The Kats! Bureau at this writing is 30,000 or so feet above Colorado, returning from a visit to Cirque du Soleil headquarters in Montreal and a first look at rehearsals for “R.U.N,” opening in October at Luxor.
The Cirque show is billed as, “The First Live-Action Thriller by Cirque du Soleil,” and that message is stamped across promotional material. It also is the first to shed traditional Cirque acrobatics in favor of athletic, movie-styled stunt work.
But the show brings with it a few other “firsts” for the company:
Extensive narration. A crystalized story line starring a bride and groom, pursued by rival gangs and characters titled Torturer, Hero and Professional. The use of a single language — English — to expressly tell the story. The use of motorcycles onstage, electric bikes that were rolled out during Tuesday’s rehearsals. A five-minute intro film being directed by Robert Rodriguez (“El Mariachi,” “From Dusk Till Dawn,” “Sin City”) is being produced just for the live show. And, a roving camera operator will shoot live footage of the artists as part of plot development of each show.
“We’re making a show for a particular audience, with a particular expectation,” show director Michael Schwandt said during a rehearsal at Cirque’s HQ fortress. “I like to think the show will appeal to wide demographic of people who appreciate films, who appreciate action films, and who appreciate horror films. We diving into multiple genres of films, inspired of course by graphic novels and other genres as well.”
“Gritty” is repeatedly held up to describe “R.U.N,” with a Sam Spade, film noir vibe. Las Vegas is to be depicted as a somewhat seedy, industrial city that employs characteristics of a re-created downtown setting (with some shanty-styled architecture and walls covered in graffiti art).
“It is gritty,” Schwandt said, “but I say ‘gritty’ with a smile on my face.” The show begins previews Oct. 24.
‘Unplugged’ at 10
“Nashville Unplugged” is marking its 10th anniversary at 8 p.m. Friday at its current home, Rhythm & Riffs at Mandalay Bay. Singer-songwriter Aaron Benward has been with the show since its inception, at the old Ovation Showroom at Green Valley Ranch in 2009.
The performance, which stages the work of top Nashville songwriters, has since moved to Rocks Lounge at Red Rock Resort, Sunset Stations Club Madrid, and finally to the Mandalay Bay lounge formerly known as Mizuya in September 2016.
Benward, who has been with the show since its inception, hosts with Danny Myrick for the anniversary show, which (as always) is a no-cover-charge, fully satisfying music experience.
Pop goes Perrico!
David Perrico’s music fiefdom has evolved as Caesars Entertainment’s house band.
On Fridays and Saturdays, it is possible to experience Perrico’s “Pop” bands from 4:30 p.m. through midnight at two Vegas venues. Perrico’s latest ensemble, Pop Retro, has opened on the ground-level tavern at Jimmy Kimmel’s Comedy Club at Linq Promenade. The act runs 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays, with stand-up comics billed at the comedy club wading in to perform.
Perrico produces the Pop Retro unit, led by singer (and Perrico’s wife) Lily Arce, with keyboardist Joe Spraker, bassists Aaron Tully and drummer Cameron Tyler. On Fridays and Saturdays, Perrico’s Pop 40 plays from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., followed by Pop Strings, both at Cleopatra’s Barge at Caesars Palace.
If you want to make a long night of it, park at Linq Promenade first (where the irksome parking fee is the only cover charge), and ramble across to Caesars. See you at one, or both, of these showcases.
A famous candy factory is connected to the land of famous potatoes, “Rock of Ages” and Las Vegas.
“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” has opened at the Smith Center, and two members of the touring production are linked to Las Vegas.
Matt Lenz, director of the born-in-Vegas “Idaho — The Comedy Musical,” also is director of “Charlie.” The “Idaho” musical, co-written by Keith Thompson, showcased at Reynolds Hall in July 2016 and still is seeking a path to Broadway.
Also, Clyde Voce, who was in the “Rock of Ages” cast at the Venetian, is in the “Charlie” ensemble. Earlier this year, Voce was the first black actor to play Wonka in the Braodway touring production of “Charlie.”
A Rush residency?
Rush geeks? You out there? Get this: The band has been this close to a Las Vegas residency. AEG Presents Senior Vice President Bobby Reynolds is a serious fan of the legendary Canadian power trio — I believe he has actually visited the Temples of Syrinx.
During an interview last week at AEG headquarters with Reynolds and AEG Senior Vice President John Nelson, I asked about a possible Rush engagement to add to the city’s long list of resident shows. Reynolds hit the gas as if driving the famed Red Barchetta.
“Rush was my first concert, and I put every kind of damn offer you put in front of Rush,” Reynolds said. “And, I think if it was up to (bass icon, and also vocal icon) Geddy Lee, we would have a Rush residency.”
However, the snag has been with drumming icon Neal Peart, who has declined such overtures. As Reynolds said, accurately, “Without him, there’s no Rush.”
But forever a working man, Reynolds continued, “Here’s how much of a Rush weirdo I am: My Rush fantasy, and I even sent this to the agent, ‘What if we put Dave Grohl on drums?’ He’s like, ‘Bobby, I gotta go.’”
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.