Additions (hello, The Smith Center), subtractions (good-bye, Phantom) and relocations (rent that U-Haul, Blue Men) mark the shifting entertainment landscape: Our new performing arts center opens the cultural floodgates, while the Strip welcomes newbies such as Rock of Ages and married music-makers Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, and waves ta-ta to that vengeful masked romantic and our favorite Peep, Holly Madison.
On community stages, ol’ reliables such as Las Vegas Little Theatre, UNLV and CSN pack their schedules with new productions. Yet the fall lineup is missing a few stalwarts. After concluding its collaboration with downtown’s Plaza Hotel, Insurgo Theater Movement is on ice for now. Meanwhile, family-friendly Signature Productions has been forced into taking a breather after its longtime home, the Summerlin Library, significantly jacked up rental fees, prompting a search for new digs.
Although classical dance is plentiful, can you really pass up the Las Vegas Bellydance Intensive & Festival? Didn’t think so. Or if you’re a comedy connoisseur, could you possibly ignore A John Waters Christmas? Unthinkable.
’Tis the season to be jolly about what’s on Vegas stages this fall.
Rock Me Not-So-Gently: Jonesing for the ’80s, are ya? Reagan? Dallas? Metalheads? You can find your fix for that last one at Rock of Ages, Vegas’ latest jukebox musical, settling at the Venetian in December. Replacing pop with rock after Jersey Boys departed for Paris Las Vegas, Ages sends up the signature sound of the ’80s and boasts some pop-culture sheen that’s since dulled. That noisy Tom Cruise movie version quietly faded out, and Kristin Hanggi, director of the Great White Way hit, saw her original musical Surf wipe out after a month at Planet Hollywood. Still, don’t bet against a musical celebrating the Whitesnake era when J.R. Ewing—the poisonous snake of Dallas—is back on the tube.
Cirque Redux … Redux … Redux: We need another Cirque du Soleil production? Apparently, yes. Zarkana, an acrobatic [what else?] rock opera, replaces Viva Elvis at Aria, with previews beginning Oct. 25 and an official debut Nov. 8. Internationally popular—it was a hit in Spain and Russia—Zarkana also impressed New York, where its 2011 stint at Radio City Music Hall reportedly sold 550,000 tickets, and a current return engagement there ends Sept. 2. Will it make it in Vegas? Hey, it’s Cirque, isn’t it?
Switch-A-Rooney: Who are those masked hoofers and blue-faced cut-ups running around in U-Hauls? That would be, respectively, the fleet-footed hip-hoppers of JabbaWockeeZ and the wildly inventive mimes of Blue Man Group, both gearing up to play venue hopscotch. So you won’t need a GPS, here’s how this showbiz road trip goes: Originally ensconced at the MGM Grand, the Jabba crew jumped to the Monte Carlo’s ex-Lance Burton Theatre, where they remained until they had to scram to a parking lot tent, displaced by renovations of the theater for Blue Man Group, which relocates there Oct. 10 after abandoning the Venetian in September, while JabbaWockeeZ preps to settle into the Luxor next year. Got it? There will be a quiz.
Married, With Concerts: Restocking is the name of the entertainment game at the Venetian. With the imminent closing of Phantom—The Las Vegas Spectacular and Blue Man Group bolting to the Monte Carlo, the property first locked in Rock of Ages. Next came the announcement of a limited residency by hitched hit-makers Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. Moving into the 1,815-seat Venetian Theatre, the connubial country stars will begin a 10-weekend run starting Dec. 7, ducking in and out through next April. Hosting what’s titled Soul2Soul—the same title as their tour—the theater will be refitted with “innovative lighting and set-design technologies” consistent with their tour presentations. Added onto Shania Twain’s coming residency at Caesars Palace and Garth Brooks’ continuing success at the Wynn Las Vegas, the country factor is turning our big boulevard into a Southern Fried Strip.
Not a Peep: Three local fixtures—Holly Madison and her breasts—apparently are all Peep-ed out, set to depart Peepshow, Planet Hollywood’s burlesque production, on Dec. 30. Madison, who joined the show in 2009, has grabbed the Vegas spotlight since she began her headlining gig, showing up at events all over town and maturing into one of this town’s best ambassadors. No word on the ex-Playboy model’s future professional plans, though she’s publicly expressed a desire to have children, and expects to remain in Las Vegas. Meanwhile, Peepshow has yet to announce any replacements. Not for Holly. Not for her breasts.
Tickling the Ivories: Continuing to bounce between venues—this time at the Suncoast Hotel—the Jewish Repertory Theatre of Nevada presents The Pianist of Willesden Lane (Oct. 6-7, $28-$48), a play about a young Jewish pianist in Europe as the Nazis come to power. (Showroom at the Suncoast, 9090 Alta Drive, 636-7075, JewishRepTheatreNV.com.)
Skull-Rattling: That “Alas, Poor Yorick” dude is back for more Shakespearean angst courtesy of the Las Vegas Shakespeare Company, which presents Hamlet—free— for four performances in different parks throughout the city in a kind of moveable Bard feast (Oct. 6, 13, 20, 27). Each performance is preceded by a Green Show. (Check for park locations, 267-2171, HendersonLive.com.)
Hamlet II: The Wrath of Shakespeare: Can’t get enough of Prince Hammy? Before the official Shakespeareans of Las Vegas get to him, you can warm up with a modest, bare-stage, contemporary-clothed production of Hamlet (Sept. 7-9, 14-16, 21-23, $15), directed by Troy Heard at the Onyx Theatre. Two months later, the Onyx shifts from dark tragedy to dark comedy with Arthur & Esther (Nov. 9-11, $15), British playwright/UNLV alum Ross Howard’s tale of love, the library and the Dewey Decimal System. (Onyx Theatre, 953-16B E. Sahara Ave., 732-7225, OnyxTheatre.com.)
Closer Call: Before you dive into your next love affair, perhaps you should take in Closer (Aug. 31, Sept. 1, 6, 9-10, 13-15, $15), an unsparing look at relationships that was the basis for the 2004 Julia Roberts/Clive Owen flick, courtesy of Atlas Theatre. Plus, Atlas will also stage the Las Vegas premiere of the Tony-winning God of Carnage (Nov. 30-Dec. 15, $15), about two sets of parents who argue about their own children to the point of childishness. (Box Office Theatre, 1129 S. Casino Center Blvd., 884-5190.)
Pack It In: Super Summer Theatre brings its season to a climax with Leader of the Pack (Sept. 6-22, $12 advance, $20 day of), a jukebox musical celebrating the life of “Be My Baby”/“Da Doo Ron Ron” composer Ellie Greenwich, chronicling the songwriter’s professional triumphs and personal misfortune. (Spring Mountain Ranch State Park, 594-7529, SuperSummerTheatre.org.)
Into the Wilderness and Other Wanderings: Over at the College of Southern Nevada, the question of what makes art—as in a white-canvas “painting” a character purchases that’s just, well, a white canvas—and the testing of friendships that follows are at the crux of Yasmina Reza’s Art. (Oct. 12-14, 19-21, $10-$12). A selection of one-acts is also on the schedule (Oct. 26-28, $5). Concluding the fall offerings, CSN pulls out a Big Gun—Eugene O’Neill—in a production of Ah, Wilderness! (Nov. 9-11, 16-18, $10-$12). The classic addresses family values, teenage growing pains and young love. (BackStage Theatre, CSN’s North Las Vegas campus, 3200 E. Cheyenne Ave., 651-5483, CSN.edu/Pac).
Romeo and Rabbit Holes: Before we get to Billy the Bard’s guest appearance on the Nevada Conservatory Theatre schedule at UNLV, mark down Eric Overmyer’s On the Verge (Sept. 14-23, $15) about three Victorian women on an adventure “through a continuum of space, time, history, geography, feminism and fashion.” Whew. Then Romeo shows up with Julie Baby in tow in Romeo and Juliet (Oct. 5-7 and 11-14, $17-$30). Once the ill-fated lovers do their tragic thing, the company takes on David Lindsay-Abaire’s Rabbit Hole (Nov. 9-18, $15), another heart-wrencher about a death in the family. Ending 2012, the company stages Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia (Nov. 30-Dec. 9, $17-$30), which toggles between 1809 and today, examining the nature of time and truth—for those who didn’t get their fill in philosophy class. Of particular interest this season is Of Mice and Men (Oct. 21, $30-$55) as part of UNLV’s Performing Arts Center season, mounted by the acclaimed troupe The Acting Company, founded by the late John Houseman (UNLV, 4505 S. Maryland Parkway, 895-2787; Pac.UNLV.edu.)
Side by Side by Carol: Big stage, little stage, a bit of drama, a bit of comedy at Las Vegas Little Theatre. On the mainstage, the 35th season commences with Warren Leight’s Side Man (Sept. 14-30, $21-$24), a journey through the heyday of jazz via one family’s story. Up afterward is Inspecting Carol (Nov. 2-18, $21-$24), a comedy about a company staging A Christmas Carol with a novice actor. Highlighting the intimate Black Box is the intense, acclaimed thriller The Pillowman (Oct. 19-Nov. 4, $10-$15), playwright Martin McDonagh’s tale of a writer who is interrogated after a series of grisly child murders parallel events in his stories. (Las Vegas Little Theatre, 3920 Schiff Drive, 362-7996, LVLT.org.)
Bejeweled Ballet: Taking advantage of their grand new stage at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, Nevada Ballet Theatre will present George Balanchine’s Jewels, with help from Pacific Northwest Ballet and Ballet West (Oct. 13-14). Each company will perform one act of the three-part abstract ballet—“Emeralds” by Ballet West, “Rubies” by NBT and “Diamonds” by PNB—marking the first time this has ever been done. Where else can you get emeralds, rubies and diamonds for only $49-$162? NBT also moves its annual presentation of The Nutcracker from the Strip to The Smith Center this year (Dec. 15-16, 21-23). NevadaBallet.com.
Bellydance Bonanza: Things will get a whole lot shinier and shimmy-er when the Las Vegas Bellydance Intensive & Festival descends upon the Flamingo Sept. 6-9. This is the 10th year that Las Vegas hosts the four-day production, which includes performances of both traditional and contemporary styles. You can also catch some belly dancing by performers from around the world at the Clark County Library Theatre on Sept. 7-8. If you’ve got the stomach for it, there’s even a “Think You Can Belly Dance?” contest. BellyDanceIntensive.com.
Ghostly Dancers for Charity: Peasant ballerinas will rise from the grave to help homeless students attend CSN in a Las Vegas Ballet Company benefit performance of the classic Giselle (Act II). For $20, you’ll do a good deed and be treated to heart-wrenching performances by principal dancers Kyudong Kwak and Yoomi Lee, and their pre-professional corps. Also on the program, Kwak’s original, Glory. 2 p.m. Oct. 7, CSN’s Horn Theater, LasVegasBallet.org.