bought Resorts Atlantic City last year, one of his first phone calls was to a bartender. He didn't need someone to pour him a celebratory glass of champagne. Instead, he just wanted to let
know he wanted to be her boss again.
Morro, who worked for Gomes from 1998 to 2005 when the latter ran Tropicana Casino and Resort, is better known down AyCee way as "Blanche the Singing Bartender." Five days a week at 25 Hours, Resorts' casino-side lounge, Morro serves up classic pop and rock songs as she mixes cocktails and pours brewskis from the tap.
The multitasking mix-mistress came by her rather unusual vocation "by accident" back in 1994, when she was tending bar at an Atlantic City taproom.
"They had a great jukebox," she recalled, "and while I was working I was singing with it. A customer said, 'You have such a beautiful voice. Why aren't you singing?' "
Morro took the suggestion to the bar's owner, who was skeptical that such an attraction would go over in "a shot-and-beer" joint. "He gave me a one-month trial," she said. "In two weeks, he put up a billboard."
Among those who saw the advertisement was Gomes. "Dennis came to see what I do and hired me [for the Trop] on the spot."
"I thought she was the most phenomenal thing I'd ever seen," said Gomes. "She's an extraordinary singer. Combine that with her ability to mix drinks and make change and never miss a note . . . she's incredible."
Gomes left Tropicana in 2005, and new management there let Morro go shortly thereafter. But Gomes kept in touch with her and made a promise: "If I ever get anything in Atlantic City, I'm gonna bring you back."
He made good on that pledge, and installed Morro at 25 Hours, where she sings for 30 minutes on the hour between 4 and 10:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Morro, who vocalizes to instrumental tracks contained on a laptop computer, takes pride in hardly ever needing to look at the screen for lyrics. Her repertoire is eclectic, to say the least, covering everything from her vocal hero, Barbra Streisand, and Patsy Cline ("Crazy" is her most-requested number) to Jerry Lee Lewis and Bachman-Turner Overdrive.
Asked what she won't sing, she immediately replied, "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida," the album-side-length totem of late-'60s psychedelia by Iron Butterfly - a song she swore has been requested.
As for her personal preferences, Morro declined to name a favorite tune. Instead, she said, "I like singing songs that evoke the best responses from people."
Resorts Atlantic City, Boardwalk at North Carolina Avenue, 4 p.m.-10:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, free, 609-344-6000, resortsac.com.
'Broadway' a hit
It's been quite a while since Atlantic City has seen a musical revue as impressively staged as "Best of Broadway," which runs through June 29 at Tropicana. Using show-specific costuming, first-rate video projection and even a "Les Miserables"-style turntable, "Best of Broadway" is as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the ears.
The format is standard: 75 minutes or so of Broadway's greatest hits culled from decades-old classics ("West Side Story," "Hello Dolly") and more recent smashes ("Mamma Mia!" "Hairspray"). Backed by a four-piece, onstage band occasionally augmented by prerecorded tracks, the talented crew of lead vocalists and dancers (all of whom also sing) handle the wide variety of musical styles with flair and plenty of verve.
Among the program's many highlights are the segment devoted to "Hair," the three-song "Les Miz" sequence featuring stunning ensemble work on "At the End of the Day" and "Do You Hear the People Sing?," and the show-closing tribute to "The Lion King."
Of course, this being AyCee (where a law mandating such material is apparently in effect for Broadway salutes), things do get bogged down by sequences covering the always-icky "Cats" and "Phantom of the Opera" - though the latter's portion of the show is partly redeemed by some of the revusical's most stunning staging.
But that is just nitpicking. "Best of Broadway" is top-shelf family fare as well as a great reminder that well-executed casino presentations like this are always welcome along the Great Wood Way.
Tropicana Casino and Resort, Boardwalk at Brighton Avenue, show times vary, $35 and $25, 1-800-736-1420, ticketmaster.com.
Just in time for the summer season comes word that the New York-style delicatessen Pickles has reopened at Bally's Atlantic City.
Pickles specializes in huge portions of Jewish-style delicacies (matzo ball soup, potato latkes), ridiculously huge sandwiches and equally immense desserts. (We're pretty sure the strawberry shortcake is required by the Federal Aviation Administration to have lights on top so planes can see it.)
The casual eatery also features beer and wine and Boardwalk seating. It's open noon to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, till 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For information, call 609-340-2320.
Chuck Darrow has been covering Atlantic City and casinos for over 20 years. Read
Saturdays at 1:45 a.m. with Steve Trevelise on WIP (610-AM) and 3:05 p.m.
on Atlantic City's WOND (1400-AM) with Marc Berman.