Tuesday, April 19, 2022 | 2 a.m.
Westgate Las Vegas has prioritized a strong live entertainment lineup ever since timeshare mogul David Siegel purchased the storied casino property in 2014. With a headlining residency from Barry Manilow at the International Theater providing the foundation, the resort continues to build on its lineup of diverse shows, recently announcing the launch this week of another option starring a longtime Las Vegas star, Frank Marino’s Red Carpet Brunch, debuting on April 24.
But the property formerly known as the International, the Las Vegas Hilton and LVH has been quietly programming the big room as well. The 1,600-seat Westgate International Theater, which has famously hosted legendary runs from Elvis Presley, Liberace and Wayne Newton among many others, is set for summer concerts from .38 Special, Tower of Power and Firehouse, as well as a 10-show run next month by a variety of’80s and’90s hip-hop acts performing under the banner of “Boombox.”
“Mr. Siegel loves this property and is so invested in its legacy, and it’s absolutely fantastic to work for and with a group that doesn’t shy away from the history in a building,” said Westgate VP of Marketing and Entertainment Dawn Rawle. “We’ve always embraced the authenticity of the [theater], and we’re not afraid to lean into that history. I think about how some competitors may have pulled back [from entertainment] in recent years, and we have the inverse strategy.”
Manilow recently postponed some Vegas shows due to COVID but is scheduled to return on Thursday, April 21. The “Boombox” lineup features Kid ‘n Play, CeeLo Green, Treach from Naughty by Nature, J.J. Fad and Snap, and is set for performances on May 11-22. It’s definitely something different in the room.
“We’re very excited about that one,” Rawle said. “I think after the Super Bowl halftime show [with Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg], there’s kind of a resurgence of that sound because everyone remembered how much they love late ’90s and early 2000s hip-hop. It couldn’t have been better timing.”
She added that another musical residency will be announced for the International soon. Meanwhile, the 350-seat Westgate Cabaret has found a new rhythm after shuffling its programming a bit coming out of the pandemic closures. That space is home to the family-friendly “The Magic of Jen Kramer,” the acclaimed musical tribute “Soul of Motown,” and since October, another residency by the Bronx Wanderers.
“That group [Bronx Wanderers] is interesting because once people come see that show, there’s a large number of groups booking it to come back. We have people coming in and then coming back bringing 20 people,” Rawle said.
The new drag brunch production — a sort of evolution of Marino’s long-running “Divas Las Vegas” celebrity impersonation show — will take place in a new venue that hasn’t been used for entertainment before. Marino will resume his performance as Joan Rivers, hosting drag artists doing their renditions of Cher, Celine Dion, Taylor Swift, Diana Ross, Whitney Houston and more. There will be an emphasis on high-quality food and beverage that will distinguish the experience from other drag brunches around town, he said.
“They’ve redone the room and it’s really pretty,” said Marino, who will continue his evening performances in “Legends In Concert” at the Tropicana while launching the new Westgate show. “They have an unbelievable event team, and we went through and picked the linens, candelabras, flowers and everything. It looks like it’s going to host the Academy Awards or a Hollywood New Year’s Eve party, very elegant.”
Seating and service is at 10 a.m. for the 11 a.m. show, and again at 1 p.m. for the 2 p.m. show. Marino is hoping the brunch event will be successful enough to spin off an evening supper-club version of the show.
And the Westgate team is excited to bring in another Vegas legend and another unique entertainment offering, Rawle said.
“It’s really very different than that drag brunch format, more of a red carpet experiential show where the décor is next level and the … focus is on a higher-end food product and bar experience,” she said. “And you know Frank and his team will deliver on the show.”