Trading a Prince for a Crown

Best known for once housing Prince’s 3121, the ground-floor club space in the Rio has been home to many show business dreams—nightclub acts, nightclubs, shows, magicians and a concert venue.

Replacing the demised ND’s Fuego—The Evolution of Nightlife is Crown Theater, whose owner Darin Feinstein does his best to talk like a sensible businessman explaining his choice. “I think this venue is perfect to create the nightclub/concert experience that is difficult to find anywhere. I am encompassing a rock-style venue with a Vegas nightlife scene.” This actually sounds similar to Prince’s residency when he offered a nightclub party that became a concert that became a nightclub followed by an after-hours jam. But concert booker Joe Rinaldi sees Crown as slightly different:

“Prince shows were always about the concert and the four-hour afterparty. It is not dissimilar in that we are going to have two operations stacked: a live concert and a club operation. But Prince’s thing always related back to a live performance.”

Of course, the plan for Crown is not built around the loves and habits of one artist. In fact, the first three acts booked stand out as diverse. The first ticketed show on June 19 will be ’80s New Wave act Devo. On June 30, Crown presents early rocker and country legend Jerry Lee Lewis. Then, on July 24, metal stalwarts Queensryche will perform a concert with cabaret elements.

“You have to touch all corners of the music scene or you run out of ideas very fast,” Rinaldi says. The plan is to host 12 concerts a month, but, unlike 3121, open the nightclub as often as nightly.

Still, this location struggled even in good times. Could launching in the worst economy in Vegas history really be an easy business decision for Feinstein?

“Well, we are optimistic. There is a lot of talk about the economic situation across the board. But we feel if we offer people reasonable prices with the right mix of talent, we are going to get enough of the 800,000 people who like to visit Vegas each week. But we will take all the luck we can get.”

Like Menopause for All Ages. Girls Night: The Musical is about to make its Vegas debut in the Hollywood Theatre (May 6-23) at MGM Grand. Deb Toscano, one of the stars, describes a plot that could do well in a town where Mamma Mia! ran for years:

“The show is about five best friends who go out to celebrate one of their daughter’s engagements. And the girls talk about their lives: past, future and present. They dance and they sing. It is about five girls having a blast. Women relate to us. We are different women and we are different shapes and sizes and we are real.” Toscano plays a boisterous character who shares many of her own traits: “Thanks for interviewing me. You stopped me from playing, and I am already $120 down on slots. My character, she would love this. I naturally fit my role. She is just like me.” Toscano makes it clear that like a women’s Breakfast Club, every type is covered. “Every woman in the audience identifies with one of us.”

The touring musical has played theaters across the country, but is only now making it to Vegas, where there are high hopes for it. Toscano says a regular Vegas show for Girls Night: The Musical is a dream. “Vegas is the ultimate place for a show. How can you not want to play here forever? I am already thinking of myself as a short, overweight showgirl.” Dancing Through the Looking Glass. Also taking a run at MGM Grand’s Hollywood Theatre (May 7-26) comes the dance crew JabbawockeeZ. The name is a misspelled tribute to a Lewis Carroll poem, and the performers are known as first-season winners of America’s Best Dance Crew and as the opening act on the last New Kids on the Block tour. For these full-length appearances, JabbawockeeZ are creating a special show.

Happy First Birthday to Human Nature. At Imperial Palace, Human Nature have impressed audiences with their versions of songs by Motown greats. The group’s May 11 anniversary show included a special performance from Smokey Robinson and the announcement of a two-year contract extension.

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