Crazy Horse bidding adieu

Crazy Horse Paris will close at the MGM Grand but will reveal itself in other cities. And that’s no coincidence.

The stylish topless revue will close shop Oct. 1 in its little custom showroom at the MGM Grand. But that will actually help its owner expand the brand, as contract restrictions barring other ventures in North America will disappear with the MGM show.

That leaves Crazy Horse open to touring and setting up permanent locations in other U.S. cities. It also frees the owner to shop elsewhere on the Strip, with perhaps a version of its “Forever Crazy” touring show to bridge the time it takes to build out a new permanent space.

“It’s really a question of doing the right thing in the right space in the right way,” says Philippe Lhomme, the Belgian entrepreneur who bought the Crazy Horse from its founding family in 2006.

The original Crazy Horse Saloon is a Paris institution, founded by the late Alain Bernardin in 1951. His children steered the Las Vegas version – first known as “La Femme” – into the MGM in 2001, replicating the Parisian cabaret’s interior design and the picture-frame rectangular stage that displays the dancers in kaleidoscopic patterns of light.

But Lhomme and general manager Andree Deissenberg, a veteran Cirque du Soleil publicist, sought to reinvigorate the brand. They opened a new, updated makeover of the Paris show in 2009.

The new edition overseen by Philippe Decoufle (who also helmed Cirque’s Hollywood production “Iris”) “showed us the way to reinvent the Crazy Horse, but with the legacy and all the concepts that made it a unique artistic approach. Now it is time for us to go even further, go crazier,” Lhomme says.

“This (update) could have been done at the MGM probably,” Lhomme adds. But he wanted to end the exclusivity clause, while the MGM “wanted to have a change in their property,” he says of the casino’s surrounding physical makeover.

Deissenberg says the long-range goal for Las Vegas is a more “immersive” experience, in which the formal show in the early evening would segue to a nightclub/lounge environment with pop-up stages and dancers who are “more at ease in mingling with the public.”

(The current show has many classically trained ballet dancers who are “not happy doing that in a nightclub setting.”)

Deissenberg agrees that “more craziness” is the operative phrase.

“I think of it as a Sleeping Beauty waiting to be kissed out of her sleep,” she says. Bernardin’s family “had done a great job in preserving something, but it was like frozen in time.”

For those who have procrastinated the past 11 years, the MGM show offers locals a two-for-one ticket deal until closing night. …

The veteran show band Society of Seven never gives up on Las Vegas, and we never give up on them. The Hawaiian-based act has played just about every casino on and off the Strip since 2001, most recently the Gold Coast in 2010.

“I’m here more than I’m in Hawaii,” says co-founder Tony Ruivivar. After about 9 p.m., he finds himself looking for something to do in paradise. “They roll up the sidewalks real early.”

No worries about closing time in the group’s new home at the Riviera, which at least backs up to Paradise Road. But could that in fact be a problem? Is a 9 p.m. starting time a bit late for the group’s senior-leaning fan base? (A promotion offers $10 tickets to those “under 7 and over 70”).

“We figured that for Vegas, 9 p.m. is not really that late,” Ruivivar says of the time mandated by magician Jan Rouven’s 7 p.m. show in the shared Starlite Theatre. Another promotion bundles tickets with a pre-show buffet, Ruivivar helpfully points out.

The four veteran members are still paired with “American Idol” finalist Jasmine Trias and a younger lead singer: Michael Laygo pinch-hitting until Jonathan Badon, dubbed in his native Philippines as the “prince of popera,” clears up some visa issues. …

The Michael Jackson tribute “MJ Live!” is moving from 5 to 8:30 p.m. at the Rio’s Crown Theater on Sept. 2.

A currently dormant tribute to the Platters, Marvelettes and Coasters could return and switch places, taking the 5 p.m. time slot.

The show closed this month after a Nevada District Court injunction was granted against show producer Larry Marshak, part of a longtime legal battle involving rights to the Platters name.

The injunction did leave room to use phrases such as “Larry Marshak’s Tribute to the Platters” based on the relative size of the words “tribute” and “Platters.”

“Until we have all the specifics (about which groups would be involved and how the show would be marketed) agreed to, they can’t start back up,” says theater operator Darin Feinstein. “I see them definitely coming back” when all that is worked out.

Shifting to a “full tribute” format, perhaps with a more categoric name, “would theoretically eliminate all the insane litigation,” he adds. …

A couple of weeks out of the office have me late in catching up to the death of Babe Pier, an 82-year-old impressionist who worked the Strip since 1956.

He was a 16-year member of the show band the Vagabonds, then a featured comedian or opening act for countless headliners and production shows.

I remember once marveling at how his Robert Blake “Baretta” impression – which had never changed since the TV show aired – was suddenly timely again, thanks to Blake’s arrest and murder trial in the 2000s.

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


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