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September 21, 2014

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BBR, a hair-raising vocal group, takes off at Boulevard Theater

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Shane O'Neal

The vocal group BBR (a blonde, a brunette and a redhead), from left: Savannah Smith, Anne Martinez and Tara Palsha.

Anne Martinez arrived in Las Vegas a little less than a year ago to sing in the Stratosphere adult revue “Bite.” That production wound up closing just months after her arrival, but an idea she carried with her here has sprung to life.

The concept is simple. Martinez has longed to build a vocal act of beautiful women with beautiful voices who were easily distinguishable for one noteworthy trait: their hair colors.

Martinez needed a blonde, and easy get because she actually is blonde. She wanted a brunette and found one in flame-throwing singer Savannah Smith of “Vegas! The Show.” The redhead was not such an easy discovery, however, as redheads are generally more scarce than blondes and brunettes in our general population (Carrot Top has a hilarious explanation as to why, but that reasoning is not for this column).

Around the holidays, Martinez met Tara Palsha, who is a redhead. A redheaded dancer, primarily, as the principal dancer in “Vegas!” at Saxe Theater at Miracle Mile Shops. But over the past year or so, Palsha has been developing her voice, encouraged to develop a singing act by the great vocalist and music director Bill Fayne and taking intensive vocal lessons from multitalented performer Jimmy Lockett.

Early in this evolution, Palsha took part in a summer variety production at Suncoast.

Serendipitously, one of the singers was Martinez, and, after the performance, the blonde vocalist walked up to Palsha and told her, “You’re my redhead.”

At that, the group BBR took root. The acronym is a Blonde, a Brunette and a Redhead. The trio celebrates its formal unveiling tonight at 11 in a free showcase at Boulevard Theater at 3765 Las Vegas Blvd. South. The club is on the east side of the Strip, between Walgreens and Fatburger and directly across the Boulevard from Monte Carlo. Or, if you remember the days of Empire Ballroom and (before that) Club Utopia (blackout), that’s the place.

As an act, BBR is not entirely unknown. The trio have been popping up at an assortment of gigs in town, singing with Skye Dee Miles’ Skye 5 outfit at Tropicana and as part of Zowie Bowie’s late-night, big-band showcase at Window’s at Bally’s. But this is their first full-scale production, and it’s taken on something of a dizzying scope.

“This is a fully produced show. It’s not a lounge show,” Palsha says, as if convincing herself this project has actually reached this lofty perch. “The show is ready to go, just give us a theater. There’s singing, dancing, lighting, original arrangements … I’m still saying to myself, ‘Is this really happening?’ ”

The show’s director and choreographer is Tim Bennett, who was the resident director of “Disney’s The Lion King” at Mandalay Bay and whose theater credits span 30 years as a performer and director. The music is supplied by David Perrico (who seems to be playing the trumpet at every waking hour these days) and the horn section from Pop Evolution and “Pin Up” at Stratosphere. The amped-up violin group Bella Electric Strings, fronted by the amped-up Nina DiGregorio, also will play select numbers, and the event is to be streamed live on Vegas Video Network.

The format is easy to follow and sensibly paced. The group sings in ensemble and alternates individual segments of three songs apiece. There will be sexy dancing and rote shtick and a lot of late-night frivolity.

To what end?

“Basically, the goal is to see if anybody has any interest and is ready to back us,” Palsha says. Then she laughs and says, “I honestly don’t know much more than that. We’ll know a lot more after the show.”

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.

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