Let there be no confusion. “Bridesmaids” at The Orleans is not a scene-by-scene adaptation of the 2011 hit comedy of the same name.
The use of “Unauthorized” in its very title is a hint this is some serious off-Strip satire.
“We want to make sure it was clear that Warner Bros. or anyone else in the original movie didn’t have anything to do with this,” says John Bentham of Ivory Star Productions, the show’s Vegas production company. “When you establish that, you have the freedom to make fun of the movie in a way that is heartfelt and affectionate, but still has an edge.”
“Bridesmaids: The Unauthorized Movie Musical Parody” opened for previews at The Venue at The Orleans on Aug. 19. The formal premiere is this week. The show runs at 9:15 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays (doors at 8:45), with tickets starting at $46.83.
That musical is among the newer titles to launch in Vegas during the COVID-19 reopening. The smaller shows are fighting the odds against superstar headliners and major league sports. But Bentham says these shows can succeed.
“Relatively speaking, it’s been so far, so good, with these boutique shows,” he says. “I love our partnership with The Orleans. We’re certainly close enough to the Strip getting as many tourists as there were before. But some counts have been lower. We have some really good nights, and some low nights. That’s how it is right now.”
“Bridesmaids” is for ages 18 and over, the humor tilted to an adult audience, just like the movie. So, for instance, we relive the infamous food poisoning scene, when the women are overcome by illness during their dress fitting.
“I didn’t know a lady comedy could be this funny until I saw ‘Bridesmaids,’” says Vegas comic actress and writer Val Witherspoon, who wrote the show’s script. “I had not known of Melissa McCarthy until ‘Bridesmaids,’ and she is amazing. So, we have a lot of inspiration from the movie.”
Witherspoon’s favorite moment originally was the food poisoning scene. Now it’s the airplane scene, as the cast flies to Vegas. “I love all of the storylines intertwining, people going in one door and out the other. Annie always gets a big laugh with ‘Ready to paaaaarty!’”
That’s Nicole Unger in the Annie role. Maile Onsaga plays Lilian, with Erin Balstar as Helen, Luke Striffler as Rhodes/Becca (he’s lovely, in character), Caitlin Ary as Megan, and Jackson Tobiska as Rita/Ted and the Air Marshal. McKena Silva and Jerod Perez are the swings. The cast memorizes and perfects a lot of book, and a sizable complement of original music headed up by Chris Lash.
The production has experienced some kismet from director Sarah Lowe. The veteran Vegas stage performer has appeared in “Jersey Boys,” “Absinthe” and “Atomic Saloon Show” over the years. A few years ago she co-founded the Apple Sisters, a quirky satire of 1940s-era vocal groups. The Apple Sisters were retained for a comedy film more than a decade ago.
“So, we were in ‘Bridesmaids,’ originally, in the bridal shower scene,” Lowe says. “We didn’t make the final cut, but we did make the deleted scenes on Blu-ray.” You can find the Apple Sisters there, and one of the Sisters still keeping “Bridesmaids” alive in Vegas.
A look at a few more shows joining the “Brides” crew in newer titles across the city:
The production show/concert is the first yacht rock residency in Las Vegas. Of course, yacht rock has not been a big thing for so long. But the show co-anchors (as it were) The Duomo at the Rio, along with the long-running “Raiding the Rock Vault.” The Docksiders disembark at 6 p.m. daily (dark Fridays and Saturdays). Creator Kevin Sucher and his band don sailing caps and sequined yachting jackets. Such yacht staples as “Love Will Keep Us Together,” “Africa,” “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” are breezily performed.
The family-friendly musical, based on “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” plays at 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays at the Athena Showlounge at Alexis Park.
A pop soundtrack backs the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, Alice, the Red Queen and the Cheshire Cat. Derek Lux designs the figures, and co-stars in the show with his wife, Lauren. The couple performed the show across the country for years before setting down in Vegas.
The full title, “Carpenters Legacy: A Re-creation of the 1976 UK Tour,” specifically outlines the show’s format.
Sally Olson takes up the Karen Carpenter role, with dexterous instrumentalist Ned Mills as music director/Richard Carpenter. “We’ve Only Just Begun,” “Yesterday Once More,” “Superstar,” and “Close to You” are expertly covered. Mills also slips in a fun Spike Jones parody for some comic interplay.
Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays at Alexis Park’s Pegasus Showroom.
Season 5 “America’s Got Talent” champ Michael Grimm and keyboard master Bill Zappia head up “Givin’ It to ’Em” at 7 p.m. the first Saturday of each month at Spirits Lounge at the Stirling Club. The duo brings in guest stars, and the show has been extended into 2023. It is open to members and nonmembers.
Sax-wielding showman Justin Young invites special guests to his show at the Robin Leach Lounge at Notoriety Live at Neonopolis at 2 p.m. the last Sunday of each month. The comparisons to Dave Koz are on the money. Rachel Oliver Cobbin of Atlantic Starr was his guest for July’s show, with Grimm coming up Sunday.
‘Chase Brown’s Vegas Country’
The energetic, telegenic country artist packs the hits, and jumps on his Disco Ladder, covered entirely with tiny mirrors. He’s at Notoriety Live’s Chandelier Room (fittingly) at 9 p.m. Fridays.
Still to come …
A few large-scale productions planned for the Strip are on the horizon. “Bat Out of Hell — The Musical” opens Tuesday at the Paris Theater. The hip-hop musical “Freestyle Love Supreme” from Lin-Manuel Miranda opens Nov. 10 at The Venetian’s Summit Showroom. “Awakening,” the show replacing “Le Reve” at Wynn Las Vegas, is set to open for previews in October.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.