Ex-Phantom Barrett returns to Las Vegas Strip for ‘Ribbon’

The Kats! Bureau at his writing is the Foundry at SLS, which for the first time is hosting the annual Golden Rainbow “Ribbon of Life” charity production show. This year’s production starts at 1 p.m. Sunday and is titled “The Show Must Go On,” themed for iconic British artists.

That’s why we are watching the rousing rehearsal rendition of the Rolling Stones’ “Honky Tonk Women” spilling into the Queen/David Bowie classic, “Under Pressure.”

This year’s “Ribbon of Life” show was originally conceived, and also announced, as an adaptation of “Chicago.” Evidently licensing issues interceded — I understand Billy Flynn was all over cable news threatening to sue. Producers then opted for the more general “Show Must Go On!” concept.

Summoning this spirit, Brent Barrett, the stage great who opened “Phantom — The Las Vegas Spectacular” at The Venetian, is taking on Anthony Newley’s “What Kind of Fool Am I.” It’s a cagey song choice in the middle of so many well-known rock numbers.

“Anthony Newley was ahead of the British theatrical invasion, and actually a headliner on the Strip for many years,” says Barrett, referring to Newley’s performances at Caesars Palace’s Circus Maximus at Caesars Palace and Starlite Theater at the Riviera. “People sometimes need to be reminded of that, and also that there is an era of theater in Britain that pre-dates Andrew Lloyd Webber.”

Weber was the producer of “Phantom,” of course. Barrett is best-known in Las Vegas for playing the “Phantom” role early in the show’s run, but he is also famous for portraying Flynn in “Chicago” in its Broadway revival and and also on tour.

Elsewhere, the show features such stage luminaries as Anne Martinez, Jaclyn McSpadden, Paul Johnson and Danny McHugh of of “Baz” at Palazzo Theater; Bronx Wanderers of Windows Showroom at Bally’s; Tenors of Rock at Harrah Showroom; Human Nature of Sands Showroom at Venetian; and cast members from “Opium” at Rose. Rabbit. Lie. at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

“We love the balance that we have with this year’s show,” says Andrew Wright, co-directing the show with longtime Vegas stage performer Nicholas Foote. “We have some great talent, and with ‘Opium’ we have some artists who’ve not been in the show before. It should be really fun.”

Money raised goes to Golden Rainbow, which provides housing, education and direct financial assistance services for those living with HIV/AIDS in Southern Nevada.

4 more for these 2

In their appearance on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” Penn & Teller casually announced their new four-year deal at the Rio, running through 2022. P&T will have been at the hotel for 21 years by the end of that contract.

As reported last week, Penn & Teller are taking their show down from July 10-Aug. 2 so Teller can undergo spinal-fusion surgery. The duo’s series “Fool Us,” recorded in March at the Rio, returns 8 p.m. Monday on The CW. Piff the Magic Dragon and his dad, Pop the Magic Dragon, are the featured guests.

Shakeup for Salt-N-Pepa

Salt-N-Pepa’s much-ballyhooed residency on the Strip has hit a snag. Targeted to open at Tropicana Theater on Labor Day Weekend, the 1990s-throwback production is now heading for a different venue on the Strip and an opening this fall or winter, as producer Seth Yudof of UD Factory explains.

No formal reason given for the unravelling of those plans at the Trop (sources say it was a financial decision and not an artistic or logistic concern). The hotel is still seeking a 9 p.m. show to open in the theater this year.

Yudof says he has sufficient capital to run this ’90s show in Las Vegas, with additional co-stars to be announced within the month. Very good. As we say, just lemme know when is opening night, and I’ll be there.

Three dee? Indeedy

It’s 2018, yes, but 3D glasses never go out of style.

Barry Manilow is handing out (or rather, his people are handing out) throwback 3D glasses to his show at International Theater at Westgate Las Vegas. This visual effect, which gained popularity in movie theaters in the 1950s, still has a dizzying quality. Manilow employs the 3D effects during a New York-inspired medley midway through the show.

It works, and this it the reason you’ll see a bunch of selfies posted by those in the audience looking like members of Devo.

‘Brunch to Broadway’ closing

A novel concept that didn’t take hold, “Brunch To Broadway” is performing its final shows at noon and 2 p.m. Sunday at Rocks Lounge at Red Rock Resort. The variety show of musical numbers was conceived by ex-”Rock of Ages” cast member Bob Torti and his wife, DeLee Lively-Torti. Six singers and five-piece band performed in the show, which was $20 and included a comp to the Red Rock Feast Buffet.

Great idea, wonderful talent … not enough support. As Bob Torti so ably describes the show’s demise, “Another one bites the dust.”

By the numbers

Nine: The number of times Edie the Entertainer from “Zumanity” at New York-New York has served as Mistress of Ceremonies for “Ribbon of Life” shows. She’s hosting Sunday, too.

Cool Hang Alert

Jimmy Hopper & His All Star Band” at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Italian American Club showroom. Hopper is a Vegas stalwart from such long-ago gigs as Fontana Room at Bellagio and VooDoo Lounge at the Rio. Major talent, with a cracking backup band of Rocco Barbato on sax, Brenda Cowart on keys, Pablo Gadda on guitar, Blaise Sison on bass and Adam “The Mayor” Shendal on drums. A $30 cover (gratuities not included).

Who Was Where

Those twin towers of Vegas headliners, Brad Garrett of MGM Grand and Frank Marino of the Linq Hotel (separately) in the first three rows of Alanis Morissette’s show Friday at Pearl Concert Theater.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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