Men of the Strip FINALLY Sets Debut Date


The super-charged male revue signs deal for HARD ROCK LIVE on the Strip…

Those who’ve followed my column through the years at two other sites know that the journey of Men of the Strip has been filled with drama, emotion, sweat and unexpected twists. The saga was even covered in a two-hour E! Network documentary, but that’s only been a fraction of the story.

MOTS4

The wait is over, boys…time to work it.        

Throughout the journey, singer Jeff Timmons and crew have had one goal in mind – a residency on the Las Vegas Strip. As of this afternoon, the time has arrived. HARD ROCK LIVE, a large performance venue inside the Hard Rock Cafe (next to MGM Grand Hotel), will be hosting MOTS for a limited run starting July 14th.

 

MOTS2

Choreographer Glenn Douglas Packard puts the troupe through its paces…              

The interesting thing here is that the high-powered Timmons-backed show has been entangled in many ways with competing Magic Mike Live (with actor Channing Tatum as the in-name-only front man). That revue, launched with enormous hype (and subsequently large ticket sales), is also at a Hard Rock venue…the off-Strip Hard Rock Hotel on Paradise Road.

MOTS3

Magic Mike Live turned out to be a major fiasco in terms of a standalone production. Despite hefty audience turnout, the show itself is one of the worst productions for Sin City in recent memory. Men of the Strip, on the other hand, delivers everything it promises in top-notch fashion.

Here is the press release that was sent out just a short while ago:

HARD ROCK LIVE WELCOMES MEN OF THE STRIP THIS JULY

 All-new male revue to perform limited engagement on The Strip

LAS VEGAS (June 28, 2017) – Summer just got hotter with the announcement of Las Vegas’ newest male revue, Men of the Strip, coming to Hard Rock Live this July. With a limited engagement of six performances, the multi-faceted all-male cabaret show is sure to heat things up on The Strip.

Created by Emmy-nominated celebrity choreographer, Glenn Douglas Packard, Men of the Strip takes the art of seduction to a whole new level with the hottest male entertainers delivering the ultimate live adult entertainment experience.

Jeff Timmons (who has enjoyed phenomenal success with his internationally-renowned boy band 98 Degrees, sold millions of records worldwide and had gold and platinum records in 27 countries around the world) combined talents with Packard (who has worked with legendary performers such as Michael Jackson, Pink, Usher, and Ricky Martin) to create an all-new show that is sure to leave audiences wanting more.

Starring some of the most seductive men handpicked from auditions held nationwide, the show features original choreography, music, one-of-a-kind personalities and explosive energy in a fun, interactive and intimate setting. Guests will enjoy getting up close and personal with Timmons and the sexy “six pack” of male dancers and singers. Whether it’s to celebrate a birthday, bachelorette or divorce or just have the ultimate Girls Night Out, Men of the Strip aims to please!

Performances are scheduled for 9 p.m. on:

 Fri., July 14, Sat., July 15, Sun., July 16, Fri., July 21, Thurs., July 27, Fri., July 28

Tickets are on sale now and priced at $50 per person for general admission and $100 per person for VIP (includes preferred seating, meet & greet and photo), plus tax and fees. Tickets can be purchased online http://www.ticketweb.com/venue/hard-rock-live-las-vegas-las-vegas-nv/189164?REFERRAL_ID=twvenues or by calling 702.650.8590. VIP tables that seat up to four people are available for $500 (plus tax and fees) and include premium seating, a meet & greet, photo and a bottle of champagne. Tables can be booked by calling 702.650.8590 or by emailing lisa_hendrixson@hardrock.com.

Men of the Strip is produced by Jeff Timmons and Top Level Entertainment. For more information on Men of the Strip, visit menofthestrip.com.

As a fan of Jeff Timmons, choreographer Glenn Douglas Packard and the entire cast and team of Men of the Strip, this writer couldn’t be more pleased to be sharing this announcement with all of you. I will be there on opening night, and hope to see you there as well.

Photos: [Sammasseur, Men of the Strip, Hard Rock Live]

 

 

Advertisements

Vegas Don’ts: “What Was I Thinking?”

A young mother shares her feelings after taking her child to Sin City…and how it ruined her love for Las Vegas…

kids.jpg

Recently I struck up a conversation with a staffer at my orthodontist appointment (in Salem, Oregon, where I live). When asked what I do for a living, I described my column and how it offers unfiltered reviews/advice/news on all things Vegas. Her reply was an unpleasant “Ugh…Vegas!”.

Obviously there was a story behind her response. “I went to Vegas recently”, she offered. “It’ll be a long time before I go back…if ever.” It turns out that she and her husband had decided to take their eighteen-month-old baby for a few days in Sin City. “What was I thinking? It was a miserable experience”.

As a person who cringes at the sight of little children being dragged around Vegas at all hours (and in truly inappropriate locations), I was eager to explore this young mother’s experiences. But more importantly, I had to find out what would ever possess her to take a baby there in the first place.

kids2

“I used to hear that it was a cool place for kids. Lots of fun things for them to see and do – animal attractions, amusement rides, neat stores and lots of things to look at. I figured we could stick to those sorts of activities. And if one of us had the itch to do something more “adult”, my husband and I could trade off watching the baby”.

Well, let’s be honest and take a look at that last statement…doing something “more adult”. That’s the REAL reason any grown-up heads to Las Vegas – for things you can’t experience in your everyday life. But don’t some parents want to have their cake and eat it, too?

Carrot Top frequently disses Vegas-bound families in his comedy show. “What the #&*! is it with all the kids on the Strip?” he asks. “Drugs, booze, gambling, and prostitutes. Yeah, bring the kids!” he intones. And he is so very right.

kids5_600x

The fact is that there is absolutely NOTHING family-oriented in and around the Strip (excluding natural attractions like Red Rock Canyon) that can’t be done cheaper/better/funner somewhere else. Your kids want a rollercoaster ride? There are family parks all over the nation. Animal attractions? Same thing. And those places aren’t surrounded by “porn slappers”, suggestive billboards, inebriated revelers, homeless beggars and adults doing grown-up things with a drink in their hand.

Then there’s that small matter of temptation. All the things that parents want to do when the kiddies aren’t around are suddenly within reach 24/7. Sure, parents can trade off, leaving one adult feeling left out and completely eliminating the opportunity to do things together as a couple or family. Or little Bobby can stay with a sitter in the hotel room while you get your groove on. And that circles right back around to “Why did you bring your children here in the first place?”. Could it be absolute and utter selfishness?

“Kids in Vegas” is one of the hottest and most volatile subjects on any Vegas message board. I’ve gotten into many a heated discussion with those of dissenting opinions. My stance is that your children should vacation in places meant for children. A tourist destination promoting “sin” is not that place.

kids3_600x.jpg

The most frequent defense that people use for being pro-kids is “My parents took me to Vegas and I turned out alright”. But did you really? There are plenty of parents who would contend that deliberately exposing children to the dangers and excess of Las Vegas is anything but “alright”.

The classic Vegas of a few decades back is long gone, my friends. Mobsters notwithstanding, the Strip and Fremont Street are much grittier and more dangerous now than ever before. Visits here are no longer classy affairs filled with evening gowns, elegance and lounge singers.  

I’m cutting straight to the truth at this point. Contemporary Vegas is the worst place for a caring parent to take a kid. It regularly sees violent crime in the streets, casinos and sidewalks. Shoot-outs, robberies, murders, police stand-offs and a deliberate attack on Strip pedestrians by a motorist have filled headlines in recent months.

Then of course there are the rapes, muggings, pick-pocketing, suicides, drug overdoses, etc. that go unreported or unpublicized. You’re unlikely to encounter any of that with your family at Magic Mountain or Lego Land.

kids7_600x

Here are a few sobering statistics to consider before packing  a suitcase for the little ones:

The overall crime rate in Las Vegas is 37% higher than the national average.

For every 100,000 people, there are 10.73 daily crimes that occur in Las Vegas.

In Las Vegas you have a 1 in 26 chance of becoming a victim of any crime.

Las Vegas is graded an F for crime compared to all U.S. cities.  (Source – areavibes.com)

Another popular argument from parents who bring their families to Vegas is “The kids wanted to go”. Did they, really? If so, ask yourself where their information comes from. Surely your precious little ones haven’t been allowed to watch The Hangover or CSI. So they must be hearing how fun Vegas is from Mom and Dad, right?

kids6_600x

It’s doubtful that parents share the true Vegas experience with their kids. Those descriptions get sanitized and romanticized, leading kids to envision the city as one big carnival. Somewhere along the way, details about drinking, gambling, smoking joints, three-ways and lap dances got left out of the story. So don’t blame the kids if you’ve made Vegas sound appealing to them.

Remember that bizarre 90’s attempt to rebrand Vegas as family-friendly destination? It’s now viewed as ill-advised phase, if not downright embarrassing. Most of the rides, attractions, free shows and kid-friendly casino themes have been scaled down or stripped out altogether.

Back then, the MGM Grand had a theme park and the hotel itself was designed as a replica of Emerald City. But Dorothy and the Munchkins are long gone, and with good reason. The concept didn’t work.

kids4_600x

Let’s circle back to the mom at the beginning of this piece. She told me that bringing her baby along truly spoiled the love she and her husband felt for Vegas. “We couldn’t do anything we wanted to do. I felt guilty – just awful – for exposing my baby to that kind of environment. It made me second-guess what I loved about going there, and it’s unlikely that we’ll be returning before my daughter grows up”.

She paused to think for a moment, then offered a final bit of wisdom that stuck with me…and inspired this article.

“You know, we’re the ones who wanted to be parents. Nobody forced us to take our child along. We chose to do that ourselves. Only one of those decisions was a mistake…and we won’t be making it again”.

kids8_600x

Although this writer has a passion for Vegas, I don’t actually live here. I feel this gives me an advantage over local writers, as I see things from a tourist perspective. Other sites give you a glossy vision of Sin City…you won’t find that here.

Photos: [Sammasseur]

Winter Is Coming To Vegas With THRONES! The Musical Parody

The critically-acclaimed production is headed to The Space….

14434836_356552348016678_4287528598265868387_o.jpg

Rejoice, Game of Thrones fans! You’ve seen every episode, loved (and hated) the characters through six seasons of sex, intrigue, dragons, back-stabbing and throat-slashing. Now you are clutching your sword, eagerly waiting for the next season to begin. Well, no need to behead your kinsman in frustration. Vegas is about to get their own taste of GoT-style adventure at The Space.

THRONES! The Musical Parody comes from the same creative group behind 50 Shades – The Parody (currently at Bally’s). This affectionate spoof played to sold-out audiences at Chicago’s famed Apollo Theater, with a similar runaway stint in London. After a six-month run in California, the wild and irreverent Los Angeles THRONES! cast will be heading to The Space for nine performances, beginning July 14th.

Fans of 50 Shades – The Parody will recognize the premise and style of THRONES! The Musical Parody right away. A group of GoT fans gather to enjoy a season finale of the show and end up acting out the entire plot and characters for a friend who’s never watched the series (oh, the horror!).

14435375_356552424683337_7589730670446514277_o.jpg

Expect lots of belly-laughs, improvised dialogue, wacky costumes and well-deserved skewering…with actual blades. Of course, there will be plenty of tongue-in-cheek musical numbers:

 “Will Tyrion’s accent ever improve? Can Jon Snow possibly know more than nothing? Just how red can the Red Wedding get? And is Gandalf still alive?! [wait…]”

If you haven’t visited the innovative location known as The Space, now would be a great time to check it out. The brainchild of local favorite Mark Shunock (Rock of Ages and Magic Mike Live), The Space is a community-driven off-Strip home for arts, entertainment and philanthropic events (like the ever-popular Mondays Dark).

14355134_352849228386990_1623304184634450975_n.jpg

Shunock has teamed up with Ethan Walker of Rapidfire International to bring THRONES! to Sin City. The show is produced by Baby Wants Candy, a Windy City troupe whose live musicals are improvised on the spot…based on audience shout-outs. Can you guess which dragon-infused fantasy drama was their most popular choice?

THRONES! The Musical Parody runs July 14 through 23rd at 8pm (dark the 17th). Tickets start at $35 and can be ordered at thespacelv.com. There is currently a Groupon offer for $22.50 (inclusive of taxes and fees) available by clicking here.

The Space is located at 3460 Cavaretta Court, across the interstate from Aria Hotel Casino.

 Photos: [THRONES! The Musical Parody via Facebook]

 

Fresco Italiano Is A Journey For Your Senses

Westgate’s authentic eatery is the REAL tour of Italy…

Last year, on another site, I did a multi-part piece on Westgate Resort, aka the former Las Vegas Hilton. That series included a visit to Edge Steakhouse, which was so impressive that it’s still my top recommendation for a Vegas “special meal”. Right next door is another possible treasure I’d been yearning to try – Fresco Italiano.

Fresco Italiano

Forget about the restaurant chain that offers a Tour of ItalyFresco Italiano literally gives you a trip through the Italian countryside using sights, sounds, scents….and most importantly, tastes. You’ll be transported beyond dining into a full sensory experience…without the need for a Vespa scooter.

Fresco Italiano

You’ll understand what I mean when you walk into the Tuscan-inspired main seating area. Running across the far wall, to the left of the kitchen, are a series of screens arranged like windows of a vehicle. Gorgeous scenery glides by at a leisurely pace, all in a single direction and consistent speed. The effect is of moving through lush Italian landscapes via a slow boat or train. Click here for a gorgeous peek.

Fresco Italiano

Fresco Italiano

The decor of Fresco Italiano is classy, understated, elegant…yet somehow very warm. A full bar and “wine cellar” situated across the front of the main room offer ample seating that’s even more relaxed and inviting. The open kitchen and outgoing staff will have you remembering visits to Mama’s place for holiday meals.

Fresco Italiano

As the name implies, Fresco Italiano is all about freshness – fresh ingredients, recipes and preparation…along with a fresh attitude towards fine dining. My companion and I found the overall visit to be surprisingly fun and just as memorable as the dishes we enjoyed.

Fresco Italiano

GM Angelo Cordero delivered a selection from the Fresco Italiano wine cellar…

Although we were invited guests of the restaurant (which undoubtedly resulted in PLENTY of special attention from the staff) there’s no question that guests surrounding us were just as enthralled as we were. The atmosphere is a bit infectious, as this video will attest to:

The very colorful Michael will serenade your table…

Angelo Cordero, who recently took over as General Manager (after stints at Rao’s and Carmine’s, both at Caesars Palace), knows how to deliver an immersive culinary adventure to every table. Although he’s only been there a few months, it’s clear that he and the staff have melded together into a wonderful pairing.

Fresco Italiano

No Italian meal should be enjoyed without a proper Fettunta ($4), this one sprinkled with grana padano…

Mr. Cordero greeted our table and was eager to start us with some wine or cocktails. He recommended a gorgeously-prepared Fresco Red Sangria ($12) for myself and a White Sangria (also $12) for my companion. Both were bursting with flavor, color…and of course, freshness. After a small chat about vino, Cordero brought over a new addition to his collection…a 2013 Ferrari-Caranoblack muskat. It made a nice compliment to the entrees that would follow.

Fresco Italiano

Our server Robert recommended that we try his favorite starter – Meatball Flatbread ($16). It’s topped with peperonata (sweet peppers “melted” in olive oil, onions and tomatoes), fior de latte (a mild cow’s milk cheese), black olives and basil. It was as mouth-watering as the above photo would suggest. Other choices included a traditional MargheritaSausage or Proscuitto and Ruchetta, ranging from $14 to $16.

There are plenty of other appetizers to pick from, like meatballs, bruschetta, three varieties of mozzarella and two styles of mussels. Click here for the menu.

Fresco Italiano

Before the flatbread arrived, we tried in a couple of salads. I had an Italian Chopped ($12) combining romaine, arugula, salami, peppers, onion, cabbage and house vinaigrette, capped with flash-fried proscuitto. My companion enjoyed a picture-perfect Classic Caesar ($12) topped with white anchovies and a large slice of Parmesan frico. Both were light, crisp and large enough to be an entree (but who comes to an Italian restaurant just for a salad?). Other offerings are an Heirloom Caprese and two soups – Minestrone ($10) and seafood-based Zuppa di Pesci ($12).

Fresco Italiano

While waiting for our entrees, Sous Chef Larry Morris sent over a stunning Calamari Fritti ($14) marinated in buttermilk and dished up with mouth-watering sweet-and-spicy peppers. For a person who normally avoids calamari, this one was irresistible.

Fresco Italiano

Pasta dishes are offered Modo Mia style (my way). A variety of different pastas and sauces can be matched to make your favorite entree. Fettucini, spaghetti, angel hair, gnocchi, linguini and more can be topped with bolognese, clam, marinara, carbonara, alfredo or arabiata sauces. Prices are based on the type of sauce ($19-$26). Add chicken, meatballs. grilled shrimp or sausage and peppers (at additional cost) to create that perfect dish.

My guest selected Fettucine with Alfredo Sauce and added grilled chicken breast:

Fresco Italiano

There is a list of specialty pastas like Prosciutto and Pea Fettucine with cream and summer truffel ($25), Frutti di Mare Linguine with clams, mussels, shrimp and scallops covered in San Marzano sauce and chili flakes ($28), Agnolotti with pistachio butter, garlic and arugula ($25), and of course, Homemade Lasagne ($29).

Pastas and pizza carry the weight of Fresco’s menu, but there is plenty in the way of Risottoand Carne. Free-range chicken breasts ($27), pork loin ($29) and organic veal chop ($47) are prepared in one of five different styles.

I chose an absolutely stunning bone-in veal chop, prepared parmesan style over a bed of spaghetti marinara. It was enough for two people to fill themselves up on….with leftovers to spare. The overall flavor was out of this world, although the marinara sauce was a little tart for my liking.

Fresco Italiano

Under entrees, Branzino (European Sea Bass – $34), Lamb ($36) an 8-oz Filet ($45) and a 22-oz Prime Rib will vie for your attention. All come with vegetable and a starch. Shareable sides (such as roasted potatoes, grilled asparagus, eggplant and peperonata) are $10.

Fresco Italiano

Dessert fans, take note of the new Spring Menu of sweet and chilled goodies. The General Manager’s family recipe gets top billing with Angelo’s Grandma’s Famous Tiramisu ($9). More signature sweets like Ricotta Cheesecake ($9), seven-layer Chocolate Cake topped with seasonal berries ($9), a double-helping of Cannoli ($8) and various Gelato flavors ($6) should send you on your way with a smile.

Although we were stuffed to the max (with plenty to take home), Mr. Cordero insisted on preparing a Bananas Foster for our table. See the video clip above for the dish being created on a cart by the kitchen. The spectacular flaming effect added even more to the sensory adventure we’d just undergone.

Fresco Italiano

Unfortunately, Bananas Foster isn’t listed on the menus I have, so I can’t quote the price. But be sure to ask Angelo about it…he appeared to be having fun at the flambe pan and will undoubtedly be pleased to whip up one for your group.

Fresco Italiano

There’s no doubt that this writer regrets waiting so long to try Fresco Italiano at Westgate. Like neighboring Edge Steakhouse, this restaurant is a winner for the off-Strip resort…and another new personal favorite.

Fresco Italiano is located at 3000 Paradise Road inside Westgate Las Vegas. Hours are from 5pm daily with select dates for lunch from 11-2. Call 702.732.5276 for reservations or additional information. Group menus and private dining rooms are available.

Photos: [Sammasseur]