Straight No Chaser, Jackie Evancho and a pair of circuses add to the holiday cheer in Atlantic City this year.
ATLANTIC CITY — The holiday entertainment season is getting a youthful look this year.
Jackie Evancho, the 11-year-old singing prodigy who placed second on the 2010 edition of the TV showcase America’s Got Talent, brings her sparkling soprano to the Boardwalk for a one-night stand Dec. 17.
Like just about every facet of the casino industry, shows that celebrate the holiday season have changed considerably over the years. Gone are the days when a seemingly endless array of top-name artists brought their seasonal productions to showroom stages.
But the gaming halls haven’t adopted a Scrooge-like attitude toward the year-end celebration. Instead, casinos that choose to book holiday programs have turned to fixed-cost revues and production shows to entertain both the audiences that come to see them and the numbers-crunchers who keep watchful eyes on the bottom line.
Here’s a summary of the holiday shows over the next six weeks:
Jackie Evancho at Trump Taj Mahal, Dec. 17
Don’t let her lack of years fool you. Evancho has a rich, mature and disciplined neo-classical voice that could melt even the coldest heart. As a 10-year-old, she stunned the judges — not to mention millions of viewers — with her performances on America’s Got Talent. Her debut album in November 2010 — the holiday-themed O Holy Night — was the year’s best-selling debut recording and hit the top of Billboard’s classical music chart.
Figuring one good holiday album deserves another, Evancho’s fourth LP, Heavenly Christmas, was released earlier this month and entered the Billboard classical chart at No. 1.
Evancho is also adding acting to her resumé. She’s been cast as Robert Redford’s daughter in the new political thriller The Company You Keep.
Straight No Chaser at Caesars, Nov. 25-26
It was a YouTube video from the 10-man a capella group’s 1998 holiday concert that helped bring the former college classmates back together in 2008. So a holiday show is a given for SNC, which has headlined summer-long gigs in Atlantic City the past two years. Their deconstructed interpretations of all the holiday classics are amazing, but their take on “The 12 Days of Christmas” is worth the price of admission alone.
'The Spirit of Christmas' at Tropicana, through Dec. 21
This annual show has become a Boardwalk tradition and is now Atlantic City’s longest-running holiday show. It’s pure fun and family fare that includes a high-kicking, Rockettes-style chorus line, seasonal music, dazzling sets and costumes and a visit from Santa and his assorted helpers. It’s impossible to sit through this show and not walk out of the showroom singing, humming or whistling at least one of the show’s familiar songs.
'Legends in Concert' Holiday Show at Bally’s, Nov. 25-Jan. 1
Just in time for the holidays, Atlantic City’s longest-running production show returns to Bally’s Palace Theater after an early fall run at sister property Harrah’s Resort. The new line-up of the original celebrity look- and sound-like show includes performers who bare a striking resemblance, both vocally and visually, to Celine Dion, Neil Diamond, Aretha Franklin, Dolly Parton and The Temptations, all of whom will be performing holiday songs backed by a live band.
'Cirque Polynesia' and 'Cirque Risqué' at Resorts Casino Hotel, through Dec. 30
The producers of these two Superstar Theatre revues have put a holiday dressing on the shows as Santa Claus joins the casts of both shows. Cirque Polynesia takes its guests on a holiday visit to the South Seas — see photo, courtesy of Resorts, below — where cirque-style aerialists, dancers and even fire-eaters perform. Cirque Risqué — which is also known as “The Naked Circus” — gives a holiday spin on the whole naughty-or-nice concept. The cast of Risqué — which performs Friday and Saturday nights — is the same as the Polynesia show, but with a lot less costuming and performances that are more suited to an adult audience. (In other words, bring the kids to see Polynesia, not Risqué.) Not to worry, though; the name of the show really isn’t as scandalous as one might assume when the word “risqué” is attached.
Do you really think Santa would place himself in such a position?
Visit ACWeekly.com's Event Calendar for specific dates and times.
Casual conversations with the stars. Watch the Emmy-winning Curtain Call with David Spatz, Saturdays at 6pm on WMGM-TV NBC40.
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If you are not feeling the Christmas spirit quite yet, I have the perfect prescription to get in the holiday mood. Stop by the Hilton Theater to enjoy the 'Hilton Holiday Show' or drop by the Tropicana Showroom to enjoy 'Happy Holidays — A Magical Celebration.'
The performers in Cirque Risqué will be dressed — actually, undressed — in just enough clothing to conform with New Jersey gaming laws that prohibit nudity in casinos. That means pasties, G-strings, peek-a-boo lingerie and body paint for the women and glorified jock straps for the men.
Resorts has provided AC Weekly with terrific time-lapse video showing the raising of the new Resorts Event Pavilion, where the circuses will be performed through Sept. 11, 2011.
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