How is it possible that a zombie-themed comedy-burlesque musical in a 400-seat theater hidden in the back of a labyrinthine shopping mall has been running strong for more than six years on the Strip?
An even better question: How has the 75-minute Zombie Burlesque managed to get a foothold in Las Vegas and establish its own identity among the 11 other shows currently inhabiting the V Theater and Saxe Theater at the Miracle Mile Shops at the Planet Hollywood Resort? These spaces might be smaller, but they’re busiest showrooms on the Boulevard, home to the long-running Vegas! The show, V: The Ultimate Variety show, the Elvis tribute All Shook Up, comedic hypnotist Marc Savard, magician Nathan Burton, the family friendly Popovich Comedy Pet Theater and the brand-new concert show from ’80s pop hitmakers The Jets.
Still, there’s nothing quite like Zombie Burlesque. It’s a comedy musical set in an alternative-dimension Vegas where the infamous atomic testing in the desert spawned a breed of undead entertainers who have learned to co-exist with us tasty humans—as long as they get a regular supply of convicted criminals on which to dine and a red-hot stage on which to sing, dance, and joke.
Like Spiegelworld’s successful trio of Strip shows, Zombie Burlesque pulls off the difficult sexy-funny balance, but it’s the seven-piece live band that pushes these performances into the must-see category. Safely perched out of the zombies’ reach on a compact stage balcony, these tremendous players burn it up every night with jazzy, cabaret-style originals, and that’s encouraging given the way bigger shows with bigger budgets are scaling back on live music up and down the Strip.
The heart and soul of Zombie Burlesque is Enoch Augustus Scott, a performer with seemingly infinite range. He’s just as comfortable and charismatic bouncing punchlines off the audience as belting out “I Put a Spell on You.” Scott also sings in the local Baritones of Love quartet, which just sold out the Starbright Theatre in Sun City Summerlin for a concert of Sinatra standards. That’s range.
Former Pussycat Dolls Burlesque Saloon lead Sophia Monica adds even more vocal talent to the mix. Stealing scenes on the night I caught the show were Curtis Goodman (also a dancer at Piranha) as the horny, hungry, twerking zombie Mikey, and Steve Daly as the artistic jokester Tiny Bubbles. A ballet performance by the great Anaïs Palacios to a string arrangement of the Cranberries’ “Zombie” strikes a seriously artistic tone in the second half of the show.
Zombie Burlesque might have been created to capitalize on the voracious appetite for The Walking Dead, but if you ask me, the Vegas show’s appeal has outlasted the TV sensation. It has edge and variety show shtick, heart and humor, and stays cozied up to the satirical elements inherent in traditional burlesque. The Saxe and V Theaters promote their shows to tourists and give away lots of tickets to get visitors to come back for more, and it works, but that takes nothing away from the excellence and fun of Zombie Burlesque. This is one of those shows locals should be telling their friends about.
ZOMBIE BURLESQUE Monday-Saturday, 8:30 p.m., $80-$100. V Theater at Miracle Mile Shops, 866-932-1818.