‘Peepshow’ alums staying busy


For a title that closed in September, “Peepshow” still casts a long shadow.

Talk of the striptease-themed revue reopening at The Quad seems to have died down for now, but this week is seeing plenty of alumni activity.

Former star Holly Madison officially launches the club 1923 Bourbon &Burlesque at Mandalay Bay Thursday (after construction delays set back the first grand opening last month). The themed lounge doesn’t offer a ticketed show, but “break out” vignettes by burlesque dancers and sometimes Madison herself start at 11 p.m. each Friday and Saturday.

Nick Kenkel, who was the associate director and co-choreographer of “Peepshow” (as well as dancing as The Big Bad Wolf) is said to be the main candidate to clean up the mess that is Bally’s “Jubilee!” after its misfire revamp by Beyonce’s creative director, Frank Gatson Jr.

And Friday brings the fifth Las Vegas Broadway Bares benefit to Planet Hollywood, which is an impressive feat considering “Peepshow” no longer serves as its organizational hub.

“We’re going to keep it going as long as we can,” says Ryan Lyons, who co-directs for the second year. “It was a little bit challenging with the crew being dispersed,” but Caesars Entertainment made the old stage at Planet Hollywood available and a local rehearsal studio donated practice space.

“Broadway Bares” is a not-for-the-bashful institution in New York, where show people (both male and female) do creative strip-tease numbers for the Broadway Cares/Equity Fight AIDS organization. One year’s unifying theme of nursery rhymes gave the benefit’s creator, director-choreographer Jerry Mitchell, the idea to spin it off as “Peepshow.”

Four years of the Las Vegas spinoff have gone from raising about $10,000 the first year to about $32,000 last year, Lyons says. His goal this year is $50,000, which he thinks is achievable because it’s the first time the midnight show will be on a weekend, extending its potential audience beyond the local performer community.

“I told my friends, ‘You have no excuse. Don’t hit the bars; hit Planet Hollywood,’ ” Lyons says with a laugh.

This year’s show title is “Got Wood?” “The traditional gift for a fifth-year anniversary is wood,” Lyons explains. If you have a dirty mind and thought it meant something else, well, good for you.

“It’s basically scenes of places where it’s inappropriate to maybe get excited, like the doctor’s office,” he explains of the solo and group numbers involving the casts of “Rock of Ages,” “Le Reve” and other shows.

The content still won’t be confused with the more family-friendly Golden Rainbow benefit for AIDS-related programs (which will be at the Rio with a circus theme this year, on June 22), but the level of participation is catching up to it: More than 90 dancers will be onstage.

Lyons has been co-directing Friday night’s show — with Paula Castelton, another “Peepshow” alum now working in New York — while still doing 10 shows a week as an acrobat and devil character in “Le Reve.”

“Even though it’s exhausting and draining and you kind of squeeze every last drop of energy you have out on top of your regular show, in the end it ends up being so rewarding,” he says.

Jai Rodriguez of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” fame stepped in as host after Mark Shunnock of “Rock of Ages” had to drop out because of illness. Tickets for the midnight show are $30 at the door. …

It’s been fun to follow the path of “Pawn Shop Live!” to its second official reopening Thursday at the Riviera, but it hasn’t been an easy one to navigate for director Troy Heard.

“It’s been a nonstop workshop,” Heard says of the sanctioned spoof of the “Pawn Stars” gang. “It’s just been trying to figure out what our audience wants.”

Or just who that audience is. Apparently not the 25- to 45-year-olds originally targeted when the comedic look at the Gold &Silver gang was conceived as a studio theater attraction in the vein of Heard’s recent zombie-Chekhov mashup, “Cherry Orchard of the Living Dead.”

The first product that went up at the Golden Nugget in January drew younger and older fans of the History hit. In moving the show, the troupe reworked the title and took out most of the original biographical thread.

“Anything not directly related to the shop is gone,” Heard says. “The complaint we got in the beginning was that it wasn’t like the TV show.”

It’s now more of a sketch comedy working in pop-culture references to the likes of Paula Deen and “The Walking Dead.”

“We were able to get a little more edge in now that the biography’s out,” Heard says.” We’ve all worked really hard to try to shape what we could out of what we had. Is it going to be a critical favorite? I seriously doubt it,” he adds. …

Two months ago, I wrote about “Wizard Wars,” a TV magic competition in the vein of “Chopped,” conceived by local magician and writer Rick Lax. A pilot was scheduled to air on cable’s Syfy channel in March but was pulled from the schedule. But now, local magicians (who aren’t sure if it’s OK to be on the record) say the series is going into production this month. Though it will still involve Las Vegas magicians including Penn &Teller, Murray SawChuck and Wynn Las Vegas house magician Shimshi, the first batch of shows will be filmed in Los Angeles. …

Fans of Tony Sacca’s “Las Vegas Rocks Variety Show” (and who isn’t?) should know that on Saturday and May 17, the show is taping downtown at the Plaza’s vintage showroom at 2 p.m. The show then goes on summer break, giving Sacca time to figure out whether it will return there or to Boulder Station.

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