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‘Finding Magic Mike’ HBO Max series elevates two stars

Updated January 26, 2022 - 8:00 pm

We have filled a civic void by “Finding Magic Mike.” Actually, we have discovered a pair of “Mikes” from the HBO Max competition series. Champion Johnny Dutch and finalist Nate Bryan are in the “Magic Mike Live” cast beginning this week at Magic Mike Theater at Sahara Las Vegas.

The duo is set to groove with the show’s dedicated cast through May 29. Their co-starring stint caps their trek through auditions, the filming of the series at the Sahara, and the cable show’s premiere in December.

The show’s premise was to find men who had passed their physical peaks, but who wanted to get back into shape and restore confidence to perform in “Magic Mike Live.” The team on-site, assembled by producers Channing Tatum and Steven Soderbergh, found two able-bodied individuals.

Dutch is a former state-champion track athlete out of North Carolina, excelling in the 110- and 400-meter hurdles. Bryan is an ex-minor league baseball player out of Indiana, who ditched the ballpark when he fell in love.

Dutch said competing in the show “was one of the best, most trying and rewarding experiences of my life.” Bryan said the experience “transformed my life, and performing every night on stage with ‘Magic Mike Live’ is going to be my biggest challenge yet.”

Based on Tatum’s “Magic Mike Live” film franchise, the show has performed since August in its custom-designed theater. Tatum is also developing the film series’ climactic installment, “Magic Mike’s Last Dance” on HBO Max, the premiere date to be announced.

The “Finding Magic Mike” project overcame several delays because of COVID. The series finally finished its three-month filming schedule in September. Adam Rodriguez, who played Tito in the “Magic Mike” movies, narrates. Veteran choreographer Alison Faulk, from the film franchise and the stage show; and her sidekick, Luke Broadrick help whittle the field.

Similar to a dancer in “MML,” the production was teasingly concealed until the big reveal last month. Sahara officials weren’t even permitted to confirm plans for the show at its own property. Now, of course, it’s time to show off this body (of work).

“Showcasing the new Sahara to the world by hosting the filming of ‘Finding Magic Mike’ was a unique thrill for our team this past year,” Sahara Senior Vice President and General Manager Paul Hobson says. “We are excited now to host the fans of Johnny and Nate nightly, in ‘Magic Mike Live’s’ new, spectacular theater.”

Executive Producer Vince Marini was among those featured in the film, and also whipped himself into condition just to be filmed around the show’s chiseled cast members.

Marini stressed that the seven-episode series was indeed unscripted. The project followed the template of a lengthy audition process to whittle the field to the final two.

“It was a little strange. Not only was I in it, but I was also doing executive producing of all the performances, and the shows,” Marini says.”So we were planning for a while, for months, all of these performances. We had to work with the guys to execute them, then we basically had to send people home.”

And that process was real.

“I was just surprised by how close we got to the guys, how much we wanted them to succeed,” Marini says. “They were fulfilling something that we had planned, and we got really invested in their success and their stories.”

Marini has talked of the challenges in the show’s “first season.” Is there to be more “Magic Mike” competition at Sahara?

“I think by the end of last few episodes, we really kind of got on a roll. Then of course, we had to end just as we were feeling that way,” Marini says. “So, yeah, we’ll see what the future brings. We’re hoping that we’ll get to do it again.

Cool Hang Alert

Eric “Travis” Wilson is at Rush Lounge at Golden Nugget from 8 p.m.-midnight Thursday. Wilson is a one-man tribute show, who channels Coldplay, George Strait, Sir Mix-a-Lot and Stevie Ray Vaughan. A lot of covers, but no cover charge, at the Rush.

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 Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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