The “BAZ — Star Crossed Love” show at the Palazzo, which weaves together the storyline of three hit Baz Luhrmann movies: “The Great Gatsby,” “Romeo & Juliet” and “Moulin Rouge,” celebrated its first year anniversary July 21. Onstage appearing in all three stories at the intimate cabaret-styled production is Maestro, the show’s ringleader played by character actor Bill Evans. Before departing for his European travels Robin asked Bill to come up with 12 truths about his first 12 months in the show and living in Las Vegas:
1. ME — I’ve had friends star in shows in Vegas and I’ve always wanted to come to here to perform. I come from the world of musical theatre, straight plays and TV. I never thought I would be cast in a pop/rock musical playing a character like Maestro. Maestro plays five different characters and weaves in and out of all the storylines — delicious for any character man.
2. THE SHOW — I quickly realized once I saw the script, this would be the most unique theatre experience guests would have. I describe the show as a 90-minute music video — colorful, vibrant world where you don’t quite know the backstory but you quickly see how the stories unfold through the three movies and their music. Most shows have a slow build, like the beginning of a roller coaster, then a short plateau before going down the roller coaster. But not “BAZ.” It starts with energy, speed and thrill of the roller coaster descent.
3. THE MUSIC — The music is such a large part of what makes the show special. Again, a departure from your typical theatre experience, the show switches everything up by breaking, cutting and mashing up the movies and music within each other. The music from “Moulin Rouge” is my favorite. While the songs from “Romeo + Juliet” and “The Great Gatsby” are beautiful components to the movies, they aren’t the main focal point of the movies like they are in “Moulin Rouge.” Once I heard the songs live, everything made sense completely.
4. THE VOICES — The cast vocals in the show are unparalleled and I could listen to each one sing every night (and I do)! Hearing all these talented voices nightly continues to surprise and amaze me. The original Daisy (Joanna Jones) is the best pop vocal I’ve heard live and each subsequent Daisy we had had also been at that level of talent. I’ve been in four original Broadway shows and I think there’s a belief you need to go to NYC (New York City) to hear voices like we have in our show. Before I moved to Vegas I researched clips of Ruby Lewis when she was Daisy in 2015. She also blew me away and I am so excited she is coming back to wow audiences as Daisy again.
5. THE DANCING — Fun fact: I’m a huge reality TV fan, so to have the opportunity to do a show with people from “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Dancing with The Stars” is incredible. Having an actual ballroom couple featured in “BAZ” takes dancing and choreography to an elevated level. You could hate musicals and still love this show because the dancing is so spectacular.
6. THE THEATRE — I will never forget seeing the stage built for the first time. The Palazzo completely redesigned the theatre and stage 100 percent for “BAZ.” That was a great day for the cast to see the theatre come to life. The stage was designed by a four-time Emmy winner, Matt Steinbrenner. It’s not your typical layout for seating. It’s so immersive. At some points in the show we are literally inches away from the guests and they have an extremely close look at how hard we work each night. A special shout out to the cute grandmother who slapped my beefy bum one night during “Like A Virgin!”
7. THE SUCCESS — When the show opened we were at five nights a week and quickly added on the sixth night, which speaks the how audiences are reacting and loving “BAZ.” I’m extremely proud to have been with the show since the opening and to celebrate the one-year anniversary and 300th show on July 21.
8. THE VEGAS — And, I can’t write a column about my life in Vegas without mentioning … the heat. Thank goodness for this adult playground that has amazing pools, air conditioning everywhere you go, amazing beverages (margaritas are my favorite) and every other amenity you could possibly think of, any time you want it, including one of my favorite vices — blackjack and slot machines. With my newfound love of slot machines, I’m looking into buying one for my condo.
9. THE ‘BAZ’ FAMILY — We really have become much more than people who happen to be in a show together, we are a family. I’ve started a ritual with everyone where we go to the movies every Thursday to see the latest release or blockbuster. We also do game nights once a month where we rotate houses and everyone brings snacks and food. I am the current champion from the last game night of (Watch Yo Mouth) and also the dead-last loser when we played Fibbage
10. THE ADVENTURES — The cast also goes on some fun adventures. One such adventure happened early after the show opened last summer when we took a boat trip on a day off to Lake Mead. There were lots of drinks and amazing food (Thank you Patrick Ortiz and your fourth-generation recipe of stuffed jalapenos) cliff jumping, swimming and laughs. It was a wonderful day. On our way back to the dock the motor died, there was storm on the horizon and we had limited cell service. We ended up sleeping on the boat that night, some on the floor, some on the only two beds the boat had and some outside in the rain. Regardless of the mechanical failure, it was a really fun time and an amazing way to bond with everyone. And, we still made it back to the show the next day!
11. THE FUN — One of the great things about this city is people always want to come visit you. All my family has come out multiple times. My best friends and I from college (go Bowdoin) do an annual boys weekend and this year everyone is coming to Vegas. I can’t wait to show them my favorite spots including Yardbird Southern Table & Bar and Canonita (the margaritas!). I can’t wait to show them the cultural side of the city including the Neon Boneyard and the Pinball Hall of Fame.
12. THE PERKS — Some great perks about being in the show is being able to be involved in the community and perform outside the show. We’ve had the pleasure performing for PRIDE, Headliners Bash, The Marty Hennessy Foundation, the Town Square Tree Lighting and the Ethel M Tree Lighting. We’ve also felt the generosity of the Vegas entertainment world by being invited to see many of the other shows in town. The community is small, but generous and welcoming.