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Once superpacked show schedule thins out at Riviera


Not so long ago, the Riviera was spilling over with shows. There was the historic main showroom, plus three smaller ones upstairs (sometimes double-booked) and three or four more sharing its enclosed lounge.

But now? Magician Jan Rouven and his manager say it seems a bit lonely around there.

Rouven’s “Illusions” and the durable Riviera Comedy Club were the only two shows playing during a recent management upheaval, one that included the departure of President Andy Choy, entertainment director Mark Massimino and Tony Bender, who headed marketing and advertising.

The venerable topless revue “Crazy Girls” coincidentally took most of June off to introduce new cast members and dance numbers. The show didn’t make its original goal of returning June 26, but now plans to reopen Wednesday, producer Norbert Aleman says.

Two shows and a comedy club are closer to what a hotel of the Riviera’s size and location can support. But it’s a big change for Rouven, who at one point had two roommates — impressionist Jonathan Clark and comedian Andrew Dice Clay — in his Starlite Theater alone.

“For us nothing has changed. It’s just a weird situation,” says Frank Alfter, Rouven’s manager.

Early in his tenure, Choy explained a dense show lineup as the Riviera’s play to draw outside traffic, since it did not have a nightclub or high-concept restaurant.

Choy was hands-on in booking Smithereens’ frontman Pat DiNizio’s autobiographical show in November 2011. “We needed something different, right? We needed something that was going to drive the market as opposed to follow,” Choy explained then.

But the innovative, outside-the-box residency soon stalled — along with the overall forward motion of the hotel — when it was poorly promoted and marketed. ...

Lots of people visit Las Vegas and decide to move here, singers included. We might be seeing more of two.

Saturday brings Jeff Timmons to Mandalay Bay with the reunited 98 Degrees, the pop group that put him on the map. But Timmons can sleep in the Summerlin area house he bought two summers ago.

While 98 Degrees has put out feelers to gauge hotel interest in a residency a la tour-mates Boyz II Men, Timmons also is shopping a reality TV series and live companion show, “Men of the Strip.”

Timmons says that when he guest-hosted the Rio’s Chippendales revue, “I found it very interesting the lifestyles that the guys had. They’re all very unique kinds of guys. Some are teachers, some are husbands, some are rock stars, some are partyers,” he says.

“I wanted to capture that on TV for people to see.” He hopes to start shooting it here when the current tour ends.

On Sunday, Miami-based pop star Jon Secada dropped some hints to his audience at the annual Golden Rainbow benefit that we may be seeing more of him in the desert, too.

His possibilities just might include that newly remodeled, but now empty, showroom at the Tropicana Las Vegas, where management has shown interest in entertainment ideas that continue the Miami theme of the property. ...

Saturday night is the loneliest night of the week for Elvis and the boys of the “Million Dollar Quartet.”

An unusual schedule change kicked in this week, making Saturday the day off for the musical at Harrah’s Las Vegas.

Taking Saturday off, instead of performing twice that day, drops the weekly number of shows from eight to seven.

Producers often say Fridays are surprisingly slow, because Southern California weekenders are still driving in at showtime. But this is the rare divergence from the consensus that Saturday is the best-attended night of the week.

“Quartet” spokeswoman Kate Whitely says in this case, “We are seeing our audience coming more midweek. It seems our demographic, which is slightly older, enjoys the ease of the weekday performances.”

“Legends in Concert” also took Saturdays off when it was in the same room. “So while it might seem strange, it might just be normal for this room,” Whitely says.

Dropping to seven shows each week is a summer policy that might change in the fall, when it starts getting dark earlier, she adds. ...

Meanwhile, Saturdays just get sudsier over at The Venetian.

It’s many a Las Vegas show that would be better if you see it wasted. Only a fear of repetition stops me from saying as much in more of my reviews. But to have the producers of a show actually admit it?

The campy ’80s musical “Rock of Ages” starts a new promotion on Saturday called “Drink Us Dry Saturdays.” Ticket holders for Saturday late shows can slurp down as much domestic beer as they can in the Palazzo’s Zebra Lounge for two hours before the show.

I can’t wait to see how this affects the show’s Yelp and Twitter comments. Or how — hiccup! — they will be spelled and punctuated.

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.