Opening Night at Surf the Musical, Vegas Style


All roads lead to the coast.

From l, Marissa Jaret Winokur and Debbie Gibson at “Surf the Musical.”

At least it does in Surf the Musical, which opened last week at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. We had visions of Sandra Dee and Jimmy Darren hanging 10 and Frankie and Annette breaking into song with all things ‘60s. This conception of sand, sun, and surf was brought by director Kristin Hanggi, director of Rock of Ages.

After hearing “Good Vibrations, “Surfin’ Safari,” “I Get Around,” “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” “Surfer Girl,” “Help Me Rhonda,” “Don’t Worry Baby,” “Surfin’ USA,” and “Barbara Ann,” we were ready to twist and shout at the after party at Gallery.

Robert Torti and Adrian Zmed headed the energized cast. Torti, a Tony nominee, was adorned with his glitzy silver suit from his show dress-up costume. A lead, Marshal Kennedy Carolan wore a tux jacket, slacks, and flip flops apropos to the musical theme. He said, “The show is open ended. I hope we go on for years!”

Attended by cast, theater folks, and high rollers, the bash had a surf theme with a popcorn machine and plastic beach balls. We sat in the raised VIP area with full view for people watching!

DebbieGibson and Marissa Jaret Winokur were BFFs and chatted up a storm. They sat with Adrian Zmed and his fiancé, Lyssa Baker.

I asked the TJ Hooker star why he joined this particular show. “My fiancé lives in Vegas and I wanted to live here.” The wedding’s in November.

With not one surfer tune in the DJ’s mix, the cast let loose and danced impromptu on a raised narrow ledge above the dance floor. They became instant go-go dancers bumping and grinding to Maroon 5, Flo Rida, Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj. Todd Buonopane, who played a nerd, was the first to show off his unique dancing skills. Others followed. It was like a scene from Dirty Dancing.

And then there was DebbieGibson. She was the only recognizable non-cast member who cut a rug with her dance moves. “I’d love to play Vegas soon,” the Celebrity Apprentice star said. We asked if she was staying at Trump, where we were hanging our hat that night. She said, “No, but I stayed there inNew York when I was on the show!”

A week before, we had bumped into Marissa Jaret Winokur at La Cage aux Folles. A regular at Pantages Theater’s opening nights, she left abruptly in a taxi after the show. “I didn’t have car problems; I wasn’t sick. I loved the show, but I have a four-year-old I wanted to get to and skip the after-party, which my friend wanted to go to. That’s my priority – my four year old! I rarely go out.”

Party guest Randy Slovacek revealed that composer Jerry Herman asked him to choreograph Broadway’s revival of Hello, Dolly! At the moment, they are seeking a leading lady to play the Carol Channing role.

The evening was dedicated to the charity SURFCares forLas Vegascharities.

Sue Facter owns a news agency specializing in the luxury brand. Her reports on entertainment, travel, beauty, fashion, and dining have appeared in USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Women’s Day Australia, on broadcast and the web. Follow her on Twitter @TheFacter.

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Sue Facter writes about all things A-list for publications world-wide. Follow her on Twitter @TheFacter.

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