Friday, Jan. 10, 2014 | 6 p.m.
Panda-monium is about to erupt as a fuzzy and furry bear tackles gorgeous 2014 Miss Nevada USA Pageant contestants and rock stars.
Can a cuddly creature win out over pageant princesses?
Can a warm and fuzzy animal take down some of rock’s biggest stars?
Can an adorable panda shine as the brightest star of the weekend’s entertainment scene?
Panda-monium reigns as the newest colorful acrobatic musical spectacular celebrates its North American premiere at Palazzo with the first entertainment export in Las Vegas from Mainland China.
My preview of “Panda!” was posted Tuesday, and enjoy contributing photographer Tom Donoghue’s photo gallery of extraordinary Tuesday opening-night images.
Expect to see the Miss Nevada USA and Miss Teen Nevada USA contestants led down the red carpet by reigning queens Chelsea Caswell and Amanda Jenkins the night before they turn over their crowns to the new winners.
Platinum-haired Holly Madison, who is getting ready to announce her new Strip burlesque show, will be at opening night with her former “Peepshow” at Planet Hollywood co-star Josh Strickland (now starring in nearby “Vegas! The Show”), plus, Motley Crue hometown rock hero Vince Neil and girlfriend Rain Andreani, Claire Sinclair of “Pin Up” at Stratosphere, zany Luxor headliner props comic Carrot Top, hypnotist Marc Savard, MTV’s Ricardo Laguna, comedy juggler Jeff Civillico, Steinway artist Danny Wright, the cast of “Rock of Ages” at the Venetian and Olympic gold medalist boxer Zou Shiming.
The theatrical spectacular celebrates its premiere with performers from China National Acrobatic Troupe and Shaolin Monastery Kung Fu monks.
Even if “Panda!” scores a knockout, I can assure that as a judge for Miss Nevada USA 24 hours later, the stunning beauties will deliver an even more powerful punch. Pageant Director and 1995 Miss USA Shanna Moakler tells me that we will have the toughest time of our lives selecting a winner.
“They are the most gorgeous girls Nevada has ever pulled together for a pageant. If there could be several winners, they would all get voted to go onto this year’s Miss USA contest. They are that beautiful,” she told me.
The public is invited to attend the show and its crowning finale at Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall at UNLV on Sunday.
I must mention that “Entertainer of the Year” Jimmy Hopper, the ultimate lounge act, returns home to Las Vegas this weekend with a run of dinner and late-night shows at Dennis Bono and Lorraine Hunt-Bono’s Bootlegger Bistro. The talented keyboard player and singer has a razzle-dazzle group of musicians, so don’t miss his wild antics.
It also is a music weekend, so fans of pop, rock and country won’t be left out of the excitement of beautiful blondes and brunettes and precocious pandas. The Hard Rock Hotel has most of the action with Chester Bennington’s Linkin Park, Zac Brown Band and Lita Ford, plus, Three Doors Down at Green Valley Ranch and the legendary Paul Revere & The Raiders at South Point.
Now it’s time for us to ride into the action with a declaration we title each week the Royal Robin Rundown.
FRIDAY, JAN. 10
Chester Bennington, frontman of two platinum-selling bands (the other is Stone Temple Pilots), is “Recharged” with Linkin Park and guest Redlight King at the Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel.
Broadway’s Cabaret Singer of the Year winner Clint Holmes continues his celebrations with “The After Party!” at Cabaret Jazz in Smith Center all weekend.
Paul Revere & The Raiders are at South Point all weekend.
Nashville Unplugged features Gary Hannah at Sunset Station.
Lita Ford and London are at Vinyl in the Hard Rock Hotel.
Jimmy Hopper is at Bootlegger Bistro on Fridays and Saturdays with four shows.
Don McMillan, Avi Liberman and Jodi Borrello are at the Improv in Harrah’s all weekend.
OF SPECIAL NOTE
Tickets go on sale for Daughtry on Feb. 14, Eric Church on April 26 and Childish Gambino on May 2, all at the new Chelsea in the Cosmopolitan.
Tickets go on sale for the world premiere of Rio magician headliner Teller’s reimagined “William Shakespeare’s The Tempest” under a tent at Smith Center ‘s Symphony Park from April 5-13. It features music by Tom Waits, dance by Pilobolous and magic by Teller.
The ABBA musical “Mamma Mia!” has its remaining five national touring company shows in Reynolds Hall at Smith Center through Sunday.
Dowler and “A Love Story” guest star are at the Las Vegas Rocks Variety Show at Boulder Station.
Clowns, acrobats and mad motorcyclists roar at ZelZah Shrine Circus at Orleans Arena all weekend.
Manufactured Superstars spin at XS in Steve Wynn’s Encore.
Pizzo is at Tryst in Wynn.
Grand Theft is at Surrender in Encore.
SATURDAY, JAN. 11
It’s country, rock and blues from Zac Brown Band with guest Levi Lowrey at the Joint for two nights.
3 Doors Down performs an acoustic concert at Green Valley Ranch.
Atlanta Rhythm Section is at Suncoast for two nights.
David Cook and Paper Tigers are at Hard Rock Live! on the Strip.
Whiskey Breath is at Vinyl.
Dennis Wise pays tribute to Elvis as “King For a Night” at Santa Fe Station.
OF SPECIAL NOTE
“Panda!,” with its never-before-seen video-screen scenery, killer kung-fu kicks and mind-blowing acrobatics, celebrates its official world premiere and grand opening at Palazzo. As our colleague Jack Houston, editor of Las Vegas Magazine, says: “Furry, fuzzy fists of fury!”
Tickets go on sale for the 40 shows The Jacksons will perform in “Rocktellz & Cocktails” in Planet Hollywood Showroom starting Feb. 20.
Think First Nevada and BMX pro rider Ricardo Laguna educate young people about safety decisions by giving away free helmets at the 10th Annual After Christmas Helmet Giveaway at Land Rover Las Vegas.
Jermaine Dupri spins at Tryst.
Warren Peace is at XS.
Morgan Page is at Surrender.
The Vegas Sessions whiteout Winter Wonderland party with snow bunnies, ice queens and blizzards of snowflake confetti is at Hyde Bellagio.
SUNDAY, JAN. 12
Thrillbilly Deluxe is at Vinyl.
OF SPECIAL NOTE
Miss Nevada USA and Miss Nevada Teen USA will be crowned at the pageant hosted by 2011 Miss USA Alyssa Campanella and DJ Chet Buchanan at UNLV’s Ham Hall.
See you on Twitter with the immediate Sunday results of Miss Nevada USA, and on Monday we’ll have a report, photos and video. Plus, Part 1 of our week of AVN/Adult Entertainment Expo stories, starting with Vivid Entertainment chief Steven Hirsch. He talks about celebrity sex tapes, new moneymaking ideas and the state of the billion-dollar adult-entertainment industry that’s more recession proof than gaming.
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.
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Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.
Vinyl, which opened in August 2012, is the intimate live entertainment venue at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, featuring a diversity of genres, including rock 'n' roll, jazz, blues, pop and even country.
The multifunctional room provides an intimate setting that puts the audience within an arm's reach of the performers.
The space, which is just under 7,000 square feet, can accommodate 650 guests. With a speakeasy atmosphere, Vinyl has an industrial look from its Chicago-common brick and cinderblock, distressed wood floors and an exposed, sky-high ceiling.
An elevated VIP section houses leather banquette seating and offers guests their own wait staff and an exclusive bar. The perimeter features a bar where guests can watch all the action. A state-of-the-art entertainment system offers high-definition screens on both sides of the main stage.