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Bruno Mars, on joining Lady Gaga in Las Vegas; ‘I’ve got to at least sing with her’

Updated June 19, 2024 - 10:39 am

Bruno Mars says his artificial smoke machine cost $15,000 (or $5,000, or $10,000, depending on the night). So he makes sure to use it every performance.

The device has been cleared from Dolby Live, until Mars is back in August, to make room for a different show.

Lady Gaga, with her dazzling gowns and “LG”-branded bandstands, is moving in.

Only four days separate these iconic residency productions. Mars closed his latest, explosive run at the theater Saturday. Gaga restarts “Jazz + Piano” Wednesday.

The two stars nearly align, which would be fine with Mars. Mr. “24 Karat Magic” talked of possible collaborations during an interview in his Dolby Live dressing room prior to Saturday’s show.

Gaga came to mind immediately, as her name come up early in the conversation for Mars’ appreciation of “Jazz + Piano.” He’s up for either a show or song with the superstar known as “LG” by her inner circle.

“Talking about Gaga — I’d love to do one with her,” Mars said. “I’ve got to at least sing with her, on her show.” Mars also mentioned he’d love to reunite with his Silk Sonic partner, Anderson .Paak, when schedules permit.

The music in Mars’ and Gaga’s Vegas shows are unalike, of course. Mars’ dance anthem “Uptown Funk” is a different vibe than Gaga’s cover of Dinah Washington’s “What a Difference a Day Makes.”

But the two artists, who have headlined Vegas for several years, share an affection for the city’s entertainment history. Mars has curated the Pinky Ring at Bellagio as a lavish lounge. The musicians — the Diamonds and his own Hooligans — dress in matching tuxes, usually pink.

Gaga gives a lesson in jazz history through the Vegas lens, sampling Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Nat King Cole. Her video shows her throwing craps and hanging in the casino with her band.

The headliners have also enlisted trumpet virtuoso and bandleader Brian Newman, who has worked with Gaga for about 15 years, and is the music director at the Pinky Ring who contracts the musicians in the Diamonds. Newman’s “After Dark” returns to NoMad Library on Wednesday and performs after all of Gaga’s shows at Dolby Live.

And Gaga, along with Newman and several members of her camp, was a guest of Mars’ at the opening of the Pinky Ring on Feb. 10. The two hung and chatted long into the night.

So many coincidental, interlocking relationships, a collab is at least possible and would be a Vegas musical miracle. Mars would be fine with that.

The rare, exclusive interview is for an upcoming profile of Mars, a headliner at Dolby Live (Park Theater, originally) since December 2017. More from the 15-time Grammy winner, covering an array of topics, in due time.

Loss of a ‘Rat Pack’ original

Longtime Las Vegas entertainment followers remember comic actor Hiram Kasten, who died Sunday in New York at age 71.

Kasten was known primarily for his recurring role as Michael on “Seinfeld.” But I encountered him in 1999 at the late, great Desert Inn’s Starlight Lounge, in the original cast of “The Rat Pack is Pack.”

“These are rough guys, these old guys,” Kasten said in a Las Vegas Sun story at the time. “They came up in a tough business in a tough time. They’re not like Seinfeld or (Paul) Reiser from Long Island, upper middle class families. These were real men, every one of them. They were solid in their appearance, their word was their bond. They were tough guys. Who would be better to have as a friend than Frank Sinatra?”

Then co-producer David Cassidy played a guest spot as Bobby Darin in those days.

“Rat Pack” was the subject of crisscrossing lawsuits in its early days. Produced today by Dick Feeney, the production is still kicking at the Copa Room at Tuscany Suites.

May We Recommend

“Abandon,” at Vegas Theatre Company in the Arts District. The show is unnerving to the extreme, darkly funny and aggressively kinky. Not for the entire family, we warn. The production continues its run Thursday and Friday, and again July 27-28.

“Abandon” is a trek through scenes inspired by the writings of French author and activist Marquis de Sade in the days he was institutionalized. The cozy theater drops to complete darkness at the start of every vignette, with grotesque-yet-beautiful scenes played out wordlessly and in rapid succession. There will be blood, as they say.

It’s a challenging, disquieting, but fulfilling experience, conjured by director Jana Wilmer, whose “Urban Death” show has rocked L.A., New York, Edinburgh and Capetown. She and co-writer Robert Bullwinkel are partnering for the first time on the creative team.

Joshua Berg, who plays de Sade, has starred in Blue Man Group and “Wicked the Musical.” in Las Vegas. Co-star Giulia Piolanti has appeared at Edinburgh Fringe Festival and as a Cirque du Soleil artist in four touring shows.

Composer Joseph Bishara (“The Conjuring,” “Insidious” and sound designer Katie Halliday team (who won an Emmy for “Stranger Things”) teamed on the music.

“Abandon” toggles times and shares cast members with “CLUElesque,” also at VTC, running Saturday and Sunday and July 25-26. That’s my next frontier at the theater. I endorse, always, the vision at VTC. So does Wilmer, who says the company “continues to produce and champion original theater productions in Las Vegas.”

Cool Hang Alert

Returning to the topic of Dolby Live (sort of), Aerosmith tribute band Aeromyth plays Arizona Charlie’s Coverall Lounge at 8 p.m. Saturday. No cover for this tribute of the rock icons who, once in Vegas’ recent past, played the Park MGM theater.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on X, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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