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‘BattleBots’ plan a smash hit in Las Vegas

Updated October 30, 2022 - 9:02 am

The crowd is a thousand strong. We have youngsters and oldsters and folks of all ilk holding signs in support of their favorite teams.

There is a pause in the action, an eerie silence as the stage is re-set. The fans fill the void, shouting and stomping their feet. The thunder emanating from the metal bleachers fills the the arena.

These folks grow impatient quickly. They want more combat from “BattleBots.” In Las Vegas, they are about to get that.

“BattleBots: Destruct-A-Thon” opens Feb. 3 at BattleBox Arena at Caesars Entertainment Studios. Show times are 6 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, with 3 p.m. matinees on Saturdays and noon on Sundays. Tickets are onsale Nov. 14. Prices range from $49 general-admission, with $150 family “bundles,” to $125 VIP packages where guests are allowed to view the robots and their teams up close before and after the show

All the destruction happens at the BattleBox Arena, the reinforced, multi-purpose tented venue behind Bally’s on Koval Lane. The nondescript facility might look like a flea market from the street, but it is a rowdy house. Through this month, it is where “BattleBots World Championship VII” has been filmed. The final taping is Sunday. The competition airs in January on Discovery.

Without question, the “BattleBots: Destruct-A-Thon” show is the first production of its kind in Las Vegas Vegas. It is Crush du Soleil, the only live, ticketed, daily robotic combat show ever.

Aesthetically, the show is a smash even before its premiere.

“We know this live show will be an enormous hit. It will feature the most famous fighting robots on the planet, and they’ll be fighting to the death every night,” BattleBots CEO Trey Roski says. “It’s going to be the most violent show in Las Vegas where nobody ever gets hurt. The robot apocalypse starts soon!”

Roski is the son of Ed Roski, owner of Silverton hotel-casino in Las Vegas. The younger Roski and his cousin Greg Munson, who have been partners in web-design companies for decades, developed “BattleBots” in 1999.

The format and ensuing cable series has become an international sensation. The competitions are seen in more than 150 countries. “BattleBots” has 10 million social media followers. More than 50 teams from the U.S., Europe, Asia, New Zealand, Australia and South America traveled to Las Vegas for the “World Championship VII” tournament.

Executive Producer Tom Gutteridge is a BBC alum who produced entertainment and documentary programming. “The Hot Shoe Show” and the “Russell Harty” talk shows dot his resume. He also directed the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical “Song & Dance” for BBC TV. More recently, Gutteridge was a top executive at FremantleMedia, working on “American Idol” and “The Price is Right.”

Gutteridge joined “BattleBots” in 2016, and has helped engineer its global expansion. He’s continually devising marketing strategies, from signage at Harry Reid International Airport to a flashy new “BattleBots” slot machine set to premiere in Vegas by the end of the year.

Gutteridge is convinced the show will find its audience in Las Vegas. The theater show he and his team have developed differs from the championship tournament, in that it doesn’t not graduate to a single winning team. The destruction is confined to single, 80-minute performance.

Producers have issued a casting call for entertainers who can play the roles of combatants. From the posting, “You do not need to design robots, just act like you are competing.” Emcees and team members, male and female, are filling roles for the Vegas show.

There will be five fights per night with two costumed team members per fight. The team members perform the the walk in, pretending to drive the robots, while the robots’ actual drivers are at the commands. These actors react to the action, and the hired performers conduct interviews at the end of each fight..

But the stars are the robots.

If you don’t already, get to know Witch Doctor, Kraken, Mammoth, Lock-Jaw, Hypershock and Whiplash, along with a host of new robots being specially created for the BattleBox Arena. It’s a far distance from Cirque, Celine and Spiegelworld. But the “BattleBots” are ready to play Vegas.

Tease this …

Some magic that should look familiar to Las Vegas entertainment fans will be presented Monday on the NBC “Today” show. Check it out, set the VCR, whatever.

And this …

A well-known, colorful Las Vegas hospitality visionary is cutting ties with multiple nightlife businesses. This person, who has enlivened the city for about 15 years, is about to announce something new.

The Portal’s ‘Time Warp’

Area15 has added a third screening of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” at The Portal on Thursday. The first two screenings of the nonsensical musical Thursday and Friday night sold out. This is the sort of party Area15 developers envisioned when designing the 360-degree, projection-mapped entertainment venue.

A full cast performs along with the production of the 1975 cult classic. Brandon Pereyda, aka the aerialist Axle for a dozen years in “Zumanity,” plays the lead of the sexually undaunted Frank-N-Furter. Jon Morgan (swing in “Zombie Burlesque” and a singer of amazing range) hosts the pre-show and plays Columbia.

Judging by Friday’s congregation, the “Rocky Horror” purist fan base is still a force.

The crowd shouted callbacks throughout, and performed “The Time Warp” dance, en masse. Many were in costume. Great so see Vegas entertainer Cheryl Daro (her husband is The Space founder Mark Shunock) triumph in the pre-show costume contest in her Magenta getup.

It’s a late one, with Morgan’s pre-show starting at about 11 p.m. and the screening at midnight. But worth the sleep deprivation. As we say, we’ll nap later.

Live from not the Sands

Similar to Frank-N-Furter, Frank Sinatra boasts longevity in VegasVille.

“Frankly, Frank” opens Nov. 6 at Modern Showrooms at Alexis Park. Shows run 5:30 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays, indefinitely. This one has some impressive Sinatra lineage. Gary Anthony, who for decades has been performing as Old Blue Eyes, is the star. Expect the classics (“Luck Be A Lady,” “Summer Wind,” “Fly Me to The Moon”), a few deep cuts and a thoughtful trip to the city’s entertainment past.

Cool Hang Alert

The Stirling Club hosts a triumvirate — a triumvirate, I tell you! — of comics at 8 p.m. (doors 7 p.m.) Friday. Kathleen Dunbar, Dennis Blair and Ed Regine appear in the club’s new comedy night. Tickets are $25 for members, $35 for non-members. Go to TheStirlingClub.com for intel.


John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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