The Kats Bureau at this writing is Tropicana Theater, during rehearsals for Sunday’s 31st annual Golden Rainbow Ribbon of Life production. “Puttin’ on the Ritz” was just performed — impressive, but not as comedically effective as Peter Boyle’s rendition in “Young Frankenstein.”
Still it was great, a highlight in a boffo production that is to feature about 300 Vegas performers.
At the moment we have a cellist and pianist tuning up and dancer April Leopardi (of “Alice,” “Zombie Burlesque” and Murray Sawchuck’s magic show at Planet Hollywood) stretching for something fantastic.
A show that happily devours most of a Sunday afternoon, Ribbon of Life is one of the of the year’s charity highlights and the primary fundraiser for Golden Rainbow. The organization provides housing and direct financial assistance to men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS in Southern Nevada.
The show has bounced around — from Las Vegas Hilton, Paris Las Vegas, The Smith Center for the Performing Arts — and is in its third year at the Trop.
The effort’s social message is as unambiguous as ever; someone just carried past a sign reading “I Am Muslim,” being used in one of the numbers.
More from the scene:
Circus du Paris
To address the elephant in the room (or soon to be) at a major strip venue …
A traditional circus production is set to move into the long-latent Paris Theater at Paris Las Vegas. Expect a residency announcement any day. This is an elaborate, impressive show that has run successfully in L.A. and New York. The title for Vegas is yet undisclosed, but the perfomance is devoid of actual animals (no real elephants, in other words).
Instead, the master puppeteers from groundbreaking Broadway production “War Horse” have created life-like figures for the stage. This artistic effect is not new to Vegas: A touring version of “War Horse” was performed at the Smith Center in October 2013, the first non-musical to headline in the Broadway Series at Reynolds Hall.
The title for the Vegas version of the show is so far undisclosed, but the production is the first activity in Paris Theater since “Jersey Boys” closed in September. Over the years, Paris Theater has also been home to “Notre Dame de Paris,” “We Will Rock You,” “The Producers” and Barry Manilow.
Chris G. in da house
We have reached a landmark moment in VegasVille: Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani, universally known as Chris G., ducking into a Strip nightclub on a Sunday night. Giunchigliani is hitting Drai’s After Dark at the Cromwell Sunday evening to present the coveted Key to the Strip to Victor Drai, honoring the nightlife trailblazer on the 20th anniversary of his club on the Strip.
Drai’s original club was underground, in fact, at the old Barbary Coast. The hotel was dealt by Boyd Gaming to Caesars Entertainment, which renamed it Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Saloon, and finally the Cromwell. Drai’s moved to the rooftop level through this evolution, and features one of the most impressive views of the Strip (especially the Fountains of Bellagio). The late-night party is honoring Drai’s Day in VegasVille, but that can only happen … after dark.
Deana’s door knock
The great impressionist Rich Little and actor Tony Lo Bianco (“The French Connection” and “Get Smart” among his many films and TV shows) were Deana Martin’s special guests in the first of her two performances at South Point Showroom on Friday night. A knock on an unseen door summons Martin’s unbilled guests, and shtick ensues.
Highlights of Martin’s show, largely a tribute to her legendary father, Dean Martin (his 100th birthday was June 7), included a rollout of clips from “The Dean Martin Show” where the father and his teenage daughter duet, and a return of the Goldiggers singing troupe. The Goldiggers performed on Martin’s show beginning in 1968, and eight of those singers have reunited for Martin’s performances.
Monday night, Martin is the roast master for a roast of Dennis Bono, the longtime host of his own radio simulcast show from South Point Showroom. Little, who performed on 24 of the original Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts, is among those roasting Bono to mark his 70th birthday.
Also among the scheduled roasters: Lo Bianco; actor/singer Robert Davi; Golden Nugget headliner Clint Holmes; Plaza headliner Frankie Scinta; celeb columnist Robin Leach; and Bono’s wife, Lorraine Hunt-Bono. An odd fact about the old Dean Martin Roasts, which Little imparted at dinner after Marin’s show: He shares the all-time record for Celebrity Roast appearances with none other than Nipsey Russel. Google him, and be surprised.
A standout in the original “Baz” at Light at Mandalay Bay, Ruby Lewis ascended from the closing of that show to the Cirque du Soleil Broadway production “Paramour.” The production closed in the spring at Lyric Theatre in New York.
Our best intel says Lewis is returning to “Baz” at Palazzo Theater in late July, righteous news for anyone who appreciates top-level talent on the Strip.
When “Baz” re-opened at the Venetian last year, Lewis was in the audience and told me afterward how much she missed the show. The tears rolling down her face during the show that night proved it.