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Caesars cutting back on live entertainment

Updated May 14, 2021 - 9:28 am

Entertainment professionals in Caesars Entertainment productions who had endured nearly a year and a half of inactivity had hoped this month would signal reopenings of their shows.

Instead, some of those productions are being cut loose.

Caesars is “slimming down” its live entertainment offerings, it revealed in a spate of phone calls with show producers on Thursday.

The adult revue “X Rocks” at Bally’s, produced by Matt and Angela Stabile and their Stabile Production collective, is not coming back this year. The show had played The Back Room at Bally’s, across from Buca di Beppo restaurant, and had been planning to move into a renovated theater this summer or fall.

Bronx Wanderers, which had just moved into a Harrah’s Showroom, has been closed, producer Alan Glist confirmed Thursday. But his company’s “Menopause The Musical” at Harrah’s Cabaret has survived.

Anthony Cools Experience theater at Paris Las Vegas is also closing, which leaves “Friends! The Musical Parody,” “Sex Tips” and Cools’ own long-running hypnosis show without a venue. Cools, who leases the theater from Caesars Entertainment, has headlined for nearly two decades in Las Vegas.

Also, word out of Sin City Theater at Planet Hollywood is the adult revue “Crazy Girls” and the rock revival Tenors of Rock tribute show are both closing. The loss of “Crazy Girls,” which opened at the Riv in 1987, would be nothing short of historic. Only “Legends in Concert” at Tropicana, which opened in 1983, has a longer tenure among Strip production shows.

Caesars Entertainment officials are offering no comment Thursday on the developments surrounding its live entertainment, nor has the company itself formally confirmed these moves. Left open is how the now-closed venues, most of them refurbished convention space or closed restaurants, will be utilized.

The company is planning on issuing a formal press release Friday specifying its plans.

Those who were notified their shows would close were caught off-guard by the news.

“It was out of left field,” Glist said. “I was shocked. But I do understand this is a numbers’ game, and not a personal thing. everyone at the company loves the show. We should have another venue lined up, soon.”

Other producers echoed that thought.

“This isn’t the call I expected, with everything reopening,” said “Friends” producer John Bentham of Ivory Star Productions after a chat with Damian Costa, vice president of entertainment operations at Caesars Entertainment. “We’re the Entertainment Capital of the World. That encompasses small shows, large shows, and everything in between. By eliminating these smaller showrooms, you’re eliminating good, affordable, unique shows.”

No question, these decisions effectively shrink the middle-class entertainment options in Las Vegas. Such lower-capacity Caesars Entertainment theaters as The Magic Attic at Bally’s (home to the “Potted Potter” parody, Frederic Da Silva’s “Paranormal,” and the magic headliner Xavier Mortimer) has been under review.

Tape Face, co-produced by Bentham’s company, will continue to headline even though his House of Tape theater at Harrah’s might close, too. The comic mime (legal name Sam Wills) has been at Harrah’s Showroom in COVID reopening, and will continue to headline, Bentham said.

The Caesars venues being closed are a lower scale than such showrooms as Flamingo Showroom (which is bringing back “Ru Paul’s Drag Race Live!” on Aug. 5) and Harrah’s Showroom. The latter has been Mac King’s home for nearly 20 years (but the great magician’s future won’t be at Harrah’s, believe it). Harrah’s is also where Donny Osmond is burning up the box office for his Aug. 30 opening, and where the Righteous Brothers are also expected to return (meantime, the act is headlining South Point Showroom for four shows May 27-30.

A few certainties more are Mat Franco is back at his theater at Linq Hotel. Wayne Newton is prepping to return to Cleopatra’s Barge at Caesars Palace. Criss Angel is said to be gearing up to be back at his self-named theater at Planet Hollywood, all while Clark County inches toward 100-percent capacity for public gatherings (rooms are allowed to operate at 80-percent at least until June 1, expanding to 100-percent on June 1).

The anticipated shuttering of several Caesars Entertainment venues arrives just as the company has been allowed to run its casino floor (which does not include ticketed entertainment venues) at 100-percent capacity. The loosening of capacity restrictions was announced Wednesday.

The “X Rocks” cast gained fame as the opening act for Metallica at T-Mobile Arena in November 2018, introduced by comic Jim Breuer. The troupe lit up the venue, which filled to capacity with 20,000 hard-rock fans.

The Stabiles say the show will return “100 percent” in 2022. The Stabile Production hits Piff The Magic Dragon, and the revues “X Burlesque” at Flamingo and “X Country” at Harrah’s Cabaret, are being spared. Piff is staying in the Flamingo Showroom at least for the remainder of this year.

“X Country” was the first ticketed production in a Strip hotel-casino to return during COVID, on Oct. 22.

Piff has been performing in a socially distanced Flamingo Showroom, but typically alternates show times with “X Burlesque” in the former Bugsy Cabaret. The venue is named for X Burlesque when that show performs, and for Piff when he is onstage. At the moment, the magic dragon and Ru Paul drag production are the only shows booked in Flamingo Showroom.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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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