ATLANTIC CITY — Opening night was still a day away when entertainer Steve Lawrence stood on the stage of Atlantic City’s first casino showroom dressed casually in chino slacks, a polo shirt and a navy blue Chris Craft boating windbreaker.
Lawrence and his wife, singer Eydie Gorme, had accepted the challenge of being the first act to play the first legal casino to open outside the state of Nevada.
During a break from rehearsals in the Superstar Theatre of what was then known as Resorts International Casino Hotel, Lawrence said few in Atlantic City realized the change that was about to come over the city, especially with entertainment.
“We always loved playing Atlantic City and we’ve missed it,” Lawrence said of their decade-long gap in gigs, which occurred when Atlantic City fell on hard time during the 1960s and ’70s.
“Wait’ll you see what’s going to happen to this town. This is just the beginning,” he said. “In a few years, there’ll be as many [entertainers] working here as there are in Las Vegas.”
Too bad Lawrence won’t be in Atlantic City to see that his prediction has come true, and in spades.
Through more than three decades of trial and error, Atlantic City’s casino industry has developed a loose formula for entertaining the 30 million people who visit each year. But on May 26, 1978, not even Lawrence could have predicted the unprecedented lineup of shows that awaits visitors over the upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend.
Between Friday and Monday, Atlantic City will experience the single biggest weekend of entertainment the town has ever seen, and with the most demographically diverse collection of artists, too. Few cities anywhere can match the quality, quantity and calibre of shows this weekend, if ever.
Quite literally, there’s something for every entertainment taste, ranging from Beyoncé’s four shows at Revel as part of the property’s grand opening celebration to reggae god Bob Marley’s legendary band The Wailers performing. And in between, there’s headliners performing rock, pop, country, comedy, R&B, techno music and more.
Joe Lupo, senior vice president of operations at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, says entertainment is one of the keys in separating Atlantic City from other regions where casino-style gambling is merely a stand-along attraction, not part of an overall destination experience.
By actual count, 18 musicians and singers have transited through the lineup of Yes, the pioneering progressive and symphonic rock band that began stirring up the musical pot when Chris Squire and Jon Anderson formed the group in 1968.
The casino and entertainment industries and the millions of visitors expected over the next 12 weeks are each gearing up for a summer entertainment program that seems to be picking up where the packed season-launching weekend left off.
When comedian and left-leaning political pundit Bill Maher brings his stand-up act to Caesars Atlantic City this weekend, his primary goal will be to make an audience of about 1,500 people laugh for 90 minutes.
In A.C. alone, acts and personalities such as Kim Kardashian, Garbage, ZZ Top, Gretchen Wilson, Steve Winwood, Pitbull, Afrojack and others appeared. Stats from the weekend tell of a busy weekend throughout the resort.
Music fans will have more options than ever to catch a concert in Atlantic City this Memorial Day weekend, but that's not when the music stops. The entire southern Jersey shore region will popping with music of all kinds this summer — including rockabilly, jazz, classcial, rock, blues, R&B and reggae.
Area casinos provide opportunities to win cash and prizes, as well as offering special room rates and other upgrades and amenities based on your casino play
A one-off U.S. concert, Wood's first-ever solo show in the United States, smoked from start to finish Saturday night in Atlantic City.
“Three months to hurry and nine months to worry” was the slogan for locals who looked forward to having work and making as much money as possible during this short period.
“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.
A comprehensive listing of entertainment coming to the Atlantic City casinos, Boardwalk Hall and Bader Field.
Steve Martin in Atlantic City
Liza Minnelli, Broken Leg and All
Revel Gets Closer to Opening