Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2009 | 2 a.m.
2009 opens with uncertainty on almost every front, and the arts and entertainment scene is no exception: Lots of shows and organizations are shuddering if not shuttering, and no one knows whether audiences will be able to afford tickets. Still, there are plenty of bright spots on the cultural horizon in Las Vegas. Here’s a non-comprehensive clip-and-save look at what we can see from here:
A few long-running shows are dark or on their way out: “Mamma Mia!” and “Stomp Out Loud” both took their final bows over the weekend, and the short-lived dance revue formerly known as “Raw Talent Live” has packed it in at the Sahara. Elton John has announced that he’s folding up his “Red Piano” show at the Colosseum, and, although he is scheduled to play April 7-22, tickets are listed only through Feb. 15, after which he takes off on tour with Billy Joel.
Replacements are waiting in the wings: The pretested Broadway hit “The Lion King” moves into the “Mamma Mia!” space, with preview performances beginning April 20. “Peepshow,” which is being billed as a “modern burlesque” and features ex-Spice Girl Mel B. and “Dancing With the Stars” champ Kelly Monaco, takes its first peep at a paying audience at Planet Hollywood on March 30.
Some Strip headliners are playing musical chairs: Impressionist Danny Gans moves into his new digs at Encore on Feb. 10 — in the space that formerly housed “Spamalot,” which is between the casino and its older sister, Wynn Las Vegas. And ventriloquist Terry Fator takes over Gans’ former space at the Mirage. The interactive comedy/mystery “Shear Madness” was scheduled to open Christmas Day, but building permits have pushed back the opening date.
And starting Wednesday, Criss Angel’s “Believe” goes dark at the Luxor through Jan. 22 — reportedly Cirque du Soleil is hauling the show into the magic shop for some major revision. When it returns, “Believe” will have a new running schedule, playing Tuesday through Saturday at 7 and 9:30 p.m., with no shows on Sunday and Monday.
It’s pretty much business as usual: mostly classic-rock retreads, with a few standouts, including George Jones at the Silverton (Jan. 23-24), Billy Joel at the MGM Grand Garden Arena (Feb. 14) and Motley Crue at the Joint at the Hard Rock (Feb. 6 and 7). The concert scene might sound more exciting when the Hard Rock unveils an improved version of the Joint in April.
Guitarist Slash’s new project, Adler’s Appetite at Wasted Space at the Hard Rock, opens Feb. 21, the same night that ancient prog-rock titans Yes take the Hard Rock’s main stage. Britney Spears brings her “Circus” tour to the MGM Grand on Feb. 24, with opening act the Pussycat Dolls. He’s not a musician, but he’s a rock star as far as writers go — writer David Sedaris reads at UNLV’s Ham Hall on May 3. And the Dave Matthews Band plugs in for two nights at the MGM Grand (May 8-9). Miley Cyrus’ dad (Billy Ray) plays the Cannery on May 9.
Classical and Dance
The groundbreaking of the Smith Center for the Performing Arts is scheduled for this month, and the hopes of many local arts institutions hinge on the Center’s on-time completion. In the meantime, the Las Vegas Philharmonic looks past its internal strife to present its third Masterworks program, an all-Tchaikovsky bill with cellist Zuill Bailey as featured soloist, and a March 21 pops concert with “Phantom” star Brent Barrett.
And the Phil accompanies Nevada Ballet Theatre in its all-Balanchine program Feb. 6-7 at Ham Hall, which will also be the venue for Nevada Ballet’s program of full-length premieres by American choreographers (April 10-12).
The Nevada Conservatory Theatre at UNLV continues its season with a new adaptation of “The Diary of Anne Frank” (Feb. 13-22), the 1937 “labor opera” “The Cradle Will Rock (March 13-29) and the 50th anniversary of “The Music Man” (May 1-10).
Atlas Theatre Ensemble offers Charles Mee’s “Trojan Women 2.0,” a modern retelling of the Euripides classic about women vs. their warring men — Mee has incorporated interviews with Holocaust and Hiroshima survivors — at the Onyx Theatre (Jan. 15-31). Also at the Onyx, Insurgo Theatre Movement follows its splendid “Henry V” with “Cartoon: The Play,” by Steven Yockey, which as its title suggests involves living cartoon characters (Feb. 13-March 14), and Off-Strip Productions will attempt to stuff a staging of the musical “La Cage Aux Folles” onto that tiny stage (April 24-May 16).
Little Theatre of Las Vegas forges ahead with the Alan Ayckbourn farce “How the Other Half Loves” (Jan. 9-25) and promises William Finn’s adorable musical “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” in July.
The Las Vegas Art Museum was selected by the National Gallery of Art to receive 50 works from the Herbert and Dorothy Vogel collection, and the exhibition, titled “Fifty Works for Fifty States,” opens April 17. The national gift program distributes 2,500 contemporary works to 50 institutions — one in each state. The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art opens “Classic Contemporary: Lichtenstein, Warhol & Friends” on Jan. 23, with important paintings and sculpture by major contemporary artists focusing on the 1960s and ’70s.
Joining the “Bodies” exhibit at the Luxor is “Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition,” which includes the largest piece of the Titanic ever recovered, decorative sections from the ship’s grand staircase.
The Dam Short Film Festival lights up Boulder City Feb. 11-14. And the 11th edition of CineVegas is on track for June 11-20 at the Palms and Brenden Theatres; it is accepting film submissions through March 1. The eighth annual Las Vegas Jewish Film Festival (Jan. 17-25) presents 13 films from the United States, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Sweden, France and Israel at the new stadium-style theater inside the Adelson Educational Campus in Summerlin.