weather icon Clear

Gwen Stefani pulls soundtracks, ska influences for Las Vegas show

Updated July 5, 2019 - 1:04 pm

Gwen Stefani grew up being obsessed with the soundtracks of musicals and old Hollywood films. She also was influenced by the ska scene in Orange County.

Those are the pillars of her residency at Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood.

“I grew up being obsessed with ‘Evita’ and ‘Annie,’ and ‘The Sound of Music’ was my favorite movie,” Stefani says. “And early with No Doubt, which was founded by me and my brother (Eric Stefani), we were attracted to Madness, that band, they were in the scene and were comical but did their own thing. So this residency is an environment were I get to all my passions.”

“Just a Girl,” a splashy series of autobiographical production numbers throughout Stefani’s remarkable 33-year career, returns to Zappos Theater this Friday and Saturday. In all, the Stefani headlines 10 dates through July 26. Highlights from our recent phone chat:

Starring her own production show is “just outrageous”: “I was always singing in a band all these years and to wind up with my own show is just outrageous,” Stefani says. “But at the same time if feels so right. I went from being in more of a male environment, to bringing out all of the things I love that are female — costume changes, hair and makeup, musical production. It’s No Doubt meets everything I love in the way I can do it.”

The show-opening “Hollaback” is a trip through time: The number kicks off the show with a set laden giant bananas, tubas and showgirls parading up a double staircase. “I wanted to start with, ‘I’m in Vegas. This is what I see Vegas as.’ And ‘Hollaback is like my biggest song in the sense that when people see me, they spell ‘Banana’ for me,” Stefani says, laughing. “The staircase, the old-style props where everything has glitter, the feathers and showgirls, is definitely me trying to be everything I love about Vegas and putting a modern song to it.”

Originally, No Doubt wanted to go punk rock: “When we started, everybody was being united by the genre of music even more than the particular artists, and it united and defined people, like ‘You’re into that? Me too!’ ” Stefani says. “With us, No Doubt wished it was a punk band, but unfortunately I was the singer and I didn’t consider myself much of a punk. So we kind of stumbled on other genres and became kind of silly and theatrical onstage, in our own way.”

Her man is a sounding board: Blake Shelton does furnish advice for the stage show, but informally. “I feel like he’s a best friend; we talk about everything, but he doesn’t really sit in on meetings,” Stefani says. “He’s definitely with me, and we bounce ideas off each other and he’s just an amazing performer and an amazing person. He’s been loving watching the show in Vegas, too.”

Encore for this rivalry

NBA combatants from a bygone era, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, are featured in the new 90-second online video promoting the opening of Encore Boston. Set to Frank Sinatra’s “Nothing But the Best,” the clip co-stars Wynn/Encore resident headliners The Chainsmokers. The campaign is set up to celebrate the resort’s commitment to the luxury experience, and also shows golden elevators ascending through the clouds. It’s sort of Willie Wonka-meets-a-resort-casino vibe.

It’s a Spiegelworld

The new Las Vegas Strip production “Atomic Saloon Show” is rehearsing in Scotland for its Aug. 1 debut at Ediburgh Festival Fringe. The show’s star, Madame Boozy Skunkton, is familiar to Vegas productions: She’s British comic actress Petra Massey of Spymonkey, one of the original clowns in “Zumanity” at New York-New York.

The Edinburgh run, which concludes Aug. 25, is the first time show producer Spiegelworld has debuted a title overseas for a U.S. premiere. “Atomic Saloon Show,” which has an acronym we shouldn’t use in a family publication (I’m sure that’s coincidental), opens in September at The Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian.

Strip show!

The Burlesque Hall of Fame, which as we know is the world’s only museum of burlesque, is staging “Liber-TEASE!” at 7 p.m. Friday (doors at 5:30) at Ron DeCar’s Event Center. Vegas burlesque stalwarts Blanche DeBris, Raquel Reed, Bettina May, Tana The Tattooed Lady, Buttercup and Sweetie Bird head up the lineup. Jesssabelle Thunder, “The 8th and 9th World Wonder,” is in from L.A., and legends Gina Bon Bon and Tiffany Carter also are scheduled to appear.

General admission is $29, a VIP buffet ticket is $39 and VIP plated-dinner ticket is $49. All proceeds go to the non-profit Burlesque Hall of Fame in Las Vegas. Go to BHOF.link/libertease for info.

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.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
Fans and friends recall Elvis opening in Las Vegas
Fifty years ago on July 31st 1969, Elvis Presley opened at the International hotel in Las Vegas. He went on to do 837 consecutive sold-out shows at the property.
Hot peach cobbler at Beaumont’s Southern Kitchen at Texas Station
Michael Ross, room chef/pitmaster at Beaumont’s Southern Kitchen at Texas Station in Las Vegas, makes peach cobbler by baking peaches in a cast-iron pan with batter and crumble, then topping with Haagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream and bourbon-caramel sauce. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Water Grill opens at The Forum Shops at Caesars in Las Vegas
Water Grill, from a 30-year-old California company opening its first Las Vegas location, specializes is fresh seafood including 16 types of oysters. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Cat's Meow comes to Las Vegas
New Orleans-based karaoke chain opens new location in Neonopolis. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making the Loco Moco Breakfast Burger at Broken Yolk Cafe in Las Vegas
Manny Menina, line cook at Broken Yolk Cafe in Las Vegas, stacks 8 ounces of beef, 2 strips of bacon, hash browns, caramelized onions and 2 fried eggs on 4 King’s Hawaiian slider buns to make the Loco Moco Breakfast Burger. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
SecretBurger at China Poblano at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
Carlos Cruz, executive chef of Jose Andres’ China Poblano at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, makes the SecretBurger off-menu, one-night-only ‘All Quacked Up’ with a kimchi pancake, Peking duck, house-made hoisin sauce, a fried duck egg, pickled micro-vegetables, caviar and gold flakes and serves it with a Stillwater Artisanal Ale. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Famous Blue Angel statue commemorated in downtown Las Vegas mural
The 16-foot tall Blue Angel statue that stood above the Blue Angel Motel for six decades is featured in a mural spanning three walls at a downtown Las Vegas building. James Stanford designed the “A Phalanx of Angels Ascending" mural based on his photography, and Cliff Morris painted the mural at 705 Las Vegas Blvd. North, near the Neon Museum. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Making Castle Frites at the new Frites at the Excalibur in Las Vegas
Tom McGrath, district manager/executive chef at Frites at the Excalibur in Las Vegas, tops his beef-tallow fries like a loaded baked potato - with white and yellow cheddar, sour cream, bacon and chives. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hello Kitty Cafe on Las Vegas Strip - VIDEO
The Hello Kitty Cafe opens Friday, July 12th, 2019, between New York, New York and Park MGM on the Las Vegas Strip. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Amano Las Vegas' Fat Baby Sandwich
Chef Jason Weber of Amano Las Vegas has created a sandwich stuffed with pasta, and it's a hit. (Mat Luschek / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A class at Melissa Coppel Chocolate and Pastry School in Las Vegas.
Melissa Coppel, who teaches classes in various countries around the world, attracts students from far and wide to her eponymous school in Las Vegas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Havana Lobster at Boteco in Las Vegas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Marcus Fortunato, co-owner of Boteco in Las Vegas, learned to make Havana Lobster from the chef at El Figaro, a favorite of former Cuban President Fidel Castro.
Chef Gustav Mauler Is retiring
Las Vegas chef Gustav Mauler announces his retirement on Sunday, June 30, 2019.
Bellagio Conservatory unveils Italian summer exhibit
The Bellagio's Conservatory & Botanical Gardens have opened the gates to its summer display. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
A.D. Hopkins on his debut novel
Veteran journalist introduces readers to “The Boys Who Woke Up Early.” (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Seven Magic Mountains restoration complete
Artist Ugo Rondinone’s iconic Seven Magic Mountains receives a complete painting restoration in June 2019.
Making off-the-menu bean curd rolls at Mr. Chow in Las Vegas
Senior chef tournant Cesar Laran has created secret bean curd rolls at Mr. Chow at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. To make them, he rolls bean curd sheets around a filling of carrots, celery and shiitake mushrooms, then smokes them with oolong tea and sugar. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making Bread Pudding French Toast at Esther’s Kitchen in Las Vegas
James Trees, chef/owner of Esther’s Kitchen in Las Vegas, slices house-made blueberry bread pudding, coats it in egg yolks and mascarpone, fries it and tops it with spiced walnuts, Lyle’s Golden Syrup and creme fraiche. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Celine Dion closes 1,141-show residency on Las Vegas Strip - VIDEO
Hear from Celine Dion about her 16 years on the Las Vegas Strip and what the future has in store for her. (Caesars Entertainment)
Lobster grilled cheese at Big Sur Oyster Bar
The hugely popular lobster grilled cheese at Big Sur Oyster Bar at the South Point in Las Vegas is made with white cheddar and served on sourdough. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
You can dine out with your dog in Las Vegas
Lazy Dog, among Las Vegas restaurants that allow dogs, is probably the most accommodating, with free bowls of water and a doggy menu. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sparrow + Wolf at Vetri Cucina in Las Vegas
Marc Vetri will launch a new collaborative chef series June 18, with a little help from Sparrow + Wolf’s Brian Howard. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
10 best things to do at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge
10 best things to do at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Disneyland (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run at Disneyland - VIDEO
What it's like to ride the Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run At Disneyland (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ada’s opens at Tivoli Village in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Ada’s, from James Trees, owner of Esther’s Kitchen in Las Vegas’ Arts District, brings Tivoli Village a similar menu of seasonal, artisanal pastas, pizzas — and ice cream. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
Nutella French Toast at Cafe Americano in Las Vegas
Harold Norris, executive chef at Cafe Americano at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, coats brioche in cinnamon and chocolate and layers it with Nutella and bananas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Heavier traffic expected from EDC festival attendees
Electric Daisy Carnival attendees began to vacate the Las Vegas Motor Speedway starting before 5 a.m., the majority heading south on Interstate 15.
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
DJ Steve Aoki visits Las Vegas comic book store
DJ Steve Aoki visits Torpedo Comics in Las Vegas Friday, May 17, 2019, for a signing for his new comic book series "Neon Future." (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas Smith & Wollensky opens at The Venetian
After 18 years, the Smith & Wollensky location on Las Vegas’ south Strip closed in 2017, to be re-born two years later with a rib-cutting — instead of a ribbon-cutting — in The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)