To get tip of the hat, let’s push envelope

It might be spring fever, but there’s something in the air besides pollen and it smells a little like — could it be? — creativity.

A couple of new shows left me applauding the effort, even if they were better in parts than as a whole. I can, and did, pick apart “Pin Up” and “Raiding the Rock Vault” in separate reviews.

But neither of them are “Stars in Concert,” which was not “Legends in Concert” but a carbon copy. It closed in a month, as well it should have. It probably wasn’t bad, using many of the same “Legends” impersonators. But really, who thought we needed two?

Better to give a shot to “The Phat Pack” with some original songs, or “The 80’s Show,” Sirc Michaels’ second try at an ’80s-themed theatrical revue, changing out what didn’t work in the first attempt known as “Legwarmers.”

“Pin Up” in particular made me step back and ponder this strange thing we call Las Vegas entertainment, and the future of the variety format that drove the Strip before Cirque du Soleil.

Old show business models — burlesque, vaudeville — lose their reference points as time marches on. But that occasionally allows them to seem new again if creatively revived in “Absinthe.”

“Pin Up” director Drew DiCostanzo has worked in both theater and as a stage magician at the old Caesars Magical Empire. Building a show around a theme and an outline rather than a script sounds daunting to me.

But he says it actually “frees you up,” and “gives you a huge palette to create from and play with.”

“I find variety in all its forms exciting,” DiCostanzo adds. “I think you see that in the show. … Is the band variety because you don’t get to see live music that much anymore? We have four dancer acts but then we also have three illusion-based vignettes. Or is the singer variety, singing 12 songs that are very dynamically different?”

It’s the old-Vegas theory of, “If there’s something that doesn’t appeal to you in this number, three minutes from now there’s going to be this high-energy dance number.”

Las Vegas may be safer booking star headliners or Broadway imports such as “Rock of Ages.” But it’s still a place where a show called “Centerfolds of Magic” is not merely opening next week at the Plaza, but can even aspire to something.

“The flavor of the show is way over the top,” says creator John Lewis. “I wanted to do something fresh and novel here, and because it’s a late-night show I can do that.”

Lewis “kept thinking about the different illusions and how they’ve been presented over the years and I thought, ‘Let’s push the envelope.’ ”

Yes. Let’s do.

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

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