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BleauLive comes to life: How Fontainebleau’s theater plans to compete

Updated February 1, 2024 - 7:40 pm

You wonder how BleauLive Theater plans to compete for residency headliners in Las Vegas’ hypercompetitive entertainment market.

Simple answer: It won’t.

“We are not looking at traditional, 20-show residencies that would park for three weeks,” says Senior Vice President of Entertainment Fedor Banuchi. “We’re looking at touring acts, weekend engagements, someone who will come in and do two shows a quarter.”

The 3,800-capacity theater has been running for a month and is still developing an identity. Post Malone is the only ticketed headliner at the venue, having headlined two shows over New Year’s Eve weekend.

Headliners and events on the books include the just-announced “Live With Kelly and Mark,” the syndicated entertainment talk show hosted by Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos, airing and streaming Feb. 26 and 27.

Beyond that date, Third Eye Blind is playing a one-off June 22; “The Dan Patrick Show” takes over the venue during Super Bowl week; and the “Bleau Buckets” NCAA Tournament event installation runs March 21 to 23. The theater will be turned over to a hoops-themed festival, with a sportsbook, a hardwood half court complete with basket, and classic arcade games.

Malone’s performances showed off the venue’s dexterity, with an artist who sells out arenas playing an intimate theater. Justin Timberlake’s VIP show at the Dec. 14 opening, with entertainment legend Paul Anka as special guest, showed the room can host large-scale production numbers with a preshow of aerial artists, stilt-walkers and a high complement of pyro.

A full orchestra was assembled for Anka’s venue-opening set.

“We want to appeal to fans of all kinds of music. In my day, beginning with high school, everyone seemed into certain kinds of music,” says Banuchi, who previously led the entertainment division at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. “I’m not sure that’s the way things are today. Some people will tell you they are into country, but can also love hip-hop. Music fans are not fixated on a specific type or era, and if you are too specific you aren’t serving what the market wants.”

BleauLive is clearly not relying on a particular format for live entertainment. Banuchi says any headlining act that can fill a 3,800-capacity house is in play for the venue. The lower tier can be knocked down to 1,700 for comics, convention events, even combat sports.

The term agnostic applies to how the venue will approach its entertainment offerings. BleauLive is in a booking partnership with Live Nation Las Vegas (how “Live” is emphasized in uppercase), which also consulted in the theater’s design.

Live Nation also books the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Bakkt Theater at Planet Hollywood and The Pearl at the Palms, busy venues for one-offs and (at the Colosseum and Bakkt) superstar residencies.

These venues compete in a saturated live entertainment market. Upward of 10 Las Vegas theaters, showrooms or clubs that are close to BleauLive’s capacity present headlining shows.

Banuchi maintains a simple message.

“We have all the bells and whistles that we can present to anyone in the industry that wants to play a new room,” the veteran entertainment exec says. “We have a unique size. We offer more space than some theaters, not as big as others that size themselves out of the market. We can present a variety of shows, and we can do it with a lot of energy.”

A previous version of this story stated an incorrect name for “Live With Kelly and Mark.”

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 X, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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