Lorena Peril lives in the house Christina Aguilera built.
Peril is the firebrand vocalist in the indefatigable adult revue “Fantasy” at Luxor. In a classic Las Vegas success story, Peril arrived to town in 2006 with no gig. She was living at a Motel 6 on Tropicana Avenue, just east of the Strip, when she started singing in in the rocking lounge act Sin City Bad Girls at Shimmer Cabaret at the Las Vegas Hilton.
Peril soon caught the attention of producers of “American Superstars,” a highly underrated, “Legends”-styled show at the Stratosphere. Peril was assigned to portray Aguilera, who performs “The Xperience” residency at 9 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Wednesday at Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood.
The Aguilera role was a particularly challenging vocal tribute in the “Superstars” lineup, and Peril had never performed in such a production.
“It was my first ticketed show,” Peril says today. “I always say, I was able to buy a house because I was Christina Aguilera in ‘American Superstars.’”
She earned her pay, holding town the role from 2007-09.
“I had to come out and sing a belter song,” Peril says. “There was no warm-up. It was open and sing like Christina, as hard as you could.” Peril covered “Ain’t No Other Man,” “Beautiful,” “Dirrty” and “Lady Marmalade” in the “Superstars” production. Peril was later replaced by Felice Garcia, who also sang in “Folies Bergere” and “Million Dollar Quartet” before moving to Southern California.
Peril took over as vocalist in “Fantasy” in 2010. A year after she joined that cast, she auditioned for NBC’s “The Voice” and ascended to the final, televised auditions.
Among the judges was Aguilera.
“I couldn’t believe I would be singing for my idol,” says Peril, who tore through a rendition of “Proud Mary.” It was Aguilera, star of “The Xperience,” who spun around in her chair and X’d her out.
“She gave me positive criticism, she said I was very pretty but that she would have liked to hear me sing a different song,” says Peril, whose song was chosen for her. “She told me I over-sang it. It’s the kind of song that is a performance song, not the type of song you’d do for an audience with their backs turned.”
No matter. Peril is eager to see Aguilera in Las Vegas.
“Every time I hear her voice,” Peril says, “I am in awe.”
Cheek to Cheek
Enter this in the “Don’t Be Surprised If” file: Tony Bennett joining Lady Gaga onstage for her next “Jazz + Piano” show on June 9. This is just two days after the 92-year-old Bennett headlines Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls. Maybe he can headline a Strip residency and no I am not kidding.
Silent, but deadly …
Muted stage sensation Tape Face (legal name Sam Mills) marked his 300th show Thursday at his own theater at Harrah’s. Tape Face is branching out, with multiple performers portraying the inventive mime character in Vegas and elsewhere. The formula has worked for Blue Man Group, especially. Maybe Tape Face will also wind up on the growing list of Cirque du Soliel list of acquisitions (that is pure speculation).
Westgate Las Vegas headliner Jen Kramer was greeted onstage by a fan carrying flowers on Wednesday night. Hotel GM Cami Christensen presented the hotel’s resident magician with a floral display, and, more relevant from a business perspective, a two-year extension to perform her 5 p.m. show. Kramer is the rare headlining magician who graduated from Yale (as a senior, she launched the Ivy League university’s Yale Magic Society). She is also the only female magic headliner in Vegas, and starts her show by asking the crowd to help her pick out her outfit for the night — then magically appears in that outfit. Her show is $20-$40 (minus fees), a great family hang, and the hotel is behind it.
U.S. Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada and Dick Durbin of Illinois dined Wednesday night at Piero’s Italian Restaurant. This was a reunion of sorts for the Nevadan in the delegation.
As a teenager, Cortez Masto worked the desk for Freddie Glusman when Glusman ran the Sporting House. Glusman, also owner of Piero’s, was very close to Cortez Masto’s father, the late tourism pioneer and Las Vegas Visitors and Convention Authority President Manny Cortez.
When I asked Freddie what the Cortez Masto and Durbin had for dinner, he said, “The greatest osso buco in the world!” The man’s a walking billboard …
The mercurial history of Intrigue at Wynn Las Vegas ended Wednesday when Wynn Nightlife announced it was shutting down the space to host private events. Designed in the old Tryst space, Intrigue’s intrigue crested in the spring of 2016. That’s when Mark Shunock and his wife, the entertainer Cheryl Daro, attempted to create a nightclub entertainment scene spiced with such burlesque performers as LouLou D’Vil, The Baron of the Universe and Kalani Kokonuts.
The idea was to re-invent nightlife entertainment in traditional clubs spaces. No dice. It became evident soon — like, on opening night — that the concept wasn’t going to fly with then-resort overlord Steve Wynn, who voiced his displeasure even as he was led to his VIP table. Shunock and Daro departed, redoubling their efforts on Monday’s Dark and development of the The Space.
On this topic …
Daro is developing a “Hamiltunes! The All American Sing Along” interactive production for July 15 at The Space. Daro and cast members showcased the musical at Kelly Clinton-Holmes’ open-mic night Monday at Bootlegger Bistro.
Carnell Johnson (aka the anthem singer “Golden Pipes” for Vegas Golden Knights home games) was part of cast, which covers songs from “Hamilton” and invited audience members to join in. It’s a lot of fun, and you KNOW Johnson can flat bring it. He made the tables shake at Bootlegger. Keep an eye for this title.
It’s Sunday, and it’s Uli
Piano great and master educator and director Uli Geissendoerfer hosts the premiere of “The Jazz Club” at Myron’s Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center at 3 p.m. Sunday. Geissendoerfer, a UNLV jazz studies professor, hosts weekend jazz hangs at Dispensary Lounge.
Geissendoerfer is at piano (as usual), and bringing in top vocalists Toscha Comeaux and Gary Fowler, with backing players Angelo Stokes, Jeff Davis, Charles McNeal and Julian Tanaka. The event returns Sept. 5, and for two shows Dec. 5. Jazz fans are often quick to note they can’t find their favorite genre, so get there.
Great Moments In Social Media
Terry Fator cut a YouTube clip singing a “Space Oddity/Rocket Man” duet with his David Bowie and Elton John puppets. Amazing. The performance at Terry Fator Theater was in line with the release of the John biopic “Rocketman,” due this weekend.
Doug Stanhope’s sold-out shows at Plaza Showroom over the weekend were recorded for an upcoming special being pitched to Netflix. Stanhope, true to form, hung after his performances and grooved it up with Disco lounge band Wonderboogie. “We offered him a private room upstairs at Oscar’s, but he wanted to be with his fans,” Plaza CEO Jonathan Jossel says. “He was just great to work with.”
The Plaza has its first Monster Truck Insanity Tour event Friday and Saturday at its outdoor, multi-purpose venue Core Arena. Jossel expects 3,000-3,500 fans to file into that event. I understand there are no hybrids entered, yet, in the competition …
There is further expansion of the under-construction Noteriety at Neonopolis. Venue operator Ken Henderson of Best Agency is taking over the space formerly occupied by Millennial Esports Arena (that business opened and closed and I just learned of it). That space is now open for a production show seeking a venue, maybe with the working title of “Queen of Downtown” … Crazy-talented vocalist and column fave Jassen Allen is joining the cast of “Ester Goldberg’s Totally Outrageous Brunch” at SLS Las Vegas this weekend. Allen had also been booked for a three-week limited engagement of his Luther Vandross tribute at Pegasus Showroom at Alexis Park in June, but had to spike those plans to commit full-time to “Ester’s,” which is loaded with experienced Vegas stage performers, and also offers great chicken and waffles …
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.