Elvis, Queen, Journey and ELO headed to local casinos (sort of) as tribute acts pack winter, ’22 lineup
As the new year kicks off, the main question isn’t “Who’s playing the casinos this winter?” Instead, as I write this, the more relevant query is: “Will live entertainment once again disappear from gaming halls in Atlantic City and Pennsylvania?”
That, of course, is up to the Omicron variant of COVID-19, which is burning through the population in a manner unseen since the pandemic’s beginning two years ago. While there have been no suggestions that we’re headed for a return to the Dark Ages of 2020, when performance venues—at gambling halls and otherwise—went dark for the better part of a year, it’s certainly not beyond the realm of possibility that another show biz shutdown could be on the horizon.
But, for the sake of optimism, let’s assume that while there will likely be COVID-related postponements and cancellations, the shows will, for the most part, go on in the region’s casinos.
As for the bookings that have been announced, the main takeaway is that the “tribute band” craze is still going strong. Between now and the vernal equinox (that’s the first day of spring to you non-scientific types) an army of fabulous fakes will be recreating the sounds of such musical giants as Elvis Presley, Queen, ELO, George Michael, The Eagles, Barry Manilow and Luther Vandross. Of these shows, the most interesting are the Presley and Vandross programs: The former (Hard Rock Hotel Casino Atlantic City, Jan. 29) will feature multiple imitators of “The King,” while the latter is being presented on Feb. 11 at Rivers Casino Philadelphia by former American Idol champ Ruben Studdard and soul veteran Freddie Jackson.
As for the Real McCoys, there are a few big-time musical acts on tap including R&B crooner Bobby Brown (Rivers Casino Philadelphia, Jan. 15); country queen Reba McEntire (Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, Feb. 18 and Wind Creek Bethlehem, Feb. 19); funk-pop avatars Kool & The Gang (Ocean Casino Resort, Feb. 19) and ‘90s R&B titans BoyzIIMen (Borgata, March 11).
Those looking for laughs certainly have a sizable roster from which to choose. Among the more notable jokesters headed this way are Whitney Cummings (Wind Creek, Feb. 11), Marlon Wayans (Borgata, Feb. 25) and Jay Leno (Ocean Casino Resort, March 19). Clearly, the season’s hottest ticket is the sold-out, two-night, three-set run by hotter-than-hot standup, Tom Segura (Parx, Feb. 25-26).
The TV-to-stage format is represented by live versions of such popular programs as Dancing With the Stars (Wind Creek, Jan. 9, Borgata, Jan. 21), Deal or No Deal (Parx, Feb. 19) and The Price Is Right (Wind Creek, Feb. 26).
Unfortunately, the winter schedule is light on production shows. The only one on the books is 80s Live (Hard Rock, Sunday afternoons beginning Feb. 20), a song-and-dance extravaganza showcasing the hits of such artists as Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson and Madonna.
Mediums loom fairly large this winter, as three leading practitioners of the art of connecting the living with the dead are headed to gambling dens: Theresa Caputo crosses over to Wind Creek Feb. 12 and 13, Matt Frazer hits Live! Casino Hotel Philadelphia March 5 and 6 and Tyler Henry checks into Parx March. 11.
If you’re seeking a more psychedelic experience, head to Harrah’s Casino Resort Atlantic City Jan. 14. That’s when the bayside adult playpen is hosting the Pink Floyd Laser Experience, which promises a mind-blowing light show set to the music of the beloved space-rock outfit.
By far, the most puzzling booking this winter is the presentation billed as A Tribute To the Rock ’n’ Roll Heartthrobs (Caesars Atlantic City, Jan. 31). Among those portrayed in the musical revue are those rock legends, Frank Sinatra and Nat “King” Cole.
Jan. 14: Almost Queen; Feb. 12: MJ Live (Michael Jackson tribute).
Jan. 21: Dancing With the Stars: Live!; Jan. 29: Chris Destefano; Feb. 5: Air Supply; Feb. 11: Daughtry; Feb. 12: Taylor Tomlinson; Feb. 18: The Life and Music of George Michael (Music Box); Reba McEntire (Event Center); Feb. 19: Joe Koy; Feb. 25: Marlon Wayans; March 4: Nick Swardsen; March 11: Cobie Calliat (Music Box); BoyzIIMen (Event Center); March 18: Joe Bonamassa; March 19: Il Volo Sings Morricone and More!
Jan. 21: A Tribute To the Rock ’n’ Roll Heartthrobs; Feb. 4: Erasure.
Jan. 29: The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Experience; Feb. 11: El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico; Sundays beginning Feb. 20: 80’s Live (SoundWaves), ‘70s Love Jam (Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena); March 4: Ben Platt; March 12: Al Bano; March 19: The Psychedelic Furs.
Jan. 14: Pink Floyd Laser Spectacular; Feb. 26: The Marshall Tucker Band.
Jan. 7: Ticket To the Moon (ELO Tribute); Jan. 28: The Best Of the Eagles: The Eagles Tribute Band; Feb. 25: Beginnings: Chicago Tribute Band; March 5 and 6: Matt Fraser.
Feb. 5: Aaron Lewis; Feb. 19: Kool & The Gang; March 4: Grand Funk Railroad; March 12: Toto; March 19: Jay Leno.
Jan. 14: Jess Hilarious; Jan. 21 and 22: Old Dominion; Jan. 28: Claudia Oshry; Jan. 29: Scotty McCreery; Feb. 4: The Spinners; Feb. 11: Better Than Ezra/Tonic; Feb. 18: Righteous Brothers; Feb. 19: Deal or No Deal Live; Feb. 25 and 26: Tom Segura; March 11: Tyler Henry The Hollywood Medium.
Jan. 15: Bobby Brown; Feb. 10: Lonestar/Deana Carter; Feb. 11: Freddie Jackson & Ruben sing Luther; Feb. 24: Midtown Men; Feb. 25: .38 Special; March 16: Young Dubliners.
Feb. 5: Peabo Bryson/Oleta Adams; March 4: The 5th Dimension; March 11: Slash featuring Miles Kennedy and The Conspirators.
Jan. 9: Dancing With the Stars: Live!; Feb. 4: Aaron Lewis; Feb. 5: Voyage: The Ultimate Journey Tribute Band; Feb. 9: Daughtry; Feb. 11: Whitney Cummings; Feb. 12 and 13: Theresa Caputo; Feb. 19: Reba McEntire; Feb. 26: The Price Is Right Live!.