Tegan Summer is in acquisition mode. VegasVille’s newest mover-slash-shaker is amassing licensing deals the same way coin collectors snap up silver nickels.
Summer, CEO of Prospect House Entertainment, this week secured official licensing rights for James Dean’s name and image. It means Summer can can move forward with plans for a musical he’s writing, “Rebel,” and a club themed for the Dean classic, “Rebel Without a Cause.”
Summer, who moved his operation to Las Vegas from L.A. in 2017, is planning Strip musicals and entertainment attractions around Marilyn Monroe and Bettie Page. He has also initiated talks with EDM superstar Steve Aoki for a musical driven by electronic music that has the vibe of “a modern-day ‘Rent,’ “ as he puts it.
Summer’s scope is ambitious, certainly — and that’s the word fellow entertainment figures around VegasVille use when assessing his vision for returning musical theater to the Strip. That ambition begets real results. Expect Summer to deliver on this ambition with a couple of productions in established venues by year’s end. “Marilyn: A New Musical” should open in the summer (and buzz around the entertainment scene is Ruby Lewis, who just left “Baz: A Musical Mashup” at Palazzo Theater, will play Marilyn, with a nationally known celebrity to be the show’s primary star).
“Bettie Page: A Burlesque Musical” would follow in the winter. Neither venue has been announced, though I’ve forecast Paris Theater for “Marilyn.”
On Wednesday, Summer presented a 10-minute medley of songs targeted for “Bettie Page” — “Fifty Dollar Smile,” True Call” and “Depravity and Sex.” Anne Martinez of “Alice” and “Baz”; Lindsay Roginski, late of “Steve Wynn’s Showstoppers”; Paul Johnson, late of “The World’s Greatest Rock Show” and “Rock of Ages”; Ashley Fuller of “Alice,” Douglas Crawford, late of “Jersey Boys”; Brittney Bertier, whom Summer has cast as Norma Jean in “Marilyn”; and Summer himself sang the numbers.
Summer has cast Roginski in both “Marilyn” and “Bettie Page,” and Crawford in “Bettie Page.” He also brought pin-up star Sabina Kelley to the stage as his creative consultant on the Page project.
It’s a lot of entertainment content, and Summer, too, is a lot. It’s not easy keeping track of this man. Deep into a conversation Friday, he described his ideas for a Bettie Page experience-styled club and performance space called “Bangs,” a TV show to originate from that attraction and also a blu-ray documentary titled, “Teaserama,” after the 1955 burlesque documentary, featuring (among others) tease legend Tempest Storm.
“I think if we put two book shows on the Strip by the end of the year, we have achieved something,” Summer says. “It’s happening.”
Aoki in wax
From live musicals to lifelike statues, Aoki does have his image covered. He’s the subject of a new wax figure at Madame Tussauds of Las Vegas at The Venetian. He’ll perform at an invite-only unveiling on Tuesday afternoon.
“This whole process has been super exciting so far. Madame Tussauds and I are both fun, outlandish and all about delivering an unforgettable experience,” Aoki said in a statement. “I can’t wait to see fans get behind the decks and have some fun with my first ever wax figure.” Typically, Tussauds artists take 250 measurements to create a full wax figure.
Cool hang alert
Mint Tavern has opened on West Sahara Avenue, a couple of cartwheels west of Golden Steer restaurant. Both establishments hearken to the best days of old Vegas. The Mint is a partnership of Jonathan Fine of Fine Entertainment of Las Vegas and nightlife entrepreneur Todd Worz. I was encouraged by the live-music space just off the main entrance, and Fine says there are plans for free swing-dance lessons on Friday nights, followed by live music. Live entertainment — including comedy — is a promise at The Mint, named for the famous Fremont Street hotel-casino that opened in 1957 and became part of Binion’s in 1988.
A lot of history in that name. A piece of trivia: The Mint was the site of Santa Fe & The Fat City Horns’ earliest casino gig, in 1976. Impress your friends, or not, with that info.
What I love about Vegas …
Is nights like Thursday. About an hour after talking with Fine and his wife, Katie Epstein Fine, at The Mint, I ran into the couple with a few friends at Piero’s Italian Restaurant. Seated at the next table was UFC President Dana White. Also in the room: Los Angeles Chargers owner Dean Spanos, and Planet Hyundai owner Don Tamburro. He and Piero’s owner Freddie Glusman are opening Roxxy’s Bar in Saint Martin in the Caribbean, if you’re ever in the area. Glusman also told me that a photo of him and Jerry Lewis hugging, which was hanging in the restaurant’s Jerry Lewis Booth, has been stolen. So if you ever see that particular framed image …