Las Vegas, Nevada
Entertainment Magazine On-Line
"CATS" ON THE PROWL
It must have been nerve-wracking for Andrew Lloyd Webber to decide what
he was going to do after his professional split form Tim Rice. Together
they created "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "Evita."
Recognizing the need for a great lyricist, Webber went to a brilliant literary
source, T.S. Elliot. Elliot's unusual book of poems, "Old Possums's
Book Of Practical Cats," dealt with the distinct and bizarre personality
of various breeds of Felinus Rex.
Webber took Elliot's abstract expressions and turned them into mini operettas
dealing with such various topics as acceptance, disappointment, ageism,
lost love and youthful sexual angst.
A current touring production of this mega-successful play (42 different
productions world wide, many Tony Awards, a hit song etc.) arrives in town
Decemeber 13th for a three night, five-performance run at the Aladdin Theatre
For The Performing Arts in Las Vegas.
"Cats" touring productions have an ongoing history of bringing
record sell-outs. It remains one of the most in-demand theatre productions
in entertainment history. Even the fact that in June of 1977 "Cats"
becomes the longest-running musical ever on Broadway (finally replacing
"A Chorus Line") doesn't slow the crowds down!
Fans anxiously await their favorite classic "Cats" tunes such
as "Jellicle Cats" (my favorite), "Mr. Mestopholes"
and of course, the internationally acclaimed "Memory." In her
recent tour, Barbra Streisand found that of all her recordings, "Memory"
was her most well-received in concert.
Last month, I caught the touring production of "Andrew Lloyd Webber'sMusic
Of The Night" at the Aladdin. I was surprised how effective the "Cats"
songs were after all these years and here they were being performed merely
as songs-no costumes or characters. It certainly whetted my appetite for
seeing "Cats" again. Apparently, some wishes come true!
"CATS" APPEARS AT THE ALADDIN THEATRE IN LAS VEGAS december 13-15
AT 8PM NIGHTLY, WITH MATINEE PERFORMANCES ON SATURDAY AND SUNDAY.
Let me explain.
I Met Jesus At The Hard Rock
When I was ten years old, my parents brought me to Las Vegas. They wanted
to gamble so they dropped me off at the movies. "Jesus Christ Superstar"
had just opened and, after a big argument, was allowed to watch it.
After the movie was over, instead of calling my folks to have them come
get me, I left them a message saying I was staying put. I watched that movie
several times that day and hundreds of times since.
Since we never really know what makes us embrace our passions so passionately,
I similarly cannot explain why I was convinced that if I scanned the casino
at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas last Monday night, that I was destined
to run into Ted Neeley-Jesus himself.
Mr. Neeley is currently performing "Jesus Christ Superstar's"
coast-to-coast AD 1996-1997 tour which played The Joint at the Hard Rock
for two nights. He also happened to enter the hotel at just the right moment
for me to almost have to collide into him.
Much like his alter deity, he seemed to be expecting and (literally) welcomed
me with open arms.
"And who might you be?" he whispered. In a matter of seconds,
I told the poor guy my entire life story and my "Superstar" tales
as well. As cool as Christ, Neeley quietly listened to my ramblings, only
interrupting to say thank you or to let me know I was among friends.
"This happens a lot," says Neeley. "People are so moved by
"Superstar," I cannot tell you how much it means to me that people
still take the time to come see the show, all the more come to see and speak
Being that that evening's performance marked his 1500th performance as the
Son Of God, I asked Ted Neeley if he ever grows tired of the play.
"Never! Tonight makes it 1500 hundred trips for me and I can't wait
to get out there and do this! The very same thing that has caused you to
love "Jesus Christ Superstar" is the same thing that motivates
me. I consider it an honor to be a part of something people can embrace.
So many people have told me that seeing this show changed their lives. I
couldn't be happier!"
He seemed almost apologetic when informing me that due to venue constraints,
the show I would be seeing would be scaled down. "It's mainly a concert.
We're in costume but there are no sets. Actually, this hearkens back to
the original shows when "Superstar" was only a little more than
a concert piece. The music is really the star."
The show was great! Carl Anderson was on hand reprising his classic performance
as Judas. Both Anderson and Neeley still have two of the most compelling
singing voices in musical theatre history.
While there were no cast list posted at The Joint, I managed to find out
that it was magnificent vocalist Christina Rea who played Mary Magdalene.
Rea put so much passion and love into her performance, she brought a powerful,
"you are there" resonance to the entire production.
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At The Aladin:
In a continuing effort to bring non-Vegas-like entertainment to Las Vegas,
the Aladdin Hotel and Casino welcomes "West Side Story" as part
of their 1996/1997 Broadway Series. First "Grease" with Joe Piscapo,
Sheena Easton and Sally Struthers livened up The Theatre Of Performing Arts,
followed by the phenomenal "Andrew Lloyd Webber's Music Of The Night"
starring Melissa Manchester.
A Classic All The Way
As with the previous productions, "West Side Story" is a Broadway
calibre show currently scheduled for a two-year tour of more than 30 U.S.
cities, Canada and Japan. It arrives at the Aladdin on November 5 for a
six night engagement.
Based on Shakespeare's timeless love story, "Romeo and Juliet"
(which is currently enjoying a new cinematic interpretation), "West
Side Story" is set against the gritty backdrop of gang warfare on the
streets of New York City. As two rival teenage gangs battle over their share
of neighborhood turf, a boy and a girl from opposing sides, an different
races meet and fall in love.
"West Side Story" took Broadway by storm in 1957 and has been
performed ever since. This production features Jerome Robbins' original,
classic choreography (recreated by Alan Johnson) and stars Jeremy Koch as
"Tony". Koch has been seen in such regional productions as "Phantom
Of The Opera", "Evita", "Into The Woods" and "Forever
Sharon Cammille, who plays "Maria," acted in the films "Psycho
IV" and "My Girl" and the plays "Evita," "Carousel,"
and "Cinderella" with the notorious Zsa Zsa Gabor.
With a book by Arther Laurents ("Gypsy") and a spectacular score
by Stephen Sondheim, "West Side Story" boasts some of the most
memorable tunes in musical history, including "Tonight," "Somewhere"
and the show-stopping "America." If the previous Aladdin productions
are any indication, this should be a great show.
"WEST SIDE STORY" APPEARS AT THE THEATRE OF THE PERFORMING ARTS
AT THE ALADDIN HOTEL IN LAS VEGAS ON NOVEMBER 5-10. TICKET PRICES RANGE
FROM $19.50 - $65.00
COMING SOON TO THE ALADDIN: "FUNNY GIRL" WITH DEBBIE GIBSON AND
"JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT".