Mitch Gorshin’s arrival in Atlantic City nearly two years ago could probably be summed up with the most quoted line from author Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
Gorshin, a creative savant specializing in the science of “guest-ology,” signed on as a consultant to Revel when the project was stalled because its financing had run out. That was the worst of times.
The exterior of the building, rising 710 feet over the beach, had been completed; the tower was essentially a hollow shell. But where others saw an empty cavern encased in concrete and steel, Gorshin saw an opportunity to put his creativity to the ultimate challenge.
For him, it was the best of times.
“It was the proverbial blank canvas,” says Gorshin, who was eventually hired by Revel Entertainment and given the most unique job title in Atlantic City: executive director of creative and fun.
Sid Yu, who had been Revel’s “fun maker” and now serves as senior vice president of branding and revenue, initially contacted Gorshin and told him what Revel was trying to accomplish in Atlantic City.
The company wanted to create an experiential destination resort that could best be compared to a cruise ship that never leaves the dock. It would have outstanding dining, multiple venues for the entertainment, nightlife and day life, a world-class spa, retail shops, massive amounts of convention and meeting space and yes, even a casino.
The key was that the gaming area would simply be one component, albeit a revenue-generating important one, of the Revel experience. But it wouldn’t be the singular or even first focus of guest attention.
“It was going to be a new kind of place and have a new level of fun, and it caught my imagination,” Gorshin explains during a conversation last week on the first of Revel’s three “play nights” designed to test out the property’s systems. The property had its soft opening Monday, April 2.
“I got excited about it and started to sink myself into it and understand it a little more,” he says. “The last couple of years have been an amazing thing for me.”
Gorshin’s background is nothing if not eclectic.
The son of the late comedian and actor Frank Gorshin, he spent his childhood surrounded by Hollywood’s trappings when his dad starred as The Riddler on the 1960s TV series Batman. When the series ended, he spent summers living in a series of luxury suites in Las Vegas casinos, where his dad was a headline entertainer.
Next came the suburbs of New York — Connecticut, actually — when his father began performing in Broadway shows and playing gigs in Atlantic City.
And, finally, there was Gorshin’s mish-mash years of college, first as a pre-med major, then a couple of years studying aeronautical engineering and finally finishing up with a degree in film, photography and design.
When he signed on with Revel, Gorshin realized all of his experience working for hotels, destination resorts and theme parks around the world — including a 14-year association with The Walt Disney Company and its creative arm, Disney Imagineering — was merely one big and long dress rehearsal for his Revel assignment.
After leaving Disney, he formed his own company and literally traveled around the world six times in seven years consulting on a variety of projects designed to enhance guest experiences. But at Revel, he keeps going back to his Disney roots.
“Everything I learned during my many years at Disney I’m putting into Revel,” he says. “It’s fun, it’s playful, but it’s on a completely different level. For me, it’s like Willy Wonka opening up the chocolate factory.”
One of Gorshin’s most visible contributions to Revel created a sense of mystery in February when a large white golf ball-like globe was set into place at the top the blue-grey glass tower.
Known inside Revel as “the pearl,” the dome will essentially become the building’s “sign,” because there are no other signs or marquees anywhere on its exterior. The pearl can be lit in a kaleidoscopic way and will be programmed to perform all kinds of eye-catching patterns and colors.
Gorshin came up with the idea for the pearl while walking on the Boardwalk and eating a piece of pizza. He balled up the pizza’s aluminum foil and was about to toss it in a trashcan. But then he paused, closed one eye and held the crumbled foil at arm’s length with Revel in the background.
That’s when he realized he’d come up with Revel’s visual signature.
“[By day], it compliments the architecture [of Revel] in a very sophisticated and minimal way,” he says. “It actually serves as a piece of modern art. But at night is when this other personality comes out. It’s really quite amazing.”
Casual conversations with the stars. Watch the Emmy-winning Curtain Call with David Spatz, Saturdays at 6pm on WMGM-TV NBC40.
An entertainment classic never goes out of style — especially with casinos and the people they attract. That seems to be the booking strategy at several Atlantic City casinos as they scramble to complete their spring and summer lineups. What had already been shaping up to be a strong season for shows is now on the verge of becoming the biggest and most diverse collection of attractions the city has seen since the dice began rolling down the Boardwalk 34 years ago.
The catalyst behind Revel’s ambitious nightlife and entertainment options is the Las Vegas-based Angel Management Group (AMG), which brings three unique nightlife concepts to the property and southern New Jersey.
“When I look at Atlantic City, maybe I just see something different,” says DeSanctis. “What I see, when you go out on our Sky Garden or you go out on our deck, that’s sort of the Atlantic City that I think about. We have this incredible geographic location. We have 47 million people within a six-hour drive of this place, and when we think about options from a resort perspective in the Northeast, there really aren’t any. "
Just as Atlantic City Weekly columnist David Spatz suggested back in February, Maroon 5 has been booked to perform at Revel’s Ovation Hall on Friday, May 18, 8pm.
Akron, Ohio rockers The Black Keys have been booked for Revel.
Wiedmaier’s room won’t be the only place to grab a steak at Revel. Chef Marc Forgione, one of Revel’s two TV Food Network “Iron Chefs” (Philly-based Jose Garces is the other) will be opening American Cut, which he described as his spin on a “classic steakhouse.”
Monday, April 2, was announced as the starting date of an eight-week preview to Atlantic City’s forthcoming $2.4-billion beachfront destination, Revel
ATLANTIC CITY — The pulse of Atlantic City's heartbeat just got a jump-start. History was made on Monday, April 2, as Revel, Atlantic City's 12th casino — and much, much more — officially opened its doors to the public after six years of planning, building and conceptualizing. The energy inside and outside the sprawling property was palpable all day and into the night as guests marveled at the beautifully designed areas inside the state's second tallest building. Revel executives and staffers also celebrated — albeit a little on the tired side after a long day's (not to mention months' and years') work — and agreed it was a very exciting day not only for Revel, but for Atlantic City and the state of New Jersey. The day started with a sunrise toast — with Revel staffers and CEO Kevin DeSanctis on hand — and from then on people and more people flooded in and out of Atlantic City's latest attraction, several of them guests staying at the new resort during its preview period, which will lead up to the official Memorial Day weekend grand opening. Ivan Kane's Royal Jelly debuted its burlesque show — featuring live music and burlesque dancing — around 8pm and the...
To usher in the historic first day for Revel, the property has booked the band The Raveonettes to perform a free show at 9pm at The Social, located near Revel's imaginative casino floor.
From a casual lunch-truck approach to modern Mexican to the finest in French-inspired cuisine, Revel will have the entire dining spectrum covered.
THE ART OF IMPRESSIONISM is not as widely practiced as it once was. Oh, there are shows like Legends in Concert featuring impersonators who specialize in a single person's voice and mannerisms. And, certainly, the world will not run out of Elvis imitators anytime soon. However, comedians like Rich Little, Frank Gorshin and Fred Travalena who can call forth dozens upon dozens of voices and physical recreations in a rapid fire pastiche of American culture, these practitioners are going the way of the afternoon newspaper. Finis Henderson has apparently not heard the news. An energetic vocal and singing impressionist with equally impressive dance skills, he is bringing the art of impressionism into the modern world now through June 9 at the Tropicana. While Henderson does such old school favorites as Ed Sullivan, Elvis, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin, Sinatra, Tom Jones and Muhammad Ali, he tosses in "Hey Ya" by OutKast, complete with a rap. And there aren't too many impressionists that do an Earth, Wind and Fire tune. Henderson's show starts slowly as he feels out the audience. His Ricky Martin is only fair vocally, but his hip gyrations hint that Elvis, Tom Jones and Michael Jackson will make appearances...