.
The Venetian features 19 restaurants including Thomas Keller's award-winning French restaurant Bouchon, Mario Batali's B&B Ristorante, Aquaknox for fresh seafood and the 42,000 square foot TAO Asian Bistro. There's also the food court inside the Canal Shoppes for those looking for a quick bite.
Guests can float along The Grand Canal Shops in an authentic Italian gondola ride and pass stores like Burberry and Kenneth Cole along the way. And if you haven't caught a real celeb, on the street in Vegas, you can head over to Madame Tussauds to check out a wax version.