Friday, Feb. 8, 2013 | 9:57 a.m.
As John Lennon might have said, “Happiness is a warm rake.” So with palpable intent, we rake the scene:
• Chelsea Ballroom at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas has always served as a unique venue for concerts, as it is essentially a lavishly decorated conference center. Still, Stevie Wonder, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Deadmau5, Morrissey, Adele and The Killers have all played there. The venue’s legacy will be that of a hotel making the most out of an unremarkable room, as The Cosmo is opening a theater on the third floor near the West Tower.
Construction on the new venue, which will seat 3,000 for concerts and such sporting events as boxing and, possibly, beer pong, begins in March and is expected to open by the end of the year.
The old space is not to be used for ticketed shows and will serve as a conference center. The best use for the soon-to-be closed ballroom has been for boxing. Saturday night’s fight card, headlined by Frankie Gomez’s decision over Lanard Lane in a welterweight bout televised on Fox Sports Network and Fox Deportes, was really entertaining. Detroit Lions quarterback Matt Stafford seemed to think so, as he was occupying one of the couched VIP regions ringing the ring.
The act to open the new Chelsea has not been announced, but the hotel would do well to continue to showcase rising boxing stars at the new venue. It once worked for Caesars Palace — albeit at a far higher level — and could work well at The Cosmopolitan.
• In response for clarification about the use of PH Live at Planet Hollywood, Caesars Entertainment and BASE Entertainment have issued statements since Thursday night. This morning, Caesars issued this statement through an official confirming the company has been negotiating with Britney Spears to perform at Planet Hollywood: "Caesars Entertainment is continuously working to redefine the Las Vegas entertainment landscape. As a pioneer of the modern Las Vegas headlining residency model, Caesars Entertainment regularly engages in conversations with today’s top artists to perform at any number of our Las Vegas resorts. We can now confirm the company is actively engaged in discussions with Britney Spears' representatives regarding a potential headlining residency at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino. No further statement will be made at this time.
On Thursday, BASE Entertainment, which books acts at PH Live, sent out the following:
“BASE Entertainment is delighted to welcome Marshal Sylver to PH Live where he will be producing/performing his spectacular hypnosis show. As with all of our partners and tenants, we wish him much success with his show. We will continue to book additional programming at PH Live as we have for the last seven years and look forward to bringing a dynamic mix of exciting entertainment to the venue in 2013.”
What that means, aside from BASE is happy to be renting out the former Theater for the Performing Arts to the high-stylin’ hypnotist, is there are other plans for artists not named Marshal Sylver to appear at PH Live. That could well be Spears. Meantime, Sylver's show has been moved back from its original March 19 opening date to April 6.
• Erich Bergen is not the only performer with a history in Las Vegas to perform in “Anything Goes” at The Smith Center’s Reynolds Hall. Joyce Chittick, who like Bergen was cast in “Jersey Boys” at Palazzo, plays Erma. She is married to Rick Faugno, who portrayed Frankie Valli for five years on tour and in Las Vegas. The music director is Jay Alger, late of “Disney’s The Lion King” at Mandalay Bay. The show ends its weeklong run Sunday.
Bergen performed at the Composers Showcase after the Wednesday performance of “Anything Goes,” a particularly enlivened evening that drew the likes of Debbie Gibson (she was not feeling well enough to sing, though) and Clint Holmes reunited with his former music director, Bill Fayne. Gibson is expected to return to sing a new song at the March 6 showcase, and Bergen was impressed with everything he saw at The Smith Center. It’s Deco Central there, and Bergen is working toward a booking for a one-man show at Cabaret Jazz, hopefully as soon as it can be chiseled into the schedule.
• On the topic of the Center of The Smith: One of the more ambitious performances in the brief history of Cabaret Jazz was the percussion-powered band Uberschall’s Jan. 20 appearance with former Frank Zappa and Missing Persons drummer Terry Bozzio. Uberschall is the 13-year-old band of former and current Blue Man Group Musicians that plays Double Down Saloon the last Sunday of each month. As you might expect, theirs is a drinkin’ crowd. The band drew well in its two shows at Cabaret Jazz, selling out the matinee performance and coming close to that at 8 p.m. More impressive, in what has to be a first for a show at The Smith Center, the crowd drank the place dry of beer. Uberschall founder Elvis Lederer wants to bring the band back to Cabaret Jazz, and with those robust alcohol receipts, he’ll find that Smith Center officials will at least entertain the concept.
• Trust the Johnny on this point: The potential sale of the Stirling Club at Turnberry Place is a delicate subject. Any time many millions of dollars are in play, one must tread carefully while tracking the interest in such a property. What is certain is there has been a lot of interest in the club since it closed in May. Several Letters of Intent have been delivered to the agent assigned to handle the sale of the Stirling Club, Gene Northup of Synergy Sotheby’s International Realty.
At least one of those letters is from an interest represented by Resort Properties of Americas, which is owned by longtime commercial broker David Atwell. It was Atwell who was informally involved in the previous attempt by The Siegel Group to purchase the club in May. The Siegel Group is not involved in current negotiations to buy the club, which is still listed at $18 million, a price that hasn’t budged since last spring. But there is reason for cautious optimism that the club will be under new ownership soon and the residents there will again have a place to hang out and work out on property. We’re keeping an eye on the movements at Stirling Club, the most captivating closed nightspot in Vegas.
• The Coco Clock (now there’s a merchandising idea) continues to tick at “Peepshow” at Planet Hollywood, as the latest iteration of Bo Peep works with show producers on a contract extension. It would be a real surprise at this point if Coco does not sign through next year. She is asking for time off to record the upcoming season of “Ice Loves Coco” this spring and a lighter weekly schedule, cloven from six to four days so she can spend more time at her home in New York. But she is the uncommon figure to handle the role fame-wise and stage-wise, a star of a popular TV show who can dance and is willing to doff her top. She’s rare, that Coco, and a hard act to follow.
• Leigh Zimmerman, who played Ulla in “The Producers” at Paris Las Vegas and lives in town, is returning to London’s West End to play Sheila in “A Chorus Line.” She previously played Velma in “Chicago” on the West End before going on tour with the production. Her husband, Domenick Allen, and daughter, Kayleigh, are in London through the show’s run, which ends July 13. Of the return to London, Zimmerman told BroadwayWorld.com, "This is my second home! Taking this role means uprooting my whole family -- my daughter is 12 and my husband is in the business -- so we're all embracing it."