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Dance

Palms production

Matt Goss set to become hotel’s first resident performer, whether you’ve heard of him or not

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The Dirty Virgins auditions at the Palms.
Photo: Denise Truscello

Since opening in November 2001, the Palms has never featured a regular headliner. In September 2009, that changes, with the arrival of English singer Matt Goss. The reasons? Less about strategy than timing and opportunity.

You assume that resort entertainment decisions involve a great deal of calculation and research. But Michael Greco, vice president of entertainment for the Palms, says he had no grand scheme or focus-group results to work from when he decided to take on the Palms’ first headliner. “I was looking for something new and exciting to do here. And I called Robin [Antin], who I worked with on the Pussycat Dolls in my old days at Pure Management Group, and asked if she had anything interesting we could do at the Palms. She brought Matt to me, and it was love at first sight. I think that Palms has always tried to be ahead of the curve and cutting edge. This is an adult contemporary artist in his prime.”

Dirty Virgins Auditions @the Palms

Being ahead of the curve in this case meaning that Goss, who has sold millions in Europe, will be a virtual unknown in the United States when he opens in Vegas on Labor Day weekend. But Antin, the Palms show’s choreographer and producer, does not see the artist’s obscurity as an obstacle. “Vegas is the right place for him,” Antin insists. “His music is being released worldwide on iTunes on August 4. Vegas allows you to take over the world. It is a one-stop concert kind of deal. You can do Vegas and not tour the world because everyone sees you in Vegas. Matt and I are so inspired by the Rat Pack. Matt is the Sinatra of today, and Vegas is the natural place for him.” She compares him to Elvis, Celine Dion and David Beckham.

But unlike, say, the Sinatra performances of old, which did not use background dancers, Goss’ show recently held auditions to hire four. Antin was so overwhelmed when more than 70 hopefuls turned out—many whose resumes were filled with other Vegas productions—she also hired two background singers. It is a buyer’s market on talent. Antin was expecting the opposite. “[Having created] the Pussycat Dolls, I want everything I am involved with to be at a certain level,” she says. “I was not going to hang everything on one Las Vegas audition. But so many amazing people were here that I don’t know what happened. I am not going to have to hold another audition in LA like I thought. I found everyone I need. It was amazing.”

Not surprised at all by the turnout were the job hopefuls, who included cast members of recently closed shows such as Folies Bergere and La Cage. Aspirant Lindsay Hartman, 24, who came to Vegas with a degree in dance last year, says the large turnout has been standard for months and stems from the terrible economy. “There are not many auditions right now and everyone needs a job,” Hartman says.

Back in the day, not all the auditions here were even for Vegas shows. Hartman was once hired for a few-month run in a celebrity impersonator show that toured Asia. “There used to be three auditions a week in Vegas,” she says. “Now, you are lucky if there is one legitimate audition a month.”

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Richard Abowitz

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