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Broadway Vocals Meet Vintage Vegas Vibes at Cocktail Cabaret

Last updated: November 21, 2017 at 11:13 am. Posted by in Caesars Palace, Las Vegas Shows, Things to Do in Las Vegas. 1 Comment on Broadway Vocals Meet Vintage Vegas Vibes at Cocktail Cabaret.

The cast of Cocktail Cabaret, new Las Vegas show at Caesars Palace

The cast of Cocktail Cabaret. Courtesy of PK Entertainment.

If there was a time machine that could take you back to any point in Vegas history, everyone would be clamoring to return to the Rat Pack era when performers exuded cool and everyone longed to be part of their posse. Times have changed and there won’t be another live performance from those iconic greats but their music and vibe live on at the legendary Cleopatra’s Barge at Caesars Palace with the brand new Cocktail Cabaret show.

Cocktail Cabaret – Las Vegas Cocktail Experience

Pianist Philip Fortenberry - Cocktail Cabaret at Cleopatra's Barge in Caesars Palace

Pianist Philip Fortenberry. Courtesy of PK Entertainment.

This lively and engaging show captures the rich history of Cleopatra’s Barge, where Frank Sinatra used to chill with a cocktail after his performances at the old Circus Maximus showroom. Creator and producer Keith Thompson has teamed up with acclaimed Broadway pianist Philip Fortenberry to create a show Thompson says, “isn’t being performed at you, but rather it’s like you’re in it.”

Cocktail Cabaret features a who’s who of Vegas entertainment greats singing everything from Sinatra staples to Keith Thompson’s fun and humorous originals. Host Eric Jordan Young takes you on a journey from the Rat Pack to pop legends like Cyndi Lauper, along with vocalists Maren Wade, Niki Scalera and Daniel Emmet. The singers will be joined by a four-piece band led by acclaimed pianist Philip Fortenberry. These talented performers embody the vintage Vegas spirit emanating from the walls of the classic lounge venue, a rarity in this modern era of pulsing nightclubs. Cocktail Cabaret starts at 5 p.m., making it the perfect way to begin your evening. The throwback venue and vibe encourage you to grab a drink, sit back and let yourself be taken away to a world where things are shaken, not stirred.

We asked director Keith Thompson and performer Maren Wade to fill us in on the new show, so you can get a sneak peek before the curtain rises on opening night, Nov. 30.

Keith, what is your goal for this vintage Vegas meets Broadway cabaret concept?


Keith Thompson:
It’s a party, right? Cocktail Cabaret is the party before you go out and have your evening. We’re trying to lift your spirits so we want to put together fun people who aren’t just talented but they’re just plain delightful. It’s a show put together specifically for the purpose of getting everybody in the right kind of mood.

The point is to leave the day behind you, forget your troubles and come and enjoy yourselves. Let us adjust your mood. Like a lot of people say about happy hour, they call it a mood adjustment hour. That’s what we’re about.

We’re trying to give people a show that’s fun and interesting, that’s musically diverse so it appeals to many demographics so everybody finds something they identify with. By the time it’s over, you’re going to feel like we were singing just for you. That’s our goal.

Cocktail Cabaret - Keith Thompson and Philip Fortenberry

Keith Thompson and Philip Fortenberry. Courtesy of PK Entertainment.

Why did you chose these specific performers?


KT:
We serve up a fun, well thought out song selection, performed by these really great performers. Eric Jordan Young is also our MC so not only do you get his fabulous singing but by the end of the show, he’s your friend. Eric’s history is Broadway. He and Philip Fortenberry have done several shows together.

When we moved out here to Las Vegas, all for different reasons, we kind of found each other again out here and we all have the same sort of background and the same sort of training.

The same with Niki Scalera, whom I’ve worked with on various shows. She has an amazing voice and she’s such a fun performer. Maren is such a smart and talented performer. I’m familiar with her pedigree in this town and she was just the right person we were looking for in the ensemble.

The other performer is Daniel Emmet and he’s an extraordinary voice. He’s young and up and coming and it was nice to be able to tap into somebody whose career is on the rise. I think the combination of the veteran stage performers along with the new crop of up-and-comers, is a great way to put it together.

What has you excited about joining this talented cast?


Maren Wade:
First off, Keith Thompson. I find him to be just a genius. He has the most amazing arrangements of songs. He’s also a composer. I find him to be enormously talented and his songs are really skillfully put together and a lot of them are also really funny. He has that really great balance of humor, real musicianship and songwriting capabilities.

The caliber of the other performers in this show makes me feel so honored to be sharing a stage with them. Eric Jordan Young is a legend. He’s done Broadway and so many amazing Vegas shows. Then there’s Niki Scalera, who’s simply magnificent. Niki is a real powerhouse. She’s been on Broadway.

Daniel Emmet is going to blow your mind. His voice is insane. We were in rehearsal and he opened his mouth and my eyes just widened and I was in awe. Then when it was my turn to sing, I forgot the words because I was just so mesmerized by him.

Philip Fortenberry is one of the best pianists in the country. I’m in really awesome company. They keep me in awe.

What’s one of your favorite parts of the show?


KT:
At the end we kind of kick back and do a sassy, saucy tribute to the blues. That’s kind of one of my trademarks from years ago in New York. Blues can be so much fun because it’s a style and it doesn’t necessarily mean sad. You feel like you’ve heard it before because all of the blues genre is based on the same chord progression. You feel like you’ve heard it before but you have to listen closely because there’s a surprise and that’s all I can tell you, because it’s a surprise!

What do you think makes this show so unique on the Las Vegas Strip?


MW:
It’s the type of show I haven’t really been a part of here in Vegas before because it really is reminiscent of that vintage Vegas and Broadway-style musical entertainment. It’s going to have so many different elements. It’s going to be fun and smart and stylish.

We’re going to have fun out there. We’re laughing all throughout rehearsals because it’s funny. There’s some really funny moments in there.

It’s sort of reminiscent of vintage Vegas and then it’s got this modern twist. It’s in this iconic venue at Caesars and I think it’s going to be a real experience.

People will come in for their cocktail hour, starting off their evening and I think it’s going to be a very memorable experience.

The main thing I want people to know is I think this is going to be a special kind of experience because there isn’t anything like it on the Strip so when people are looking for how they want to start off their evening ,they can start the party right here. It’s going to be a classy, smart, stylish cocktail hour vibe where they get to start off their night, have a cocktail and see an amazing group of performers doing some really fun and interesting performances.

KT: the style of the show is vintage Vegas and what I mean by that is that it’s a throwback to the time when you celebrated the cocktail so when you went out for the evening, you started out with a martini or a proper Manhattan or a Rob Roy.

The entire James Bond phenomenon was built around that with the shaken, not stirred. That’s kind of the vibe we’re hearkening back to the time when time for a cocktail meant it was time to dress up and be ready for a big evening. We want to make sure it’s a cocktail experience.

Cocktail Cabaret Fast Facts:

When: Show times for Cocktail Cabaret are Wednesday through Saturday at 5 p.m.
Where: Cleopatra’s Barge at Caesars Palace
Tickets: Show tickets for Cocktail Cabaret start at $55

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About The Author

Allison came to Las Vegas over a decade ago and fell in love with the city and all its dining and entertainment options. A live music junkie and tequila enthusiast, she has written for Las Vegas Weekly, Las Vegas Sun, Vegas Magazine and Conde Nast’s VegasChatter.

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One Response

  1. What an amazing show! Wow…..wow…and wow! When Jeanne Bavaro called me and said:- “You have to come down to see the show!” … little did I know what a treat I was in for, nor the excellence I was about to witness. In don’t think we here in Vegas had ever had something on that scale to hold a candle with Cocktail Cabaret.

    The best ticket money can buy and the venue is perfect for it. No reason why this show should not be sold out weeks in advance. Amazing and thank you for excellent entertainment tonight! It does not get better than this! What and amazing group of extraordinary talent assembled in one show! What magnificent Voices …and the musicians, you guys rock! The entire cast’s credits are astounding,… even mind boggling!

    Pieter Grove
    Director, Production Designer

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