‘Iconic’ Las Vegas Strip club, theater demolished
Longtime locals know this place. The venue was originally home to Utopia nightclub, and had many different names and uses.
Updated March 31, 2023 - 5:13 pm
Memories of an iconic entertainment venue are buried in rubble on the Strip.
Too dramatic? Maybe. But a famous, over-the-top entertainment landmark, Mosaic On The Strip, has been fully and formally destroyed.
Longtime locals know this place. The venue was originally home to Utopia nightclub, undergoing several iterations, all themed for some form of live entertainment. During its final months as Mosaic, the venue hosted several smaller productions, including the “MJ The Evolution” Michael Jackson tribute, Elyzabeth Diaga’s “Queens of Rock” rock-cover show; the “Aussie Heat” male revue; “Kyle Martin’s Piano Man” ode to Billy Joel and Elton John; and the budding “Lady Luck,” a burlesque revue.
There was a short-lived effort to bring “A Mob Story” to the venue, promoted on signage at the theater but never on sale.
The venue sat in the Strip mall across the Strip from Park MGM, behind Walgreen’s and Fatburger, also knocked down.
The end was initiated by property owner Gindi Capital, which is developing a three-story retail complex of about 300,000 square feet on the parcel. Restaurants, retail, bars, supper clubs and outdoor entertainment is planned. The demolition is about complete. Mosaic’s structure was reportedly wiped out a couple of weeks ago.
The building opened in the late-1980s as the Metz Nite Club, turning over as Utopia in February 1996. That nightspot was the first freestanding nightclub in Las Vegas to feature pyrotechnics and an advanced sound system. Vegas electronica act The Crystal Method were among Utopia’s headliners.
Utopia closed in 2001, to be reopened four years later as Empire Ballroom, which survived through 2008.
That venue’s opening party was one for the ages, with Pink singing Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love,” with Matt Sorum of Guns N’ Roses and Ronnie Vannucci of The Killers both on drums. Camp Freddy, Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots, and Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols also performed in a show that ended at roughly sunrise.
Boulevard Theater (2008-2012) followed, also hosting nightclub events and one-off productions. That run lasted until one of its headliners, Tommy Wind, and his family signed a lease running through 2017 as Tommy Wind Theater.
“It was a five-year learning experience, a crash course in the Vegas entertainment business,” Wind said in a phone chat Thursday. “We kept it open for the extent of our lease, and I grew up really fast.”
Dean Coleman’s SPR & Promotions company was next to take a swing, opening in February 2020 just before the COVID-19 shutdown. The room seated about 500 for its production shows, but performed to just the 50 when reopening to masked audiences in June 2021.
Coleman and the shows still operating bugged out of the venue last July, rather than remain open through the end of his lease (which ran through last September). He cited electrical problems in the venue behind the decision for the summer shutdown.
“We were able to reopen when no one else even had shows, so I am proud of that,” Coleman said Thursday. “It’s kind of a melancholy feeling. But we did get a great show out of it, and that makes me really happy.”
The Mouse House
“Disney Animation: Immersive Experience” opened Thursday at Lighthouse Artspace Las Vegas at The Shops at Crystals, next to Aria resort. Tickets run from $39.99, $49.99 (Premium Plus), and $99.99 (VIP), not including fees.
The show runs in the same showcase space, if not head space, as “Immersive Van Gogh” and the seasonal “Immersive Nutcracker.” Walt Disney Animation Studios and Lighthouse Immersive Studios, creators of “Immersive Van Gogh” are partnering in the new multimedia attraction.
The experience samples such modern Disney favorites as “Encanto,” “Zootopia” and “Frozen,” along with such generation-spanning classics “The Lion King,” “Peter Pan” and “Pinocchio.” The Disney show is set to run 12 weeks, with the vision to expand if it takes off. The immersive production will alternate with the Van Gogh show.
“Dino Safari,” a dinosaur-themed exhibit with nothing to do with Dean Martin, opens April 10 at Horseshoe Las Vegas. This is on the hotel’s lower level next to Imagine’s other concepts, The Cabinet of Curiosities and The Lock bar and speakeasy, and “Real Bodies.” Look for 30 life-sized, animatronic dinosaurs, educational facts and play areas.
This is a great option for dinosaur lovers of all ages and they’ll even have a section dedicated to Nevada dinosaurs. There is a joke in here about some Vegas lounge acts, but I’m not making it. More to come on this attraction, brought to town by Imagine CEO Tom Zaller.
Cool Hang Alert
Anything happening, generally, at Hard Hat Lounge. Column fave and reliable rocker Frankie Sidois co-owns the place. On Thursday, the scene was banging with Sidoris, Wolfgang Van Halen, Myles Kennedy and Kiss drummer Eric Singer all in the venue. It was a hang session, not jam session, but the spot on 1675 Industrial Road is happening. As we say, try the pizza from co-owner Robby Cunningham’s Guerilla Pizza.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.