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Best of 2012: Theater and Strip News

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Nurture wowed at the new Cockroach Theatre.
Photo: Ryan Reason

Theater

1. Nurture (Cockroach Theatre, Art Square Theatre) Cockroach opened its new space, and a new chapter in its history, with this incandescently funny and brutal look at love and parenting.

2. Measure for Pleasure (Las Vegas Little Theatre) A sumptuous feast of language, acting, costumes and comedy. Perhaps the finest thing I’ve ever seen at Las Vegas Little Theatre.

3. Dick Johnson: Private Eye (Poor Richard’s Players, Las Vegas Little Theatre Fringe Festival) A madcap romp through film noir clichés with excellent physical comedy, groan-worthy one-liners and an over-the-top live sound performance by Arles Estes.

4. Crazy for You (P.S. Productions, Super Summer Theatre) A superb production with standout performances by Evan Litt and Shannon Winkel made for a performance hotter than the summer heat.

The Smith Center hosted the faultless Golda's Balcony, among many productions this year.

4. Golda’s Balcony (Jewish Federation of Las Vegas/Jewish Repertory Theatre of Nevada, Smith Center) This was a faultless production of a powerful play, and one we wouldn’t have seen without the Smith Center. More please! -Jacob Coakley

Strip News

1. Zarkana replaces Viva Elvis at Aria. After the Cirque-Elvis partnership failed at the Strip’s greatest resort fortress, the city’s predominant production company said: Not again. Cirque brought in its most successful show worldwide, which drew fans by the masses to Moscow, Rio and Radio City Music Hall in New York. It is the greatest purely Cirque show ever to hit Vegas, dropped into the venue that was home to the company’s lone failure in the city.

2. Shania Twain opens at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. One of the brightest stars in country music had not performed live for about eight years and was being treated for a constriction to her vocal chords when AEG Live signed her to join the superstar rotation at the Colosseum. As expected, her first shows of 2012 were production spectaculars that drilled deep into her collection of hits. Whether she can sustain strong ticket sales and the physical demands of such an ambitious showcase are questions to be answered in 2013.

Zarkana is a winner at Aria.

3. Holly out, Coco in. Holly Madison announced in the spring she would be leaving Peepshow by December 31. Then, at the end of August, she announced she was 12 weeks pregnant. The dash to replace one of the city’s most famous figures led to Coco Austin, a trained dancer who trained her Ice Loves Coco E! reality show cameras on the process that brought her to the Strip.

4. A new view for the Blue crew. Just when we started to take Blue Man Group for granted, the cobalt-painted trio switched locations. In 2012, the Blue Men set up at Monte Carlo with a show that was heavily updated with more than 45 minutes of new material, all of it hitting on contemporary themes (among them the advent of robots and how we communicate via text), reinforcing their reputation as one of the most inventive productions ever in Vegas.

5. Mötley Crüe, Guns N’ Roses rattle the Joint. The hard-rock, mini-residency is now a viable option for midsize venues—and certain kinds of bands—after the Crüe and GNR rocked the Hard Rock Hotel. Each run lasted a dozen shows and transformed the hotel-casino in the themes of the respective bands. The approach was a rousing success. In March and April, Def Leppard will perform a nine-show spree, playing the entirety of its best-selling 1987 album, Hysteria. The rockin’ production is titled “Viva Hysteria,” which we expect could be an appropriate title for all of Vegas entertainment in the upcoming year. -John Katsilometes

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Previous Discussion:

  • The entire cast—imported from Chicago’s Theater Wit—is uniformly excellent.

  • As heart-wrenching as it can be, it’s also a bitingly witty drama.

  • Madeleine George's academic sex comedy comes to Las Vegas.

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