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July 31, 2014

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Preview: Mark Shunock’s star-laden ‘Mondays Dark’ sets $100,000 goal to benefit Las Vegas charities

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Mark Shunock sings during a performance of the Broadway-based open mic and variety show Cast Party on Wednesday, June 19, 2013, at Cabaret Jazz in Smith Center.

'Rock of Ages' Grand Opening at Venetian

The Launch slideshow »

'Rock of Ages' Cast at Azure

Launch slideshow »

Las Vegas gets its own talk-show tonight, and, with a bit of luck and community support, it could grow from a one-night-a-month fundraiser to a regular series and maybe even onto television.

After an unlucky start, the luck has already begun for “Mondays Dark” creator Mark Shunock, who plays Lonny in the hit musical “Rock of Ages” at the Venetian: When the Act at Palazzo shut its doors last month, Mark had to recover from that hit that brought his plans to a halt days before he was ready to roll.

But a very good thing happened on the way to tonight’s new premiere! Stories of his plans to stage 12 fundraising nights for a year raised emotions in our city, and once it was determined that he couldn’t open at the Act, a number of Las Vegas venues stepped forward with offers to help.

Mark has now found a new home and partner for the monthly charity event at Body English in the Hard Rock Hotel, and tonight he’s hoping to raise at least $10,000 for our beloved local charity Opportunity Village. He has three other local charities lined up through February, and he’s promised that Keep Memory Alive at Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health will be one of them.

Tonight’s hot bed of entertainment with music and comedy for a cause launches with three-time Emmy nominee Dot-Marie Jones of “Glee,” Travis Cloer of “Jersey Boys” at Paris Las Vegas, Anne Martinez of “Dancing Queen” at Planet Hollywood, Mark’s “Rock of Ages” cast mates and Quiet Riot’s Paul Shortino from “Raiding the Rock Vault” at LVH on the guest list.

“I know we’re going to help raise a lot of money and awareness for local charities,” said Mark. “I am thrilled Body English has been so supportive and excited to become the new home of ‘Mondays Dark.’

“They were the first of many to call after the Act closed so abruptly less than a week before we planned our first show. Body English is the perfect fit, and I hope we get to stay there permanently.”

Mark told me each month’s show will be set in a fast-moving, 75-minute talk-show format with stars from the Strip joined by Hollywood, sports, music and culinary stars. “Expect a lot of off-the-cuff moments. It’s going to be very different from what you see on television nightly,” said Mark.

A onetime ice-hockey player in the Canadian league, Mark gave it up to follow his stage passion. Before arriving in Las Vegas to star in “Rock of Ages,” he was featured in the national tour of Disney’s “The Lion King” performing the role of Timon in more than 30 U.S. cities. His wife, Cheryl Daro, who has just finished starring in “Miss Saigon” in Washington, D.C., will be another talk-show guest.

Revenue for just 200 ticketed guests at the Hard Rock Hotel tonight, plus, silent-auction item proceeds, will be donated to Opportunity Village that has for 30 years provided services and assistance for those with learning disabilities.

Mark summed up: “My goal is $10,000 each time we do this. Over a year, that’s more than $100,000 for 12 local charities. I love living and working here in Las Vegas, as do all the other performers on the Strip. This is our perfect way to give some love back for the love we’ve received.”

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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