by MIKE WEATHERFORD
Jun. 03, 2010
You think it's nutty that Las Vegas has two Rat Pack shows? There
will be days in late July when a Beatles fan will be able to choose
among four tributes on the Strip.
"Just Imagine," subtitled "A Musical Tribute to John Lennon,"
launches a three-month run -- with hopes of a longer stay -- at
Planet Hollywood on June 30.
Cheap Trick's orchestral "Sgt. Pepper Live" will have select dates in
July in its second local run, this one at Paris Las Vegas.
And those are on top of "Love" -- the Cirque du Soleil show in
official partnership with Apple Corps Limited, the Beatles' business
entity -- and "B -- BeatleShow Tribute" (formerly "Fab Four Live") at
the V Theater.
The unauthorized "Just Imagine" stars Tim Piper, a veteran Lennon
impersonator in various bands and shows. He debuted this long-form
tribute last year in successful runs at two small theaters (capacity
of about 100) in North Hollywood and Studio City, Calif.
That leaves another 1,400 or so seats to fill in the Chi Showroom at
Planet Hollywood. Producers Mary Card and Nick LaTrenta, who brought
Broadway musicals to the Strip via BACI Management before the company
went bankrupt, will rent from the Planet Hollywood theater's
operator, Base Entertainment.
"We really think we can do it. We still have people trying to book
tickets (in Los Angeles)," says show publicist Francine Marseille.
Ads won't position the title as a limited run. "We want to be around
for a while," Marseille says.
"It is a little different," she says of the slightly theatrical
revue. It doesn't have additional actors, but does offer "a story in
a music setting," with Piper telling stories in front of a band and
"We don't sugarcoat," she says. "It touches on the political, the
emotional and the personal."
"Just Imagine" runs the risk of heavy policing by Apple Corps, but
the company didn't challenge "Sgt. Pepper Live."
"We fall within all of our guidelines to be respectful to all the
powers that be," Marseilles says.
"Pepper" has more direct sentimental ties to the Beatles through
Cheap Trick and musical director Geoff Emerick. Producer Bill Edwards
suggests the only real rule is that unauthorized shows not compete
with "Love" at another MGM Mirage property: "A very large chain of
hotels out there wanted the ("Pepper") show, but they couldn't do it
for competitive reasons."
Edwards also explained his move to Paris from the Las Vegas Hilton by
saying he wanted to be on the Strip. The show will be different this
time around, with no special guest stars and more Cheap Trick, doing
a few of their own hits along with the Beatles covers.
Edwards says VIP ticket pricing skews the perception of a major price
increase since the Hilton run in October. Three-fourths of the
tickets are $100 or less, he says, with an average price of $107.23.
The October average was $92. ...
At this writing, Tropicana management says it's still in negotiations
with comedian Brad Garrett to lend his name to a comedy club. But
Garrett and MGM Mirage seem to think it's a done deal.
Philip Recchia, program director for BlogTalk Radio, passed along an
interview in which the comedian told "Night Views Radio" he is
"opening up my own comedy club" on June 28.
This apparently would be in the small Tropicana venue that long
hosted The Comedy Stop. The hotel may not be ready to commit, but The
Mirage canceled a Garrett booking June 25 and 26 once word of the
Tropicana club emerged.
Mirage officials say they had "a great relationship" with the
comedian, who performed at least twice a year on his own or with Ray
Romano. But MGM Mirage decided to part company "once he made an
announcement" about the club. ...
"America's Got Talent" is back for another summer on NBC, and
continues its national exposure for Las Vegas entertainers. Tuesday's
debut had viewers falling for soulful Michael Grimm, who played his
bluesy roots rock at Green Valley Ranch in 2008 and 2009. Somehow the
sleek Ovation club and upscale Hank's steakhouse translated into
"little restaurants and bars, whatever place will take me" on the TV
show. He currently is working with Bill Medley in Branson, Mo., but
will be back in Ovation for at least one night on July 1.
You also can expect to see Antonio Restivo, producer and star of last
year's "Ignite," and Andrew S. of last year's "Freaks" in the TV
"Country Superstars Tribute" will try to make its way back into town
next month, after it wraps a year at Whiskey Pete's at Primm on July
3, says producer Leonard Quenneville. Management there told him the
700-seat showroom will close altogether because of the larger
financial problems of Herbst Gaming. ...
Las Vegas comedian Cork Proctor, 77, will take a break from a busy
schedule of being on various Vegas-nostalgia panel discussions with
Mike Weatherford to work a real, live comedy club again. He will be
at the Sahara's Comedy Stop for a week starting Monday.
Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@ reviewjournal.com