Usher’s ‘Backstory’ tells his story, from beneath the Colosseum

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Fans wearing pinkish VIP lanyards are led retired of the doors to the Colosseum astatine Caesars Palace, into the blistery aboriginal evening. They locomotion toward the rideshare and tour-bus boarding area.

This is erstwhile you cognize something’s odd.

Usher’s amusement is inside, of course. These ticket-holders are not boarding a bus. But uncommon is the amusement erstwhile a Strip headliner directs fans to really permission the building, earlier the performance.

The dozens of fans yet caput done heavy, unmarked metallic doors, the benignant roadies propulsion done with their lumbering instrumentality carts. There is simply a formation of stairs, and another, heading downward. You yet conscionable idiosyncratic you mightiness recognize, if you’ve spent capable clip successful Las Vegas.

Street creation connected the @CaesarsPalace loading dock, portion of @Usher Backstory pre-show. #RJnow @reviewjournal #VegasVille

— John Katsilometes (@johnnykats) July 31, 2021

Eric Jordan Young, successful a pearl-white suit, reddish fedora and matching hanky. “Is that you? What is happening here?” He lone grins and nods. EJY is intelligibly acceptable to perform. But what, and where?

In moments, you’re carried into a pop-up gentlemen’s club. It seems fees a specified country of Sapphire’s Gentlemen’s Club, an diversion pistillate spinning astir a pole. It is raining cash. One man adjacent the signifier is flinging bills to the sky, and flashing a grin that tin beryllium caught crossed the room.

He looks conscionable similar Usher, actually. But it can’t be. He’s getting acceptable for tonight’s show. Or, wait, this is the mode helium gets acceptable for tonight’s show. It’s his backstage hang, his backstory, called “Backstory Experience.”

The large @ericjordanyoung @ColosseumatCP #RJNow @reviewjournal #ClubUshh #RJNow

— John Katsilometes (@johnnykats) August 5, 2021

This is an exceedingly uncommon amusement accumulation — yep, an immersive acquisition — taking spot successful the precise back-of-house enclave beneath the Colosseum. It is the archetypal clip a Vegas hotel-casino has allowed an immersive accumulation institution instrumentality implicit a full, back-of-house production.

The large @ericjordanyoung @ColosseumatCP #RJNow @reviewjournal #ClubUshh #RJNow

— John Katsilometes (@johnnykats) August 5, 2021

“I truly enjoyed moving unneurotic with my friends astatine OTBA (executive shaper Out Of The Box Amusements) to make the archetypal ever pre-show immersive acquisition for a Vegas residency,” Usher said successful an email statement. “In keeping with the authenticity of the residency arsenic a whole, we made it a constituent to prosecute a precise divers radical of all-local Las Vegas talent.”

The prima often shows up astatine “Backstory Experience,” and has welcomed specified celebrated friends arsenic Kevin Hart, Floyd Mayweather, Trey Diggs and Jermaine DuPree to the space. No photos oregon cellphone usage is permitted successful Club Ushh, wherever Usher usually hangs and has been known to thatch VIPs the due “make it rain” technique.

#WhoWasWhere: @TayeDiggs past nighttime @Usher #Backstory pre-show @ColosseumatCP. Also met up w/ @ericjordanyoung successful the pre-show. The 3 each played Billy Flynn connected #Broadway. 📷 @CarlyHughes101

— John Katsilometes (@johnnykats) August 6, 2021

The visitors look to beryllium OK with conscionable letting him beryllium among the crowd. They, too, are portion of the story.

“The ‘Backstory’ walk acquisition is to instrumentality idiosyncratic connected an immersive travel done definite eras and taste moments that person influenced maine passim my life,” Usher says. “I privation to make a real-life acquisition for radical truthful that they excessively tin beryllium inspired by pivotal moments successful Black euphony and civilization including Le Grand Duc jazz nine of 1920s Paris, the infamous Magic City of Atlanta and a ’90s New York City artifact enactment during the dawn of hep hop.”

The pre-show features a half-dozen independent, intimate venues arranged to overgarment a afloat representation of Usher’s life. It’s storytelling, replete with singing, music, dancing, amid a torrent of Ushh Bucks. Tickets are purchased abstracted from the Usher residency amusement (at $206 apiece, not including fees). The acquisition starts astatine 8 p.m., and lasts astir an hr earlier Usher hits the stage

The: “Backstory” circuit includes:

*Backstage, the main foyer, the holding country for those who purchased the VIP access.

*Club Ushh, the 1920s-themed tribute to Le Duc jazz nine successful Paris. This is wherever Skye Dee Miles and her slayer band, joined by Young, sing and pb the creation enactment successful cozy quarters.

*Ushh City, Usher’s rowdy mentation of Magic City big nine successful his hometown of Atlanta.

*The Counting Room, connected to Ushh City, is papered with Ushh Bucks and the Den Mother’s lair (she counts the wealth successful there). Martha Watson, who happens to beryllium a four-time Olympic qualifier successful the agelong leap from 1964-1972 and besides a longtime Caesars Palace casino dealer.

*The Friends Room, the star’s backstage hideaway for one-on-one visits, surrounded by shelves of specified household artifacts arsenic a vintage 1940s Remington typewriter, a Technics roar container from the ’80s, and (in a existent treasure for longtime Las Vegans) a UNLV Runnin’ Rebels crippled programme from 1989-1990 NCAA title season.

*The Future Room, A mirrored hallway wherever guests are invited to bespeak (spiritually and for real) and see their fate.

*The Block Party, a creation fest spilling to the Colosseum loading dock, involving each of Usher’s 2 twelve backing dancers and respective “Backstory” formed members.

The large @ericjordanyoung @ColosseumatCP #RJNow @reviewjournal #ClubUshh #RJNow

— John Katsilometes (@johnnykats) August 5, 2021

The task is filled with Las Vegas amusement originative types, successful concern with the accumulation institution OTBA (headed up by immoderate of the visionaries down The Box successful New York and, later, The Act successful astatine The Venetian’s Grand Canal Shoppes); and Caesars Entertainment (which managed to set performance protocols to let a amusement underneath its signature venue).

Cognac institution Rémy Martin underwrites the full shebang, which is wherefore the barroom is stacked with that product.

Among those archetypal contacted by co-producers Randy Weiner owner of “The Box”) and Andrew Katz was Majestic Theatre laminitis Troy Heard, who anterior to Majestic operated Onyx Theater successful the Commercial Center. The accumulation squad besides knew the husband-wife squad of Spiegelworld vets Allegra Libonati and Brett Alters, both of “Opium,” person have known Weiner and Andrew dating to the days of The Box successful New York.

The large @ericjordanyoung @ColosseumatCP #RJNow @reviewjournal #ClubUshh #RJNow

— John Katsilometes (@johnnykats) August 5, 2021

Libonati says “Backstory” is “the soil, and the performance is the flower.”

Heard has been featuring specified shows arsenic “Hot Trash” and “Miss Behave Game Show” astatine Majestic Theatre, connected Main Street successful the Arts District, arsenic he’s worked connected the Usher project.

“This was a mode to research however to heighten the meet-and-greet experience,” Heard said. “We knew we were not going to get an A-to-Z narrative. What we’re aft is getting the flavors of Usher, to cognize what has been important to him starring to this residency.”

Heard was contacted successful April. The squad has enjoyed an inordinate magnitude of clip to make “Backstory Pass.” Usher, of course, is the archetypal Colosseum headliner to instrumentality during the pandemic.

“Usually you bump successful and bump retired successful 2 oregon 3 days for thing similar this,” Heard said. “We person had the luxury of time.”

The show’s formed was built with star-quality Vegas entertainers. Kareem Gwinn is simply a champion breakdancer and erstwhile “Love” formed member. Michael Moloi is besides an archetypal formed subordinate and creator of “Love.” Tiffany De Alba is an ex-former “Zumanity” and “Love” performer who is simply a Love performer besides featured successful the Rémy Martin/Usher collaboration “Team Up for Excellence.” Jason Nious and Khalid Freeman, erstwhile Cirque performers and founders of the show radical group Molodi. Dane Clarke is an archetypal formed subordinate of “Le Reve” who created the “Splash Solo” enactment (breakdancing successful water).

Miles is simply made to beryllium the vocalist astatine Le Duc. Her show seems pulled straight from her seven-year tally astatine Rose. Rabbit. Lie. astatine The Cosmopolitan. Young co-starred successful “Starlight Express” astatine the then-Las Vegas Hilton, “Vegas! The Show” astatine Saxe Theater astatine Miracle Mile Shops astatine Planet Hollywood, “Rock of Ages” astatine the Rio and besides co-directed “Baz” astatine Palazzo Theater.

Remarkably, Miles and Young, had not worked unneurotic earlier “Backstory Experience,” though some person been successful Vegas for years.

“My buy-in was conscionable being portion of the astonishing backstory of unrecorded euphony successful America,” Miles said. “It’s large to beryllium chosen for thing similar this, and to enactment for idiosyncratic of Usher’s caliber.”

Young has really worked with Usher before, successful 2006, erstwhile Usher premiered connected Broadway arsenic Billy Flynn successful “Chicago.” Young was Usher’s understudy successful that role.

“I was determination erstwhile helium had that moment, that unthinkable acquisition of being connected Broadway,” Young said. “I tin say, successful my opinion, helium would person been formed successful the relation careless of his celebrity. He was great.”

Today, Young portrays a vocalist based connected Sammy Davis Jr., and besides Ben Vereen, who besides famously portrayed Flynn and Usher’s godfather.

“I remember, aft a show, the 2 gathering astatine the h2o cooler and Ben putting his hands connected Usher’s shoulders to manager him connected immoderate antithetic moments successful the show,” Young said. “This is each destiny, and it proves what a tiny satellite we person successful the amusement community. It’s like, this was each meant to be.”

John Katsilometes’ file runs regular successful the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast tin beryllium recovered astatine Contact him astatine Follow @johnnykats connected Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 connected Instagram.

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