Life mirrors art. Or art mirrors drive-in classics. Either way, this “Zombie Burlesque” is starting to sound like a Roger Corman production.
The “King of the Bs” filmed his classic “The Little Shop of Horrors” in just a couple of days, so surely David Saxe can put up a new show in a new venue in a couple of weeks.
Per the title, the comic dance revue combines the parallel crazes for the walking dead and retro burlesque, the latter of which doesn’t have an ongoing Las Vegas showcase, Saxe points out.
The concept will be laid out to show-goers in a filmed prelude reminiscent of the “duck-and-cover” tutorials of the 1950s. We will see zombies invade Las Vegas, before the president strikes a truce with the undead: “We agree to feed them live prisoners in exchange for them not attacking us anymore,” Saxe says.
“We still have to film all that,” Saxe adds with a laugh at this rehearsal, 16 days before the show’s planned opening Thursday.
Enter a period of new prosperity, in which Club Z becomes the hottest nightlife joint in town, and zombie strippers bump, grind and occasionally remove a hand if they need to to scratch a hard-to-reach itch.
Sexy vampires are one thing. Sexy zombies are a bit more of a challenge — even if, in researching the show, Saxe discovered there is a whole Internet cult for zombie pinup girls.
Makeup tests have tried to figure out just how to land on “hot with a hint” of the undead, as Saxe puts it.
“We’re still designing costumes,” Saxe says, adding, “This is a very aggressive schedule.”
Pat Caddick, who oversees the music for Saxe’s “Vegas! The Show,” was writing charts for a seven-piece band just as fast as Saxe could give him the definitive song list.
Tiger Martina, the choreographer who has worked with Saxe since “Showgirls of Magic” in 2001, seemed to genuinely enjoy working on the fly at this rehearsal, showing off what singer Sophia Monica (recently of “Peepshow”) and the cast have done with a song by Ida Maria called “I Eat Boys Like You for Breakfast.”
Saxe and Martina spent hours on YouTube looking for obscurities such as “I Need to Eat Your Brains,” by Matt Griffo. Enoch Augustus Scott, as the club host, knocks it out of the park even without a real audience to knock it to.
There could be more than 30 songs in the final cut, offering the most eclectic soundtrack in town.
“We’re trying to let each number have a different personality, when we don’t think of zombies as even having one,” Martina says.
There’s the piece where two ’50s-era astronauts zap a zombie with a ray gun to make him break dance.
A dead ballerina en pointe dancing to a string-quartet arrangement of — wait for it — The Cranberries’ “Zombie.”
This thing just might be crazy enough to work.
“It’s going to be a be a word-of-mouth thing. It’s gonna have to be,” Saxe says.
Saxe operates two theater sites inside the Miracle Mile Shop at Planet Hollywood. The larger one, the V Theater, was taken over from the original tenant, who built it as a massive Spanish-themed restaurant and nightclub complex before quickly going bankrupt.
It’s big enough to hold three theaters, and Saxe is making a 200-seat venue out of a 5,400 square-foot dining room that once hosted “Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding.”
In the true spirit of double-features, “Zombie Burlesque” will share the new space with producer Sirc Michaels’ “Evil Dead: The Musical.” But will the two campy efforts compliment, or, er, cannibalize each other?
“His (audience) is that cult following for the movie. It skews younger,” Saxe says.
Despite the name and apparent niche appeal, Saxe says his zombie show is “for the masses… It’s not based on the gimmick. It has all the elements that go into a quality show.”
He figures the title alone will lure those folk who, say, know that late Las Vegan Ray Dennis Steckler pioneered the zombie/stripper thing with his 1964 classic, “The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and became Mixed-up Zombies.”
“We’ll have that whole underground vibe, and with just the title alone we already have that following,” he says. “But it’s not relying on that cult following.”
Even so, “When the zombie fanatics come I want it to be great special effects. When the burlesque fanatics come I want it to be the best burlesque show. I don’t want to alienate anybody.”
With a title like “Zombie Burlesque,” how could you?
Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0288.