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‘Rock of Ages’ sets gnarly return to the Strip

Updated March 6, 2021 - 12:53 pm

The final notes of “Don’t Stop Believin’” never subside. They just go on and on, and on, and on …

You’re welcome for the earworm from Journey, and also the stage show “Rock of Ages.” The 1980s rock musical is once more hitting “Play” in VegasVille. The show is all but signed, dotted-line style, for the former Cabaret space at Planet Hollywood Resort.

That’s why you might have spotted co-producers Scott Prisand and Matt Weaver at the hotel last weekend. The joyous revival is likely to move into the space in December, where fans will kick it up again with a shot of Dennis Dupree’s Good Time Juice.

The vision again is to expand the “Rock of Ages” concept to include the popular Bourbon Room nightspot. The club, which featured live performances and rowdy MTV videos, did silly business when the show was at The Venetian from 2012-16.

Bourbon Room actually ran for several weeks after the show closed at the hotel. That space is now The Dorsey.

Following its time on the Strip, “Rock of Ages” moved to the Rio for a year until closing Jan.1, 2018 (I remember the night well, when an usher chided me for trying to take a pic of the cast’s final bow. I am such a problem).

Since, producers have been in talks with The Strat (officials from that hotel caught the show’s premiere in Hollywood in January 2020), Hard Rock Hotel/Virgin Hotels Las Vegas and MGM Resorts International.

We really enjoyed the downsized, mobilized “RoA” that ran pre-pandemic on the Sunset Strip. The late Nick Cordero seized the show as club operator Dupree. Cordero, whose credits included “Bullets Over Broadway” and “Waitress” on Broadway, died last June of complications of COVID-19. That man was a real star.

More down the line, certainly, from this title, which also featured a column fave name-checked in the next note …

EJY, ‘Cocktail’ return

Eric Jordan Young returns with inventive musical mash-up “The Cocktail Cabaret,” for dinner shows at 3 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday at Italian American Club. The production’s cast is still intact. EJY, as we refer to him in shorthand, is back in his killer role as emcee.

The cast is requisitely talent-laden, featuring Niki Scalera and Maren Wade, with a guest appearance form James D. Gish. Philip Fortenberry leads the band, filled out by drummer Mark Pardy, bassist Josh Jones and sax man Eric Tewalt (who, in just a week’s time, will have played IAC and also Allegiant Stadium with Santa Fe & The Fat City Horns).

Young is also performing his first solo show at The Space at 6 p.m. March 13. Tickets are sold for in-person and livestream access (go to thespacelv.com for the specs). Fortenberry again accompanies on piano.

The two-man showcase arrives a year to the day after EJY was laid off from his job in Tampa, Florida, as a director of “Footloose” on Norwegian Cruise Line.

“I’m taking all the things I did over the past year, the virtual shows and performances, and throwing it into a personalized moment,” Young says. “I’m sharing what I’ve discovered about myself and the industry and Las Vegas.”

He’d certainly welcome a return to “Rock of Ages,” as a part he co-starred in the show at The Venetian and Rio, along with his directorial stints in L.A. and on Norwegian.

“I can only hope the producers would reach out to me in a directorial role,” Young says. “It’s a very exciting concept, if it’s cool and immersive like it was in Hollywood. I really love that show.”

Totally Vinny

Las Vegas magic practitioner Vinny Grosso says of his new show at Notoriety, “It’s just me, a one-man show. It’s the right opportunity for what I want to do, and where I am in my life, too.”

Proving again that the sun never sets on magic shows in Vegas, Grosso’s “Totally Mental” has opened at Notoriety at Neonopolis. So has ex-Tropicana Theater headliner David Goldrake’s “M Is For Magic.” The two swap performance times Fridays through Sundays (go to neonopolislv.com/notoriety to drill for the specifics).

Goldrake has been scanning the city for venues for more than a year before landing at Notoriety. Grosso was led to Ken Henderson’s second-level annex by prolific Vegas producer Adam Steck of SPI Entertainment.

“I said, ‘I have a show that can work with a small audience and is a small production,’ and he said, ‘That’s great, I know just the room for you,’” Grosso says. “The space is beautiful, it’s gorgeous, and I love what they’re doing downtown, with all the artistic changes.”

Grosso is among the many “America’s Got Talent” alums plying their craft in Vegas, and has twice fooled Penn & Teller on the duo’s “Fool Us” show. Grosso also produced “Over The Air” magic online, during the pandemic.

Grosso has also earned a bachelor’s degree from Villanova University with a degree in mechanical engineering, where he learned to create his own original illusions. He’s able to pull off his mentalist act by using innovative methods, allowing audience members to be a part of the show while safely adhering to social distancing.

Of his new performance platform, Grosso says, “With Circa going up, a lot of great energy, the vibe downtown is great. I am excited about it.” Notoriety, on the top level of Neonopolis, helps spark that energy.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Sheldon Adelson, the late chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp. 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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