Updated March 19, 2021 - 7:10 pm
Last week I was doing a little clerical work, checking a Las Vegas production company’s on-sale dates, and ran across something remarkable: A long line of ticketed shows, taking almost the whole screen on the KatsTop laptop.
Just like the old days, almost. Lined up were more than three dozen ongoing shows (39 by my count) being performed in Las Vegas right now. I would expect any other international city would be encouraged to have safely returned to that volume of live entertainment during a pandemic.
This, almost a year to the day after live entertainment across the city was closed in the statewide COVID shutdown of nonessential businesses.
That count falls far short of what Las Vegas has offered in the “old” normal. The stats vary depending on openings and closings and pauses and such, but the city presented about 150 ticketed shows per night before COVID hit. Again, Las Vegas sets its own standard with its pure volume of live entertainment offerings.
Checking the latest list Sunday, Matt Stabile of Stabile Productions said, “It’s pretty impressive, considering that we had like five shows going when we started reopening. But there is demand. The town is getting much busier. All of our shows have been selling out. It’s a lower capacity, of course, but it has been crazy, all week.”
A canvassing of the city’s ticketed shows, ongoing right now, gives reason for encouragement. Recent relaxing of maximum capacities for public gatherings to 50-percent of a venue’s fire-code capacity, and the removal of the 25-foot ‘Moat’ at the front of stages, has quickened the pace of the city’s return to live entertainment.
Following is the hot list of headliners and production shows you can see as the one-year shutdown anniversary approaches Thursday night:
Flamingo: Piff The Magic Dragon, Flamingo Showroom. “X Burlesque,” X Burlesque Theatre.
Bally’s: “Extravaganza,” Jubliee Theater.
MGM Resorts International
Excalibur: “Australian Bee Gees Show,” “Thunder From Down Under,” Thunderland Showroom.
“MJ Live,” returning Thursday, The Strat Showroom. L.A. Comedy Club, retail promenade.
“The Rat Pack is Back,” temporary Copa Room, hotel’s second level.
Don Barnhart’s comedy lineup, Pauly Shore, Delirious Comedy Club.
“BurlesQ,” “Rock Candy,” “The Man Who Knows” starring Alain Nu, “The Big Little Variety Show,” “Late Night Magic,” “Jokesters Comedy Club, “All Motown,” “Amazing Magic With Tommy Wind.”
Notoriety at Neonopolis
“The Regeneration Series” starring Clint Holmes and jazz keyboardist Tom Schuman, “Faaabulous The Show,” “Hootenany” with Jimmy Denning of Tenors of Rock and Vinny “Vin A.” Adinolfi of Bronx Wanderers, “Four Funny Comics,” “M Is For Magic,” starring David Goldrake, “Totaly Mental” starring Vinny Grosso, “Motown Extreme.”
Mosaic On The Strip
“Queens Of Rock,” “Aussie Heat.”
Comic John Caparulo (late of Harrah’s) in “Uncapped Comedy,” main room. The Space hosts several one-off performances, limited engagements and (of course) Mondays Dark charity shows every other week.
Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club
“Sexxy” starring Jennifer Romas.
Any headliner or show not listed in that stretch is yet to be announced, or (such as Gordie Brown at Golden Nugget on March 25) opening at a later date. The lineup does not include Cirque du Soleil’s plans to bring back its five Strip shows beginning July 4. Nor does it account for the many resident Strip headliners on the tarmac, starting with Barry Manilow’s scheduled return to Westgate Las Vegas in June. Usher’s residency at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace is next in line in July, continuing with Donny Osmond at Harrah’s in late-August.
And add to the ticketed lineup such ongoing “ambient” performances as shows at Mayfair Supper Club at Bellagio, Italian American Club and The Vegas Room. Several hotel-casino venues are currently offering free lounge entertainment, leading with Le Cabaret at Paris and Indigo at Bally’s; Napoleon’s in Le Boulevard betweent those two casinos; Harrah’s Piano Bar (topped by Pete “Big Elvis” Vallee) and Carnaval Court (my buddies in the Original Chaos classic-rock band); and the just-expanded 1923 Prohibition Bar at Mandalay Bay, with Nieve Malandra now in residency.
It’s a lot, unless measured pre-COVID business in Las Vegas, which sets its own standard. But to answer the question about whether the city can regain its stature as entertainment capital of the world, check the scoreboard. It’s already on its way.
Eric Jordan Young was a late call-out from his scheduled performance at The Space on Saturday. He had good reason. EJY was rushed to the emergency room Friday night with abdominal pain, and underwent appendectomy surgery Saturday morning. The malady was caught before any rupture, but …
“Ooh, it was bad,” Young said Sunday just as he was returning home. “I’ve never been in that position, to have to walk away from a performance. I was so ill was hoping everyone understood ‘the show must go on’ mentality wasn’t going to work this time. There was no way I would have been able to perform.”
Young is known for his durability. He pulled a 12-show-per-week schedule for four years in “Vegas! The Show.” His next booked gig is April 29, a return with “The Cocktail Cabaret” at Italian American Club. As the headliner says, “That should be enough time to make sure I’m back in performing condition.”
Who Was Where
The city’s reopening is leading to some celeb sightings. Las Vegas Raiders Coach Jon Gruden was at Barry’s Downtown Prime steakhouse at Circa Las Vegas. So was Buffalo Bills offensive tackle Dion Dawkins (separate tables). WWE heavyweight champ Bobby Lashley was in the house Friday night, easily recognizable as he carried his title belt into the kitchen for a photo opp with Chef Barry Dakake.
British singer-songwriter Leona Lewis was at Top Golf at MGM Grand on Saturday afternoon, sipping mimosas with friends. No word on if she broke out the sticks.
Another WWE star, Chris Jericho, took in “X Burlesque” on Saturday. His photo op was a classic. Our friend known simply as Red Cup Geoff stripped off his shirt and photo-bombed the whole cast, along with co-producers Angela Stabile and Tiffany Mondell. That’s him, far right, but not far right enough. Pretty funny, actually. But next time keep your shirt on and leave the comedy to Nancy Ryan.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.