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Sunday, July 2, 2006 PRIOR ISSUE   -   ARCHIVES
'Phantom' Unmasked, Striptease Dance Studio Opens, Montreux Replaces New Frontier, Rita Rudner Moves To Harrahs, 'Shag With A Twist' Opens, Elvis Returns, Taverna Opa Sets Greek Menu, World Classic Rockers Headline, Dealertainers Turn 3, Dr. Scott Lewis On Chip, Hogs & Heifers' Blues, Brews & Bar-BQ, 'Forever Plaid' Salutes U.S. Armed Forced, More...


Jackie Brett
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While two Broadway shows "Hairspray" at the Luxor and "Avenue Q" at Wynn Las Vegas closed last month prematurely and without fanfare, "Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular" has opened with high hopes at The Venetian in a new $40 million custom-built theater. Tickets range from $82 to $157, call 702-414-7469.

Having seen "The Phantom of the Opera" a couple times in other cities and once with Michael Crawford, it was with much anxiety that this reporter approached the new show. For one thing, the show had to be cut to 95 minutes and you pray it doesn't hurt the show's integrity and sacrifice too much story line. In the end, it didn't and the show is magnificent.

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For starters, the new theatre has achieved an 18th century Paris opera house atmosphere complete with an orchestra pit. All the sight lines are good and above the audience is the signature prop, a monster chandelier separated into four parts. The stage props and the side walls of the high-ceilinged showroom are draped and covered in dark material.

Not long after the show begins, the four fragments of the chandelier are assembled in front of the audience by the aid of 32 winches and the coverings around the stage and walls are suddenly whisked away revealing side boxes occupied by mannequins in period dress.

It is a breathtaking sight and helps settle you into the show.

The $35 million production is awesome with magnificent sets making up 18 scenes and elaborate costumes that have to be seen to be believed. Even Liberace would have been impressed.

The show is solidified by the fabulous music. There are two people playing the Phantom and two playing Christine. What the show has accomplished is taking a Broadway show and making it a Vegas spectacle with more magnificent special effects, a glorious theater and marrying it to the tried-and-true music and plot.

A few days ago, producer David Saxe opened the first striptease dance studio in a Strip shopping mall with classes Thursday-Saturday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Stripper 101 located above the V Theater in the Desert Passage Mall at the Aladdin gives everyday women the opportunity to get slim and sexy with a sweat-inducing low-impact aerobic workout.

Striptease dance studios are popping up across America and striptease cardio has even been featured on "Oprah." But, Stripper 101 is the first to offer ladies the chance to groove and get down in the midst of their shopping spree.

The exotic dance class minus nudity covers more than 25 sexy floor moves actually used in Las Vegas gentleman's clubs complete with boas, chairs and poles. During the class each student will have the chance to master the Sin City stripper pole. At the completion of the class, each student receives a certificate establishing them as a "genuine Las Vegas stripper."

Another big change on the Strip is in the works. At last, owner Phil Ruffin plans to close and tear down the New Frontier by next year in order to make room for his $2 billion, 2,750-room Montreux resort, named after the Swiss resort town alongside Lake Geneva.

Some specific design elements have been revealed. The lobby will have a massive chandelier dipping into a giant vase of water. A pool on the third floor of the property will be on top of the retail stores and overlook the Strip. The property will feature the Strip's largest ballroom. With about 116,000 square feet, the room will be able to handle major events with stadium seating.

A couple hundred suites at the resort will connect to a 50,000-square-foot health club, spa, meditative retreat and pool area operated by the Golden Door.

Shopping will be a big component with more than a half-million square feet of retail space putting it in a league with the biggest malls in town. The Strip-front fa‡ade of the property will be lined with retail shops and "people-watching hangouts." High-end boutiques will be on the south side of the reoesrt and face the Fashion Show mall.

Anther distinctive attraction on the northeast corner of the property will be the much-talked about 450-foot high observation wheel, which will be Las Vegas' version of the London Eye,

The Elvis Presley statue that was dedicated at the Las Vegas Hilton on Friday, Sept. 8, 1978, was temporarily removed from the lobby late last year when the property was undergoing renovation. It now has been returned to a place of honor in the courtyard at the front of the property. Los Angeles sculptor Carl Romanelli created the bronze statue, which was initially on display outside the showroom in a glass case before being moved to the lobby. Elvis debuted at the Las Vegas Hilton (then called the International) on July 31, 1969. He performed 837 consecutive sold-out shows before 2.5 million people. His final show was Dec. 12, 1976, and he died on Aug. 16, 1977, at age 42.

Taverna Opa is scheduled to open inside Desert Passage at the Aladdin in October 2006 and will be the first of its kind in Las Vegas. Several other franchises are located in Florida, as well as a brand new location in Chicago.

At Taverna Opa, life is a celebration with authentic Greek cuisine and entertainment that includes staff and diners singing and dancing on the tables. The eatery will also offer an extensive wine list featuring authentic Greek ouzo selections.

The Cannery in North Las Vegas has announced that World Classic Rockers will headline on Saturday, July 29 at The Club. The band features former members of The Eagles, Santana, Journey, Steppenwolf, Toto and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Tickets are $24.95 and $14.95, call 866-287-4643.

During the mid-1990s, Nick St. Nicholas, former member of Steppenwolf, began his quest to form a band combining the talents of some of the most prominent chart-topping musicians, singers and songwriters. The result has been the band World Classic Rockers.

Drummer Aynsley Dunbar made his mark during the 1970s recording hits with David Bowie and Frank Zappa. He's best known as the original drummer for Journey, with whom he recorded and co-wrote four albums, and has also been a member of Jefferson Starship and Whitesnake.

The newest member is vocalist Alex Ligertwood, who was the lead vocalist for more than 16 years with Carlos Santana on 12 albums. Representing the South is Lynyrd Skynyrd's Randall Hall on guitar and vocals. Nick's former band mate, Michael Monarch, was an original founding member and lead guitarist of Steppenwolf. Fergie Frederiksen joined the band Toto as its lead singer in 1983. Vocalist Rosilee, who performs Janis Joplin's classic hits, achieved her own success with two Top 10 hits on the Gospel charts.


Comedienne Rita Rudner will be bringing her unique style of comedy to Harrah's beginning Oct. 2. Tickets are $49, call 702-369-5222.

Rudner's run at New York-New York began as a one-month booking and led to a five-year engagement and over 600,000 ticket sales. No doubt her success will follow at Harrah's.

An accomplished actress, screenwriter, best-selling author and comedienne, Rudner's witty and elegant material has earned her national acclaim and awards. Following the success of her critically-lauded first novel "Tickled Pink," Rudner has written a second novel set in modern-day Las Vegas. A tale of revenge, "Turning the Tables" will be released Aug. 29, by Crown Publishing.

The retro-cool musical production "Shag With A Twist" will open on July 13 at the Krave Theatre at the Aladdin. "Shag With A Twist" was created by famed visual artist Josh "Shag" Agle and choreographer Cynthia Bradley. The show recently enjoyed a successful extended run at the Los Angeles Theatre Center and garnered awards. Tickets are $45 and for VIP seating $55, call 888-515-SHAG. Performances will run Sunday to Thursday with the party starting nightly at midnight.

"Shag with a Twist" depicts a shagedelic 1960s Tupperware party hosted by the quintessential retro couple Eldon and Othal and their over-the-top friends; party guests include Shimmy and Shake, Siamese twins joined at their fabulous hair, the debonair and egotistical Foot, the very seductive Kitty, the ultra glamorous and ever mysterious Slinky and the creepy Coroner.

The party quickly takes a turn when someone ends up dead - screwed by a giant corkscrew - and it takes a bumbling police inspector, his pet monkey and a séance to solve the crime. The zany plot and outlandish characters make it seem like a cartoon has come to life.

The prolific artist Josh "Shag" Agle has had 10 books of his artwork published.

Solo-exhibitions of his work have been displayed in famed galleries worldwide. Renowned for creating artwork that is iconic, extremely hip and capturing the essence of the "shagedelic" era of the 1960s, Shag has been commissioned to do exclusive work for Disneyland merchandise, Coca-Cola ad campaigns, Paul Frank apparel, Fender guitars, Showtime Television on-air animation, MGM's recent motion picture "The Pink Panther" and the swimming pool and table felts for the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas

Effective tomorrow July 3, the schedule for "SPLASH" at the Riviera will change to seven nights a week and the 7 p.m. show on Saturday will no longer be a covered one.

The innovative Dealertainers, celebrity look-alike dealers, recently celebrated their third birthday with a four-tiered cake decorated with photos of each one of them. Only at the Imperial Palace can you play blackjack with dealers who also sing as celebrity impersonators on the casino floor Monday through Thursday noon to 4 a.m. and Fridays and Saturdays until 5 a.m. One big misconception is that the dealers are the impersonator headliners in the "Legends In Concert" show at the hotel, but they are not.

Dealertainers Celebrate Third Anniversary

Four Elvis Presley multi-strike penny machines have been installed at the Las Vegas Hilton as a perfect complement to the Elvis statue being back on display. When a player hits selected jackpots, Elvis music plays.

Dr. Scott Lewis, star of his long running hypnosis show, is featured on a new $5 casino chip that has been issued by his host venue, the Riviera. Lewis is the first hypnotist in Las Vegas history to appear on a gaming chip in recognition of his record-breaking five-year engagement. His production is presented every Monday night in the resort's Le Bistro Theatre at 9 p.m.

Dr. Scott Lewis Casino Chip

Tennis pro Nick Rainey has joined the Las Vegas Hilton as director of tennis. He will be instructing on the Hilton's six professional tennis courts that are available to guests and the public. Rainey's career achievements include Captain of the 2002 National Championship Team USC, four-time All-American at USC and 2002 Singles, and Doubles All-American.

Hogs & Heifers Saloon downtown will hold a Blues, Brews & Bar-BQ event July 23 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. The Monk & The Po' Boys will perform from 3 to 4:30 p.m. The food will be complimentary with a beverage purchase and the MGD special will be $2.

Open to the public, the Las Vegas Hilton is offering a daily "Cool by the Pool" happy hour from 5 p.m.-8 p.m. on its third floor pool deck where there's a city view. There's two-for-one drinks and music.

The Grammy-nominated DJ Chris Cox, who is a local UNLV alum, will take charge of the turntables at TabŁ Ultra Lounge on July 5. Cox has remixed and produced 40 No. 1 Billboard Dance Chart hits while working with some of the biggest stars in the music industry including Cher, Janet Jackson, Britney Spears and Kelly Clarkson.

To honor the U.S. Armed Forces for Independence Day, "Forever Plaid - The Heavenly Musical Hit!" at The Orleans will offer a two-for-one show ticket discount to all active duty and retired military personnel July 4 through 9. Tickets are $39.95, call 702-251-3574.

Forever Plaid Salutes U.S. Armed Forces

"Forever Plaid" is the delightful story of four unlikely heroes whose dreams of musical glory come true. The plot revolves around the four Plaids miraculous return to earth years after their untimely deaths to perform the concert of their dreams. The hit musical comedy perfectly blends '50s and '60s Rock 'n Roll with popular show and dance tunes of the era.

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