The GOlden Age Of Hollywood Lives Again at Sin City’s Hip new Venue…
If there’s one Sin City entertainer who embodies vintage glamour, it’s the gorgeous Ruby Lewis. A sweet southern gal with the voice of an angel, Ms. Lewis has risen from small town ingenue to her name in lights on Broadway. And this weekend, the star of “Marilyn: The New Musical” and “Paramour” from Cirque du Soleil brings “Ruby Lewis: Starlet” to The Nevada Room for three glorious performances.
Journey back to the Golden Age of Hollywood with the multi-talented sensation, Ruby Lewis, and step into the shoes of cinema’s most beloved leading ladies through song.
In this “star-studded” performance, Ruby takes on Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Marlene Dietrich, Ava Gardner, and Kathryn Hepburn, just to name a few. With the Incomparable Dan Ellis at the Piano.
The Nevada Room is coming off a spectacular launch just last evening with a quartet of acts. Hannah Brady,Paula Dione Ingram,Denita Asberry, & Swing It Girls all showcased their upcoming gigs at sister club The Vegas Room. Pianists Michael Joy and Christopher Lash provided music during dinner and for the show.
To celebrate its first weekend, The Nevada Room is offering a two-for-one special on Ruby Lewis: Starlet. Get two tickets for Saturday evening 6:30 pm, which includes a five-course dinner. Price is $85 when you purchase online using this link and enter the coupon code ‘RUBY241’ at checkout.
There will be an additional Brunch edition of Ruby Lewis: Starlet on Sunday, May 16th at 1 pm. Follow this link for tickets and enter coupon code ‘RUBY241’ at checkout to receive two tickets for only $65, which also includes a five course meal.
Hours and scheduled entertainment at The Nevada Room Piano Bar Bistro are as follows:
Tuesdays: 5 PM to 10 PM – Patrick Hogan 7 PM to 10 PM
Wednesdays: 5 PM to 10 PM – Keith Thompson 7 PM to 10 PM
Thursdays: 5 PM to 10 PM – Michael Joy 7 PM to 10 PM
Fridays: 5 PM to 10 PM – Mike Clark/Johnn Jones (alternating) 7 PM to 10 PM & Dave Seigel 10 PM to Midnight
Saturdays: 5 PM to 10 PM – Chris Lash 7 PM to 10 PM & Dave Seigel 10 PM to Midnight
Visit TheNevadaRoom.com for more information or to make reservations. The Nevada Room is located at 953 East Sahara Avenue, Suite E1A, Las Vegas, Nevada
Photos: Ruby Lewis, The Nevada Room, Robert Watson, Review-Journal via John Katsilometes
Lovingly-rendered Salute Brings The Sibling Duo to Life…
I have no shame in admitting my passion for music of the seventies. The legendary rock groups, family bands and solo artists will be remembered long after today’s contemporary noise has disappeared. And very few artists represent the heart of that era better than Karen and Richard Carpenter.
Much like the Osmonds, the Carpenters wrapped us in their warm embrace. Known for their gentle nature. loving rapport, Karen’s flawless voice, and Richard’s instrumental wizardry, the clean-cut siblings felt very much like family.
Karen’s untimely death in 1983 still hurts, but her songs remain a part of our lives, especially during the holiday season. With her life cut prematurely short, fans never got the privilege of an expanded songbook or a Strip residency (Donny and Marie played at Flamingo for a full decade). Thankfully, the timeless music of The Carpenters is coming to Las Vegas in a new residency at Town Square.
CARPENTERS TRIBUTE CONCERT will debut at Stoney’s Rockin’ Country on May 11th. Slated to perform every Tuesday and Wednesday at 7pm, the new residency is an authentic recreation of the duo’s 1976 U.K. tour. Starring Sally Olson as “Karen” and Ned Mills as “Richard”, the comedy-spiced production promises spot-on performances of all the hits you know and love.
Vegas fans have enjoyed CARPENTERS TRIBUTE CONCERT for a number of years. The show has performed throughout the city, most recently at Chianti’s Restaurant and the ever-popular Italian American Club on East Sahara Avenue. During the pandemic, the production offered live streaming performances to keep fans entertained during quarantine.
Sally Olson is the only artist to have performed as Karen Carpenter for the long-running LEGENDS IN CONCERT. The Rutland, Vermont native studied at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and is an avid painter. In addition to being the central performer, Ms. Olson serves as Artistic Director for CARPENTERS TRIBUTE CONCERT.
Pianist Ned Mills studied jazz composition and arranging at North Texas University. He’s served as musical director for a number of entertainment heavyweights like Joan Rivers, the Ink Spots, and The Shirelles. Mr. Mills is also the founder and president of SONORE, a music-based company here in Las Vegas.
Direct from Las Vegas – Carpenters Tribute Concert: A Re-creation of the 1976 UK Tour is the definitive show celebrating the music and legacy of the famed brother-sister duo. Starring Sally Olson as Karen Carpenter and Ned Mills as Richard Carpenter, the show is a re-creation of the 1976 UK tour, featuring hits including “We’ve Only Just Begun”, “Yesterday Once More”, “Superstar”, Karen’s drum solo, Richard’s classical piano feature, a Spike Jones parody of “Close To You”, comedy antics and much more.
Randy Schmidt, author of Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter, says “Sally’s tribute to Karen Carpenter is heartfelt and honest” and David Halston of Tribute Masters says, “Sally is remarkable, spot-on, and delightfully entertaining.” Sally is truly unsurpassed in her startling representation of Karen Carpenter, including authentic hairstyles and makeup, vintage costumes, gestures, and stunning voice.
This amazing production show is unique due to its high degree of authenticity. Carpenters Tribute Concert has captivated audiences across the country with faithful and spot-on recreations of the Carpenters’ music and has played to performing arts centers, cabaret spaces including the famed Triad Theater in NYC, and SOLD OUT showrooms in Las Vegas. The show was featured at the Carpenters 50th Anniversary Celebration in Thousand Oaks, CA in April 2019. Sally is the first-ever and only Karen Carpenter tribute artist to perform with Legends in Concert.
Carpenters Tribute Concert: A Re-creation of the 1976 UK Tour features a powerful live band, historical commentary, lovely arrangements and video, taking audiences on an incredible journey down memory lane into the world of the Carpenters – the world’s ONLY authentic Carpenters tribute production in sight and sound.
Tickets for CARPENTERS TRIBUTE CONCERT start at only $15 (plus taxes/fees) and are available here. Stoney’s Rocking Country is located at 6611 S Las Vegas Blvd # 160 at Town Square.
Classic-style circus seeks new venue for its glorious tent extravaganza…
In the realms of media and show business, one of the most gratifying phrases you can use is “I told you so”. And this particular writer is looking forward to announcing in the near future that Intrigue Shows has found a new home for CELESTIA, the wonderfully-entertaining spectacle that launched at The STRAT during the summer of 2019.
When the pandemic swept through Sin City, its impact was devastating. Companies filed for bankruptcy, long-established productions announced permanent closure, and cast and crew from all facets of entertainment scattered like petals in the wind.
At one point I was compelled to assemble a list of the shows I felt were most and least likely to return….along with a bunch that could topple to either side of the fence. I may have swung a bit broadly on some, but others were home runs. On my “Most Likely To Return” collection was the fledgling CELESTIA. Here’s what I said on April 13th of last year:
My insiders at CELESTIA assure me that the fledgling big-top production is on solid ground. STRAT Hotel Casino has a strong financial stake. which seems to be a common thread in the current make-or-break environment. Four-wallers (independent contractors) will suffer while casino-owned shows are likely to last. It all comes down to money.
While the reason for my faith in CELESTIA‘s return might not have been correct (The STRAT is now willing to part with the tent-based production), there’s no denying that a family-friendly circus with a desirable price point has built-in appeal for post-COVID Vegas. That’s why the show’s General ManagerKim Scott (formerly of Cirque du Soleil) has dedicated every available resource to making sure the CELESTIA tent reaches towards Vegas skies once more.
Here’s the letter that Ms. Scott sent out to all 88 cast members, technicians, ushers, front-of-house and other crew just this afternoon. The email was motivated by an article from one of my colleagues, who yesterday announced the show’s permanent closure despite the lack of a formal statement:
Hello Everyone with Celestia,
I hope this finds you all well and enjoying the reopening of Las Vegas.
I want to give you an update on the status of Celestia and its future in Las Vegas. As you know, COVID hit many businesses hard and our company ownership has tasked me with finding new ownership for the tent and show.
I have been working nonstop to source a buyer for the tent and a company interested in running the show. I want you to know that finding a new home for Celestia has been my only priority during the shutdown.
We do have a few companies interested in the tent and a potential company interested in operating Celestia. While I cannot guarantee that Celestia will return to the stage, I can ensure you that I am working to make that happen for all of you. I can confirm that Celestia and the tent will not remain at The STRAT and will be relocated until a new owner can be identified. The move will happen within the next few weeks.
I want to sincerely thank all of you for your patience as I work to navigate the next steps focus and your courage and commitment to Celestia during this past year.
Please don’t fall into the rumor mill of Las Vegas. If you have any questions, please reach out to me directly.
General Manager Intrigue Shows, Inc.
Regular readers will remember that I’ve published a number of articles about CELESTIA, from a stellar original review to an insider’s view via their STAR VIP EXPERIENCE (with onstage seating) and a profile of their latest electrifying cast addition, DUO TRANSCEND from America’s Got Talent.
As an avid supporter of every hard-working individual who dedicates their talents both behind the scenes and onstage, I’m excited for the possibilities awaiting those involved with CELESTIA.
Support from large corporations and casinos may come and go with wildly unpredictable results. But Intrigue Shows, and Kim Scott in particular, have years of experience behind them. They know the do’s, the don’t’s, and B.S. that get tossed around by big-talkers. They’re independent thinkers with a passionate desire to put on an old-fashioned spectacle….just what we need in today’s turbulent environment.
Photo by Cipriano Moreno Aparicio
Don’t count out CELESTIA just yet. You might be in for a pleasant surprise.
Photos: Sam Novak, Intrigue Shows, Cipriano Moreno Aparicio
Long-running male revue takes early lead as most-improved production of 2021…
Regular readers of Vegas Unfiltered Blog have probably figured out by now that this writer is an out-and-proud gay man. If you haven’t, my long-running “Hot Guys of Vegas” series should have tipped you off. Nevertheless, this column has never been focused on that aspect of my personal life. I just mention it now to give some insight on my perspective of male revues.
Clowning with the guys of “Aussie Heat”…
That being said, I’ve spent many a night with my friends at Aussie Heat and Chippendales. And I’ve deliberately avoided that misguided mess called Magic Mike Live (one of the worst major productions of any kind). The other that’s been high on my “Do Not Fly” list is Australia’s Thunder From Down Under at Excalibur.
My first visit to “Thunder” was in December 2015…
If you’re curious as to why “Thunder” ranks so low in the hierarchy of Vegas beef-fests, the full review from 2018 is here. But I can give you the Cliff Notes version:
“It’s everything that the equally awful Magic Mike Live ridicules male revues for being. Packed with rote production numbers, Thunder will have you mentally scratching off each item from the list of cliches as it plays out on a cheap plywood stage.”
Now, I experience no joy in publishing negative reviews, especially when the cast and crew are rarely to blame. “Thunder” being in a temporary venue at the time (their second-floor showroom was undergoing a desperately-needed re-fit) certainly didn’t help. But three years later, I revisited this “Outback throwback” on a whim and found myself having a fantastic evening.
“Thunder” shares a revamped showroom with “Australian Bee Gees”…
Let’s start with the venue itself. The newly-christened THUNDERLAND showroom received a pretty modern retrofit. The odd two-level footprint is sadly unchanged, and the choice of furniture is somewhat curious (psuedo-IKEA, much like Mat Franco’s space at The Linq). But the current positioning of seats and tables has improved the sight lines. Moving video walls double as a stage curtain, bar service has received an overhaul (with optional online ordering), and the lighting/sound system booms like a beating chest.
Speaking of chests, the cast of Thunder is one pec-tastic bunch. Each is chiseled, handsome, and much better at dancing than the last go-round. And this is where I noticed the first major improvement…individual performers are given a chance to shine. Each guy is introduced after their respective showcase moment, removes their mask, offers a few words to the audience…and one even sings the rafters loose.
As for the ensemble numbers….my biggest gripe was the lazy choreography and cliched acts. Mercifully, “George of the Jungle” seems to have crashed into his final tree, and the vampires have retreated to their coffins. Replacing them are an uncomfortable SWAT team sequence in riot gear (too soon, guys) and a take on the 300 Spartans (meh). The rest is a top-shelf combination of musical hits, contemporary moves, and extreme athleticism that brings horney guests to their feet.
It’s worth noting that the element of male audience inclusion remains unchanged since my last review:
“Don’t expect to get more than a fist-bump from the dancers as they work their way through the audience. The rough-and-tumble men of the Outback are dripping with testosterone, but only seem interested in sharing it with the ladies.”
The show is specifically geared towards women, and the few guys in attendance are presumed to be supportive straight men (not tonight, fellas!). Hopefully the minds behind Thunder will catch up with the all-are-welcome Aussie Heat and realize that they’re turning away an untapped, lucrative market. Click here and here for more of my analysis on that topical subject.
New host Scott Reading is sass, class…and one sweet surprise…
Now for the best improvement of all….host Scott Reading. This bloke is just about everything you could hope for in a male-revue emcee. He’s sexy, charming, charismatic, funny, engaging, spontaneous, and downright fantastic. In other words, he’s everything that former front-man Marcus Deegan wasn’t:
Abrasive and short-tempered, Deegan seems to take delight in belittling rowdy audience members. The past two times that I’ve seen THUNDER, Deegan’s stopped the show dead in its tracks to berate rowdy women. He’s gone so far as to blatantly tell them to “Shut the f*ck up”. On one occasion, he came out during final bows to flip his middle finger at an audience member while mouthing “F*ck you!”…and it wasn’t done with a wink.
Yes, Marcus…that’s the exit door…
Who knows how many ticket-buyers failed to return thanks to Marcus and his abusive antics? But with any luck, he’s gone for good. Let’s hope that Scott Reading is a permanent fixture. He alone is worth the price of admission….and that’s before he unleashes a massive surprise at the finale.
With the recent sale of RIO Hotel Casino to Hyatt, there’s no telling when gold-standard CHIPPENDALES will return to Sin City…if ever. Thank goodness Thunder From Down Under has stepped up to the plate. It’s an early front-runner for “Most Improved Production of 2021”. And once COVID restrictions are finally removed, this generous serving of beef from the Outback will become a veritable buffet.
Australia’s Thunder From Down Under performs Wednesday through Monday at 9pm with additional showtimes on weekends. Click here for full schedule and to order tickets. Prices start at $70.95 (plus taxes/fees).
Photos: Sam Novak, Thunder From Down Under, Scott Reading via Instagram
Top-level tribute delivers the Best Music when we need it the most…
If you saw the 2021 Grammy Awards and happen to have the slightest bit of good taste, you’ve realized that contemporary “music” is being dredged up from the smelliest bowels of Hell. When “WAP” aka “Wet A** P*ssy” is performed live on network television, there’s no place to go but up.
Yes, our nation is in a deep dive. We’re hurting and need something to lift us up. So we look back at the fantastic music of the 70’s and 80’s…songs that defined several generations and will last for years to come. That might explain why we’re dusting off our vinyl records for another go-round. And who better to exemplify that era than the Bee Gees?
A year after COVID’s mandatory shutdown , The Australian Bee Gees are back at Excalibur‘s remodeled second-level showroom, and they’re resonating like never before. Is it because of the music and warm lyrics? Perhaps it’s our yearning for better times. Or maybe we just need a little positivity in our lives. When you hear live performances of “To Love Somebody”, “ONE” and “How Deep Is Your Love”, those questions are moot.
This past December, while we were stuck at home instead of visiting family or enjoying holiday vacations, HBO presented the documentary “The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend A Broken Heart”. Directed by Frank Marshall (producer for POLTERGEIST, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, GREMLINS and the BACK TO THE FUTURE trilogy), the lovingly-created chronicle touched people around the world. It reminded us of the hearts behind the music, and left very few dry eyes.
There’s so much more to the brothers Gibb than the disco era. The Australian Bee Gees Show covers the gamut of their discography, opening with the 90’s, jumping back to the beginning, then culminating in a veritable dance party of Saturday Night Fever proportions.
There are medleys dedicated to every significant decade of their lengthy career. Along the way the trio visits youngest brother Andy‘s “Shadow Dancing”, Frankie Valli‘s “Grease”, Dolly and Kenny‘s “Islands in the Stream”, and a very familiar collaboration with Barbra Streisand (“Guilty”). Montages of vintage videos create a perfect backdrop to the performances.
The gentlemen behind the characters are a wildly-gifted trio of musicians in their own right. They’ve been delivering variations of this production across the globe for over two decades. Guitarist Michael Clift (“Barry”) founded the group in 1996. David Scott hits all the right notes and bears an uncanny resemblance to falsetto “Robin”. Handsome keyboardist Wayne Hosking lives and breathes Robin’s twin brother “Maurice”. They’re joined by bassist Tony Richards and percussionist Rick Powell, two powerhouse musicians with their own impressive resumes.
It’s been several years since I last saw Australian Bee Gees. At the time, it was a two act, two-era show with a costume change in between. Hosking tells me that the production will continue to develop and grow once COVID restrictions have been eliminated:
Unfortunately some of the best additions to our new show are still absent under the distancing guidelines. We had to drop the second set costume change, the medley around one microphone and a lot of the audience interaction and dance floor. Still…just happy to be back on stage at this point!
I’d be perfectly content if A.B.G. maintained one continuous set. The current iteration is an authentic, in-character concert retrospective, as though all of the boys still remained alive (alas, only eldest brother Barry survives). Much like Jason Tenner‘s PURPLE REIGN tribute to Prince, this is the closest thing you’ll ever get to an actual Bee Gees concert.
Hosking also said that a big-screen biopic of the legendary group is in the works from Paramount and actor/director Kenneth Branagh. With the box office success of BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY and PIANO MAN, perhaps this was inevitable, and that’s just fine. As the HBO documentary showed, there’s a lot more to the story than you know.
Las Vegas tribute shows rarely get the respect that they deserve. It takes plenty of effort to sing, dance, and channel iconic artists. Imagine how tough it is to maintain that illusion for an entire 75 minute production.
The Australian Bee GeesShow is overflowing with authenticity. You’ll be on your feet and feeling the fever way after the mirror ball stops spinning.
The Australian Bee Gees Show performs at 6 pm (and 4pm on select dates) at Excalibur Hotel Casino. Prices start at $50.95 plus taxes/fees. Click here for complete schedule and to order tickets.
New production dares to break the cardinal rule of drag entertainment….
Update 3/12/21 – Since the original publication of this article in 2019, much has changed on the Vegas entertainment landscape. After a thorough search (and waiting for just the right time), the creators of ‘FAAABULOUS! The Show’ are launching this evening at their new resident location.
‘FAAABULOUS! The Show’ will perform every Friday night at 8pm inside the innovative and daring NOTORIETY LIVE in downtown Las Vegas. Price is $39.99 plus taxes/fees. To learn more about NOTORIETY LIVE, click this link for my article. To purchase tickets for ‘Faaabulous’, head right here.
NOTORIETY LIVE is located in downtown Las Vegas on the third level of NEONOPOLIS at the corner of N. 4th Street and 450 Fremont Street, above The 35 Cinema and The Nerd.
There are those who say that Britney Spears’ residency at Planet Hollywood was essentially a large-scale drag show. Outrageous costumes. Sexy back-up dancers. A heavily made-up performer who mimed her way through songs while sashaying around the stage, lip-syncing to the lyrics. Check-check-check.
Being a naysayer of Spears and her own wooden, detached performances, I’ve found it more entertaining to enjoy the talents of Britney impersonators. Becoming someone other than yourself….now that’s real talent. Vegas favorites like Derrick Barry (America’s Got Talent, DIVAS) and Katie Murdock (Blond Invasion, Legends In Concert) take that artistry even higher by physically embodying the star while having angelic singing voices of their own.
The one common element for all of these productions is that drag artists rarely do any actual singing. Lip-syncing is the norm for this type of entertainment, hence the references to Britney. But that’s about to change with the debut of FAAABULOUS! The Show. This limited-run production will be the only singing/dancing/comedy drag show in Las Vegas…and they hope it finds a permanent home.
FAAABULOUS! The Show is a labor of love. It’s created by two heavy-hitters with lengthy show-biz pedigrees. Christopher Kenney is best known to audiences as “Edie“, hostess of ZUMANITY by Cirque du Soleil. Writer/performer Jamie Morris is currently starring in the eye-opening Puppetry of the Penis at Erotic Heritage Museum and created new material for ZUMANITY’s 2015 refresh.
Together, this partnership of boundless talent has captured the essence of drag and infused it with the vocal and comedic skills of five artists, each possessing their own impressive accomplishments:
Bella T. Ross, Dusty Muffin, Junebug, San San and Vita Summers…
BELLA T. ROSS is the creation of Josh Ross, a Los Angeles native and a Debbie Allen Dance Academy graduate who has been performing professionally for 15 years. Some of his credits include The Disney Channel’s “Suite Life of Zack&Cody,” Donn Arden’s “Jubilee!,” Tokyo Disney’s “Mystic Rhythms,” “Chicago The Musical” aboard The Allure of the Sea, “Cats The Musical” at Tuacahn Center for the Arts, “The Grinch Live!” at Universal Studios Hollywood, and “A Las Vegas Christmas” at The Linq Las Vegas.
DUSTY MUFFIN is the creation of C. Lash who is music supervisor/director and arranger for FAAABULOUS. He also created arrangements and direction for BAZ – Star Crossed Love (Palazzo), Scorsese: An American Crime Requiem (The Wallis), Tarantino (The Wallis) and Love Actually: Live (The Wallis). He was also the resident musical director and guest faculty member for UNLV’s Theatre Department.
JUNEBUG is the creation of Brooks Braselman, a Leo who enjoys thunder storms and keeping secrets. After majoring in musical theater at Boston’s Emerson College Brooks moved back to his home town of New Orleans. It was here he first squeezed his enormous head under a wig as Chicklet in “Psycho Beach Party” (Big Easy Award nomination). Since then Brooks has played a gaggle of lovely “ladies” including Christina Crawford in “Mommie Queerest (LA Weekly Award nomination), Natalie Green in “The Facts of Life: The Lost Episode,” Clarice startling in “The Silence Of The Clams,” Agnes Gooch in “Auntie Mame”, Velma Cruther in “Shut Up Sweet Charlotte!” He can currently be seen as Brock Hutchinson, along side John Malkovich, in the film “Supercon”, currently streaming on Amazon Prime!
SANDRA SANTIGOLD (“San San”) is the creation of Justin Rodriguez, a native of Queens, N.Y. who has called Las Vegas home for over 25 years. Credits include the National Tour of “RENT” (Angel), emcee/host of “Island Heat” at the Treasure Island Resort and Casino, multiple roles in “Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding” at Bally’s Las Vegas; and even survived the short lived “Spoofical: The Musical” at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino. He is currently the front man for “Extreme Live”, a brand new immersive music experience at the Linq Las Vegas.
VITA SUMMERS is the creation of Ashton Shawver who played the role of Suzanne Sugarbaker in “Re-Designing Women” in Dallas (world premier), San Diego, Ft. Lauderdale and off-Broadway in New York. As Vita, Ashton has won several titles in the drag world including Texas All-American Goddess at Large and Miss Fire Island her first summer performing at the popular LGBTQ enclave. Vita also performed alongside Katy Perry on Saturday Night Live. A native of Texas who now lives and works in Ft Lauderdale, Vita is excited to be making her Las Vegas stage debut!
“No lip-synching. No impersonations. The cast of “Faaabulous! The Show” – Vita Summers, Bella Ross, Sandra Santigold, Dusty Muffin and JuneBug – are true triple threats. They sing, they dance, and they are damn funny! Kenney and Morris want to take drag to the next level and they believe this is the show that Las Vegas needs right now”.
European-influenced acrobatic production packs a lot of flirtation into a gorgeously lush showroom…
“Love comes from the most unexpected places.” – Barbra Streisand
It was inevitable. With Cirque du Soleil on an ongoing hiatus and both ZUMANITY and Le Reve – The Dream shuttering forever, it was only a matter of time before some of their top-level talent came together to create something new. And as I’ve said many times before, COVID-19 has had an ancillary effect of spurring creativity. Combine those two elements, drop them into a stunning cabaret and you have APÉRO, a delightful new show at Baobab Stage in Town Square.
APÉRO‘s premise is built around aperatif, the oh-so-French tradition of early-evening libations and nibbles (something you’re invited to partake of at Baobab Cafe adjacent to the showroom). An ultra-hot cast of three men and three women meet, greet, flirt, switch around…and try to impress each other with feats of grace and strength. A threadbare concept to be sure, but who cares when the antics are this sexy?
APÉRO is geared towards adults, but there’s no nudity (the guys do get shirtless, thank goodness) or anything overtly sexual. Just a bunch of charming young people strutting their impressive bodies skills and having a great time.
The sensual atmosphere and strikingly-appointed Baobab Stage create a total escape from reality. You’ll believe that you’re in a vintage European cabaret. I was hard-pressed to look away from the stunning wall coverings, overstuffed love seats, ornate light fixtures and artwork. A 20-minute intermission allows you to drink in the settings and indulge in another aperatif or share a bottle of wine with your companion. But….back to the show.
The cast of APÉRO is a veritable who’s who of the athletic arts. Towering Damir Mouzdybaev is 6 feet, 3 inches of chiseled muscle who opens the production. Lithe, God-like, and sensual, he guides the cast through their various interactions…and has his own adventures along the way. Damir was most recently in Le Reve – The Dream, and has performed in Ringling Brothers and “Marvel Universe Live”.
Damir Mouzdybaev (with Angelique Janowski), photography by @benjaminhphoto
Aerial hoop artist/dancer/choreographer Angelique Janowski spent several years at ZUMANITY until the pandemic clipped the show’s wings. Undeterred, she and a few colleagues formed Visionary Pack Collective, which produces APÉRO. A graduate of two art schools in France,. Ms. Janowski performed hundred of hours for audiences in Paris before coming to Las Vegas.
Dazzling Natsumi Miyazaki performed in Le Reve alongside Damir Mouzdybaev, where the two of them soared through the air and danced on water. APÉRO finds the award-winning synchronized swimmer airborne once more, this time via an amusing pole sequence. Her charming character is a little sassy, a little sweet, and a whole lotta “wow”.
Natsumi Miyazaki, photo by Charles Lohman
Beefy, brooding Roman Tomanov is the “bad boy” of the cast. Decked out in a leather jacket and ribbed tank shirt, he performs gymnastic feats, then takes flight for the aerial straps. Roman has been in the casts of ABSINTHE and Kà (by Cirque du Soleil), along with Cirque’s KURIOS and LE NOIR in Tokyo.
Roman Tomanov strikes a pose in APÉRO
Mongolian contortionist Tsatsral Erdenebileg will have you gasping with her stunning flexibility. That’s certainly what occurred when the audience I was a part of saw her abilities. You’ll be awed, amazed, and perhaps even cringing when you witness what this Guinness World recordholder can achieve. Tsatsral also comes to APÉRO by way of ZUMANITY.
Tsatsral Erdenebileg is APÉRO’s stunning contortionist…
Is it possible for juggling to be sexy? If the performer is Vladislav Miagkostoupov, then the answer is a resounding “Yes”! Part clown, part underdog, and the “nice boy” of the troupe, Vladislav combines dancing and juggling into a hysterical mixture which defines his signature style. The European acrobat entertained Vegas audiences in ZOMBIE BURLESQUE and V: The Ultimate Variety Show before landing on his feet at Baobab Stage.
Vladik Miagkostoupov will juggle his way to your funnybone…
There is plenty of DNA from ZUMANITY behind the scenes of APÉRO, too. Niccole Dunn, co-founder of Visionary Pack Collective, spent seventeen years at Cirque‘s first adults-only show. Skilled at backstage duties and wardrobe design, Niccole created the costumes for APÉRO and is entrenched in making the public aware of their new production.
Pavel Gurov serves as Artistic Director/Acrobatic Advisor, and Jorge Salomone (Niccole Dunn’s husband) is Technical Director. Salmone was involved in the video elements of ZUMANITY, and Gurov is a performing artist himself.
The Baobab Cafe, Boutique and Showroom are all operated by Wassa Coulibaly, who spent several years as a dancer at New York NY‘s resident Cirque show. In some ways, she seems to have become the de facto “mom” of this ambitious endeavor, and shares the Collective’s enthusiasm.
The fact that APÉRO was born from the shockwaves of an international pandemic isn’t forgotten by the cast and creative team. All performers wear masks during the show, the audience is capped out within legal limits, and there’s even a COVID-19 protocols/procedures page on the show’s official website.
Final bows after a recent performance…
With live entertainment just now ramping up after almost a year of darkened stages, the producers knew they had to work long-term sustainability into their model:
Visionary Pack Collective was born of a small group of artists and industry professionals eager to create something sustainable and beautiful in this unprecedented time. The Baobab Stage is a cool small theatre and we wanted to make a show that would feel huge in this space, and give the audience the feeling of seeing something truly extraordinary in a way they could not have in the past. The show combines extraordinary talent and all the trappings of a production usually seen on grand stages and in arenas playing to thousands.
So when you’re ready to rediscover the magic of sensual circus artistry, head to Town Square on South Las Vegas Boulevard and immerse yourself in an evening with APÉRO.
APÉRO performs Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 7pm. The show runs approximately 90 minutes with intermission. Tickets are $50.00 (plus tax/fees) and can be ordered here.
Photos: Sam Novak, APÉRO, cast members via Facebook
Intimate Venues are the Hottest Ticket to Sin City’s Rebirth…
The times, they are a changing’. Gone for now are the concert tours, superstar residencies and spectacular mega-productions. As Sin City eases into a new comfort zone, the smart money is on smaller spaces, where performers and audiences can connect on an intimate level. In other words, a pure entertainment experience.
The Nevada Room Piano Bar Bistro is open and ready to entertain
Lounge acts and supper clubs harken a return to the days that put Las Vegas on the map…a time when true talent was the star. Their resurgence is evidence that tourists and locals alike are yearning for live music, despite concerns of gathering in public spaces. Perhaps that’s why The Vegas Room, less than a year old, has already inspired a more elaborate sister club just down the block. Check out The Nevada Room, which debuted on May 13th.
NOTORIETY Live on Fremont Street is another small performance space experiencing a wave of popularity. Located in a former movie theater at Fremont Street’s NEONOPOLIS complex, NOTORIETY has attracted a number of notable names from a wide variety of Strip productions.
“Tenors of Rock” performed a special July 4th show at NOTORIETY
Spearheaded by Ken Henderson of Best Agency, the colorful NOTORIETY nightspot has been safely hosting magic shows, burlesque revues from Lucie May, rock concerts and comedy acts for months while others have remained shuttered. With its full bar service and available dining options, the 21-and-over clientele have been returning week after week for top-notch excitement.
While contracted productions are on hiatus, individual performers have been able to create scaled-down solo shows. Bucky Heard of The Righteous Brothers (see my Las Vegas Magazine article here) launched “The Heart of Rock & Roll”, a concert series. Bucky told me that it’s an intimate duo presentation with accomplished guitarist John Wedemeyer, who’s worked with legendary acts such as Donny and Marie, Bonnie Raitt, Wayne Newton and Clint Holmes.
Bucky and John’s “The Heart of Rock and Roll” premiered February 17th at Italian American Club on East Sahara Avenue. As usual, the guys put on a wonderful show that makes you long for more.
If you’ve never visited Italian American Club, you owe it to yourself to discover it. Thanks to a dear friend, I’ve experienced the joys of this old-school gem and their rotating roster of talent, both established and rising. Stunning hunks like Jonathan Karrant and Chadwick Johnson performed incredible pre-Christmas shows, and they’ll be back on the IAC stage very soon. Other favorites include Craig Canter, Chase Brown, and Frankie Scinta.
Travis Cloer, best known for his l0ng-running role in the Jersey Boys musical, was super-busy during the pandemic. He’s had gigs at The Vegas Room and Italian American Club, among others. In February he was at Chianti Restaurant with Christopher Lash for a special Valentine-themed performance.
Crooners, Inc. at THE MINT Lounge…
February also saw the debut of Crooners, Inc. at The Mint Lounge on East Sahara Avenue. Described as “an hour and a half of pure, classic Vegas entertainment on Valentine’s Day with music, mayhem and memories”, the production features a full band and a cast that includes Miss Mala, Tony Felicetta, Jonny Bird, JC Lopez and Dean Perry.
Tuscany Resort on East Flamingo Avenue has been another go-to for superb lounge acts. Kenny Davidsen’s Bowtie Cabaret is a weekly Friday event with rotating hosts and guests. Stars like Ruby Lewis, Ian Ward, Anne Martinez, Kelly Vohnn, and Cassie Stone have recently joined Davidsen on stage. Performers Rita Lim, Ashley Fuller and Michael Grimm all have ongoing residencies there as well.
Harrah’s outdoor lounge Carnival Court has been playing host to a number of familiar faces, albeit under aliases. The father/son duo of Vinny Adinolfi and son Vin A. (The Bronx Wanderers) hit the C.C. stage on the weekends, operating as…well, it seems to depend on the week. Let’s stick with “VINdemic” for now. The guys also hit Italian American Club with the full band in January, and was back there on February 18th.
The new band has already gotten a stellar following, as evidenced by a sold-out performance of The Eagles‘ HOTEL CALIFORNIA at The Space earlier this month. Next ticketed event is a full-album presentation of PARANOID by Black Sabbath at The Space on June 20th. Get tickets here.
NOTORIETY Live hit the ground running in November with Vin and Jimmy’s DOWNTOWN HOOTENANY. An irreverent collection of music, comedy, and hysterical video segments, the show featured Jimmy Denning of TENORS OF ROCK, Vin A. (him again), Tim Sorbs on drums, and guest stars Bucky Heard and Colin Cahill (do you see a trend here?). A second edition of DOWNTOWN HOOTENANY took place in April.
Broadway stage and screen star Ruby Lewis, a recurring guest at The Vegas Room, had her own showcase at NOTORIETY on February 25th. The one-night performance celebrated both her birthday and the release of her first original song “Shock Value“. Ms. Lewis was most recently at The Nevada Room with “Starlet“.
Even Town Square shopping complex has gotten into the entertainment scene. Stoney’s Rockin’ Country is currently hosting CARPENTERS TRIBUTE CONCERT, and Baobab Stage has APERO, a residency featuring alumni from Le Reve, Zumanity and many other top-tier productions.
Vegas raises a Farewell Toast to Radio’s King of mayhem and music…
2/2/21 – It’s with a heavy heart that I share the news that our friend Jay Bird passed away yesterday. While the cause of his death is unknown to me at this point, that’s not really important. What matters is that this city, the entertainment community, and many individuals lost a friend this week.
Jay was his own kind of man…funny, sarcastic, generous, and educated. He loved horror films, giving his time to charitable events, and presenting opportunities for performers both established and fledgling. I had the honor of cutting my teeth in radio broadcasting when Jay invited me to be his guest…and later to co-host Rocking Comedy Show a few times.
Image courtesy of Aaron Elekes
In an alternate reality, I’d be prepping right now to head over to the Radio Vegas Rocks studio, as I was slated to join Jay this evening for his latest broadcast. Sadly, that will never happen. Instead, I’ll be joining his colleagues and friends for a memorial in the days or weeks ahead. Here is an official statement from Radio Vegas Rocks social media:
With a heavy heart I reluctantly confirm that Jay has passed. There will be multiple events in his honor because there are multiple scenes and communities that he supported, plus the unfortunate restrictions on gathering and people quarantining. RVR will continue to be a thing, the team will update you here.
In the past year and a half, even during COVID-19, Jay was working hard to hold things together. Not just for himself and the station, but for performers who had new material to share or just wanting to provide listeners with a laugh. Entertainers as varied as burlesque performer Lucie May, actress Cheryl Prater, singers Brett Pruneau and Andrew Diessner, Bronx Wanderers front man Vin A., Sex Tips star Louis D’Aprile, Atomic Saloon Show‘s Colin Cahill, and many more joined Jay from his home broadcasting studio.
If you’d like to contribute to burial and final expenses, a GoFundMe account has been set up here.
The following is an article that I published this past summer. I think Jay enjoyed reading it. I know that he’d appreciate the outpouring of love, loss, sadness and memories we’ll share over this unique man.
Video didn’t kill the radio stars, no matter what you’ve heard. They just evolved, changed the rules and came at you from a different direction. Unencumbered by those pesky FCC regulations, internet broadcasting has freed deejays and programmers to do things the way they’ve always wanted to. That’s why everyone loves RadioVegas.rocks and its featured program The Rocking Comedy Show.
Taking over the world one laugh at at time, The Rocking Comedy Show is three hours of nonstop “cray cray”, if you can still use that expression without sounding lame. Just how nutty do things get? Imagine yours truly is co-hosting an episode where an indie musician (Scott Willians) and a healthcare worker are barfing up their contributions to the “Death Nuts Challenge” right outside the studio door.
It may sound like madness, but it’s just another day at the office for Jason Bird, aka “Crazy Jay”. The dedicated host and creator of The Rocking Comedy Show seemingly lives and breathes the party-hearty chatfest, which has deposited more than 1,100 episodes into the vault. That’s no small feat for a show that’s been running in one form or another since 2000…which is like a century in “radio years”.
Jay began broadcasting RadioVegas.rocks from a brand-new custom-built Kicker Studio earlier this year. He shares the space with two pups, a big desert tortoise and an ancient cat named “Hank Williams”. His dad is usually on hand to great visitors and keep Jay on his toes.
Since arriving in Las Vegas twenty years ago, Jay has had plenty of up-and-coming talent behind the microphone, and an impressive list of household names, too. He’s worked with Tommy Chong, Bill Cosby, Sinbad, Lily Tomlin, Weird Al Yankovic, and Bill Engval, among others. And there was that time when iconic actor Wesley Eure kicked off an appearance at The Golden Tiki for a Land of the Lost reunion.
Jay has demonstrated his love for the city with charitable events and epic halloween parties, where he gets to show off his passion for horror films. Then there was that time in 2014 when he broke a world record for the longest marathon broadcast (80 hours and one minute).
Lots of creative people have helped to evolve the show through the years. Some have gone on to create their own programs, and Jay’s invited newbies like myself to pop their broadcast cherries and share happenings, views…and maybe a sip of Tito’s.
Then of course there’s the music, like classic hits, underground finds and new songs….like the debut of Know Where (To Begin), the lastest from Bronx Wanderers bad boy Vin A:
This week I asked Jay to step onto the other side of the spotlight for a change…and answer a few questions. Here’s what he had to say:
What sets The Rocking Comedy Show apart from similar programs?
The content nowadays everyone has an online radio show or a podcast, but its the content that has to grab you and keep bringing you back. We are currently at 1,121 episodes and you don’t get there by doing the same stuff over and over. You have to be dedicated to do it, and that’s not just the show. It’s the prep, the social media, the website updates and more. If you don’t have the time to tell anyone about it or how to find it, why are you doing it?
Is anything ever too outrageous?
Yes, we have hit that a few times. At first it may be funny, but you listen back, or listeners hit you up. I don’t regret any show I have done, and I don’t apologize for a bad one, I just move on and don’t discuss it.
Tell me about a guest stint that derailed, and one that you wished didn’t have to end.
Over 1k shows and I don’t think any of our stints have derailed. Most of the guests who come on are aware of the show and what it’s all about. We have done some killer interviews that maybe started slow, or off to a weird start, but then it took off. Sometimes it’s the guest, or their PR person telling us what we can’t ask them.
This happened with Vince Neil and also Lita Ford but then they brought up what we were told not to, and boom! magic. Also had comedian Sinbad on the show…he was scheduled for 30 we had him for over 2 hours and we never stopped laughing.
Your favorite part of being a host?
Some would say the control. To me it’s the uncertainty of what can happen. If you’re on your toes and have a good ear, you can grab a sound effect or a song that goes with what your talking about, driving the train keeping it rolling, and keeping the timing of the show perfect. I don’t like to stay on one topic for too long. Get a big laugh, move on, don’t beat that joke to death, maybe revisit it later if you can.
What’s more fun…..discovering fresh talent or slamming tired celebs?
I love finding new talent and maybe pair them up with someone who does the show a lot and get them to do a song. Vegas has so much un-noticed local talent it’s amazing what I have found.
Mariah, Britney and Criss Angel are sinking in quicksand and you only have one lifeline. What’s your move?
I am assuming if I see them sinking I have also put myself in jeopardy with this quicksand. So, I would use the lifeline on myself because I have more shows to do.
RadioVegas.Rocks is the home station for The Rocking Comedy Show. It airs Monday Nights 6:00pm -9:00pm, Tuesdays 3:00pm -6:00pm. To learn more or contact the station for advertising rates or guest opportunities, see the information below and tell Jay that Sam from VegasUnfilteredBlog sent you.
Prolific Performer Is Back On the ‘JUBILEE’ Stage For Sin City’s Newest Spectacular…
There’s a familiar saying that you “can’t go home again”, a perspective that never made much sense to this writer. So many things in our culture revolve around homecomings: family and class reunions, “home for the holidays”, the tale of the “prodigal son”. It’s only through revisiting our beginnings that we gauge how far we’ve come in life.
Entertainer Adam Barabáš has had many homes throughout the years. He grew up in Dubnica nad Váhom, Slovakia, and spent several years on tours across the world. He even had an extended stay in Japan that would make for an interesting movie (you’d have to ask him about that yourself). But through all those adventures, Adam still finds his way back to Sin City time and again.
I graduated from ballet at the Conservatory of Dance and Arts in Slovakia. After that I won ‘Mr. Slovakia’, and I decided to try my chances in the U.S. So, I packed up and moved to Los Angeles and continued taking classes five times a week. Getting an agent was how I found my way to Vegas.
I first became aware of Adam at a performance of JUBILEE. Sailing across the stage in a classic top hat and tails, the handsome blonde captured my attention with his stunning grace and magnetic smile. Waltzing through the infamous “TITANIC” sequence, Barabáš exited, then reappeared in the next set….a recreation of the ocean liner’s engine room.
Now a sweaty laborer, Adam was soaking wet, stripped to the waist, and covered in grease and grit, fighting for his life in the fiery boiler room of the ill-fated ship. It was all very over-the-top, just as the famed showgirl spectacular was meant to be. And it showcased the visual and physical attributes of this athletic heartthrob in the best possible way (I’m not drooling…you are).
Over at The Linq Hotel Casino, you might have caught Adam serving as arm candy to Frank Marino‘s DIVAS LAS VEGAS. Powered by a selection of top hits, DIVAS was great fun for the audience, but not necessarily the best showcase for serious dancers. Still, Adam enjoyed his time there. Asked if the DIVAS dancers got the attention they deserved, he had this to say:
Yes, we actually did get respect from the audience by the end of the show. We were basically in every number, working our butts (and our shirts) off, so the audience was able to fall in love with us and pick out their favorite dancer!
After Jubilee, the energetic actor/model/gymnast/dancer headed overseas for a musical production of The Bodyguard. Then it was off to Japan for iMen Tokyo, a male revue that allowed him to strip and grind. After spending time in Slovakia with the family, it was back to the States to join WOW, the water-themed musical spectacular at Rio Las Vegas.
I used to perform at DIVAS at The Linq in the afternoon, then I’d run to the Rio to do two shows at WOW. Once you’re passionate about anything, it comes easy. I love singing. I used to sing folk music back at home, which I miss very much. I play piano. And I’m good in math.
Adam’s best pal is his golden retriever “Chip”…
Right upstairs from WOW, crowds packed in nightly to see Chippendales male revue. Eventually, Adam auditioned for the touring version, and was once again back on the road. Wildly popular, he made the 2021 all-star edition of their world-famous calendar as “Mr. March”. Somewhere in between, the busy hunk managed to model, do corporate gigs, and spend time with his golden retriever “Chip”. He might have visited the gym on occasion, too.
Just as Adam was riding a new high, civilization came to a crashing halt, and Chippendales was put on hiatus. When Las Vegas shows started to return, the first new production out of the gate was Bally’sEXTRAVAGANZA. And Adam Barabáš found himself back on the stage that gave him his first Las Vegas break.
My roommate (dancer Derrick Boyce of DONNIE AND MARIE/JUBILEE/THE PROM on Netflix) told me about EXTRAVAGANZA. When I looked into it, I discovered that it was the same production company I worked for in WOW.
I knew EXTRAVAGANZA was looking for dancers but I didn’t know if I was ready to leave Chippendales. It was the first show I was not a backup dancer in, but the star. Yet not knowing when they would be back on the road – I missed dancing so much!
Adam, roommate (and fellow JUBILEE alumnus) Derrick Boyce, along with friend and entertainer Alexi Irvine (center), celebrated the holidays in style…
I reached out to the EXTRAVAGANZA dance captain and she sent my stuff to the director, who already knew me…and he called me right away. After hearing his vision for the show and how amazing it would be to be a part of this, I cut my time short in Texas, flew back to get my COVID test and started rehearsals right away.
Coming to the JUBILEE Theater and seeing most of the props backstage made my heart jump. Very bittersweet feeling. Also I worked with Silvia Silvia and her husband before, which made it even more exciting! I hope the fact that EXTRAVAGANZA is open will bring lots of hope for all the performers and shows.
Bringing up the pandemic was a perfect opportunity to explore how the 30-year-old entertainer had spent all those months away from the stage. And I hit him with a few off-the-wall questions…just for the Hell of it.
How did you keep busy during the Vegas show shutdown?
I spent most of the time in Texas, where I went right after rest of my tour got canceled. At first I thought “TikTok will keep me busy”, but it was actually being on the phone with unemployment every day! It took me 19 weeks to get paid. Also I spent a lot of time outdoors on my bicycle, swimming at the lake and at night, I usually cooked with lots of wine. I had a great time. I’m very lucky.
Do you still work out at a gym or have you adopted a home fitness plan?
My gym where I live has two floors, but now that it’s closed, I downloaded some fitness apps that work for me. Usually I work out 4-6 times a week.
It seems that no matter what role you play, Adam Barabáš always ends up shirtless. Is this a coincidence or do you deliberately seek roles that allow you to showcase your perfect body?
Hahahahaha….thank you. I don’t necessarily seek it but anytime there is an opportunity to show what I’ve been working on so hard, I’m in! I am a technically trained dancer, so I definitely appreciate technique in a choreography. I’ve always loved hip hop music video-style dancing.
Is there a particular celebrity you’d like to work with someday?
Lady Gaga. Beyonce. Madonna. Missy Elliott. Meryl Streep. Brad Pitt. So many. It’s always been a dream of mine to tour with people like Madonna and other pop stars. So whatever style they do is the style I love! Also, performing solo is easier to do because I can just make it my own.
Kelly Clarkson, Shania Twain and Lady Gaga all want you to work in their show. Who do you pick? LADY GAGA!
Pick one: Tuxedo, Jeans, or Swim Trunks? And where will you be going in that outfit?
Swim Trunks. To Whole Foods. It happened.
You have eight hours to do whatever you want in Las Vegas, no matter how much it costs. What will you do?
First I would go have a dinner at NOBU, then I would rent a penthouse at the Palms, hire Diplo, and would invite all of my friends and strippers. Wait…all my friends ARE strippers!
What has been your happiest moment in show business?
Whenever my family comes see me perform. Actually, last year in Vienna I had more than 30 people from home in the audience. To have them buy my calendars, posters and even t-shirts, was a dream come true. I am very close to my only sister Simona, who lives in Slovakia. She’s awesome. 🙂
Is there one show you’re most proud to have been in?
My journey in Vegas started as a showboy in legendary JUBILEE. Six years later I’m back, opening EXTRAVAGANZA during a pandemic. JUBILEE will always have a special place in my heart. I am proud of every show I’ve done. I’m grateful on so many levels. #FullCircle
EXTRAVAGANZA performs at Bally’s Las Vegas at 6:30pm and 9:30pm with 4pm matinees on select dates. Click here for full schedule and to order tickets.