Exes mark the spot with ‘Divorce Party the Musical’

From wedding to divorce in one hour? Hey, it’s Vegas.

Specifically, it’s the Windows Showroom at Bally’s, the onetime buffet that’s now home to the interactive dinner show “Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding.” Starting March 8, it will have a new roommate, “Divorce Party the Musical.”

“Divorce Party” is a cabaret show that outfits familiar songs with parody lyrics, in the vein of “Menopause the Musical.” Mark Schwartz, producer and co-creator, was the producer of “Menopause” off-Broadway in 2002, but is no longer involved with that show, at Luxor or elsewhere.

When it came to a follow-up for that massive hit, both Schwartz and “Menopause” creator Jeanie Linders came up with new shows involving divorce and opened them in Florida a year apart. Linders’ “D* Word” made it to Las Vegas for a short-lived run at the LVH last summer.

Schwartz, who opened “Divorce Party” first in 2012, says the subject was obvious after seeing how much the stigma of divorce had changed in his lifetime.

“If you Google ‘divorce parties,’ you’ll see divorce party planners, divorce party cakes, divorce party gifts, all of that. Even Party City has a new aisle in all their stores,” Schwartz says of what once was a stigma now being a cause for celebration.

“When you round that corner there’s a whole new life out there,” he says. “Even though this is an in-your-face, tongue-in-cheek comedy, when you hit the high points and give the audience permission to indulge and let it all go, then you have a great theater experience.”

The local cast of four women and one man (Jeff Brooks) has been rehearsing for weeks. The show was once bound for the Sin City Theatre at next-door Planet Hollywood Resort, but proprietor John Padon decided to double down on two stand-up comedy shows per night instead.

The show that played in two acts in Florida, Toronto and Los Angeles (and was deemed too long by some reviewers) will be trimmed to 80 minutes here. Even when staging the original production with author Amy Botwinick and lyricist Jay Falzone, “I had the yellow pad out,” Schwartz says.

When his partners asked what he was up to, he told them, “I’m writing the 80-minute version of the show that eventually we’re going to do in Vegas. I know eventually this is going to be a lot of fun there.”

The new show will run at 8 p.m., causing “Tony N’ Tina” to back up an hour, from 7 to 6 p.m. Ken Walker, who leases the room and produces “Tony,” says it will be “a quick turnaround,” but he doesn’t think the dinner show will suffer from the earlier start, because people don’t start eating until about 7 p.m.

A new stage is being built in the east end of the room for “Divorce Party,” and will double as a seating area for “Tony.” …

Smile! Good.

Was that so hard? Well, sometimes.

Friday’s Neon section will bring you up to speed on Cirque du Soleil’s “Zarkana,” and the changes aimed at lightening it up and making the Aria show less broody opera, more rock ’n’ roll.

“Zarkana” may have been first, but other Las Vegas Cirque titles are due to be “revitalized,” too, the company says. Which shows, and in what order, is not yet official.

That doesn’t necessarily mean directors should start hiding their resume credits for the Metropolitan Opera if they want to work for Cirque (“Ka” director Robert Lepage helmed Wagner’s “Ring” cycle and “Zarkana” director Francois Girard staged “Parsifal”). The changes will be specific to the needs of each show, the company says, not necessarily a purge of all that is dramatic and moody.

But for “Zarkana”? Yes, it meant teaching Russians how to smile, says artistic director Ann-Marie Corbeil. Specifically, the closing team of “Banquine” acrobats who throw and catch one another instead of relying upon nets.

“Today’s exercise? I don’t care about the choreography. Give me a smile,” she remembers telling them.

“These guys are used to being so Russian, so proud, very serious. I want more fun,” Corbeil says. “They’re athletes and gymnasts. They’re not used to ‘Give me a smile.’”

But when you don’t, “you create a certain wall, whether you like it or not,” she says. “But as soon as these guys smile and look at the public, (they) let them in onstage with (them). I don’t know if they are having fun just yet, but they are working on it.” …

So the Jacksons are out of the gate at Planet Hollywood Resort and Boyz II Men are about to celebrate their first anniversary at The Mirage on Saturday. Now, what about the Four Tops, a group that paved the way for both of them?

Producer Bill Caron says he is trying to find a place on the Strip for the Motown greats (which still feature one of the original four singers, Duke Fakir). He is trying to get some feedback from both casino and ticket buyers on how much interest there would be. Talk to him at Bill@nationalartistscorp.com. …

Finally, you will note elsewhere in Thursday’s print section that blues-rocker George Thorogood plays The Smith Center for the Performing Arts Thursday. Few can doubt that lobby bar sales for Mr. One Bourbon, One Shot, One Beer will top those for Itzhak Perlman about this time last year.

So that led us to ask Smith Center President Myron Martin just who is the defending champion for alcohol sales, anyway?

Martin estimates “the bars were probably at their all-time busiest” for the recent Zeppelin USA tribute band helmed by local favorite Brody Dolyniuk.

Game on. Remember to support the arts.

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.

Find more Las Vegas show reviews at bestoflasvegas.com.