ATLANTIC CITY — Entertainment will become a real drag at Resorts Casino Hotel beginning May 5. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
That’s when the born-again First Game in Town will debut the gender-bender production show Believe: Divas In A Man’s World for an extended run.
The show will raise its audiences to new heights, too, because it will be presented in the vastly underutilized Screening Room, a 350-seat theater that’s mostly flown under the radar because it’s located on the building’s 13th floor. (Resorts is one of the few buildings in the country that actually has a 13th floor.)
Divas In A Man’s World will feature a cast of celebrity and female impersonators, sort of a mash-up of the old Atlantic City casino revues An Evening at La Cage and Legends in Concert, which were two of the city’s longest-running shows.
When the curtain rises on Divas, Steven Andrade, a Philadelphia native and celebrity impersonator, will fulfill a decade-long dream to produce this kind of show.
“I have entertained nationally and internationally, [and] so has the rest of the cast,” Andrade, who will portray Cher, said when the show was announced. “Our show, through song, dance and dazzling costumes, is an homage to the legendary divas that have shaped the entertainment landscape for the past several decades.”
Divas will feature clones of both contemporary and long-established celebrities in its lineup. No drag show would be complete without a Joan Rivers clone serving as the host, and the new show is no exception with Gary Dee hosting as the iconic comedian.
Other familiar faces in the cast will include Prince (Frank Moore), Liza Minnelli (played by La Cage regular Phyl Craig), Bette Midler (as seen through the makeup of Jimmy Electra), Patti LaBelle (played by Eddie Summers) and modern-day music phenomenon Lady Gaga (as interpreted by Jay Sanchez).
The addition of the show to the Resorts line-up is another indication that the casino, which was rescued from the brink of closing by new owner Dennis Gomes and his financial partner, Morris Bailey, will use a variety of entertainment offerings to try and lure business back to Atlantic City’s first casino, which celebrates its 33rd anniversary next month.
The Screening Room was formerly known as the Viking Theatre when the original building opened as the Haddon Hall in the 1920s, the decade for which the casino is themed.
Over the years, the intimate, fully-rigged theater has been used fitfully. In 1979, Resorts’ original owners staged two summer plays in the room, Mary Mary (which starred the late Don Ameche and The Mind With the Dirty Man, which featured the late Joey Bishop.
In 1980, the Viking Theater even became an ersatz synagogue and hosted the bar mitzvah of comedian Henny Youngman when the comedian was 73.
But Resorts’ various owners struggled trying to attract guests to the upper floor showroom, and the room was relegated mostly to lecture-hall status for conventions.
Merv Griffin rechristened the Viking Theatre the Screening Room during his tenure, but it was rarely used beyond occasional public and high-roller events.
From 2004 through 2006, the casino’s previous owner tried a variety of shows in the room, mostly revues and plays like Defending the Caveman, Menopause: The Musical, the burlesque-style The Love Kittens and musical comedian Tony Pace.
Divas is another indication that Gomes and his marketing team are trying to expand the appeal of the casino to a broader demographic. Although so-called drag shows have crossed over to become mainstream casino entertainment, they still tend to attract members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities, and Resorts has made no secret that’s a market of great interest to the property.
The casino even hired the casino industry’s first marketing director devoted strictly to GLBT guests.
Meanwhile, the night before Divas makes its debut, Resorts will launch a more traditional showroom offering. The Broadway-style musical 42nd Street will begin an eight-week run in the Superstar Theatre.
Idol Gossip: Congratulations to celebrated Philadelphia-based chef Georges Perrier, who was honored in Philadelphia last week with the Culinary Vision Award in recognition of his 40 years of tasty contributions to the Delaware Valley dining scene. Perrier has honored Atlantic City with his talents too; he and his business partner, chef Chris Scarduzzio, continue to set dining trends at Mia, their upscale Mediterranean-influenced restaurant at Caesars Atlantic City.
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment.