Entertainers head for the sunshine during Sin City’s off-season slump and bring their own brand of fun…
Several years ago, I penned a piece about the undeniable connection between Las Vegas and Australia. It also covered the fact that Hawaiians refer to our city as the “ninth island” due to a longtime shared bond. Now I’ve discovered that a similar kinship exists with Puerto Vallarta.
The seaside Mexican city continues to grow in popularity, thanks to a wonderful climate, stunning beaches, easy access from most major American airports, and a very agreeable economy.
A number of film and television celebrities have made their home in the Puerto Vallarta region, including NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2 actor Mark Patton. Mark held a benefit Vegas screening of his biographical documentary SCREAM, QUEEN in 2021. LAND OF THE LOST star Wesley Eure, who frequently attends Vegas fan conventions with costar Kathy Coleman, is a PV resident.
Actor Mark Patton (center) dines with Vegas fans at Casa di Amor
Kathy Coleman (right) visits Wesley Eure in Puerto Vallarta
In recent years, a number of entertainers have decided to temporarily trade the lights of the Strip for tropical sunshine. This enables them to bring their considerable talents to a new, prospering market during our own winter slump.
There’s no denying that the Vegas entertainment industry has become turbulent, unpredictable, and often financially strapping. In fact, I penned this piece about the irony of “Direct From Vegas”, describing how many of our singers, dancers, comedians, and musicians take to the road in order to stay afloat year-round.
Beloved jazz artist Michelle Johnson, who’s worked with Barbra Streisand, Elton John, and Gladys Knight, discovered the joys of PV in 2017 through industry insider Nathan Frye (POTTED POTTER). It wasn’t long before Michelle booked her one-woman show at ACT2PV, a multi-theater venue not far from the beach.
“Just do it!” Michelle excitedly posted on her social media the night before heading south. “Inexpensive hotels and food. Why not? Be impulsive. Run away with me.”
She may have taken a little longer than Michelle Johnson to be convinced, but BAZ star Ruby Lewis eventually heeded the PV call. The gifted southern gal, whose golden-era hit STARLET (read my review here) had already thrilled audiences from Chris Lash’s Star Lounge to New York City, settled in at historic The Palm Cabaret for six gigs last November.
A third Puerto Vallarta entertainment hotspot is INCANTO. A unique place nestled somewhere between the styles of Tuscany Resort’s Piazza Lounge and Modern Showrooms at Alexis Park Resort, INCANTO boasts multi-level live performance venues with a riverside outdoor lounge and piano bar.
As the name would suggest, INCANTO specializes in vocal performances, yet its slate includes celebrity impersonations, comedy, and even the occasional drag bingo.
This month, super-talented Brent Barrett of CHICAGO and PHANTOM OF THE OPERA brought 40 YEARS OF BROADWAY to INCANTO for the second time. I’d previously experienced this landmark career retrospective in two separate Vegas venues, so it was exciting to see its Mexican incarnation.
Barrett was accompanied by award-winning pianist Mark Hartman. As an extra special treat, guest performer Bernie Blanks (STARLIGHT EXPRESS, A CHORUS LINE, EVITA, GREASE) joined his husband Brent onstage for a powerful duet (above).
While INCANTO occasionally dabbles in the off-kilter, season ten of ACT2PV is full-on outrageous. From stripper revues to salutes of gay icons, nothing is sacred at this LGBTQ-skewing trio of theaters.
Last week I covered the new entertainment line-up at downtown’s NOTORIETY, in which I mentioned Stevie Hart and Edie Entertainer. They’re two delightful hosts of FAAABULOUS! The Show. Well, wouldn’t you know that while FAAABULOUS is on hiatus, both Stevie and Edie are in Puerto Vallarta at the same time?
Edie (Christopher Kenney) just completed a series of shows at ACT2PV. Based on the 1972 special LIZA WITH A ‘Z’, the former ZUMANITY host unleashed “I Gotcha”, “Ring Them Bells”, and “Bye Bye Blackbird”.
Mixed in with tributes to the great Ms. Minelli were Edie’s own recollections of ballet, Broadway, and Bebe Neuwirth. Absolutely delightful. EDIE WITH A ‘D’ runs through January 30th and tickets are available here.
The above clip was taken when Edie guest-performed on the opening night of SCHARTT’S CREEK: Honeymoon in Vallarta. Based on the wildly popular TV series SCHITT’S CREEK, the uproarious comedy initially played in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
After a season of sold-out shows, the script for SCHARTT’S CREEK was rewritten by creator Jamie Morris (PUPPETRY OF THE PENIS). Morris also plays “television’s Moira Rose”, the uniquely-unique star of a successful horror franchise named “The Crows Have Eyes”.
The entire clan is here, including David, Alexis, Johnny, and Stevie, along with a few new characters. SCHARTT’S CREEK runs through March 27th, and tickets are available here.
In a reversal of fortunes, singer/pole dancer Steven Retchless is actually a Puerto Vallarta resident. The AMERICA’S GOT TALENT finalist is well established in the local entertainment community for both his self-titled show and the “Stevie Hart” character.
After subbing for Edie in FAAABULOUS! last summer, Retchless returned from Sin City with an insiration. VIVA LAS VEGAS promises “live vocals, high-production backup dancers, impersonations of Vegas legends, wig changes, sensual dance routines, and LOADS OF GLAMOUR”.
“Stevie Hart” brings the Vegas glam at ACT2PV
VIVA LAS VEGAS performs Thursdays at 9:30 pm through May 11th. It’s intended for adult audiences, and tickets can be reserved at the ACT2PV website by going here.
A number of other gringo-friendly venues are peppered throughout Puerto Vallarta, including GARBO’s Piano Bar. There’s plenty to keep you entertained both morning and night.
I’ve been having a blast in Puerto Vallarta and actually wrote this article from there just today. So as Michelle Johnson once said, “Be impulsive. Why not? Just do it!”