Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees ZZ Top and Caesars Entertainment are developing “Sharp Dressed Man,” a jukebox musical set to open next year in Las Vegas featuring the band’s greatest hits. Members Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard are all serving as executive producers.
“Sharp Dressed Man” is described as an “outrageous, bawdy musical romp” about a Lone Star auto mechanic who becomes a modern-day Robin Hood, “stealing hearts — and car parts — with the help of a merry band of beer guzzlers and hell raisers.” ZZ Top standards like “Legs,” “La Grange,” “Gimme All Your Lovin’” and “Cheap Sunglasses” will help tell the satirical saga.
Gibbons tells Variety, “We’re feeling very good about the efforts of our producers and our manager Carl Stubner in putting this together. Our music is in very capable hands so we’re really looking forward to seeing the results of these collective efforts next year. … Fans have often told us that we’ve provided the soundtrack to their lives, and this is very much in line with that kind of enthusiastic thinking.”
“The show will utilize the band’s music and tremendous energy in a new immersive realm,” says Stubner (pictured above, far right). “Just like ZZ Top, it’s all about having a good time at a great party and telling fun stories through their music.”
Robert Cary and Jonathan Tolins are credited with the story. The duo wrote the teleplays for Fox’s Emmy-winning “Grease Live!” as well as “A Christmas Story Live!” Tolins is known for the long-running off-Broadway hit “Buyer & Cellar,” for which he won a Lucille Lortel Award. He also wrote the films “The Twilight of the Golds” and “Martian Child” (with Seth E. Bass). He is currently a co-executive producer of “The Good Fight” on CBS All Access. Cary is co-author of Broadway’s “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical” and “Flashdance The Musical,” and he directed the films “Ira and Abby” and “Anything but Love.”
The creative team also includes Michael Gruber, the chief new business officer for Caesars Entertainment, and Jason Gastwirth, the company’s president of entertainment. Prem Akkaraju is one of the lead producers, alongside Stubner. Writers Cary and Tolins also double as producers for the show. (Pictured above, left to right, are Hill, Akkaraju, Beard, Gastwirth, Gibbons and Stubner.)
Akkaraju says that “pairing ZZ Top’s iconic music with a Texas-version of the Robin Hood story delivers countless laugh-out-loud moments … It’s an absolute blast.” Akkaraju’s credits include executive producing MTV’s “Tomorrowland: Ten Years of Unity, Love, Madness and Magic” and Aravind Adiga’s “The White Tiger,” the feature film adaptation of the Man Booker award-winning novel.
“ZZ Top holds a special place in American music history,” says Caesars’ Gastwirth. “Their songs incorporate rich imagery that lends itself to the narrative form. The addition of ‘Sharp Dressed Man’ to our already diverse entertainment lineup is exactly the component we are excited to welcome to the family for our guests.”
Producers are not yet saying which Caesars Entertainment venue will host the musical’s initial run in 2020. The Colosseum at Caesars Palace has previously booked pop-rock residencies for the likes of Celine Dion, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera and James Taylor. Caesars Entertainment recently took over operations for its intimate 4,300-seat showcase from AEG and has launching a multi-million-dollar renovation project. Caesars also runs the Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood, which can be configured for audiences as large as 7,500 or partitioned for smaller crowds, and has hosted multi-night runs by the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Gwen Stefani, the Backstreet Boys and Lionel Richie.
“We are at a time where Las Vegas is recognized to have some of the most amazing artists in the world from all eras,” says Gruber, “and we are excited to have the opportunity to bring to the stage a musical that has some of the best songs of a generation, with some great actors of today, enabling us to have an incredibly creative and successful show in the future.”