Frank Sinatra and Las Vegas. For decades, they just seemed to go together.
And apparently, they still do.
A dance tribute to the singer who personified romance for generations of audiences premiered at the Wynn Las Vegas on Dec. 11, a day before what would have been Sinatra's 95th birthday.
Choreographed by Tony Award-winner Twyla Tharp, Sinatra Dance With Me is set in a nightclub and follows four couples who ride the romantic roller coaster of flirting, falling in love, and parting, to the soundtrack of Sinatra's voice.
The result is that Ol' Blue Eyes is still the star.
The show opens with Sinatra singing "Stardust" a cappella, which he never actually did, Tharp said in a video interview.
"But he, of course, left his voice, and it was possible for us to lift his voice from the background," Tharp said of Sinatra, who died in 1998. "And it allows him to sing/speak to us, as he ever will."
Tharp's first artistic association with Sinatra's music was 34 years ago, when she performed in a duet, "Once More Frank," with Mikhail Baryshnikov. More recently, she created the forerunner of Sinatra Dance With Me, which casino owner Steve Wynn saw in New York last summer.
"It was a lively and full audience, and everyone just loved it," Wynn said. "It was Twyla's interpretation of Sinatra's interpretation of Cole Porter's lyrics and Nelson Riddle's arrangements."
Among the 29 songs in Dance With Me are Sinatra standards such as "Fly Me to the Moon," "Witchcraft," and "That's Life." The show features 14 dancers and a 17-piece band, so Sinatra's recorded voice is backed by live orchestration. Each of the 1,000 seats in the Encore Theater's lower level is within 70 feet of the stage.
The current main entertainment at the Wynn is country star Garth Brooks and the aquatic circus-ballet La Reve, both representative of high-end shows in Vegas. Meanwhile, the jazz-dance Sinatra tribute is risky business. It may have been a hit in New York, but what soars on Broadway sometimes crashes on the Vegas Strip.
But Wynn hasn't been afraid to take risks with entertainment, sometimes enjoying enormous success ("O" at the Bellagio) and sometimes not (Avenue Q at the Wynn).
In this show, he saw an opportunity to bring an artistic, vibrant production to Vegas with minimal downside.
"I asked, 'Do we have to charge hundreds of dollars for a ticket?' And the answer was no," Wynn said. Tickets are $69 and $89.
"As it turned out," Wynn added, "we can put this on for $50,000 a show and I said that I would love to have that kind of entertainment."
Wynn's own celebrity began with a series of lighthearted commercials he did with Sinatra in the 1980s for Golden Nugget casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City.
So there's a certain simpatico in having a Sinatra show in a Wynn resort.
"As an hour and a half of sheer entertainment, it'll knock you out," Wynn said. "When they do 'That's Life,' they fly and flip and spin through that number, and it's just great fun."
Performances are 7:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday (dark Sunday) and are scheduled to run through Jan. 29, although Wynn said the show could remain indefinitely and be scheduled around Brooks if it's successful.
For more information, call 1-888-320-7110 or go to www.wynnlasvegas.com.
NYE at the Shore. Atlantic City's casinos will be breaking out the party hats and noisemakers as the calendar flips to 2011.
The Borgata will have three party rooms going: nightclubs Mixx and mur.mur and the Gypsy Bar. The big-ticket pass is the $999 Rockstar package that includes skip-the-line admission to all three parties, a one-night hotel stay, a $50 beverage credit, and breakfast for two at the Metropolitan restaurant. Tickets for individual nightclubs are also available: $100 for Mixx and $125 for mur.mur. For more information, go to www.borgatanightlife.com.
The Tropicana's featured attraction will be a concert of 1960s tunes by four members of the original Broadway cast of Jersey Boys. Tickets cost $45 to $115. The Quarter, the retail and dining complex, will have a free all-night party, while the Top of the Trop lounge will have hors d'oeuvres, cocktails, and live entertainment for $70. The largest soiree will be in the Grand Exhibit Center, for $350 per person. For more information, go to www.tropicana.net.
The Trump Taj Mahal will have parties catering to two age groups. The younger crowd will probably be interested in the Casbah nightclub (tickets starting at $95, including open bar), and a slightly older group may gravitate to Jerry Blavat's celebration in the Tiara Ballroom ($125, including buffet and open bar). For more information, go to www.trumptaj.com.
And among Caesars Entertainment casinos, the House of Blues at the Showboat will feature a concert by Maroon 5; Harrah's will have B.B. King; and Caesars will feature Sarah McLachlan.
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