The Kats! Bureau at this writing is on the cusp — cusp, I tell you! — of the Fremont Street Experience, where the fragrance is telling me, “It’s legal.”
Specifically, I am set up at the Starbucks outside Golden Nugget facing the Whiskey Licker Up Saloon (that is the official title, yes) at Binion’s, which should be open by the end of the summer. I love the idea of the second-level bar with the view of Vegas Vic, and also the new showroom planned for the casino.
Elsewhere downtown, on Thursday night Steve Aoki will be on hand as FSE Viva Vision light show is premiering the first completed section in its $32 million overhaul. A six-minute Aoki medley — or, rather, “musical montage” — of “Delirious,” “Azukita” and “Waste It On Me” will premiere, and Aoki himself will perform a set at 3rd Street Stage at 9 p.m.
If you think Aoki is opening for Zowie Bowie, who usually performs Thursdays at 3rd Street Stage, not so. ZB gets the night off. But I will use this opportunity to endorse a Zowie Bowie-themed musical montage on the new Viva Vision screens. A man can dream, right?
Dance with the devil
A pair of Vegas favorites and a stellar production team are currently delivering the U.S. premiere of the original musical “Satango,” Cockroach Theatre Company’s 2018-19 season finale at Art Square Theatre, 1025 First St. The production runs 10 p.m. Fridays, 2 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 and 8 p.m. Sundays, through June 23 (tickets are $20 and $35, available at cockroachtheatre.com).
Carrying the show onstage are Toby Allen, known in VegasVille as the bass voice of Human Nature; and the extensively talented Savannah Smith of “Vegas! The Show” at V Theater at Miracle Mile Shops, and also the Prohibition-styled swing band The Moonshiners.
Keith Thompson (co-founder of The Composers Showcase of Las Vegas and a music director of many Strip productions, including “Jersey Boys”) is music director; and Wayne Harrison, an original writer and director of “Absinthe” and the late “Vegas Nocturne,” among many other stage credits, directs.
Though we know Allen from his role with Human Nature, which has spent a decade on the Strip (currently at Sands Showroom at the Venetian), he’s also an celebrated musical-theater actor. Among his long list of achievements, he won the Helpmann Award (Australia’s equivalent of the Tony Award) for his role as The Emcee in “Cabaret” in 2002-03.
Thompson actually worked on that show, and the two reconnected after moving to Vegas. He leads the show’s five-piece band.
“Satango” is loaded with original music, written by veteran Australian musical-theater vets Stewart D’Arrietta and Justin Fleming. The staging is advanced, featuring some set pieces from Human Nature tours (including screens showing a trio of slot machines). It is rare, in Las Vegas or anywhere, that a production with this much talent and stage experience is staged in a small-scale venue (Cockroach seats about 85 per performance).
The story, not incidentally, pairs Allen as the devil (Luciano Satani) with force of good named Sofia Satango (Smith), who accidentally meanders into hell. These counter forces meet on the dance floor, where Sofia teaches Luciano how to tango for the upcoming, once-in-a-millennium All Souls Ball (which sounds like different kind of ball if you say it fast).
The two develop a mutual attraction, as Sofia cuts a deal to teach Luciano the dance steps. Further details are being kept quiet, justifiably, not to spoil plot twists. The show is rife with Vegas references, including a pizza delivery from Evel Pie, and extensive singing and dancing from Allen and Smith, who are onstage pretty much the entire 1 hour, 20 minutes. Alejandro Domingo (the show’s choreographer), Cat Farrow and Socorro Jones fill out the ensemble.
Commitment to Osmond
Raiders owner Mark Davis met a famous, and maybe unlikely, fan of his team at Tuesday night’s NFL/Caesars Entertainment party at Caesars Palace: Marie Osmond. It turns out Marie and her son, Steven, are Raiders fans. As Davis said, “Marie looked absolutely stunning in her silver-and-black outfit.” He’s biased, of course, but not wrong.
Producer Dick Feeney reports that “The Rat Pack Is Back” turns 20 in July, and I sort of murkily recall the days it opened at Desert Inn, when then-co-producer and occasional guest star David Cassidy dropped in to sing “Mac the Knife” as Bobby Darin. We were both a little tipsy in those days, but it was a great hang.
The “Rat Pack” show today is charging along under the stewardship of Feeney, and this week signed a three-year deal to continue at Tuscany Suites’ Copa Room. The new deal goes in to effect July 3; the show’s actually 20-year mark is July 18. It’s still a unique trip through time, filled with shtick and the powerhouse band led by column fave Lon Bronson.
What Works In Vegas
Andrew Dice Clay’s weekends at Laugh Factory at the Tropicana. On Saturday, Clay’s performance anchored a three-show lineup of Bruce Bruce and Murray Sawchuck, all of which brushed against sold-out rooms. A total of 700 tickets sold in the theater. Afterward at room operator Harry Basil’s vaunted late-night “Harryoke” sing-along party, Clay lit up the place with soaring rendition of “Big John” and an Elvis medley. He’s back at the Factory on Aug. 31-Sept. 1, just booked.
Cool Hang Alert
Popular Vegas singer Chadwick Johnson is debuting the video for his single “Gone” at Rocks Lounge at Red Rock Resort at 8p.m. Saturday. Johnson is a flawless singer, the cover charge, like the song title, is “Gone.” See him.
Sad to see “Little Miss Nasty” close at Night Owl Showroom at Hooters last weekend, with no venue in Vegas booked. The rocking adult dance revue does solid business on the road … Talks are in progress to bring new column fave Brian Newman’s “After Dark” show back to NoMad Restaurant, and not just during Lady Gaga’s runs at Park Theater. We (especially, “I”) applaud the effort. In any case, expect the show to return in October, when Gaga is also back. I’d suggest boosting the cocktail-serving staff and possibly adding food options to that gig … No formal word on the future for the cast of “Ester Goldberg’s Totally Outrageous Brunch,” but it’s safe to say the title character is the quintessential mess in a dress. She won’t be back at SLS Las Vegas, regardless of what happens to the other performers … “Magic Mike Live” is expected to go dark for three months as Hard Rock Hotel continues its renovation to Virgin Hotel Las Vegas. The show is not selling tickets past Nov. 3. All of this leads to the show bugging out of hotel, and all signs lead to a new facility at SLS Las Vegas, but we emphasize all that is official here is the box-office info … Significant announcement on the male revue front (ahem) coming Friday, so look for that.
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.