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‘Rock of Ages’ seeking a Las Vegas revival

Updated January 17, 2020 - 8:14 pm

A side story to “Rock of Ages” tenure at the Venetian from 2012-2016 is how the Bourbon Room did silly business. The 1980s-themed bar and music venue was an unlicensed but appealing complement to the rock musical at the hotel. The nostalgic enclave was where vintage 80s music and videos played along with music numbers from live entertainers.

You didn’t need a ticket for “Rock of Ages,” either, to hang at the Bourbon Room.

The rock club, now the site of The Dorsey, was the rare Strip nightspot popular with locals. When the show moved to the Rio in January 2017, the club remained open for a few weeks, then itself shut down. But “Rock of Ages” and the Bourbon Room have been resurrected, as one, on Hollywood Boulevard.

The new musical’s script and song list is largely unchanged, and it is performed as if inside the Bourbon Room itself. The show smokes in the 200-seat venue. The five-piece band is but a few feet away, and the talented cast ambles to your table to sing from Journey, Whitesnake, Foreigner and Styx. Booze (and wine coolers) are delivered zealously.

Naturally, Las Vegas, where the show ran for four-plus years, is an ingredient in this throwback cocktail.

The Strat’s Golden Entertainment executive team was in attendance at Wednesday’s premiere, in full force and prominently seated in the club’s VIP section. Golden Entertainment Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Steve Arcana and Senior Vice President of Marketing Brad Goldberg both were on hand. So was Red Mercury Entertainment exec Carlos Reynoso, whose company is a booking partner and runs the box office at the Strat.

Mark Shunock, too, was in the entourage. He was the original Lonny character at Venetian and moved with the show to the Rio. Of course, Shunock has branched out to create The Space entertainment complex and its charity show, Mondays Dark. Shunock previously ran the entertainment program at Intrigue Nightclub at Wynn Las Vegas under his Marshun Entertainment company.

Shunock is a known hustler, and his participation in the evening was certainly no coincidence. An experienced stage performer, Shunock also knows how to wheel-and-deal. He can sing, act, deliver a line and still fill that Lonny costume.

Aside from the Strat, expect co-producers Matt Weaver and Scott Prisand to scout the Strip and beyond for the new Bourbon Room locale. Caesars Entertainment has several small venue options, a few yet to be built. A tire kick at Hard Rock Hotel/Virgin Hotels Las Vegas is not out of the question, either. But the producers want to move a version of the show to the city this year and HRH is closed for renovations from Feb. 3 through November.

Cozier venues doubling as live performance spaces are a trend today, as Mayfair Supper Club at Bellagio, Rose. Rabbit. Lie at the Cosmopolitan and Nomad Bar and Restaurant at Park MGM have reinforced. “Rock of Ages” could downsize itself into a resurrection in Las Vegas.

In Hollywood, Lonny, gripping the narrative rudder, navigates the show’s course in an early monologue. He talks of “Rock of Ages” squeezing the last bit of revenue out of a onetime Broadway hit.

As the mullet-fashioned club dweller reminds, “I’m no Andrew Lloyd Sondheim,” but he’s right. There is more to squeeze out of “Rock Of Ages,” and more partying to be had at the Bourbon Room.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. Las Vegas Sands operates The Venetian.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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