Promoter hopes show is grand slam for Rock & Roll Academy


Chuck Brennan says he is a major supporter of charity events in Las Vegas, but “normally, the first thing I’m trying to do is figure out how to get the heck out of there.”

Andre Agassi’s annual “Grand Slam for Children” is among those he counts as “too stuffy,” with performances by the likes of Lionel Richie and Tim McGraw usually turned up to something less than “11.”

So Brennan, CEO of Dollar Loan Center and Clark County Collection Service, is throwing a fundraiser of his own today at the Orleans Arena, “a 1980s bombastic rock show that is going to blow people away.”

Kiss, Alice Cooper, Vince Neil, Rob Zombie, Dee Snider, Jack Blades and Stephen Pearcy are among the performers announced for the benefit supporting the Brennan Rock & Roll Academy, which Brennan opened earlier this year in his native Sioux Falls, S.D.

The rock school is tied in with the Boys & Girls Club, which was a haven to Brennan growing up.

“We give free music lessons to the kids, and it’s on a major level,” he says of the new center.

Today’s show aims “to raise enough money to pay that (Sioux Falls) facility off and start working on one here,” says Brennan, a Las Vegan since 1996.

Like the early years of the Agassi benefit, the 8:30 p.m. arena show allots the floor to pricey table sales, but puts all the regular arena seats up for sale at $100 per ticket.

Most of the rockers will perform in front of the house band Hairball, though Kiss is expected to be self-contained for the encore.

The organizer is happy with advance sales for the first-year event, which launches amid the annual distractions of holiday events and National Finals Rodeo. Less than 1,000 of the $100 tickets remained this week, Brennan said.

Brennan knows most of the rockers from his days as a promoter and nightclub owner in the Midwest. The lure of Las Vegas overcame any potential confusion about the fundraiser’s connection to an address in South Dakota.

“You can’t get any performers to go to the Midwest in December,” he says. “We needed to do something on a very large scale.” …

Anything associated with the “Pawn Stars” seems to turn into gold, so it’s not surprising that a spoof intended as an underground community production has ended up as a mainstream showroom offering.

“Pawn Shop Live” opens as an afternoon show Jan. 21 at the Golden Nugget. It’s still a locally originated spoof of the biggest stars in Las Vegas, but now has the official endorsement of the pawn stars.

Troy Heard, director of the recent “Blood Orgy of the Chainsaw Chorus Line” says the project began last summer as a modest goof.

“The initial idea was to do an unauthorized parody version of the TV show onstage at Theater 7 for the hell of it,” Heard says of the theater operated by Derek Stonebarger, who became the producer of the parody.

As co-writer and director, Heard’s idea was to do “the Mad magazine back-story of how (the “Pawn Stars”) got to be who they are. … We were just going to throw it up and run it for a month or two.”

Then the two heard a surprising reaction from the “Pawn Stars” camp: “Why didn’t you come to us first? We’re interested.”

A table read made the pawn shop’s general manager, Theo Spyer, even more enthusiastic about a showroom offering for tourists. Heard says it’s been slightly surreal to meet the people he was poking fun at as he polishes the script. …

Thank goodness for DVRs. The good news is that our local Vegas PBS, Channel 10, is finally running the “Cabaret Jazz: Frank Wildhorn & Friends with Clint Holmes and Jane Monheit” that taped at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts way back in April. I was there. It was great.

The bad news for musical theater buffs? All but the first half hour of the 7:30 p.m. show is on against NBC’s live broadcast of “The Sound of Music.” Time-shifters will find the cabaret show repeated at 12:30 a.m. Friday. …

It’s sounding like the return of “Peepshow” is something to anticipate next year at The Quad. When the upscale burlesque show closed Labor Day weekend, there was talk that its producers might wait for Actors Equity union contracts to expire, then bring it back as a lower-budget production, moving from Planet Hollywood to The Quad, where expenses are lower as well.

The rumor is gathering force, with a scenario that has the new “Peepshow” capping a roommate roster that would push the Frank Marino drag show “Divas Las Vegas” to early evening and “Recycled Percussion” to late afternoons. …

Finally, what’s in a name?

AEG Live ran with the phrase “residency” to name its recurring rotation of Colosseum at Caesars Palace headliners, who do 60 to 70 shows a year there.

If they don’t exactly live backstage, it’s become an accepted term in the touring industry. But what then to call the Eagles’ affiliation with the MGM Grand Garden? They’ve played there four times in three years, but no one’s going to accuse the band of sofa surfing there.

Still, the Eagles return Feb. 15 and 16 with a themed “History of” show that seems custom-made for repeat plays. It seems like it would be good for the MGM to acknowledge the bond. Maybe there’s a clue to be found at Madison Square Garden, where Billy Joel (long courted for the Colosseum) has agreed to do a Vegas-like one show a month next year. They’re calling him “the first-ever music franchise” for the fabled arena.

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