Cabaret show a celebrity singalong

Want to hang with the show people? They are easy to find on the right dates, provided you can stay up late on a weeknight.

Players tend to gravitate to any casino venue where Lon Bronson has his big band, while singers mark their calendars for Keith Thompson’s monthly Composer’s Showcase.

The datebook will be a little more crowded if “Cast Party” catches on. The cabaret show at Alexis Park today is more akin to the songwriters’ gathering, but comes to flyover country after stints in New York and Los Angeles.

“It all started in Liza Minnelli’s apartment,” producer Dennis Ritz says. Singer Jim Caruso and singer-pianist Billy Stritch have both worked with Minnelli — Stritch was her opening act at the Desert Inn in the 1990s — and decided it would be fun to go public with the sing-around-the-piano gatherings. (Minnelli’s last album “Confessions,” with Stritch on piano, also stems from this tradition.)

After weekly engagements at Birdland in New York and the Magic Castle in Hollywood, Caruso and Stritch hope the show community will support celebrity singalongs every month. The two serve up their own banter, but also call up guests such as Mimi Hines, Clint Holmes and Frankie Moreno, all invited for the first stint.

“It’s really aimed at the show community more than the tourists,” Ritz says. But savvy tourists can show up at the Athena Room with $25 starting at 10 p.m. If today is too short notice, they plan a return Sept. 21 and 22, and every month thereafter if it takes off. …

“America’s Got Talent” still tops the summer TV ratings, but the NBC talent show isn’t risking a post-season tour. For the third time, Las Vegas will be the one place to see the eventual winner and other finalists, Oct. 28-30 at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace.

At this writing, three Las Vegas-based acts remained in the running: Circus Circus midway performers Zuma Zuma, the Sandau Trio featured in “Vegas! The Show” and magician Landon Swank, who fought back after elimination via a wild-card vote (Swank isn’t currently in a Las Vegas show).

I’m having a hard time getting too excited about their possibilities. It just seems unlikely that either acrobatic act in the “danger” category would be the ultimate winner. But I’d be happy to be wrong about this one. …

Along those lines, it’s time for those who bet the Steve Wyrick magic show would never open at the Las Vegas Hilton to pay up.

Witnesses of an early performance last week said it has a big-budget production design, but also that it ran for two hours and the opening illusion with a helicopter didn’t work. (Amusingly, the triumphant pyrotechnic explosion did, causing Wyrick to quip to his unseen stagehands that there’s no need for the fireworks if the illusion doesn’t go off.) …

Of course, Wyrick missed most of summer, the peak season for magic shows. He’s not the only one who will miss the family traffic once school begins. “The Lion King” has a two-for-one locals offer (code word: PRIDE) through Dec. 18 (excepting Thanksgiving week, naturally).

The press release speaks with finality (“Bid farewell to Broadway’s hit musical”) of a Dec. 30 closing. That seems to shoot down rumblings that the musical would be extended simply because Cirque du Soleil isn’t ready to start remodeling the theater for its Michael Jackson show.

MGM Resorts previously regretted closing Luxor’s theater too soon before rehearsals began on “Criss Angel: Believe.” And so many actors in the United States have performed the principal roles, Disney would have no trouble fielding a team if the current leads already lined up their next gigs. …

Last week’s item on “Name That Tune Live!” arriving at the Imperial Palace neglected to mention that it replaces “Matsuri,” which passed quietly into afternoon-show heaven during one of my vacation weeks.

The Japanese variety show spent two years at the Imperial Palace in its third crack at the Strip. But the producers aren’t currently looking for another Las Vegas venue, says Megan Hart Belk, the local liaison for the Japanese producers.

The revue had almost no choice but to play in the afternoons rather than going up against Cirque du Soleil. But with a cast and crew of more than two dozen, production costs were much higher than neighboring matinee rivals Mac King and Nathan Burton.

The parent company of “Matsuri” has larger problems, too, with the collapse of Japanese tourism after the country’s earthquake.

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at or 702-383-0288.

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