Glittering Onyx

Singing the praises of Vegas’ off-Strip theater community

After the absolute corker that was Reservoir Dolls, it was only a matter of time before I got all warm and fuzzy with you all about Onyx Theatre.

Ahead of this week’s Geek!, a brand-new play by Crystal Skillman (which I’m beyond excited for, by the way; right up my alley) I was lucky enough to meet with Troy and Kady Heard at Makers & Finders (try their Arepa Benny!) to chat about their plans. Although we’d been friends on Facebook for a while and had seen each other in passing at shows and events, this was actually the first time we’d met IRL, as the kids say. I’m happy to report that Troy, Onyx’ creative director, and his wife Kady, a whip-smart, musical theater-appreciating burlesque badass, are every bit as awesome as I’d hoped Vegas’ First Couple of Off-Strip Entertainment would be. And they have excellent taste in hot beverages.

It is a truth, Vegas-ally acknowledged, that this town can be a little isolating, so the community I’ve found at Onyx is a treasured one. The off-Strip theater community may be small, but it’s a creative, supportive and tight-knit one. Following the advice of my spirit guides Amy Poehler, Tina Fey and Felicia Day, I started Improv with Vegas Theater Hub last year, and it’s continuing to have a hugely positive effect on my life. It is also an excellent reason to spend more time at Onyx, and see my classmates in shows there. Abby Dandy, in particular, killed it as Ms. Orange in Reservoir Dolls. Hats off, my friend.

So, plans. Exciting ones, both onstage and off. We already have Heathers: The Musical and Titus Andronicus Jr. to look forward to, and Heard is busying himself planning the next year’s worth of shows, as well as putting plans in motion for the betterment of the building itself. Hopefully there’ll be booze soon, you guys. These things are important.

Onyx productions have demonstrated a tendency toward the immersive, and it looks like that will continue in very exciting ways. They’ve already built a fully functioning anime convention in the lobby for Geek! I’m totally sold. We’re all spoiled for choice these days with companies like Punch Drunk, and often it’s not enough to just go and see a play. We want to experience it, and Onyx is achieving that on very little budget.

I was particularly excited to hear from the Heards that an adaptation of Gypsy is in the works. Kady and I are both burlesque ballerinas, and find it impossible not to throw our appreciation back to Gypsy’s “You Gotta Have A Gimmick.” On that note, if you haven’t seen Kady’s troupe The Accidental Showgirls performing this number, you’ve missed a trick. So much fun. Find their fan page on Facebook for upcoming shows. With this and a lot more burlesque in the works at Onyx—most likely featuring the inimitable Blanche DeBris—I’m a very happy tassel-twirler, indeed.

I’ll see Geek! this weekend at matinee, and you have until February 27 to join me. Find show and ticket info at I’m assured it’s a great show for teens, but I’m sure I’m not alone in indulging my teenage tendencies where nerdiness is concerned. Besides, this is a community theater, and if we want to keep the good times rolling, we have to get up from our sofas and get our tickets. It’s a break from the beige, and we need it.

See Charlie Starling in Absinthe, twice nightly in the Spiegeltent at Caesars Palace, 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Wed.-Sun. Visit for tickets. Follow her on Twitter: @charlistarling.