Not so nostalgic look back at 2002

Jan 6, 2003 1:56 AM

Like most hapless columnists in town, I’ll take a look back at 2002. Here’s hoping my jaundiced view falls outside the (gulp!) main stream.

First, the annual New Year’s Eve party given by Siegfried & Roy at the Mirage topped the season’s events. The charming duo offered a sensational evening that was attended by a Who’s Who of celebrities ”” Jack Jones, Neil Sedaka, Marty Allen, Frank Marino ”” and more stars than I can count.

For our review of the year’s entertainment scene, let’s skip Bambi-style down the Strip, stopping first at Mandalay Bay, where the highly-hyped Storm lost the wind from its sails. The show, with a lot of high-profile backing (Ricky Martin, Gloria Estefan) and with a lot of rehearsals, a lot of changes, a lot of marketing, and a lot of fanfare finally closed because it couldn’t quite connect with the audiences. I guess there’s more to a production than cleavage and choreography.

Melinda, the First Lady of Magic, was the only true success at the Venetian. She finally found ”” or created ””her niche, but accidents and other problems took its toll. She’s now with child and we wish her the best.

Jeff Kutash, the creator of Splash in the 1980s, debuted a new show, The Main Event starring Bob Anderson, in Atlantic City. The show landed at the Venetian where it found the revolving door of doom.

Also caught up in this show biz jet stream was Beats of Passion, which emigrated to the Greek Isles. The door to the Venetian opened and the formidable cuchi, cuchi girl, Charo, opened her show Bravo. Charo is a consummate performer, an entertainer’s entertainer, out there selling her show while doing whatever it takes.

But once again, the door of despair hit her on the way out and sent her flying to the Sahara, which was also a short-termed marriage. Charo’s latest venture opens at the Aladdin on January 15 and I, for one am looking forward to a rousing return to success.

Then there was the show with nine lives, EFX, at the MGM Grand. First it opened with the great Michael Crawford where he danced and sang, or was that shuffle and lip sync?

Following Michael Crawford’s exit, one of my best friends, David Cassidy, took the reins. David and his brother re-wrote the show to fit his personality. I thought it was quite good.

When David abruptly left, another friend ”” a tall friend ”” appeared. Yes, Tommy Tune brought the flavor of Old Broadway to town, and the show made more changes.

The show’s final incarnation featured Rick Springfield and had a kind of ’80s rock revamp. Nevertheless, Rick Springfield, with his own style, and his own guitar, did an entertaining job. I saw Rick before closing night and the show had something.

At the Frontier, Kenny Kerr, a man I love and respect, couldn’t find an audience. Maybe the Frontier had too many cowboys. Not all is lost though because Gladys Knight still keeps the audience coming to the Flamingo, and Sheena Easton continues doing well at the Hilton. Also the mad man of comedy, the Amazing Johnathan, this comic genius is moving to the Flamingo. I am one of his biggest fans.

Where did all this leave us? With a marathon of shows. We have shows all day and all night. One show goes down, another sprouts up. Producers who think they know everything make four-wall deals and end up leaving town with their tail between their legs.

Let’s hope the producers don’t follow in the footsteps of the casino bean counters. Let’s try some creative insight instead of the "stick to the wall" technique, which tends to stink up the place. We don’t need to be subjected to the lowest common denominator stuff. No thanks.