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Iconic Vegas sign to be revived at Neon Museum

Updated January 28, 2023 - 5:12 pm

Todd VonBastiaans remarked a few days ago that he needs to become accustomed to hugging again. He’s hugged only a half-dozen people (well, seven after Friday) throughout COVID-19.

But VonBastiaans is embracing Las Vegas history, significantly. The wonderful artist and lighting professional is sponsoring the renovation of the famous Lido de Paris sign, from the legendary adult revue and variety show at the Stardust, for the Neon Museum.

The sign will be lit anew at an invitation-only ceremony Thursday at sunset, then be exhibited in the Neon Museum’s permanent Neon Boneyard display at 770 Las Vegas Boulevard North. Go to the Hard Rock Hotel Gibson guitar and make a left. It’s there, appropriately just across from the Stardust sign.

The multicolored, 56-foot-long sign has not been illuminated in a quarter century. “Lido” was a hallmark Las Vegas Strip show from 1958-1991. The hit production packed ‘em in when Lefty Rosenthal ran the hotel-casino and featured Siegfried & Roy as a specialty act.

The classic Las Vegas showgirl spectacular entertained more than 19 million guests over 22,000 performances.

The show’s history is revived in every Katy Perry “Play” performance, when the superstar talks of her grandmother, Ann Pearl Hudson, working as a seamstress in the show. Perry headlines Resorts World Theatre, about where “Lido” was staged.

VonBastiaans, who happens to be a big Perry fan, knows the story. He knows the entire history of what the sign represents.

“I had people remind me to go and pick something, and do something, that isn’t just restoring the sign,” VonBastiaans says. “We want a sign that really helps cement the museum, as the Neon Museum, and away from just being a tourist attraction.”

Lido is the only sign out of 23 restored and illuminated at the Neon Museum that is specifically dedicated to entertainment. This is by design.

Himself an artist who creates behind the scenes, VonBastiaans’ influence in Las Vegas never goes dark. VonBastiaans’ first meeting on his first day of work after moving to town in September 1996 was to replace the lighting atop The Strat tower (that work is still in place). His second meeting was at the testing pool for “O” at Bellagio.

Since, VonBastiaans has worked for every Las Vegas property, major and otherwise. The Caesars Forum Shops sky ceiling, original Lake of Dreams show and new version of the production at the Wynn, the first architectural lighting for Neon Boneyard’s night tours, and the “Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds” moment in “Love” are among his favorite efforts.

VonBastiaans has enlightened the scene at Allegiant Stadium and every significant Vegas theater and venue. He is currently working on The MSG Sphere. He and has worked for more restaurants, nightclubs, retail businesses, casino floors, meeting rooms and ballrooms than he can count.

With that track record of lighting, VonBastiaans had been planning to lead a sign revival for years. He was reviewing four other famous Vegas signs, but wanted this restoration effort to represent the stage crews so critical to Las Vegas’ entertainment history.

The “Lido” sign is an homage to the wardrobe artists, lighting and sound techs, carpenters, riggers and stagehands who have worked in Vegas over the decades. The cast and crew of the “Lido” show will be on hand Thursday, long with Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and Neon Museum executives.

“There was this one opportunity and it was like, wait a second, we can use this as an educational tool,” VonBastiaans said. “This can really honor, and be a beacon for, the generations of families who worked backstage in entertainment. There is a uniqueness there. I just all fit.”

Cool Hang Alert

The premiere of Count Room Live inside Bugsy & Meyer’s Steakhouse at Flamingo. The Moonshiners make it, uh, Count from 8 p.m.-11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. It’s Prohibition Pop at its best, and yes try the veal.

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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