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Before magic at renamed TW Theater came moment of (Stevie) Wonder


If you’re looking for signs of life at a dormant theater, Stevie Wonder is a fine start.

Tommy Wind says it was quite an experience to see the pop legend perform on the stage of the theater where he was to relaunch his own magic show on Wednesday.

Wonder was part of a benefit last Saturday for The O’Jays Foundation 8th Annual Celebrity Scholarship Weekend.

The venue now known as the TW Theater used to be the Boulevard Theater. Longtimers may remember the venue, tucked between a Walgreens and Fatburger north of the Showcase Mall, as the Empire Ballroom or Utopia nightclub.

Wind and his family negotiated to lease the theater after performing his magic show there more than 200 times as a tenant for the previous management. He closed it in July as it became apparent the host property was in trouble.

But Wind says his family was happy to honor a pre-existing contract for the O’Jays event and help the foundation. And he admits it was “such a proud moment” to hear Wonder say the theater’s new name from the stage.

Wind says two more show tenants soon will be announced. His main nightlife tenant will be another resurrection: The gay-themed nightclub Krave is back in the hands of its original owner and will return as a Friday-through-Sunday operation.

Krave has been in the news as a high-profile failure, after moving downtown in June with financial help from the city and The Downtown Project.

Wind says that Krave is now back in the hands of its original owner, Sia Amiri, and will no longer involve Kelly Murphy, who bought the operation from Amiri for the downtown move but defaulted on the terms of the buyout.

“Kelly Murphy won’t be allowed near the building,” Wind says.

Krave’s original location at the corner of Harmon Avenue and the Strip was never completely successful at establishing a dual identity for the gay club and the ticketed shows that ran earlier in the evening.

Wind says his theater will be more neutrally branded. Other late nights in the week will be devoted to Latino patrons and to his own Club Equilibrium, which will court the entertainment community. …

It will be a kung-fu “Panda!” as opposed to “Kung Fu Panda,” taking up residence in the Palazzo in December. The show is billed as the first Chinese-produced show on the Strip, with an open-ended run launching Dec. 14 . The producers, Global Panda Entertainment, cut their deal directly with the casino without a middle-party U.S. presenter.

The press release promises “high-flying acrobatics, kung fu mastery, music and dance” in the tale of a panda’s quest to rescue “his beloved Peacock Princess from the malicious Demon Vulture, who has kidnapped her on their wedding day.” ...

Less exotic is “Celtic Woman,” a perennially touring Irish revue and PBS pledge-week staple. The holiday edition, “Home for Christmas — The Symphony Tour” is booked in the adjacent Venetian for two holiday weekends, Nov. 22-23 and 27-28. …

The Mirage has announced the first half of next year’s schedule for its “Aces of Comedy” series in the Terry Fator Theatre. New to the mix are Nick Swardson on March 28 and “roast master” Jeff Ross on April 5.

Amy Schumer, who performed there in February, returns next Feb. 7-8. Other returning comics include Daniel Tosh, Wayne Brady, George Lopez, Gabriel Iglesias, Kathy Griffin and Ron White.

If you thought Jay Leno would spend more time doing stand-up once he is squeezed out of “The Tonight Show” on Feb. 6, look elsewhere for now. He’s booked for only two dates, April 12 and June 6.

Seth Meyers, who enters the late-night race on Feb. 24, had suggested he might be too busy for live stand-up in Vegas. But he has at least one Mirage date booked for March 29. …

Halloween brings, as it should, an extra performance of “Evil Dead: The Musical” today at the V Theater. But you will soon have even more chances to see the campy musical, as producer Sirc Michaels prepares a move to a new venue inside the V Theater that will let him run as many as six shows per week.

“The only way to grow is to have more performances” beyond the current Fridays and Saturdays, he says. “We miss a lot of people. We hear it all the time.”

Michaels hopes to tap the potential of the new 200-seat venue’s video and projection mapping without destroying the show’s low-tech charm. He’s shooting for Nov. 12 as the first date in the new room. …

Finally, I’m going to have to get over to “Pia’s Place” — formerly the Monkey Bar inside Piero’s restaurant — and start sucking up to Pia Zadora, whose sterling voice beat down years of her very name being a punch line in the Johnny Carson era.

What would be my ulterior motive, beyond the straightforward value of hearing her sing Thursdays through Saturdays under the musical supervision of Vincent Falcone?

Perhaps it would be to eavesdrop and try to learn which of seven local movie theaters she will go to for the Fathom Events screening of “RiffTrax Live: ‘Santa Claus Conquers the Martians’” on Dec. 5.

The childhood Pia’s role in the famously awful cheapie fueled a lot of those old jokes. And if perhaps she is singing at Piero’s that night and can’t go, might she at least cover the immortal movie theme song (“Hooray for Santa Claus”) during the holidays?