Small Spaces, Towering Talent

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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. 

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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

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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.

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Another effect of the pandemic has been the formation of “super groups”. What you get is a superlative combination of artists from various other productions working together under a new moniker. ORIGINAL CHAOS boasts TENORS OF ROCK members Dai Richards, Chris Cicchino and Tim Sorbs (The Black Donnellys), along with bare-chested hunk Andrew Diessner (replacing Colin Cahill, both from Atomic Saloon Show).

The new band has already gotten a stellar following, as evidenced by a sold-out performance of The EaglesHOTEL 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.

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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“. 

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Speaking of The Vegas Room, the classy supper club had a great line-up of acts in the early months of the year. Entertainment director Jassen Allen booked The Doo-Wop Kings, Christopher Lash, Savannah Smith, Elisa Fiorillo (with Barry Manilow’s musical director Joey Melotti), Skye Dee Miles and many more. 

Mosaic Theater On The Strip just celebrated the 100th performance of Queens of Rock. AUSSIE HEAT male revue continues in its second year at the newly-remodeled venue, and MJ – The Evolution is due to open this month.

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. 

 

‘QUEENS OF ROCK’ Is Absolute Perfection

Salute to Legendary Ladies is the latest triumph for MOSAIC THEATER ON THE STRIP…


In 1984, ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT aired a segment that would become one of the most notorious film reviews in history. Critic Leonard Maltin was scheduled to discuss a remake of the beach comedy “Where The Boys Are“. Instead of a detailed analysis, Maltin stood on a beach, tossed a copy of the film into the waves and walked away, wordlessly.

If I were to follow Maltin’s lead for my write-up of QUEENS OF ROCK, I could simply type “It’s perfect!”, hit the “publish” button and then take an afternoon nap. It really is that good. But star Elyzabeth Diaga and a sizzling live band (Alex Papa, James Oleson, Christian Brady, and Zach Throne) deserve a lot more than a stunt review from a lazy critic.

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They also deserve an auditorium filled to (legal) capacity with a cheering, enthusiastic audience. But that is far from the norm these days. Las Vegas live entertainment keeps getting kicked in the shins, with increased restrictions making it harder than ever for shows to stay afloat. So credit the team at MOSAIC THEATER for hanging in there and bringing three great productions (along with PIANO MAN and AUSSIE HEAT) to Las Vegas night after night.

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QUEENS OF ROCK is a journey through decades of hits by powerhouse female artists. Elyzabeth Diaga walks a perfect line between tribute artist and featured headliner. The chart-toppers she delivers will be forever associated with their original artists, but Diaga flavors each song with her own fiery zest. You’ll be tempted to sing along and dance at your seat, but you might miss the wonderful nuances of this star-making performance.

Like the recently-reviewed PIANO MAN, QUEENS OF ROCK is an non-stop cavalcade of music you know and love. The star, who hails from Quebec, sails across the stage in a wild collection of leather pants, capes, corsets, and boots. A veritable symphony of lights, effects, and heart-pounding music, QoR is the kind of ambitious production that ably replaces the current absence of headlining acts.

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It may be surprising to know that female rockers began as far back as the 1930s. That’s when Sister Rosetta Tharpe defied cultural norms, blending gospel, soul and R & B into what we refer to as “Rock and Roll”. A young black guitarist/vocalist who caused quite a furor in her day, Sister Tharpe nevertheless became known as the “Godmother of Rock and Roll”.

QUEENS OF ROCK pays tribute to Tharpe, then powers through decades of favorites from Heart, The Pretenders, Joan Jett, Pat Benatar, Tina Turner, and Annie Lennox. There are a few unexpected entries like En Vogue, Evanescence, Madonna, and Lady Gaga, that’ll keep you wondering who they’ll conquer next.

Without question, my favorite moment came when Diaga zoomed across the stage on roller skates for a medley of Blondie songs. Check this out:

As Ms. Diaga told me, the Blondie sequence was four decades in the making:

“When I was a little girl, I used to skate in my basement with my disco ball to “Xanadu”, “Master Blaster” and “Kiss On My List “. Then there was BLONDIE! I used to dress up in my purple shiny leggings and my white skates with yellow wheels and skate the streets all day. If you would have told me that 40 years later I would be skating while singing in front of people on a stage and getting praise for it I would have never believed you.”

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“When I created the show back in 2012, I did not have skates anymore. It was when I went to Australia to sing in the amazing horse show “Cavalia” that I fell upon a skating store” she continued. “I had not skated for 35 years (at least) but when I put the skates on my feet it was MAGIC!”, a nod to Olivia Newton-John‘s 1980 roller-disco movie XANADU.

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“Right there and then I knew there would be skating in my show. A lot of people called me crazy but I had to do it! Just recently I added a disco ball effect because of the amazing setup we have at The Mosaic. So now everybody sees what I see in my head…and it sure is loads of fun!”

Fun is definitely one of the defining elements of Queens of Rock. Everyone involved seems to be having a fantastic time, and you will, too. So when Elyzabeth Diaga takes her throne to close out the show, you’ll agree that Queens of Rock has earned her a place in Las Vegas entertainment royalty.

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Follow at @queensofrockofficial

QUEENS OF ROCK performs Thursday through Monday at 7pm. Click here for tickets. MOSAIC THEATER is located at 3765 Las Vegas Blvd, just north of HARD ROCK LIVE and across from PARK MGM Hotel Casino

MOSAIC THEATER – Everything Old Is New Again


A Historic Little Venue Shows the big boys how to safely Bring Live Entertainment Back to the Strip…

Don’t throw the past away
You might need it some rainy day
Dreams can come true again
When everything old is new again

It’s been eight long and painful months since the famed Las Vegas Strip went dark. Frightening images of lonely sidewalks and boarded-up casinos will forever haunt our memories. Now we’re crawling out of the darkness…a little uncertain and stumbling a bit along the way….and live shows are opening once again.

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Huge digital billboards at major casinos like ARIA and MGM Grand proclaim “LIVE ENTERTAINMENT IS BACK”, as if they’re the ones leading the charge. In actuality, it’s the relatively-unknown MOSAIC THEATER that’s making the most strides. The fully renovated venue, most recently known as TOMMY WIND THEATER, has become a shining beacon for performers, fun-starved visitors, and Las Vegas residents .

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Mosaic Theater follows the same, effective programming formula that made Planet Hollywood‘s V Theater such a success. Individual shows are scheduled with short turn-around times in between. Cleanup crews follow exiting patrons to sanitize and prepare the space for the next round. Behind the gorgeous red curtain, sets and cast move into position. And…..it’s showtime!

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MOSAIC THEATER currently offers three separate titles: QUEENS OF ROCK starring Elyzabeth Diaga, Kyle Martin‘s PIANO MAN (see review here) and long-running AUSSIE HEAT male revue. There’s more on the horizon, including MJ: The Evolution (a Michael Jackson tribute) and a return of the controversial A MOB STORY with Michael Franzese

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I predicted early on that V Theaters and affiliated Saxe Theater would be some of the first to reopen (see article here). Alas, all four auditoriums remain dark with no word on when they’ll be back. This gives Mosaic (and Downtown’s NOTORIETY) a distinct advantage in the current climate.

New ‘AUSSIE HEAT’ Show Debuts at MOSAIC ON THE STRIP

It’s worth noting that AUSSIE HEAT moved to MOSAIC in February after several years with David Saxe. The change was motivated in large part by a desire to have more control over their show. It’s well known in the industry that Saxe calls all of the shots in his domain. MOSAIC is clearly more of a collaborative effort.

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Some people consider MOSAIC‘s location to be a disadvantage. The structure is a bit back from Las Vegas Boulevard and not easily visible to passers-by. But once you know where it is, the positives become clear. A dedicated parking lot means that MOSAIC‘s entrance is mere steps from your car or the Strip. What other showroom in Las Vegas can boast that? (Take your time….I’ll wait).

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The theater’s dazzling, retro-cool lobby leads to a comfortable lounge with bar service. You can order up your favorite cocktail while waiting for curtain time.  The main auditorium is a throwback to NYC’s Studio 54, offering a wide proscenium stage and a main floor that can be used for show seating, dining or dancing (post-COVID, of course). Two balcony levels and an upper lounge are ideal for physical distancing and reduced-capacity requirements that are currently in effect.

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MOSAIC‘s rich history is reflected in its ability to host a wide variety of functions. The former Empire Ballroom, which also operated as Utopia, Metz, and KRAVE in the past, can handle award shows, fundraisers, lectures, weddings, podcast tapings, and corporate events.

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The venue is owned and operated by Dean Coleman of SPR & Promotions, a company with two decades of experience in promotion and production. Managing Partner Sophia Song is MOSAIC‘s Marketing Director. Together, they deliver fun, excitement, and a myriad of entertainment options designed to take on whatever 2021 throws their way.

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MOSAIC THEATRE is located at 3765 Las Vegas Blvd. S. Suite G., next to Red Palms and directly across from Park MGM Casino Resort. Click here for more information or to purchase tickets to shows.