Beatles tribute reopens at Riviera

Corrections
CORRECTION ON 10/18/08 -- Mike Weatherford’s Thursday column incorrectly stated the names of “Hypnosis Unleashed” hypnotists Terry Stokes and Michael Johns.

Las Vegas is a more-of-everything kind of town. But two Fab Fours? Eight is enough.

"Fab Four Mania" quietly reopened this week at the Riviera, taking a 10 p.m. time slot in the Versailles Theatre after "Ice: The Show from Russia."

It will be hard for the Beatles tribute to avoid confusion with "Fab Four Live." That one has been running at the V Theater adjacent to Planet Hollywood since June, when two "Mania" cast members -- Steve Craig as John Lennon and Tony Felicetta as Ringo Starr -- split off from the Sahara's outbound revue to front a rival venture.

It took "Mania" this long to find a new home on the Strip, letting the other group run unopposed and failing to get the issue of who can use "Fab Four" resolved in time to avoid a showdown in the marketplace.

"We're letting the attorneys battle it out," says Ron McNeil, president of the Riviera's Fab Four and the group's main John Lennon. It's a sticky intellectual property issue; both groups do a delicate dance with the work of the Beatles, who as a business entity have the official, licensed production "Love" on the Strip.

McNeil is optimistic about opening in a topsy-turvy economy because of the group's long history on the Strip. The original Fab Four -- this is starting to sound like the "Spinal Tap" bit about "The New Originals," isn't it? -- first came to town in 2001. In 2005, a twin cast gave the group a full-time Las Vegas presence while the main group toured and also participated in Eric Idle's "Rutlemania," a spoof of all this tribute band insanity. The Riviera show will mix and match both casts. ...

Considering all the economic reasons not to open a show right now, the arrival of two more proves just how stalwart our local showbiz entrepreneurs can be.

Motorists on Interstate 15 have a first or last chance to see topless women (depending on which way they're headed) with the "Sin City Kitties" cabaret revue in the 300-seat showroom at Whiskey Pete's.

Director-choreographer Michael Chambers and producer Glenn Medas also helm the Las Vegas Hilton's lounge revue "Sin City Heat."

The Primm effort offers a couple of novelties from the get-go. First, geographic isolation doesn't lend itself to discount-ticket vending, so the discount is at the door: $24.95 is the face value. "You can't expect a show like this to cost any less," Medas says.

The other oddity is a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee, aimed at catching outbound California traffic. You can't expect an eye-opener like that in any other show at that hour.

Back on the Strip proper, hypnotist Marc Savard has moved his "Mesmerized" back into the V Theater at Planet Hollywood's Miracle Mile Shops, which he left "a year and five days" before his return. His time away included a stint at Trader Vic's on the other side of the mall.

Savard returns to replace the extremely short-lived "Point Break Live!" His act is for audiences 18 and over, but won't be billed as dirty like competitors Anthony Cools or "Hypnosis Unleashed."

"The show has the ability to morph, so I let the audience decide which direction to take it," Savard says.

Speaking of "Hypnosis Unleashed," the Harmon Theater effort marks its 2,000th show on Oct. 23, when hypnotists Terry Stokes and Michael Johns perform together instead of on alternate nights. ...

The Amazing Johnathan spent last weekend in Santa Monica, Calif., where he was named Best Comedic Magician at the World Magic Awards. Mac King received the same honor last year. The festivities hosted by Neil Patrick Harris were taped for TV, which last year aired as a syndicated special in December.

Harris has extra face time in Johnathan's segment. When the comedian's prop table failed to materialize, Harris carried the props out one at a time and "it turned into a joke, like he was my assistant," the Amazing one reports. ...

The live tickets still are expensive, but electronics chain Best Buy has a window of exclusivity for home-video tie-ins to two Las Vegas spectaculars.

On Monday, Rave Town Square 18 and Brenden Theaters at the Palms host theatrical screenings of "All Together Now," a documentary about the creation of Cirque du Soleil's "Love," paving the way for the DVD release on Tuesday.

A week later, Oct. 28 brings the Best Buy multiformat (including vinyl!) release of Elton John's "The Red Piano" show at Caesars Palace. Performances were taped April 8 and 9 of 2005.

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