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Casinos raise entertainment stakes with spring bookings

After a winter whose star power can only be described as low-voltage, the region’s casinos are offering a fairly impressive, something-for-everyone talent roster for spring, everything from blues, pop, rock and comedy A-listers to the one-man stage version of a popular movie, two TV-talk stalwarts and a new version of a long-running production.

Here are some of them between now and summer, in chronological order:

Buddy Guy: April 5, Parx

The 87-year-old guitarist is the last of the 20th-century blues titans still working. His date at the Bensalem, Pennsylvania, gaming hall is part of what he has said will be his final tour, making the show a must for blues fans, and anyone who wants to be a part of musical history.

Ben Folds: April 19, Borgata

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from the quirky ’90s singer-songwriter whose song “Brick” was one of the decade’s signature tunes. This solo show -dubbed “Ben Folds and a Piano” – should be a real charmer.

“A Bronx Tale,” April 20, Ocean Casino Resort

The beloved 1993 gangster flick – based on actor Chazz Palminteri’s own childhood, began life as a 1988 one-man play. Robert DeNiro, who co-stars with Palminteri in the movie, saw the stage presentation in Los Angeles and decided it would be the perfect vehicle for his directorial debut. Palminteri revived “A Bronx Tale” as a touring production a number of years ago. If you’re a fan of the movie, this is a must-see; if you’re not, see it anyway. It’s a stunning acting tour de force, with Palminteri playing 18 roles -including women – as he tells his wild, autobiographical story.

Dionne Warwick: April 26, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City

Speaking of musical legends, the singer whose signatures include “Do You Know the Way to San Jose,” “Alfie,” “I Say A Little Prayer” and “That’s What Friends Are For,” is another giant who should be seen by any fan of classic pop music.

Jimmy Carr: April 27, Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa

The British comic is definitely for those who favor clever wordplay and somewhat absurd premises in the Steven Wright vein of standup.

John Eddie: April 27, Resorts Casino-Hotel

Cherry Hill native Eddie, who deals in smart, rootsy rock and roll, has been kicking around the music scene for more than 40 years. And while he never achieved the stardom that seemed his destiny, Eddie has developed a well-deserved, loyal and vociferous following that should appreciate the chance to see him in Resorts’ Superstar Theater.

Todd Rundgren: May 3, Harrah’s Casino Resort 

And speaking of Delaware Valley-bred rockers, few have had a career as long, successful and varied as this Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, native. As a singer-songwriter, he’s covered pretty much all of the territory, from shimmering pop to hard-core progressive rock, and also produced albums by the likes of Grand Funk Railroad (“We’re An American Band”), Meatloaf (“Bat Out of Hell”) and Hall and Oates (“War Babies”).

A.J. Croce presents “Croce Plays Croce,” May 4, Tropicana Atlantic City

Yet another Philly-centric show, this program features the late Jim Croce’s son, A.J., paying tribute to the early-’70s folk-pop artist from Delaware County.

“The Burlesque Show,” May 9-Sept. 26, Borgata

The salute to this long-gone form of show business that combined sexual titillation and “blue” humor returns for its 11th season, with the pitch-perfect Chris Morris returning as emcee/featured comic. Look for the weekly Thursday presentation to be significantly different from past editions.

Kelly Clarkson: May 10, Hard Rock

These days, Clarkson is likely better known as the host of her eponymous, syndicated daytime TV gabfest. But the first “American Idol” champion (in 2002, believe it or not) hasn’t completely forsaken her vocalizing career.

The magical duo of Penn & Teller has performed together for more than four decades.

Penn & Teller: May 16-17, Hard Rock

Our personal choice for “if you see only one show this year” honors. For more than four decades, the one-of-a-kind, comedy-magic duo of Penn Jillette and Center City Philly native Teller has amazed and mystified audiences, while also making them roar with laugher. Don’t miss ’em!

Bill Maher: May 18, Borgata

What better way to steel oneself for the 2024 presidential campaign than to hear both major-party candidates – and a host of other political miscreants and social trends – eviscerated by the usually on-target Maher?

Steve Martin and Martin Short: May 18, Hard Rock

The two oh-so-talented entertainers are headed back for their third AyCee visit. The first two engagements were master classes in variety entertainment, as the pair combined standup, sketches, improv and music into one of the most enjoyable programs the town’s legal-casino era has ever seen.

Heart: June 21, Hard Rock

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame band led by sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson has grown exponentially in stature over the decades. Expect a typical set that hopscotches between delicate melodies and pedal-to-the-metal bombast.

John Legend will perform at the Borgata’s 2,500-seat event center.

John Legend: June 21, Borgata

It’s doubtful the R&B superstar’s upcoming tour is hitting a more-intimate venue than the Big B’s 2,500-seat Event Center.

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