‘Caveman’ and couch coming to casino

Fancy footwork will be replaced by a couch potato when “Defending the Caveman” follows “Simply Ballroom” at the Golden Nugget.

The British ballroom revue takes its final bows May 31, and the one-man theater piece debuts June 1 in the hotel’s 600-seat theater. Shows before June 21 are considered previews, with tickets priced at about $35.

The long-form comic monologue was written and originally performed by Rob Becker but will be played here by Kevin Burke, whom Becker hand-picked as one of his successors in 2003. Becker sold the show to a theatrical producer who now licenses the work to different presenters.

“Caveman” is advertised as Broadway’s longest-running solo piece for its 674 performances from 1995 to 1997. Long-form comedy — essentially, a stand-up act with a narrative and sometimes with serious moments — is one of the last genres yet to receive a committed test on the Strip. The biggest hit on Broadway of late was Billy Crystal’s “700 Sundays.”

Even comedians who have visited Las Vegas with essentially the same material as their long-form shows — Christopher Titus, Jackie Mason — have dropped the fancy titles and pretexts, figuring it would confuse audiences.

“Caveman” originally was announced for magician Steve Wyrick’s theater at the then Desert Passage mall, but the deal fell through partly because of construction delays. John Bentham, the local producer and “Caveman” company manager, also said a 10:30 p.m. start was too late for the couples ages 30 to 60 who “Caveman” usually appeals to. At the Golden Nugget, the show will have an early evening time slot.

The comic look at the battle of the sexes unfolds with a video and then is told by Burke from a “Flintstones”-style living room set. “Surprisingly, we have more of a set than ‘Ballroom’ did,” Bentham says.

The Las Vegas edition will be the only resident company in the United States. It is being helmed by Chicago-based investors doing business as Caveman LLC, with help from Base Entertainment. …

Base is turning up all over the place. The producer of “Phantom — The Las Vegas Spectacular” and “Stomp Out Loud” recently announced a deal with The Venetian’s parent company, Las Vegas Sands Corp., to expand their local partnership to Macau and Singapore.

Cirque du Soleil is the competition for Base here on the Strip, but co-founder Scott Zeiger says the two companies will be partners on a holiday-themed Cirque in New York later this year.

“It’s the first sort of family-branded Cirque show ever,” Zeiger says of “Wintuk,” the title that will run 10 weeks in the Theater at Madison Square Garden, and jointly marketed with the annual holiday spectacular at Radio City Music Hall. …

The Scintas wrapped a yearlong run at the Sahara on Sunday with a final show that included surprise awards from local police and firefighters to honor the group’s community service.

The family band now is working at Harrah’s Atlantic City for two weeks and has five nights booked at the Seneca Niagara Casino in July. They’re shopping a pilot for a reality TV show and hope to be working Las Vegas again by fall.

Next up at the Sahara is the Japanese revue that was called “Matsuri,” or “The Muscle Musical” when it visited the Riviera as an afternoon show last year. Explaining the show that opens May 29 will be the biggest marketing challenge for producer David Saxe.

For those curious enough to investigate, “Matsuri” was a refreshing change of pace; an athletic pack of young people doing gymnastics and acrobatics with a comedic flair.

Saxe was holding meetings this week trying to figure out whether to keep the title and how much to Westernize the production.

One thing is certain: “Matsuri” will be performed on a bright red, raised stage designed to amplify the sound of footsteps rather than muffle them as most stages do. “This one’s all about hearing everything,” Saxe says. …

The Steve Wyrick theater may have missed the boat on “Defending the Caveman,” but it has lined up Andrew Dice Clay for raunchy comedy on Memorial Day weekend, with 10:45 p.m. shows May 25-27. …

You’d think “Girls Gone Wild” entrepreneur Joe Francis has enough to worry about, with tax evasion charges and recent jail time in Florida. But the little “Hypnosis Gone Wild” show at the Empire Ballroom is changing its name to “Hypnosis Unleashed” after Francis threatened litigation, according to the show’s publicist, Wayne Bernath.

Talk of Francis franchising the “Girls Gone Wild” name for a Las Vegas topless revue seems to have died down as well.

Mike Weatherford’s entertainment column appears Thursdays and Sundays. Contact him at 383-0288 or e-mail him at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com.

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