Though comparatively new at this Vegas headlining routine, Gwen Stefani is acutely aware of her surroundings. During her performance Saturday night at Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood Resort, she called out to her fellow Strip superstar who arrived this weekend.
Then it was back to the party.
Stefani fought back a cold with considerable aplomb, routinely breaking because “I have boogers!” and warning the crowd that if they got too close to her or grabbed her towels onstage, “You might be taking home the sniffles as a late-Christmas present!”
But her performance of production numbers, plucking from the best of her No Doubt years and solo career, was unflagging. Stefani has impressively added 21 dates to her 2019 schedule, reinforcing her position as one of the city’s leading resident headliners. Her status is evident on New Year’s Eve, as she is set to join CNN’s coverage of the night in Las Vegas. Stefani will perform from Zappos Theater and also be interviewed by co-hosts Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen (the CNN broadcast begins at 5 p.m. Pacific time).
Stefani’s role as a Strip ambassador on a national broadcast is only fitting. I’ve earlier applauded her attention to Vegas production tradition with her “Jubilee!”- and “Folies Bergere”-style opening for “Hollaback Girl” and installing a towering, dual staircase throughout. She employs fake tubas and black-and-white checkered costumes, playing cards and lettering from old Vegas marquees for “Just A Girl.”
Stefani was grateful, too, for her near-capacity turnout at Zappos Theater. “Thank you so much for being here on the second-to-last night of 2018!’ she shouted. She lured a female fan to the stage, and when the woman fairly chased her down for a selfie, Stefani said, “OK, OK, go back to your seat! It’s expensive!”
Inevitably, Stefani’s show will be held up in comparison to Gaga’s spectacle at the Park Theater. Fair enough. They are in the same range. They are similarly advanced in production (though Gaga’s “Enigma” is set apart by a 20-foot Transformer and her sky-high aerial rig). It’s about the music, really. If you’re a No Doubt fan, especially, you’ll more than likely return to the musically robust “Just A Girl.”
Beyond their respective catalogs, Stefani and Gaga are so clearly products of their upbringing. Gaga’s temperament (and even accent, still) is rooted in New York. Stefani remains the heart and soul of Orange County. The coasts meet on the Strip, where we don’t need to pick a side. Where’s the fun in that?
Those who attended Criss Angel’s party for his son, Johnny Crisstopher, on Saturday afternoon were met with the rare directive: “The cupcakes are next to the merry-go-round, just past the snow slide.”
Yep. Angel went big with the event to celebrate 4-year-old Johnny Crisstopher, who has ended his chemotherapy treatments for his rare form of leukemia.
We heard from Angel and also the little boy’s mom, Shaunyl Benson, who attended every one of her son’s chemo treatments dating to his diagnosis in Queensland, Australia, when he was less than a year old. “I want to thank all of you and our family for helping keep Johnny’s positive spirit alive. He’s just this awesome, amazing kid who goes through his chemo, then goes and plays and wrestles with his dad.”
Benson, expecting the couple’s second child in January, was dressed as Wonder Woman during this speech. The party was themed for superheroes, which is why Tony Orlando wore a Batman mask and Mike Hammer was dressed as Clark Kent/Superman. Many members of the Incredibles were spotted, too. Someone was in a Tyrannosaurs Rex outfit, but it wasn’t actor Gary Oldman, who dressed as himself (or, as I referred to him as, Mr. Incognito).
There were bumper cars and, yes, a snow slide at the entrance and snack stations … the whole thing probably cost six figures. But the grin on that kid’s face, as we say, was priceless.
Magic in the air
Hard Rock Hotel/Virgin Hotel Las Vegas execs plan to keep the male revue “Magic Mike Live” open through the hotel’s four-month closing period — even if it means running the show while the property is otherwise shut down.
Richard “Boz” Bosworth, CEO of the property and of ownership group J.C. Hospitality, said Sunday that he wants to ward off suitors for the show by offering to keep its theater and Harmon Avenue entrance open even during renovations. The show would be the only amenity on the property operating during that closing period.
The hotel will begin its $150 million overhaul in earnest in late summer/early fall (Labor Day-ish, folks). Its “dark” period will be in spring 2020, just before the hotel is re-named Virgin Hotel Las Vegas.
”We like the show a lot and it’s very on-brand for the Virgin brand,” Bosworth says. “Fifty percent of the Virgin’s clientele is female, and the show is already a proven winner.” Bosworth confirmed the show has been scouted by competing properties, and that co-producer Channing Tatum has expressed that the show has been reviewing other venues. But the hotel doesn’t want to let this one go, not without a fight.
Shot o’ J.D.
John Di Domenico, one of the country’s foremost Donald Trump impressionists, is joining Fox News’ NYE coverage from Times Square.
“This should be interesting,” says Di Domenico, who lives in Las Vegas and has seen an uptick in his bookings (especially on Fox) since Trump took office. Di Domenico also performs as Austin Powers, Sean Connery, Larry King, Jay Leno, Mike Myers’ Wayne Campbell character from “Wayne’s World,” and Dr. Phil McGraw.
But his Trump gets the call for this national TV gig. In keeping in character, Di Domenico says he will have no script and ad lib his entire appearance, results be damned.
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.