Familiar faces dominate fall casino entertainment rosters

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Steve Martin (third from left)) & The Steep Canyon Band are one of the few newcomers to area casinos this fall. They perform Nov. 2 at Caesars Atlantic City. Photo: www.caesarsac.com

If you’re looking for real show biz blockbusters, the region’s gambling dens are not going to satisfy your appetite this fall season. Fact is, the autumnal entertainment lineups in Atlantic City and Eastern Pennsylvania are average at best.

Atlantic City claims the picks of the rather sparse crop of headliners with two out-of-the-ordinary bookings: On Nov. 2, megastar actor Steve Martin (who also plays a mean banjo), comes to Caesars Atlantic City with his bluegrass band, The Steep Canyon Rangers. The following weekend, Caesars’ corporate sibling, Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City, presents another pop culture icon, William Shatner, who will stage his widely acclaimed one-man show, “Shatner’s World.”

Beyond these two engagements, there is really little about which to get your panties in a knot. Not that there aren’t a slew of other show business legends due in town. But none of them are strangers to casino showrooms.

Leading this pack is the wondrous Tony Bennett (Sept. 29, Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa) who, at age 86, remains a consummate pop stylist. The list also includes Frankie Valli (Oct. 5-7, Borgata); Aretha Franklin (Oct. 6, Trump Taj Mahal); Jerry Seinfeld (Oct. 20, Borgata); Don Rickles (Oct. 20, Taj Mahal); Aerosmith (Nov. 23, Revel; it’s the mega-resort’s only announced fall headliner date); blues deity B.B. King (Nov. 23, House of Blues at Showboat Atlantic City, Nov. 27, Sands Casino Resort) and Hall & Oates (Dec. 2, Borgata).

The season will take on an even more familiar look with similarly veteran performers whose relationship with AyCee’s gaming industry dates to the long-gone days when the town held the east-of-Nevada legal-wagering monopoly. These vets include:

Frank Sinatra Jr. (Oct. 12 and 13, Borgata); Tony Orlando (Oct. 13, The Atlantic Club); wack-job (we mean that in the best possible way) comic Pat Cooper (Oct. 26, Borgata) and Englebert Humperdinck (Oct. 10, Sands, Nov. 2, Harrah’s).

As always, classic-rock acts will be a draw. Among them are Ray Manzarek & Robby Krieger of The Doors (Friday and Saturday, Borgata); Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson (who brings his “Thick As A Brick 2” tour to Caesars Oct. 6); singer-songwriter Jackson Browne (Caesars, Oct. 12); Foreigner (Oct. 20, Harrah’s Philadelphia); Eagles co-founder Don Felder (Nov. 16, Golden Nugget) and the Moody Blues (Nov. 20, Caesars).

In addition to Aretha Franklin, soul and R&B hits will come courtesy of Earth Wind & Fire (Saturday, Borgata); The Temptations (Sept. 28, Borgata); Philly guy John Legend (Oct. 27); Philly guys Boyz II Men (Nov. 9, Resorts Atlantic City) and Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds (Dec. 7, Harrah’s Resort).

Country music seems to have cooled off a bit as a local casino attraction; there are but two bookings this fall. Friday, Ronnie Dunn (of Brooks & Dunn) goes solo at the Taj Mahal. On Oct. 12, hot newcomer Jamey Johnson plays the Sands.

As usual, comedians are plentiful, as the roster of funny folks features Adam Corolla (Sept. 29, Borgata); Craig Ferguson (Oct. 5, Tropicana Atlantic City); Sinbad (Oct. 20, Tropicana); Jim Breuer (Nov. 2, Borgata); Jeff Garlin (Nov. 3, Taj Mahal); Jay Mohr (Nov. 3, Borgata); Judy Gold (Nov. 10, Resorts); Wanda Sykes (Nov. 16 and 17, Borgata); Mike Epps (Nov. 17, House of Blues); Brad Garrett (Nov. 24, Borgata); John Pinnette (Nov. 30, Dec. 1, Borgata) and Ron White (Dec. 1, Harrah’s Resort).

There will likely be more added, but currently the Christmas-season shows include guitarist Brian Setzer’s annual Yuletide rave-up (Dec. 1, Caesars), the Moscow Ballet’s presentation of “The Nutcracker” (Dec. 1 and 2, Harrah’s Resort) and Manheim Steamroller (Dec. 6, Sands).

In addition to Shatner’s date, there are a couple other specialty gigs worth noting. Oct. 13, TV’s “Long Island Medium,” Theresa Caputo, brings her paranormal shtick to Tropicana. And on Nov. 23, the “So You Think You Can Dance” tour hits the Taj Mahal.

If nothing else, the fall schedule confirms that the traditional casino musical revue is but a memory, as there are no extended-run production shows scheduled.

‘Sweat’ bet reset

We just couldn’t keep it in our pants last week about the “Sweat AC” health fest at Caesars Atlantic City. Actually, the three-day fitness and nutrition bash takes place this weekend.

The featured experts include TV regular Jillian Michaels, Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga founder Sadie Nardini and Judo expert (and two-time Olympic bronze medalist) Jimmy Pedro.

For more info, go to www.sweatac.com

Remembering MJ

As is the case with Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson will never be forgotten as long as there is a casino with a stage and sound system. Saturday, Resorts Atlantic City hosts “Moonwalker – THE Reflection of Michael” (the all-uppercase letters are part of the title).

“Moonwalker” stars Jackson impersonator Michael Firestone who, according to a press release, has mastered his subject’s most difficult choreography. Firestone also bills himself as one of the only Jackson clones to perform with a live backing band.

Show time is 9 p.m. Admission is $42.50, $40 and  $35. For tickets, call (800) 736-1420, or go to www.ticketmaster.com.

It's opera, y'all

You don’t normally think of the Lone Star State when the subject is opera, but Sunday at Borgata that won’t be the case as the Texas Tenors perform with the Bay Atlantic Symphony as a benefit for the Shore-based ensemble.

While the three Tenors do perform popular classical pieces, they are from Texas, which means you can expect some country vocalizing as well.

Show time is 3 p.m. Admission is $65 and $50. For tickets, call 866-900-4849, or go to www.theborgata.com.