August 8, 2008

‘Got Talent’ a Good Thing for ‘La Cage’

By Mike Weatherford

Is America ready for a singing Britney?

You can't always count on the real Britney Spears for live vocals. But Derrick Barry says he's prepared to move his female impersonator act beyond lip-sync if the "America's Got Talent" judges allow him.

"If I have the chance to showcase live vocals, I think that would take it to the next level," says the "An Evening at La Cage" performer who was featured Tuesday on the NBC talent show.

Today's results show - which, like Tuesday's effort, was pretaped - will let the world know whether Barry gets cut from the competition or comes back after the Olympics as one of 40 finalists for live episodes of the talent show.

The national exposure is part of a good week for "La Cage" producer Norbert Aleman, whose two long-running shows usually plug along with little fanfare at the Riviera.

Barry's first "Got Talent" appearance in June wowed Sharon Osbourne ("I think I'm in love") and David Hasselhoff ("I'm questioning my sexuality here.") They overrode a negative vote by the third judge, Piers Morgan ("Not in a million years") to keep him in the running. The YouTube clip of the sequence has more than 1.7 million viewings.

Of course, "Talent" likes to pretend its contestants walked in off the street, so there was no mention that the 24-year-old Barry has been featured in "La Cage" since 2004. (And absolutely no mention that he already competed on a rival network's talent show, "The Next Best Thing.") Still, it's an almost-free gift if Aleman and the Riviera can connect the dots back to their revue.

Aleman's B-movie "Las Vegas Crazy Girls Undercover," featuring cast members from "Crazy Girls," also sees the light of day soon, with a three-month TV pay-per-view window starting Sept. 1, before planned airings on Showtime and Starz. The producer hosts a private screening on Tuesday at the Palms. ...

For the past few years, performers have been trying to get off the road to perform as resident headliners on the Strip, enjoying the suburban life most of us take for granted.

But for some, the siren song of the road is now harder to resist. First, impressionist Gordie Brown was called up to a five-month stint as Celine Dion's opening act on tour. Now, ventriloquist Ronn Lucas says he will close at the Excalibur on Aug. 24, after nearly eight years of afternoon shows in Las Vegas.

"I just found myself getting out of the show more than being in the show," Lucas says of corporate dates and hard-to-refuse offers from cruise lines, including the inaugural voyage of the 113,000- ton Ruby Princess.

In December, Lucas is off to London to perform in "Cinderella," a holiday production that's part of the British tradition of pantomime. It's an English thing, not Marcel Marceau-type stuff; their name for lavish, winking productions of classic fairy tales. Lucas will add his ventriloquism to the role of Buttons, a family servant usually absent from U.S. versions of the story. ...

Random thought: Will the delay of the Echelon project on the former Stardust site mess up negotiations with any big stars?

If you remember, AEG Live announced a 4,000-seat theater similar to the Colosseum it operates at Caesars Palace, as well as a 1,500- seater for comedians and TV production. Any names they're talking to - from Beyonce to Billy Joel - surely have other irons in the fire, and a year's delay could make a big difference in their plans.

An AEG spokeswoman says the company is still onboard with Echelon developer Boyd Gaming and will work around the new time lines. ...

We're seeing some price-cutting promotions around the Strip, but "Le Reve" at Wynn Las Vegas goes the other way with an "upsell." The ticket that's usually $137.50 can be combined with a prix fixe dinner at Daniel Boulud Brasserie for $185. The offer runs through the end of September.

"Le Reve" remains an ever-evolving product, one with many hands - including hotel chairman Steve Wynn - tinkering with changes in the past year. New costumes are still on the horizon, along with puppet creations by Michael Curry, who is getting to be quite the Las Vegas player. Best-known for the Broadway version of "The Lion King," Curry also made giant creatures for "Ka" and is part of the team for Criss Angel's "Believe."

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at [email protected] or 702-383-0288.

(c) 2008 Las Vegas Review - Journal. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.