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Good for the movie, good for the musical

Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth and all that.

Plans to open the Broadway musical “Rock of Ages” at The Venetian ran parallel and somewhat coincidental to the Tom Cruise movie version that opens June 15.

But the movie’s impending arrival did seem to drag a poorly kept secret out into the open. The Venetian used last Friday’s christening of a new bar, The Bourbon Room, to confirm “Rock” as the December successor to the Blue Man Group.

The Venetian also sponsored the movie’s New York premiere Wednesday.

The resort is pushing the theme of the ’80s-rock jukebox musical beyond the theater walls by converting the La Scena lounge into the Bourbon Room, themed after the fictional club central to the show’s plot. Casino slot banks will be adorned with “Rock of Ages” drum sets and motorcycles along with themed table games, where dealers might not have to cover up their tattoos, says hotel President John Caparella.

The show is “really a rock concert, right?” Caparella says. “If you like ’80s music, you’re somewhere between 35 and 55 years old. And that’s who my customers are.”

Caparella calls the movie “a bit serendipitous” to a show deal long in the works. Scott Zeiger, one of the live show’s producers, calls his company “a wonderfully lucky beneficiary and recipient of the brand building.”

Zeiger’s Base Entertainment will be the local producer for the musical’s primary producer, Michael Cohl, who was better known as a big concert promoter for the likes of U2 before he and that group crossed over to Broadway with “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.”

Broadway hits live independently of their movie adaptations, which don’t always fare as well (“The Producers,” “Rent”).

But the “Rock” movie – featuring Cruise as an ’80s hair-metal icon of the Axl Rose/Brett Michaels school – appears to be “a wonderful opportunity to upgrade the brand recognizability,” Zeiger says. “People all over the world now know what ‘Rock of Ages’ is. That movie has an enormous marketing budget. … The brand has been radically elevated, from billboards all over Times Square and Sunset Boulevard to Middle America.”

All this free publicity comes ahead of an actual opening date at The Venetian, or the opportunity to buy tickets. “We’ll be open certainly for the Christmas holidays,” Zeiger says, after some remodeling when the Blue Man Group vacates for the Monte Carlo. “It’s a very site-specific backstage that needs to be rebuilt. We need to get it cleaned out and start over.”

Zeiger adds that Base also is still “working very diligently” to place “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” into the Palazzo theater vacated by “Jersey Boys.” The musical closes on Broadway June 24 but tours next year.

Unlike the open-ended residency for “Rock,” “Priscilla” and other musicals might play for more limited runs, provided they are there long enough “to decorate a property and tap into the (casino’s marketing) database and expose them to our marketing message,” Zeiger says.

“If we don’t have to capitalize these things, if we just have to bring them in and guarantee them? Fantastic!” he says. …

Sticking with Base Entertainment but moving over to Planet Hollywood Resort, comes the producer’s challenge of replacing Holly Madison in “Peepshow.”

Madison is a one-woman marketing machine who has become synonymous with the upscale topless revue, raising the title’s awareness significantly with her E! cable reality show “Holly’s World.”

She has so far been mum about her plans after her final night in the show Dec. 30. If Madison wants to open her own showcase and go up against “Peepshow,” she certainly has a deep-pockets boyfriend in Electric Daisy Carnival promoter Pasquale Rotella (who has been scouting arenas, perhaps to establish more than an annual presence in town).

Or perhaps Madison doesn’t want to be tied to a stage. Zeiger alludes to “personal plans in her future that I’m sure you’ll hear about.”

But “Peepshow” plans to carry on with a new celebrity. One of Madison’s predecessors, Aubrey O’Day, recently had prime-time exposure via “Celebrity Apprentice.” But Zeiger says “she hasn’t called, and we haven’t called her.” …

“Sin City Comedy” is vacating the V Theater on June 30, with plans to reopen in its own venue on the second floor of the adjacent Planet Hollywood Resort.

Producer (and frequently the host comedian) John Padon says he will lease about 4,500 square feet of space inside Planet Hollywood to open a 300-seat theater by early August.

Padon launched “Sin City” in 2009, giving the usual stand-up club format the added element of burlesque dancers spelling the comedians. “We’re not a comedy club, we’re a comedy show,” he says.

He will need every distinction, having seen the arrival of well-financed competitors in Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club and The Laugh Factory joining the long-established comedy rooms.

But Padon will get to operate the bar in his venue. That’s the norm for comedy clubs across the country, but rare in a casino setting, where the producer usually has to survive on ticket sales alone. …

Given the big production investment in Shania Twain’s comeback, no one thought she would quit after just one block of shows at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. The ’90s country-pop star is booked for 14 more dates between March 19 and April 10.

Tickets for these new shows go on sale Friday, joining the long-ago announced December shows timed to the National Finals Rodeo.

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

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