The sounds of the ‘60s get the production show treatment at Hard Rock Atlantic City; J.B. Smoove hits Parx
Having surveyed the pop and rock music of the 1980s, the Motown Records sound and the disco era, it’s not too surprising that for their latest Sunday-matinee presentation, Hard Rock Hotel Casino Atlantic City and impresario Allen Valentine are focusing on the decade that was arguably the greatest of all in terms of iconic songs and culture-changing innovation: The 1960s. And by sticking to the high-energy-and-non-stop-hits format of its predecessors, Dance To the Music—A ‘60s Celebration is yet another toe-tapping, hand-clapping way to spend an hour.
Although the program, which runs through Jan. 29 at the Sound Waves theater, is billed as a ’60s tune-athon, the set list dates only to 1964—more specifically the inception of Beatlemania and subsequent “British Invasion.” This milestone is marked by an early-show medley (one of several) of seven Fab Four signatures, including “I Saw Her Standing There, “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” “She Loves You” and “A Hard Day’s Night.”
The rest of the production ping-pongs between snippet-melding medleys and individual numbers that together cover a wide range of genres from R&B and soul (“Mustang Sally,” “Chain of Fools”) to pop (“Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In,” “Sweet Caroline”) to heavier (and weightier) pieces including “Born To Be Wild” and “Sympathy For the Devil.” Actually, the latter seems a little out of place in a show filled with far-less overtly political/more benign numbers. Perhaps the Rolling Stones’ song that would have been a better stylistic fit is 1965’s “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”
There are also segments dedicated to Elvis Presley and The Beach Boys.
As is always the case with Valentine’s Hard Rock productions, the cast is populated with first-class singers (eight) and dancers (eight) who ably rev up the eclectic repertoire.
All the vocalists deliver their individual numbers with aplomb. Particularly notable are Dionne Carole’s atomic-powered “Proud Mary” and Brielle Von Hugel’s tough-enough “These Boots Are Made For Walking.” But to these ears, the absolute highlight is not a solo turn, but the ensemble’s soaring harmonies that make The Mamas & The Papas’ “California Dreaming” a goose bump-inducing moment.
And, as always, the eight musicians, under the direction of bassist Arland Gilliam, impress with their individual and collective mastery of the many disparate musical styles.
But there is something that sets Dance To the Music apart from the previous Hard Rock revues: This is by far the most visually accomplished presentation to date.
The Technicolor costumes by Valentine’s wife, Kristine (which emphasize short dresses and go-go boots for the women) accurately – but theatrically – capture the fashions of the era. Likewise, Jillian Reid’s choreography sharply animates the production with her takes on the popular dances of the day. And the video projections on the huge screen at the back of the stage offers a kaleidoscope of frenetic graphics that help add the ocular cherry to the aural cake.
To put it another way, Dance To the Music is as much a visual delight as it is a sonic success.
Show time is 4 p.m. For tickets, click here.
Smoove yuks it up at Parx
If you’re looking for (adult-oriented) laughs this weekend, Parx casino in Bensalem, Pa. is where you want to be, as funnyman J.B. Smoove hits the casino’s Xcite Center Saturday (Nov. 12).
Even if you don’t recognize the name, you know the face: He starred as “Caesar” in the recent series of ubiquitous TV spots for the online gaming app marketed by Caesars Entertainment. And since 2007, he has appeared as Larry David’s housemate and partner-in-crime, Leon Black, on “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
Be advised that you must be 21 or older to attend the show.
Show time is 8 p.m. For tickets, click here.
Whodunit? at Resorts
Resorts Atlantic City continues its series of interactive comedy-murder-mystery events with The Golden Girls Murder Mystery Nov. 12 and 19.
The plot involves the four characters from the beloved sitcom about four older women living in Miami that ran on NBC-TV from 1985 to 1992 throwing a party at which murder is an uninvited guest.
As was the case with previous presentations, audience members will be asked to find and analyze clues in order to identify the perpetrator.
Show times are 5 and 8 p.m. both days. For tickets, click here.
Bally’s AC debuts eatery
Casino Café & Grille is the newest way to satisfy your daytime cravings while at Bally’s Atlantic City.
Located on the midtown gambling den’s sixth floor, Casino Cafe & Grille is billed as a take on the classic American diner. Open daily from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., the eatery serves breakfast and lunch (as well as adult beverages, including a selection of Bloody Marys and mimosas).
Specialties of the house include egg dishes and French toast stuffed with strawberry and whipped cream cheese for breakfast and burgers and sandwiches for lunch.