Tag: Surf The Musical

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Worst Vegas Mistake of 2012

December 28, 2012 at 12:20 PM | by | ()

"God", front and center, reminds us to Live Long and Prosper.

Previous Worst Vegas Mistake "winners" have included Paris Hilton, water fees and fired Playboy bunnies. Nominees for this year include bird-brained law students and a since re-designed website, or we suppose that's re-re-designed. But, 2012's biggest fumble is a new reality show doing for Vegas what Jersey Shore did for the Garden State and Extreme Cheapskates is doing for millionaires.

To set the table, we here at VegasChatter are reality TV sluts. Whores when it comes to Vegas related reality shows. But, where Pawn Stars educates and interests us, American Restoration gets us all nostalgic and Vegas Strip elevates the level of respect for Vegas PD, Sin City Rules does nothing but perpetuate long buried stereotypes through staged dramas faker than the siliconed cast with (hopefully) exaggerated gossipy personalities.

We were taught if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all so we'll throw out that the b-roll shots of Vegas lights and sights are nice. But, Sin City Rules is an otherwise forced Housewives rip-off that's so painful even Bravo and the King of Vegas endorsements wouldn't put their stamps of approval on it until offered an exclusive.

It's not that the cast itself is completely dull, even if they aren't the five highest-powered women in Vegas. There's a well known poker player that's managed to retain respect in the industry after emerging unscathed from the Full Tilt saga. Also on screen are the founder of multiple fashion, media and non-profit businesses next to the daughter of a notorious mobster we'd never heard of.

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Surf The Musical Wipes Out On Vegas Strip

August 8, 2012 at 12:26 PM | by | ()

You didn't need a crystal ball to see this one coming, but it's disappointing to hear nonetheless. Planet Hollywood is pulling the plug on Surf The Musical.

When the untested musical based on the tunes of The Beach Boys made its premiere to the media in July our reaction was lukewarm. The most glaring problem noted by our Richard Lane on opening the night -- weak singing. An observation echoed by our Mr. Pappagiorgio who was also in attendance that night. And, there was more:

You could predict that this was a piece filed with emotionally broad strokes, but there is little depth here. The melodramatic emotions are not earned. The plot gets in the way of the singing and dancing. Maybe even an annoyance to the production.

Besides our observations that night, there were more signs that the fledging show was already floundering. Tickets were quickly discounted to 2-for-1 for locals. Children under 12 were admitted for free. Then, yesterday, the show announced on Facebook that unsold seats were being used to raise money for charity. Noble, but another red flag. Last night, tweets by Vegas columnist John Katsilometes made all the warning signs official:

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Does Planet Hollywood's Surf The Musical Sink Or Swim?

July 18, 2012 at 8:35 PM | by | ()

Take iconic songs, a built from scratch musical concept, a hot and buzz-worthy director, youthful energy and a calculated mix of sun, fun and souped-up cars, well, you'd think you'd have a theatrical recipe for a huge hit. Or, maybe a minor hit. Or, has to be a break-even hit, right? Or...

Surf the Musical premiered for the press and public exclusively in Las Vegas last night and, sad to say, it doesn't catch the perfect wave. The producers bought the rights to have a live band interpret and perform over two dozen Beach Boys songs. Then, they build a plot around them. We covered the early rehearsals and were eager to see how the hot-hype on this show matched opening night reality. Our reaction was lukewarm.

The slight story concerns two camps. A young, fledgling singer/songwriter leaves his West Coast hometown and girlfriend to head to big city. Two years later, he returns. The girl's mother has died and she has lost her good-girl ways, dating the local hoodlum. The hero's journey is to try to reclaim his girl, his past and turn everything back the way it was.

So, the local gang of surf kids pitch in. And there's "Grease!"/"Rebel Without a Cause" fighting, rivalry, angst and car racing and everyone grows up and learns something. The California beach setting inspires much twisting, bathing suits and even more dancing. It's a jukebox jamboree where all the 45's are Brian Wilson tunes.

This is a family show. Which shows quite a lot of leg. But this isn't your typical evening Vegas entertainment. Even the bad guys don't seem that bad. More Fonzie than Wanderers street gang. The "Mad Men" dad that just-doesn't-get-it is too slight a role to induce empathy. The comic relief foils of characters Doogie and Caroline fall way short of being funny. The good "bad" girl Rhonda, played by Nikki Tuazon, is under-utilized as the missing link between this show and this very theater's other production, Peepshow, which runs later in the evening. She could cross over and seamlessly jump into the later production.

The problem on this big night - weak singing. All around. Beach Boys harmonies are hard. Beach Boys solos are hard. This writer has heard many out-takes of the actual Beach Boys themselves, frequently flubbing notes in the studio. The melancholic "Warmth of the Sun" could stymie even the most seasoned singer. An inexperienced male lead, singing front of stage, on his own, well, he's going to sound a little pitchy, dawg. And he's not alone. Even Adrian Zmed, former star of T.J. Hooker!, who can professionally hold his own as a singer gets stuck with the tricky "Heroes and Villains" as his centerpiece. A track inserted into the show solely for the relevancy of the first three sung lines, before composer Van Dyke Parks goes all lyrically impressionistic. But the shoe-horning of all these songs into this jukebox creation means that until the finale, most tunes are sung all the way through. Rather than relevant parts grabbed and used for dramatic effect. That cuts down on time for actual plot, script and character development.

You could predict that this was a piece filed with emotionally broad strokes, but there is little depth here. The melodramatic emotions are not earned. The plot gets in the way of the singing and dancing. Maybe even an annoyance to the production.

Nevertheless, the theatrical framing is excellent. Snap a photo of any moment in the show and you'll encounter a picture-perfect tableau. Lights, backdrop and stage setting - nothing feels under-thought. The enormous five panel video backdrop is a huge star of the night. Props and stage management were flawless, but all eyes are on the backdrop. Which for all its tech skills is frequently used for a series of ever changing static slides, not moving video. Early in the show a palm tree moves on the backdrop screen. An hour later it is no longer animated. Odd. A Ferris Wheel ride re-enacted using a computer generated wheel on the big screen is a nice idea, but again, the audience is applauding a really big TV. It's not a Phantom set with a chandelier. The only set-pieces dropping into the accidence are beach-balls that are kicked around at the start and end of of the night.

Other parts of Surf are more curious. There's some breaking the fourth wall. Who'd have thought after a fight the gang would break into song, one character laments to the audience. And there's only two scenes we remember that actually indicated the locals, really do surf. Other than a lot of carrying, waxing and selling of surf boards. "California the Musical " wouldn't have been a title any more polarizing and would at least entice a fair number of our voluminous west coast visitors.

The end medley, and we're not spoiling the plot here, comes across as a way to play a bunch of songs in Brady Bunch/MAMMA MIA! group fest mode. Hey, we paid for the right to perform these songs, better get our value for money. You also get silver lamé clothing and the 1962 JFK-era backdrop design turns all Lyndon Johnson-era pop-art for some reason. The Times They Are a-Changin' for the So-Cal beach scene?

Maybe the production problems are it's too much drama and not enough musical. Or the other way around. When you insert themes of mortality, the pop culture setting fights the producer's attempts at pathos. Unlike the knowingly self-conscious other musical coming our way.

"Rock of Ages", another jukebox style show, tackles less loftier ideals. It's coming to the Venetian later this year. And it is also directed by Surf director, Kristin Hanggi. It'll be loud and dumb and over the top. It should do great. Unlike Surf, we think it's better "made for these times."

Talking of Rock of Ages, walking the Surf premiere red carpet we spied '80's pop-icon Debbie Gibson. We mean she was walking, we were, um, spying. At that very moment we jokingly speculated she was in town to work in Rock of Ages. Unbeknown to us, she actually cameos in the movie version of the musical, alongside Skid Row front-man, '80s rocker Sebastian Bach. We think they wouldn't be a bad fit for the Vegas production. Right? That's already way more star power than onstage at Surf, that could certainly use a celeb or two to garner curiosity value amongst customers. We'll take the usual 10% finders fee, Venetian; thanks and you're welcome.

Surf the Musical runs at Planet Hollywood Resort in the same upstairs theater that houses Peepshow. Showtimes are Mondays, Fridays and Sundays at 7 pm, Tuesdays and Wednesdays: 7 pm and 9:30 pm and Saturdays at 5:30 pm Tickets are priced are priced betwen $64 and $144.

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Surf The Musical Not Quite Ready To Ride The Premiere Wave

June 22, 2012 at 12:00 PM | by | ()

A few weeks ago, Planet Hollywood teased us with a few short scenes from its upcoming production, Surf The Musical -- a homage to the "nostalgia of big dreams, lost love and summer nights" set to the fun, fun, fun of some 30 Beach Boys tunes.

Back then, we noted that producers "weren't making it easy on themselves" by "springing an untried, and completely original, musical upon Las Vegas." Just how much of a challenge it is may be evident in news that the show's premiere has been pushed back.

Playbill.com reports that the musical's debut has been changed from today, June 22 to June 27. Just a handful of days but it speaks to the pressure that all involved have to get it right, right out of the box. Playbill cites that the delay will "allow for additional rehearsal time."

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Planet Hollywood's Nostalgic Gamble On Beach Boys, Girls and Fun, Fun, Fun

May 30, 2012 at 5:45 PM | by | ()

It's a G-rated musical, housed in the folds of Holly Madison's Peepshow theater. Filled with dozens of Beach Boys songs, but no reference to the actual band. Courting a demographic of 8 to 84, yet up the escalator from Planet Hollywood's Pleasure Pit dealers and round the corner from the Pussycat Dolls Burlesque Saloon.

The producers of Surf the Musical aren't making it easy for themselves. Springing an untried, and completely original musical upon Las Vegas is a gutsy move. They hope that nostalgia or a yearning for youth and the mythos of Southern California will draw you in, with a show they flaunt as Mamma Mia! or Grease, "on steroids."

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Surf's Up At Planet Hollywood This Summer With 'Surf The Musical'

May 3, 2012 at 6:11 PM | by | ()

The Beach Boys may not be bringing Good Vibrations to Bally's, but they are headed to Planet Hollywood. Kinda.

Surf The Musical is hoping to lure all the pretty mamas, California girls, and more to PH this summer. The stage production is promising to put "the genius of The Beach Boys' music front and center":

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