Welcome to Showstopper: End-of-Year Edition. Or, if you believe the Mayans, Showstopper: End-of-World Edition. Either way, following are review snippets for shows that opened or reopened—and in some cases, quickly closed—in 2012:
Evil Dead: The Musical (opened in June at Planet Hollywood): “These actors don’t chew scenery. They gorge on it, swallow it whole and projectile-vomit it back at the audience.”
Brad Garrett (Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club, opened in March at MGM Grand): “He’s an intimidating presence, even unintentionally … mining racial/ethnic stereotypes as America heads toward what demographers term a “majority-minority” nation in which Caucasians will comprise less than half the population. Come that day, the intimidation could be on the other foot.”
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (opened in March at the Plaza): “A production that treats jokes no better than road kill. … It will take more than this Whorehouse to make the Plaza The Best Little Playhouse in Vegas.”
Eddie Griffin (residency opened in April at the Rio): “A motherfucking profane preacher.”
Big Baby Boomer (opened in April at Palace Station): “Louie Anderson is, after nearly 30 years, evolving from specialty comic—i.e., fat jokes—to generational voice. All it takes is a fatter, aging generation catching up to him.”
The Dirty Joke Show (opened in June, closed in July at the Rio): “You deserve a taste of what you’ll get, courtesy of Geechy Guy, who asked what one saggy breast (yes, he used another word) told the other: ‘If we hang around here long enough, people will think we’re nuts.’”
Taylor Hicks (residency opened in July at Bally’s): “Musically, Taylor Hicks is enough of a hurricane to show up on Doppler radar.”
Surf: The Musical (opened in June, closed in August at Planet Hollywood): “A story with the sturdiness of a Styrofoam cup.”
Rich Little’s Jimmy Stewart & Friends (opened in April at LVH): “It feels less Vegas than Smithsonian, comically and culturally. How many under-70-year-olds wouldn’t look blank-eyed at his Lionel Barrymore impression?”
MJ Live! (opened in July at the Rio): “[Michael] Firestone’s sloppy, strangely conceived tribute likely satisfies only those for whom merely a sequined-glove sighting triggers orgasms.
iCandy Burlesque (pictured, opened in August at Planet Hollywood): “Triumph of hubba-hubba wholesomeness that honors the erotic arts because it’s infused with as much art as eroticism.”
Shades of Temptation (opened in October at New York-New York): “Worthy enough entry in the Strip’s sex-show sweepstakes, even if we could do without an audience moan-along to the recording of an orgasmic woman.”
Strip Comedy (opened in November at the Palms): “They engage the crowd in filthy banter when not improvising about spanking, penis exposure, masturbation, sodomy and screwing.”
The Phat Pack (opened in December at the Plaza): “They couldn’t put more ya-ain’t-seen-nuttin-yet verve into pleasing audiences if they were all Al Jolson reborn.”
Soul2Soul starring Faith Hill and Tim McGraw (opened in December at the Venetian): “Flows smoothly. So does running water. That doesn’t make it interesting to watch.”
STRIP POSTSCRIPT: On Dec. 11, The Mirage’s Terry Fator appeared on Craig Ferguson’s Late Late Show. Fator’s show-ending gig gave off a weird vibe that didn’t flatter him, through no fault of his flawless performance.
Despite toting along his metal-head dummy, Dougie, in a bit about marijuana, the ventriloquist routine felt quaint and Ed Sullivan-esque on Ferguson’s postmodern, poke-in-the-eye approach to late-night TV. After all, this is a host who lampoons his onetime use of hard drugs to his gay robot skeleton sidekick.
All that was missing when Ferguson joined Fator to wave bye-bye was a Topo Gigio moment: Craig-eee, kiss me gooooodnight!