The Kats! Bureau at this writing is Pearl Concert Theater, a first-time K.B. outpost, hanging with some of our favorite Las Vegas entertainment types as they mark Mondays Dark’s sixth anniversary. We’re actually far stage left, just away from the action, as emcee and founder Mark Shunock celebrates what’s been dubbed M.D.’s “Million Dollar Night,” a reference to the money accrued for local charities since the show launched at November 2013 at Hard Rock Hotel.
Shunock just reminded the crowd of the late Robin Leach, and we should not forget his contribution to this charity and so many others over the years in Las Vegas. Robin was actually a participant in that first show at Body English, which was the first and only to be staged in talk-show format. Robin was instrumental in helping get the word out about Shunock’s charity performances and also its eventual home, The Space.
The Pearl is a different scale for this one-off show, of course, at 2,500 total capacity and set for 2,100 on Monday night. The Palms donated the room and the operating staff to make this night happen.
Unarguably, Mondays Dark has come a long way over the past six years. And on the topic of Vegas charities, here comes the O.V. Elvi! The Opportunity Village performance ensemble, under the direction of Daryll Borges, is blasting through “Hound Dog” and “Viva Las Vegas.”
Famously, the Opportunity Village clients originally made the scarves Elvis himself handed out at the International and Las Vegas Hilton. Members of the performance company are in sequined jumpsuits, matching capes and shades while grooving and singing.
A heroic effort, deserving of the standing ovation it has received. Borges adds a splash of “Rocket Man” on acoustic guitar.
Travis Cloer, late of “Jersey Boys,” is up now, fronting the band led by Kenny Davidsen on the keys. This is a fine time to plug his new CD, “Here’s Travis Cloer,” recorded with Frankie and Tony Moreno (who at the moment are in their third week of a symphony swing through Indianapolis).
Out now is Clark County Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick, who has just awarded a Key to the Strip to Shunock and his wife and fellow performer, Cheryl Daro. Shunock can accurately claim to have something in common with Britney Spears — she was awarded one of these in November 2014, around the time of Monday Dark’s first anniversary.
We should update the “Key” award, though. Key Fob to The Strip, Key Fob to The City … .
Nonetheless, Shunock is humbled, telling the crowd he didn’t see this one coming. It’s a real honor, to represent the county’s 2.2 million residents and 42 million visitors (the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s 2018 numbers). The Clark County Commission, especially former commissioner and current Nevada governor, Steve Sisolak, have helped make The Space and Mondays Dark a success at what is an extensively renovated, one-time warehouse on Polaris Avenue.
Shunock has mentioned the non-M.D. programming at The Space, including “Hamiltunes! The All American Sing Along,” and that cast is up now. The licensed, interactive, karaoke-styled show debuted at The Space in July, returned in September and is produced by Daro in Las Vegas.
And the man in the middle of this action is none other than Carnell “Golden Pipes” Johnson, who before he was widely known as the Vegas Golden Knights’ favorite national anthem singer, was a popular gondolier at The Venetian’s Grand Canal Shoppes.
This is a good time to note Shunock’s role as in-arena emcee, along with KWNR 95.5 FM-The Bull personality Wayne “Big D” Danielson, for Vegas Golden Knights games at T-Mobile Arena. Shunock also works in that same role for Top Rank Boxing. If there is a sport where punches will be thrown, or might be, Shunock is usually nearby with a mic.
— John Katsilometes (@johnnykats) December 10, 2019
A pair of “Le Reve” at Wynn Las Vegas hand-to-hand artists, Alberto del Campo and David Underwood, have been summoned. The two perform a satire of balancing acts seen in many Strip shows, under the title “Golden Shower.”
As the name indicates, the duo are painted gold and wearing gold briefs. The erotic simulations are at once physically fantastic and quite funny.
“Did these guys meet on Bumble?” is one backstage comment.
Shunock loves these guys and has apparently been working to include them in the show since the first anniversary show. They are solid … gold.
The million-dollar moment is upon us: Shunock has donated $10,000 to the veterans’ charity organization Brass & Unity. M.D. and the organization has partnered this year to sell $50 bracelets, with proceeds going to the charity. That final payment from the stage pushes M.D.’s total announced donations since 2013 to an even $1 million — 100 charities at $10,000 each.
Jaclyn McSpadden, who soared in “Baz” at Palazzo Theater, “Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox Hideaway” at 1 Oak Nightclub at Mirage and most recently Brian Newman’s “After Dark” shows at NoMad Restaurant, is up for “Every Breath You Take.”
Live auction time. A shelter dog from The Animal Foundation has drawn a bid of $2,500.
Daniel Emmet — we know him from “America’s Got Talent” and also from Myron’s Cabaret Jazz, Italian American Club, Tuscany Suites and Kelly Clinton’s Open Mic Night at Bootlegger Bistro — is closing it out. Emmet enjoyed a powerhouse run at Cleopatra’s Barge at Caesars Palace this year (with Jerry Williams of Donny & Marie’s show as music director). I’m hoping, and anticipating, his return in 2020.
Emmet is unloading “Never Enough,” another of the night’s many standing ovations. Shunock makes a final heartfelt thank you to the many staffers, volunteers, supporters and entertainers who have helped make Mondays Dark a community event.
As they say in showbiz, the guy looks like a million bucks.
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.