Amid all the superstar residencies on the Las Vegas Strip looms a marquee name that rivals them all:
Potter is coming to town, in parody form in “Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Harry Experience.” The show has opened for previews at Windows Showroom at Bally’s on Tuesday night and is set to run for 12 months.
From now through June 23, originators Dan Clarkson and Jefferson Turner are representing the entire cast. New performers will be swapped in after they leave. The show is to run daily at 8 p.m. (dark Thursdays).
“This is literally two guys taking on all seven Harry Potter books in just 70 minutes,” Clarkson said in a recent phone chat. “Jeff takes on Harry Potter. That leaves me to play all 350 other characters. I play everyone from Voldemort, to Art Weasley to a fire-breathing dragon that will put ‘Game of Thrones’ to shame.”
Clarkson stand 6-feet, 5 inches, a towering presence in the cozy Windows space.
“Watching me play these characters, at my height, alone will be worth the price of admission,” Clarkson says.
“Potted Potter” is suited for all ages (no adult Potter shows on the Strip just yet). The production has toured North America and internationally since 2012 and also performed at London’s West End.
The parody also has has been nominated twice for Britain’s prestigious Olivier Awards, both for its writing.
“Potter” is being brought into a room formerly occupied by Wayne Newton and The Bronx Wanderers. Those shows moved out (Newton to Caesars Palace and Bronx Wanderers to Mat Franco Theater at the Linq Hotel) when Caesars Entertainment took over at the beginning of the year. The new order has embraced a mystic/magic theme, with “Paranormal” starring Frederic Da Silva anchoring the room at 4 p.m., and Xavier Mortimer’s “Magical Dream” performing at 6 p.m.
Clarkson, who similar to many Vegas entertainers who originate in the U.K., is enamored of the Strip. “You can’t walk the Strip without seeing some visual treats,” he says. “There is a surreal quality about Las Vegas that I love.”
Thus inspired, the writers have added Vegas-only characters.
“It’s interesting how easily you can make House Elves into House Elvis,” Clarkson says. “It might be that we have House Elves appearing for our Vegas show.”
Clarkson says the show treats the Potter heritage with respect — but does not stick to traditional characters and themes.
“We push and play around with the comedy, and there are a lot of pop culture references,” Clarkson says. “So there are ‘Game of Thrones’ references, ‘The Hobbit,’ ‘Lord of the Rings’ … Britney Spears will be making an appearance in the show. You can still have fun, even if you’re not an expert.”
Clarkson says the show has achieved fans from the Potter culture, too.
“We enjoy being unauthorized because there are no restrictions,” the co-creator says.” We’ve had a Harry Potter fan site say that the show does the jokes the fans themselves would like to do. That is a very big compliment because we are dealing with very sacred material.”
Naked no more
Well, it would be tempting to say “The Naked Magicians” tried out Las Vegas and lost their shirts. But no, Mike Tyler and Christopher Wayne gave the city an honest spin and closed their run at Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club at MGM Grand on Tuesday night.
I liked the show, though the uneasy mix of traditional magic and adult humor was likely its downfall. The club crowd shouting, “Take it off!” during rope tricks was an especially tenuous experience.
Still, Tyler and Wayne have been great to have around the scene — always causing a stir on the red carpet — and for a fleeting moment I felt they had gained footing when they announced their contract extension last month. But those added dates actually became the show’s termination notice; efforts to secure a new backer never materialized, nor did a new contract.
“The Naked Magicians” brand will likely live on, as a touring production. Tyler has already headed back to Australia, while Wayne is hanging out for a bit, possibly to join an in-development variety show.
‘Ester’ falls out
More from the sudden departure of Michael Airington from “Ester Goldberg’s Totally Outrageous Brunch” at SLS Las Vegas. The show is dark until further notice. Expect a rewrite of the script, without the red-headed character; it’s become clear the cast and producers saw the raunchy redhead as being out of step with the rest of the cast.
Also, Airington’s professional disposition has reportedly caused concern around the production. One tale is from informed sources that dates to his time with his Paul Lynde tribute show at Windows in 2017. One afternoon, shortly before that show closed, Airington faced a lethargic, less-than-capacity audience. With his jokes landing with thud, Airington shouted a profanity at the crowd for not laughing, then left the stage. His acrimonious relationship with his co-creators reportedly helped lead his Ester character out the door.
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.