Three ‘Surprises’ to See in Las Vegas
Sunday, December 30, 2012
“Surprisingly good” seems to be a phrase that should belong to a new brand of coffee. The phase came to mind recently during three outings in Las Vegas.
First, we were given tickets to impressionist Rich Little’s show at the LVH Hotel and Casino (formerly the Las Vegas Hilton). The show is called “Jimmy Stewart and Friends”. Frankly, I thought maybe I’d had my lifetime fill of Rich Little, having seen him perform many times. However, I found the show surprisingly new, fun and very interesting. Little tells the story of the life of the beloved late actor Jimmy Stewart whom he knew. The impersonator also introduces many of Stewart’s friends. Frankly, I had new respect for Little as a result of seeing the show which a producer has said he hopes to take to Broadway. For now, Little’s show is in Las Vegas and often available at 2 for 1 discounts. Jimmy Stewart and Friends runs Saturday through Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. in the Shimmer Cabaret.
Surprise No. 2 is a show at the Plaza Hotel Casino called “The Phat Pack”. Initially, when I heard the show title I thought we had another group of Frank, Dean and Sammy impersonators, but that was not the case. The Phat Pack is a showcase for three talented singers, Bruce Ewing, Ted Keegan and Randal Keith, who had worked together in the Las Vegas cast of Phantom of the Opera. “Phat” is a nod to “Phantom”.
If you hadn’t known the singers before the show, you will hear biographical information which fills in all the blanks. Ewing, Keegan and Keith are accompanied by multi-talented musical director Joey Singer. As their ads say, the singers perform Broadway numbers, Vegas standards and original music. Every number, from “Danny Boy” to “I’ll Be Seeing You” to “Bring Him Home” is a crowd-pleaser. In fact, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reviewer gave the show a rare “A” rating. No rock n’ roll here, just words and music that bring tears, satisfaction and laughter. The Phat Pack show is Tuesdays, Thursdays & Fridays at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. in the Plaza Showroom. What would be a great evening downtown in Las Vegas? The Phat Pack show at 5 p.m. and dinner at Oscar’s Steakhouse (also at the Plaza) with a view of the Fremont Street Experience at 7 p.m.
PS: At press time, an announcement was made that The Phat Pack will be on hiatus after its New Year’s Day 7 p.m. show through approximately the third week in January for renovations of the showroom lighting and sound equipment. Stay tuned for the re-opening announcement.
Thursday, I made my first visit to the Neon Boneyard, a project of the Neon Museum Las Vegas, the non-profit organization “dedicated to preserving the history of Las Vegas through its most iconic art form, the neon sign.” The “Boneyard Park” is located at 770 Las Vegas Boulevard, next door to the Cashman Center property.
The Neon Boneyard itself is the location of many of the once-famous neon signs which have distinguished the glittering Las Vegas landscape. Some 150 rescued architectural landmarks are on display dating from the 1930s to the present day. I thought I might be able to roam the boneyard and take photos, but that was not the case. The only access to the signs is as part of a tour group, and as I discovered, that’s a very good thing. The boneyard itself would be something close to a hoarder’s back yard without the tour guide’s lively information attached to each of the signs. Our tour guide was Ian Zeitzer, a museum docent, and he was absolutely great. The weather was mighty nippy on Thursday and if Zeitzer hadn’t been an interesting host, we would have lost some of the crowd, I’m sure. Cost of each one-hour tour is $18 or $12 for locals, seniors, students, active military and veterans.
Caution: Because the Boneyard itself is not large, about two acres, tours are limited in size and run every half hour from 10 a.m. to sunset Monday through Saturday. Though I was lucky enough, as a single, to catch up with a tour, several other people who were at the ticket counter with me could not get tickets at all and were asked to come back the next day. Tour reservations are available on line and only six “open” spaces in each tour are filled by walk-ins. What a disappointment to travel all the way to the Neon Boneyard to be told no tours are available. Do make advance reservations, and if you do, one of the best tours in Las Vegas will be yours.