Watching the rehearsal in front of him, show producer Adam Steck declares, “You gotta have an Aboriginal routine in an Australian show.”
I suppose. But when the didgeridoo is part of a topless cabaret show? It does bring hope of something different enough to justify a fourth or fifth one (depending on how you count the not-quite-topless “Pin Up”).
“Sydney After Dark” debuts Monday in the PH Showroom at Planet Hollywood Resort, a collaboration of Steck and Australian performer-turned-producer Belinda Chapple. He’s hoping to build momentum for the revue before his lease on the theater expires in November and ventriloquist Jeff Dunham takes over.
“It’s just a fresh take on this genre,” says Steck, who previously imported the Australian male revue “Thunder from Down Under” and the vocal group Human Nature. “Some of these girls have never been to America, and none of them have ever been to Las Vegas.”
Human Nature has already reminded us that even in the YouTube era, pop culture still has far to travel. Australians know that group as a Backstreet Boys-style boy band, but it reinvented itself as a Motown tribute for Las Vegas.
Similarly, deep search-engine exploration will reveal Chapple was in a “girl group” called Bardot, which was created on Australian TV in 1999 by the talent contest “Popstars.”
Singer-actress Sophie Monk is the better-known name to emerge from that group, while Chapple found her true calling behind the scenes.
“When I was in the girl band, I felt that my strengths were in the artistic side,” she says. “I loved helping with the styling for album covers, coming up with ideas for film clips and songwriting … so for me the creative side was the most fulfilling.”
“For me it was very much a natural progression, and now it comes second nature to me,” she adds. “I’m in my element when I’m creating.”
Chapple and Steck went back and forth for five years trying to develop “Sydney” after she first pitched him The Dirty Pretty Jewels, her pop-burlesque group in the vein of the Pussycat Dolls.
Steck told her a topless show would be more viable, and outlined “what we needed to have somewhat of a chance.” A few months later, “she came back with a script and I was like, ‘You nailed it.’ ”
Most production shows on the Strip are assembled by committee. Some don’t even have a credited director, just a producer and choreographers. So it’s an encouraging sign that taking in all the other Las Vegas topless shows didn’t shake Chapple’s vision.
“I haven’t added or changed anything since then,” she says. “I already had the show in my head. It was already creatively done before I saw those shows.”
“I’m quietly confident that we’re delivering something different from those shows,” she adds.
Unless one of them adds a didgeridoo before Monday. …
“Country Superstars” celebrated its seventh anniversary last month, and moves again next month. But, as producer Leonard Quenneville says of his durable country take on the “Legends” format, “You can’t move a closed show.”
Aug. 10 is the tentative date for “Superstars” to hop the alley from the V Theater at Planet Hollywood to the Windows Showroom at Bally’s, replacing the recently departed “Divorce Party Las Vegas.”
The room is an independent lease (to “Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding” producer Ken Walker) and not hands-on operated by Caesars Entertainment. But Quenneville says the enticements include not only an 8 p.m. time slot, but the promise of being on the outside marquee loop at Bally’s and internal signage at Bally’s and adjacent Paris Las Vegas.
Unlike the recorded music of “Divorce Party,” Quenneville says he will fit a three-piece band onto the cozy stage. …
Quick hits on some news in the magic world. First, the touring show “The Illusionists” will take three Las Vegas-based magicians — Jeff Hobson, Kevin James and Dan Sperry — to Broadway for a limited run in November. It’s scheduled at the Marriott Marquis Theatre Nov. 26 through Jan. 4.
Back on the Strip, Monday brings “The Magic Palace” to the freestanding theater operated by magician Tommy Wind. “It’s more of a nightclub with a show going on,” he says of the showcase he likens to the Magic Castle nightclub in Hollywood.
Several magicians and variety acts will perform starting at 10:30 p.m. There also is a 46-seat close-up room to witness sleight-of-hand. Monday is free and open to the public. If it takes off, the Palace format will go from bi-weekly to weekly and may add a door charge. …
Like New Yorkers who never check out the Empire State Building, Las Vegans have plenty of chances to see Elton John or Guns N’ Roses, but most never manage to brim out that change jar.
One solution: this week’s DVD and Blu-ray releases of John’s “Million Dollar Piano” and GNR’s “Appetite for Democracy: Live at the Hard Rock Casino — Las Vegas.” The latter’s even in 3-D. Parking’s easier at home, too.
Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0288.