Penn and Teller really have a lot on their plate


It’s that time of year when it’s starting to be more interesting to talk about what could happen next year, including a super-team of magicians, a Teller-directed “Tempest” and a more-like-the-movie “Spider-man.”

Penn and Teller were off to Los Angeles Tuesday to film their third TV pilot of the year. The only details volunteered were that it’s a magic competition that could involve other local performers.

The duo presided over “Fool Us,” a show that roughly fits that description, on British TV two years ago. Outside the duo’s camp, this one is described as a “magic wars” cross between “America’s Got Talent” and a Food Network-type cooking contest, where magicians are given a list of materials to create an illusion with. The concept is said to be from local magician and journalist Rick Lax.

The pilot was commissioned by one of the cable TV networks, versus a production company filming a “sizzle reel” or pilot and then trying to sell it. Several Las Vegas entertainers have gone that route, sometimes co-financing the projects.

The biggest mystery surrounding Penn and Teller may be how they balance all their projects. Their movie documentary “Tim’s Vermeer,” directed by Teller, has made the short list from which this year’s Academy Award nominees will be drawn. (“It’s an honor to be nominated to be nominated,” Penn Jillette tweeted.)

And Teller will co-direct a version of “The Tempest” next spring in a performance tent — similar to the one “Absinthe” opened with — on the lawn of The Smith Center for the Performing Arts.

It’s produced with the American Repertory Theater at Harvard University, and also will play as that company’s season closer next May in Cambridge, Mass. …

Las Vegas magicians will combine forces in February and March when Luxor headliner Criss Angel replaces his regular show with “Criss Angel Magicjam” at Luxor.

Angel will undergo shoulder surgery in January, so he will serve as host of the magic-variety show that will include Saxe Theater headliner Nathan Burton, Jason Byrne, Tony Clarke, Krystyn Lambert, Armando Vera, mentalist Banachek and comedic variety performer Russ Merlin. …

Casino executive Steve Wynn recently told reporters at an unrelated event (the unveiling of a holiday floral installation) that he’s in talks to host the Broadway “Spider-man” musical on the Strip.

“Whether we can or we can’t remains to be seen. It’s a discussion. It’s a very interesting discussion,” Wynn said.

Wynn Las Vegas does have an empty theater, not counting infrequent Garth Brooks shows (the next are Jan. 3 and 4). But we also know Steve Wynn invested in preproduction — enough at least to get ideas to the table — for an original show with the working title “Funhouse.” It was under the helm of Kenny Ortega, who directed the “High School Musical” series and Michael Jackson’s “This Is It.”

The Venetian seemed to have the inside track on “Spider-man: Turn Off the Dark” because it also has a mostly empty theater and because its lead producer, Michael Cohl, already has “Rock of Ages” running elsewhere on property.

But in chatting with reporters, Wynn name-dropped both Cohl and U2’s Bono, who co-wrote the songs with bandmate The Edge. “We’ve had meetings,” Wynn said.

Wynn reinforced what seems to be a universally agreed point, that a Vegas Spidey would involve another reworking of the problematic Broadway musical that closes Jan 4.

“The question is, can we give it the kind of spectacle that Las Vegas wants?” Wynn noted. “We like the movie. We’d like to reinvent Spider-man like the movie.”

That would seem to be the easy part in Las Vegas. The hard part would be who pays for all of it; the musical is already in the red. Interesting discussions indeed. …

The Chinese revue “Panda!” has been postponed at least a week at the Palazzo; visa paperwork involving the performers took longer than expected. The original target date was Monday, but The Venetian’s website shows Dec. 22 as the first date you can buy a ticket. That one might change, too, depending on how long it takes to get the cast up to speed. …

“Legends in Concert” is incorporating pre-show entertainment from local youth groups into its holiday edition at the Flamingo. Dance groups from Studio One’s Summerlin Dance Academy will be at all the evening shows through Dec. 19. Garrett Junior High’s advanced choir performs Saturday afternoon (full disclosure: that one includes a member of my household). And the Cheyenne High School Choir performs Dec. 22.

It’s a fun idea that’s possibly good for business, too, if parents snap up the half-price ticket offer. …

There’s no shortage of good entertainment for good causes this weekend.

Along with Saturday’s Toys for Tots show (see “Locals Only” on this page), the Las Vegas Filipino community rallies for a Friday show to raise money for typhoon relief.

Tickets are $20 for a 7:30 p.m. show at the Suncoast that will include the Filipino “Concert King,” Martin Nievera, who does his separate Christmas shows in the same showroom on Saturday and Sunday.

“Live at Signal No. 5” also includes the 24K Band, 360 Band, The Klique, Repertoire, Revive Band, HNLV, JAMM, Dara, Renee Hale, Trina Johnson Finn, DJ Jaym, Knine & G-No, Rita Lim, Peter Pavone, Mico Maulcon, Jenni Selma, Marlena Zion, Crystal Yuan and Tunay.

At 2 p.m. Sunday, it’s a more distinctly Las Vegas tradition when Tony Sacca offers his annual “Merry Christmas Las Vegas” concert at Boulder Station.

Last year, Sacca introduced us to young singer Anna Christine before she competed on “America’s Got Talent.” This year’s grown-up entertainers include the Society of Seven, Pia Zadora, Denise Clemente and Genevieve, impressionist Rich Natole and the marionettes of Anthony Rais.

A $25 ticket benefits the Youth Foundation for the Performing Arts.

Finally, if you get to New York before Dec. 28, check out the limited off-Broadway run of “Showgirls! The Musical!” and let me know if you think it would work in the city where it’s set.

It’s a spoof of the notorious movie bomb along the lines of “Evil Dead: The Musical.” One ad says, “See it or get pushed down the stairs.”

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