Show Review – Duck Commander Musical

by DW Grant

Duck Commander Musical Show Review

 Duck Commander Musical

Ducks are falling from the sky, Broadway style, in the Crown Theater at the Rio All Suites Hotel & Casino Las Vegas.

Say what? They made a Broadway-like musical out of a reality TV show about a Louisiana swamp family, that I either think is hilarious, or just don’t understand? Yep, and that’s what I said the first time I was told “Duck Dynasty,” the TV show, was going on stage.

Duck Commander Musical Show Review

“Duck Commander Musical” is all about “Faith, Food, and Family,” and how it built a dynasty. But, even if you don’t love prayer, possum stew, and your Uncle Si, you may still love this production. It’s a “goodun.”

Going into the theatre, and not being much of a Duck Dynasty fan, I wondered if this was going to be a typical Hollywood stereo typed bashing of brainless, gun toting, Bible thumping, hillbilly idiots. To my happy surprise I have to say, no. The show is sincere in its character profiles, and it also is a lot of fun to watch, even if you haven’t been a fan of the TV show.

Duck Commander Musical - Show Review

Through swampy flash backs and while ducking though some forwards too, the show’s plot takes the audience on a very entertaining musical romp through Robertson family history. It all takes place in and out of their kitchen and dining room, and of course, the swamp. The kitchen is the Food part. The Family part is how they hilariously present each Robertson family personality and how they relate together. And the Faith part takes the audience respectfully, and sometimes precariously, into their beliefs, and how it molds their lives.

The music is country, pop, gospel, and even disco, all wrapped up in camouflage and swamp moss, created by a live orchestra above the swamp. The fiddle player is especially good!

A few of the show tunes include:
*”Faith, Food, and Family, ” the opening number with a southern rock heartbeat.
*”Camouflage,” a driving country-pop song, where Korie teaches Willie about being true to himself.
*”Cookin’ for the Family,” where Miss Kay teaches the family blondes how to prepare great red neck dishes, with a hoe-down savvy, and in good cloggin’ boots.
*And then there’s Si’s big sexy number. There is no explaining it, except to say “LOL!”

Original songs, and some fun visuals, carry the show through Phil’s invention of the “Duck Commander” duck call device, and son Willie’s successful efforts to make the family rich by taking Duck Commander to Walmart and then “World Wide.” Conflict comes with fame, when Willie puts the family into a reality show, and when that fame comes too fast. Then Daddy Phil gives an Old Testament opinion that causes problems, and threatens to put Phil on the sidelines for a while. More faith and family saves the show at the kitchen table, and then it’s on to the Broadway finale. Camouflaged Tuxedos and top hats any one? No, I’m not kidding.

Duck Commander Musical Show Review

There are surprises, and it wouldn’t be fair to tell you too much about them; from the seating (I sat in “The Pond”), to how the stage rotates vertically and horizontally, and animates the plot and the characters; how the real Robertson family appears in the show; and how you may walk out of the theatre wanting to watch the TV show. Oh yes, one of the best surprises is that you can take your entire family to it. There’s not many of those in Las Vegas.

“Duck Dynasty,” those gun toting, duck calling, Bible thumping, hillbillies are on stage and heading for Broadway from Vegas. Take the family to see it, then believe it.

 Duck Commander Musical

50 Shades! The Parody – Leather, Feathers, And Whips, Oh My!

by Amy Rayner-Cooley

50 Shades The Parody The Book Club Ladies and Sexy Couple

 50 Shades! The Parody

Attention Ladies! Looking for something new and exciting to do for your next Girl’s Night Out or Date Night? Look no further than 50 Shades! The Parody now showing inside the Windows Showroom at Bally’s Las Vegas. The hilarious and raunchy musical is a satire on E.L. James’ infamous bestseller, “Fifty Shades of Grey”.

50 Shades! The Parody Book Club

The bawdy musical’s story unfolds through the eyes of three desperate housewives reading “Fifty Shades of Grey” for book club. As the ladies’ hilarious discussion of the book unfolds, the stage morphs into live-action scenes featuring innocent literature student Anastasia and distinguished entrepreneur Christian Grey comically re-enacting their whirlwind affair. Filled with hysterical lyrics and even funnier jokes, 50 Shades! The Smash Hit Parody takes the “passion” of Christian Grey to a whole new level.

50 Shades! Anastasia and Jose

Audiences are kept in stitches for the full 69 minute performance of 50 Shades! The Parody. The cast is amazingly funny and the singing is spot on. While the show doesn’t include nudity, the ribald language filled with lewd references to a variety of “non-vanilla” sexual practices gives this show an R-rating and is intended for audiences 18 and over.

Don’t worry if you haven’t read the book, this show stands on its own. And despite the many squealing bachelorettes and birthday girls filling the audience, 50 Shades! appeals to men as well, there were a number scattered throughout the showroom enjoying the dirty humor. Take a step outside of the box and in to The Red Room for a night of hilarity at 50 Shades! The Parody.

 50 Shades! The Parody

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Mamma’s in Vegas Again. Oh How We Missed Her!

by DW Grant


She’s back! MAMMA MIA!

After a very long 5 year absence from The Strip the longest running West End/Broadway musical in Las Vegas history is on stage again, this time at the Tropicana Hotel & Casino.

From February 2003 to January 2009 the fun mix of ABBA songs, woven into a cute little story, made us wave our hands in the air and dance in aisles. It seems those 2100 performances were not enough, however, thank god, and now we can “ABBA” all over again.

Like the lyrics say:

Mamma mia, here I go again
My my, how can I resist you
Mamma mia, does it show again
My my, just how much I’ve missed you

MAMMA MIA! first took the stage in San Francisco, at the Orpheum Theatre, in November 2000, and blossomed out to Los Angeles, Chicago, then finally Broadway in October 2001. It is currently the ninth longest-running Broadway show. Back here in Vegas the show is dazzling us again, with the music, the fun characters, the 70s costumes, and addictive melodies. I guarantee you will be singing at least one ABBA song on the way home, and wake up with one on your lips the next morning.

The story is lite, cute, and simple. A girl living in the Greek Isles is getting married and wants her estranged dad at the wedding. She invites the three men who could be her father, they all show up at once, and the fun begins. And the fun continues, in and out of one ABBA song after another, until the mess is straightened out. The show is fun because of its simplicity, and because the performers seem to be having fun, just like the audience.

Some have criticized the show of being too “sitcom” like, but then praised it for its entertainment value. Until I saw this production I only considered MAMMA MIA! shallow pop fun, too, However, the show’s players handed me more depth than I expected.

MAMMA MIA! Las Vegas

Christine Sherrill, as Donna, the mother and one night lover of the three possible fathers, is marvelous, and oh so believable. Kimbre Lancaster, delivers the passion and innocence of Sophie, the daughter, in a very moving performance, as well.

Sitting stage side I was granted a close up view of the actors as they played their parts. Donna’s “Winner Take All” was rousing, and she looked and sounded like she believed it. I also saw tears in the eyes of Sophie when she sung “I Have a Dream,” and tears too when Sam and Donna sang “S.O.S.” Sam is played by Sean Allen Krill, and his energy and believability more than matches Ms. Sherill’s.

So when you’re near me, darling can’t you hear me
S. O. S.
And the love you gave me, nothing else can save me
S. O. S.
When you’re gone
How can I even try to go on?
When you’re gone
Though I try how can I carry on?
When you’re gone
How can I even try to go on?
When you’re gone
Though I try how can I carry on?

Welcome home Mamma.

MAMMA MIA! Las Vegas

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Show Review: Pageantry, Fireworks, And Knights On Horseback – Tournament of Kings

by Terri D’Richards

Seven Kings of Tournament Of Kings

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! – come one, come all to “Tournament of Kings” at the Excalibur — a throwback to the more themed era on the Las Vegas Strip. While newer properties have abandoned the Disney-like themes of their predecessors, and many of those existing previously have re-branded themselves, the Excalibur Hotel Casino retains its full on Medieval fantasy motif.

Jousting at Tournament Of KingsHoused in the dungeon level, TOK makes the perfect entertainment choice in keeping with King Arthur’s Roundtable theme. And speaking of Las Vegas in era’s past, folks don’t seem to tire of what’s arguably one of the last and best food/entertainment deals on the Strip. For less than the price of one ticket to many large-scale Vegas shows, TOK offers a complete, guaranteed-to-satisfy-your-belly meal served true to the period (this means no utensils) and full-length 75-minute show.

Midriff bearing dancing girls, shirtless muscle men and dazzling pyrotechnics represent the sort of show elements most visitors to Las Vegas expect from the self-proclaimed Entertainment Capital of the World. The aforementioned all make an appearance in the long-running Tournament of Kings dinner show (surprised?!) along with King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table jousting, feasting and merry-making.

On a recent Friday night, the 900-seat amphitheater was filled with spectators, some families with children, but just as many adults, several even decked out in period costume to fully immerse themselves in the interactive experience. The theatre seating is divided into sections. Throughout the various stages of the tournament, each section roots for the knight from the country matching their seating designation. There isn’t a bad seat in the house, and the audience members receive a brief instructional session from Merlin the Magician on the medieval style cheering methods used throughout the performance.

Mordred of Tournament Of Kings

The show features drum pageantry, dancing, singing, fireworks and knights on horseback competing in a variety of events. Adding to the drama, the evil Mordred and his dark knights invade the festivities kicking off an epic battle between good and evil. For an evening of food, fun and entertainment lets all raise our tankards to this tried and true Las Vegas staple, “Hear! Hear!”

Coronation at Tournament Of Kings

All Photos by Erik Kabik

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Show Review: The 80’s Show – Light-Hearted Nostalgic Fun

by Sarah Jane Woodall

The 80's Show

If you survived the 80s, you’ll want to check out this fun, new, interactive musical at Planet Hollywood. The 80s Show is an hour-long trip back in time to everyone’s favorite decade, featuring the crazy fashions, the unforgettable dance moves, and the amazing tunes that made the 80s such a fun, memorable era. It’s like stepping into a time machine – you’re instantly transported back to the days of parachute pants and synth-pop!

The 80's Show - The cool guy and the popular girl

The 80s Show plot revolves around the typical teenage American high school experience: the Average Girl has a crush on the Cool Guy, who only has eyes for the Popular Girl. The show follows Average Girl’s attempts to woo him away, with the help of her trusty (if not slightly nerdy) sidekicks, the Nice Guy and the Punk Chick.

Fun 80s song and dance numbers are interspersed without, and the show relies heavily on audience participation – be careful, you will more than likely be called upon to participate onstage! If you’re shy, better have a few drinks first – but not to worry; there is cocktail service in the theater.

All of your favorite 80s hits are revisited (and re-interpreted) over the course of the show – you’ll more than likely know the words, and find yourself singing along. Singing along, in fact, is completely encouraged – the cast engages the audience in just about every number, making this not just your typical show, but more of an interactive party! Everyone in the theater gets involved to some extent, and it’s a riot.

For a fun, feel-good, light-hearted evening of nostalgic laughs and jokes, check out The 80s Show. It’s a fun trip down memory lane that everyone will enjoy – from ex-Average Girls to ex-Cool Guys… and everyone in between!

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Show Review: Pin Up – Classic, Colorful, Lighthearted, and Sexy!

by Sarah Jane Woodall

Claire Sinclair of Pin Up in pink lingerie

Vegas buffets aren’t the only place to find cheesecake anymore! Fans of classic vintage pin-up style can now head over to the Stratosphere, where a new music and dance stage show called Pin Up is bringing sexy back, with a modern twist on a timeless style.

Claire Sinclair of Pin Up in stockings

Stockings, garter belts and sky-high heels are back in a big way as the girls of Pin Up strut their stuff in a series of sexy numbers showcasing classic femininity. 2011 Playmate of the Year and pin-up model extraordinaire, Claire Sinclair, presides over this fun romp through the seasons of the year, vintage pin-up style.

The calendar comes to life as each month is represented by a different cutie – a living calendar pin-up girl who dances and teases in a correspondingly themed number. You’ll see stewardesses (this was back before they were called flight attendants), beach bunnies and sexy baseball players… among other classic girly characters! Just about any fantasy you’ve ever had is brought to life by the sexy dancers who make Pin Up so much fun.

The show is backed by an amazing six-piece swing band, complete with horn section, playing energetic tunes scored by fellow Stratosphere headliner Frankie Moreno that will have you tapping your toe and itching to jump onstage and join the fun. If the music doesn’t get you, the dancing will – Pin Up showcases a variety of dance styles, all choreographed by Dancing With the Stars’ Lacey Schwimmer. The gorgeous dancers make it all look effortless – and the fun is infectious. They’re clearly having a blast!

Dance routine at Pin Up

Despite being a 10:30 show featuring a Playboy model, Pin Up is pure old-fashioned fun – lighthearted, colorful and sexy… without being sleazy. Tops stay on, but plenty of skin is bared and there’s lots to look at. Sometimes, the tease is what it’s all about… and Pin Up has that down pat. It’s a throwback to a more innocent era, when a pretty smile and a wink were all that was needed to rev a guy’s engines.

Sexy dancers of Pin Up

For a cute, retro stroll down memory lane, come check out the living dolls at Pin Up. And the best part about this cheesecake? It has no calories…so you can go back for as many helpings as you like!

Photo credit:
Marc Paulus (performance photos)
Jerry Metellus (Claire Sinclair studio photos)

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Show Review: Seth Grabel – Magic With A Serious Fun Factor

by Terri D’Richards

Seth Grabel on Americas Got Talent

Is he an acrobat? Is he an illusionist? Is he a dancer? Take your pick! Seth Grabel shows us all of the above and more in his Las Vegas show. Settled in at the intimate (with super comfy seats!) Wolf Theatre at The Clarion, Grabel shows off feats of amazement and grace presented with charismatic personality and style.

The multi-faceted performer gained notoriety as a finalist on season six of “America’s Got Talent” where he wowed audiences and judges alike with impossible escapes, grand scale illusions and acrobatic flash. Working within the confines of his current venue, Grabel makes the most of more up-close magic, such as sleight of hand and levitation. He even pulls off some nifty metamorphosis (when one person gets substituted out for another in a seemingly enclosed trunk), and other illusions.

Seith Grabel with sexy female assistants

All this combines with some surprising Cirque-like maneuvers for a unique blend of what the performer calls “Acromagic”. And a serious fun factor is never missing from the mix. Grables engaging demeanor works for all ages making it clear he’s having a good time — and so are we!

Grabel takes delight in adding a decidedly whimsical aspect to his presentation of the requisite tricks and illusions: a little pick-pocketing gag, ventriloquism, Barbie doll comes to life. Of course, none of this showmanship would work as well without the goods.

The magic is Vegas-worthy, and it’s not difficult to imagine Grable taking his act to a larger stage in the future, where he can once again incorporate some of those grander AGT tricks. Today though, it’s worth enjoying the opportunity to view this unique show at its current residence. Most likely the experience will make you want to go back and see the performer again when he does take his act to the next level.

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Show Review: V The Ultimate Variety Show – An Evening Of Excitement, Thrills, And Comedy

by Guy Chapman

Tamara's hoops at V - The Ultimate Variety Show

With so many shows on the Strip that focus on elaborate costumes, orchestrated musical scores and cutting edge special effects, it’s nice to see a show that really goes back to variety show foundations in covering solid entertainment in its purest form. For an evening of excitement, thrills, and comedy, show-goers will get to experience a truly fun outing in “V – The Ultimate Variety Show” at the V Theater in the Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino.

MC Wally Eastwood juggles at V - The Ultimate Variety Show

Hosted by juggler extraordinaire Wally Eastwood (who was featured “America’s Got Talent”), a surprisingly diverse and entertaining variety of acts take place on the theater’s intimate stage. As the MC, Eastwood performs a variety of impressive aerial object-based feats that have to be seen to be believed. And if you like classical music played on a piano, it’s highly unlikely that you’ve ever seen it performed in the way it’s showcased here. I don’t want to give away any surprises but your mouth will open in awe.

Tap dancing brothers Sean and John at V - The Ultimate Variety Show

The performance seen for this review had a variety of fantastic talent. Among the numerous highlights of the show are the tap dancing brothers Sean and John, the Russian team of Iouri and Nikoli with an amazing hand balancing act, the Aerial Expressionists, that take their performance into and over the crowd, Melinda – The First Lady of Magic ,that will leave the crowds guessing at her mind-bending illusions, the Skating Aratas, a roller skating act that has to be seen to be believed, and the Argentinean comedy team, The Crazy Gauchos, that provides laughter through their unpredictable performance while bouncing witty banter between each other and the crowd.

Skating Aratas at V - The Ultimate Variety ShowEach new talent and team brings something new to the show, ensuring that no show is ever exactly the same, resulting in an evening that brings the best of the Vegas entertainment experience to one location while staying fresh. The show itself is family friendly, so it truly provides and all-ages type of experience that can be enjoyed by anyone looking for a “clean” show without concern of more racy elements. And for those that want a closer experience, show patrons can purchase VIP tickets that allow viewers to sit really close to the stage (and enjoy a little interaction in the show, depending on which performer needs a “victim” to participate).

“V – The Ultimate Variety Show” is a great way to spend an evening with the kids, or for someone who wants to get more of an “all in one” experience of what the Las Vegas Strip has to offer. Its diversity and accessibility make this a show that will definitely be remembered long after the final curtain call.

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Show Review: Defending The Caveman Needs No Defending

by D.W. Grant

Kevin Burke spears underwear in Defending The CavemanThis “Caveman” don’t need no defending. It’s a man’s show, with women encouraged to attend.

The Las Vegas/Broadway show, now playing at Harrah’s Comedy Club, is a hilarious evening of understanding “The Man,” his burps, scratches, sex, and beer drinking. After this show every woman will understand why men are not jerks, or #&*s, as is said vehemently at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end of this show.

Kevin Burke has been soloing in this play for 10 years or more and it shows. His delivery is real and his connection to his audience is deep. More than a show, “Defending The Caveman” is like sharing a beer with your brother-in-law in his man cave. Man to man you can talk about women and scratch your loins without reproach. You can brag about your sex life, and complain about the “old woman,” knowing your boasting and whining won’t go beyond the cave walls. They won’t, unless some playwright decides he wants to make a Broadway show out of them.

It’s no wonder “Defending The Caveman” is the longest running solo play in the history of Broadway. It’s funny, irreverent, and the perfect date night show. It has also been performed all around the world, before more than 8 million people, in 30 different languages, in 45 countries.

The play’s writer, American actor and comedian Rob Becker, says the show is supposed to show that “men have emotions, but express them differently.” Indeed we do, and DTC shows them off well.

Most importantly after each show every man in attendance will be able to stand up with Kevin Burke, hoist his spear over his head, and declare “I am not a #&*s!” I did, but in much gentler words.

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Show Review: Rock Of Ages – Nothing But A Good Time!

by Sarah Jane Woodall

Mark Shunock and Justin Mortelliti - Credit Denise Truscello

Fire up the Aqua Net and dig out that sleeveless jean jacket – Rock of Ages has hit Vegas, and it’s bringing the ‘80s back! The latest musical to hit the Vegas strip hearkens back to the glory days of heavy metal – the days of mascara, muscle tees and mullets. If you grew up listening to this music, you will love Rock of Ages. And if even if you didn’t… you’ll have a blast. It’s impossible to sit through this show without smiling, laughing… and singing along!

Like many so-called “jukebox musicals,” Rock of Ages uses previously existing music to patch together a storyline – in this case, ‘80s hairband rock and power ballads, virtually every one of which you will recognize. It’s hard to believe that the music our parents warned us about has become so mainstream – but you’ll recognize many of these tunes from commercials, movies and general pop culture ubiquity. But what’s really amazing is how well this stuff holds up – as cheesy and dated as it is, this music still rocks!

Justin Mortelliti and Carrie St. Louis - High Enough - Credit Denise TruscelloRock of Ages’ plotline is little more than an excuse to skip from one familiar anthem to the next – boy meets girl at an L.A. rock ’n’ roll club. Both have dreams of stardom, which are threatened when an evil developer plots to tear down the club to put up a Footlocker. The troops are rallied, power ballads are sung, fists are pumped and lighters are waved in the air… and everything leads to a big crazy happy ending. It’s an old-school feel-good show – nothing too deep or artsy; just fantastically bombastic rock music, over-the-top costumes, truly inspired comedic acting and pure, unadulterated fun.

Rock of Ages is a Broadway-style two-hour show with a 7-minute intermission… .but you hardly notice the time passing, as everything is so much fun. The music is big, the hair is bigger…and the energy is GINORMOUS! Thanks to an exceptional cast, who are clearly having the time of their lives, along with an amazing live band, you’ll find yourself dancing in your seat. I challenge you to dislike this show; it’s impossible. The stage sets are impressively designed, and the entire theater has been given an ‘80s makeover, with vintage signage and posters and neon lights. Even the bartenders wear ’80s rocker attire – everyone’s in on the act!

If you’re looking for a no-holds-barred, tongue-in-cheek good time, look no further. Rock of Ages is probably the most fun you can have in Vegas with your clothes on – your shredded denim and snakeskin clothes, that is!

Rock Of Vegas - Full Vegas Company - Credit Denise Truscello

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