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Salt-N-Pepa head up a new Paris theater production

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Salt-N-Pepa
Photo: Las Vegas News Bureau / Courtesy

Family-friendly fun from Circus 1903. Magic and pyrotechnics from Inferno. Hollywood storytelling with soaring songs from Marilyn! The New Musical. All three of these shows have rolled through the Paris Theater over the past 18 months, all displaying longer-term Strip potential, none lasting longer than six months.

This classically styled Las Vegas Strip venue seats just over 1,400 and has hosted shows as varied as Barry Manilow and Engelbert Humperdinck, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame and Cheap Trick’s Sgt. Pepper Live. It’s the centerpiece of a resort that will mark 20 years next September; Paris Las Vegas’ theme has held up surprisingly well over the years, and its casino remains very popular. The theater is in need of a steady winner to match the rest of its offerings.

Enter Salt-N-Pepa’s I Love the’ 90s: The Vegas Show, a concert residency produced by Las Vegas-based UD Factory with Universal Attractions Agency, which represents many of the acts rotating through the show including co-producers Salt-N-Pepa. The hip-hop trio of Cheryl James (“Salt”), Sandra Denton (“Pepa”) and Deidra Roper (“Spinderella”) opened the show last month along with Harlem rapper Rob Base (“It Takes Two”) and harmonious R&B group All-4-One (“I Swear”) as a tailored-for-Vegas version of the popular nostalgia tour that has been touring the country for three years. It’s being billed as the first hip-hop residency on the Strip, but it’s more accurately a genre-spanning celebration of the era; Spinderella played Guns N’ Roses and Nirvana during her mid-show DJ set at the October 25 grand opening show.

“It’s like a mixtape,” says James. “We’ve been building the I Love the ’90s brand for years on the road, and we decided we want to be in one place, so why not bring the experience to Vegas? On the tour, you do your set and they do theirs, and that’s the night. But now we have a DJ bringing us in and out, so to me it feels more exciting. We had to make sure it was fabulous, because our name is on the thing.”

The grand opening didn’t disappoint. Salt-N-Pepa opened the show with crowd favorite “Shoop” before dusting off the 1986 track they call their “ratchet classic,” “I’ll Take Your Man.” All-4-One hit the stage to sing ballad “I Can Love You Like That” and then returned to back up Rob Base on “Joy & Pain.” Most audience members were out of their seats for the majority of the show, including SWV in the front row and Sugar Ray frontman Mark McGrath, who joins the production this month.

With accessible music that appeals to different age groups and a friendly format, I Love the ’90s could be the winner the Paris Theater needs. When the stars perform their respective hits—especially Salt-N-Pepa, an iconic hip-hop act that still captivates with infinite energy and style—the show feels like a hit. It will be interesting to see if that energy stays high when other acts take their turns, an intriguing part of the production that begins this weekend when En Vogue and Kid ’n Play join Rob Base. McGrath teams with En Vogue and Kid ’n Play November 15-19, before Salt-N-Pepa returns on November 22.

SALT-N-PEPA’S I LOVE THE ’90S: THE VEGAS SHOW Thursday-Monday, 9 p.m., $74-$190. Paris Theater, 702-777-2782.

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Brock Radke

Brock Radke has been writing about Las Vegas for almost two decades. He currently serves as editor-at-large covering entertainment and ...

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