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If it’s Zowie Bowie and ‘Name That Tune’ at Imperial Palace, expect rampant frivolity

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Zowie Bowie’s Chris Phillips and Marley Taylor on the red carpet for the gala premiere of “Vintage Vegas” at the Lance Burton Theater at the Monte Carlo on Sept. 20, 2009.
Photo: Justin M. Bowen

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Live with the Clintons, Zowie Bowie
The set of "Name That Tune Live," designed by Emmy Award winner Andy Walmsley, at Imperial Palace.

The set of "Name That Tune Live," designed by Emmy Award winner Andy Walmsley, at Imperial Palace.

Zowie Bowie Opens at Monte Carlo

Chris Phillips and Marley Taylor of Zowie Bowie at the 2010 AFAN Black & White Party at The Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel on Aug. 21, 2010.

Chris Phillips and Marley Taylor of Zowie Bowie at the 2010 AFAN Black & White Party at The Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel on Aug. 21, 2010.

Marley Taylor and Chris Phillips of Zowie Bowie attend the opening night gala for the Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas at CityCenter on Dec. 4, 2009.

Marley Taylor and Chris Phillips of Zowie Bowie attend the opening night gala for the Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas at CityCenter on Dec. 4, 2009.

I can name that couple in three adjectives:

Tan.

Blond.

Buxom.

Zowie Bowie!

The great ride for Zowie Bowie continues this week at Imperial Palace as the ever-reinventing duo uncorks “Name That Tune Live.” The stage version of the famous game show is to be helmed by Chris Phillips and Marley Taylor and opens Thursday at 3 p.m. The show runs daily, dark Tuesdays, with a 7:30 p.m. show added Fridays. The show’s premiere is set for today. Tickets are $49.95, absent taxes and fees. (Go to the I.P. Web site for information.)

You could well call this show “Name That Tan” given the radiant duo’s forever-bronze skin tone. But no matter the name or format, it should be a fun frolic at I.P. for Z.B. as they pound it down at the Human Nature Theater. A total of 100 audience members in each show will get the chance to win “thousands of dollars in cash and prizes,” as the news release informs. I also would guess all potential contestants will be encouraged to play the home version of the game, which is better known as “an iPod.”

Show producer Adam Steck, founder of SPI Entertainment and producer of Human Nature and “Frank Marino’s Divas Las Vegas” at I.P., first took the idea to MGM Resorts. Steck pitched to put the show at Excalibur, but that hotel passed, and Steck turned to Caesars Entertainment, which already stages “The Price Is Right Live” at Bally’s.

The idea for a live version of “Name That Tune” was pitched to Steck by Eric Gardner, long Donny Osmond’s manager and founder of Panacea Entertainment, “Name That Tune’s” co-producer.

“When the concept was brought to me, I said, ‘I’m in. I don’t know how it’ll look or what it’ll be, but I’m in,’ ” Steck says. “I knew it would be fun. I love music, and so many other people love music, that even if you have not heard of the show in the last decade, it would have a lot of appeal.”

The show will challenge audience members to name unspecified tunes in a matter of seconds. This is a departure from the TV show, where guests famously attempted to “name that tune in four notes.” Now it’s 4 seconds, or 3, like that (someone once told me that a guest on the TV show was able to identify “MacArthur Park” in a single note, a claim never verified).

The music is supplied by Mix 94.1-FM DJ Jeff G. The set has been conceived by Emmy Award-winning designer Andy Wallmsley, who worked on the stage presentation for “American Idol,” “So You Think You Can Dance” and “The Sing Off.” Wallmsley is a lovable guy, a terrific conversationalist, and he certainly knows a great set when he sees one.

As for the host, Steck took a circuitous route to Zowie Bowie. He’d been in talks with such music-stars-turned-game-show-hosts as Joey Fatone, Mark McGrath, Drew Lachey and Lance Bass before turning his attention to one of the city’s more fascinating stage acts.

“It’s a case where something looks great on paper, and you want to go with somebody who has a following, but it was Frank Marino who first suggested using Marley as the ‘Tune Girl’ (the “NTT’s” version of Vanna White), which I thought would be unbelievable,” Steck said. “Then we thought, ‘Why not both of them?’ It’s like two shows in one.”

Maybe more, actually.

The show marks the latest reinvention campaign for Zowie Bowie, which has already trotted out a hip-hop show and a standards-fueled “Vintage Vegas” effort (primarily the vision of Phillips) in Vegas. Taylor and her oft-performing partner David Perrico have played original material as the front persons for the David Perrico Group.

It’s a characteristically malleable relationship, as Taylor and Phillips long announced they were engaged, only to split up as Taylor moved into a multi-leveled relationship with trumpet ace and ace music director Perrico.

When Z.B. first arrived in Vegas, they were billed as equal partners in the Zowie Bowie brand, but more recently, Phillips has assumed primary ownership of the act, with Taylor billed more as a featured performer.

And why this act has never been made into a reality TV show is one of the great mysteries in the history of entertainment media.

Steck says he’s happy to enlist the twosome, personal theatrics be damned.

“Being a voyeur, I think it has worked out well for them, the way they have played it onstage,” Steck said. “I saw them at Ovation (at Green Valley Ranch), and she was with David, and Chris had a girlfriend in the audience. It made for some interesting banter (laughs).

“But I’ve met with them, I know them, and they are very cordial and cool. When a couple has chemistry and has been together that long, they know how to make it work.”

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow "Kats With the Dish" at twitter.com/KatsWithTheDish.

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