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New Las Vegas Strip speakeasy works magic, yacht rock, secrecy

Updated April 15, 2024 - 6:05 pm

Las Vegas loves its cover bands. The city is so fond of magicians that more than 20 headline on and off the Strip. We are captivated by tucked-away hideaways, quasi-secret parlor performances, and concepts with proven success.

All that and more are available at the new 1923 Live nightspot and live entertainment fortress at Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. The venue is a spin-off of Noel Bowman’s 1923 Prohibition Bar at The Shops at Mandalay Bay.

The 1923 Live experience opens for private events at the end of May. Two ticketed shows, open to the public, are launching tentatively on June 7. The “1923” is for the room’s 1920s-era décor. The 8,000-square-foot venue overlooks the Grand Canal gondoliers.

Prepare to be amazed by the parlor presentation “Legerdemain,” a show-stopping performance by the renowned magician and stage producer Jonathan Levit. Catch his act from 5 p.m.-7 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Up next is Kevin Sucher’s “The Docksiders—Yacht Rock Experience.” The popular Vegas act over the past two years follows at 8:30 p.m. on those nights (tickets include two beverages and are on sale Thursday at 1923. com).

Aside from The Docksiders’ cover of Olivia Newton-John’s “Magic,” these shows are entirely unrelated.

Bowman also owns the Minus 5 Ice Bar at Mandalay Bay and the club at Grand Canal Shoppes, which sits beneath the new 1923 Live venue. The club’s only access is a pair of private elevators at Ice Bar.

Bowman’s vision is to re-energize the Vegas lounge scene with the Docksiders in the 300-seat performance space. Levit is headlining the 60-seat lounge. More live entertainment will be developed for this hybrid, public-private venue.

Levit is new to the Vegas scene. The magician’s show is presented by Tony-nominated producers Christopher Allen and Kevin Duda in partnership with veteran Vegas producers Adam Steck and Alex Schechter of SPI Entertainment. Levit developed the concept alongside creative director Benjamin Schrader.

Levit has appeared frequently at The Magic Castle in L.A. He’s also hosted VH1’s reality series “Celebracadabra,” and has appeared in “Now You See Me,” “Control” and “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.”

The format for “Legerdemain” (a magic reference to deceptive, sleight-of-hand artistry) is atmospherically similar to “Ghost Stories” at Bowman’s Mandalay Bay club and “The Magician’s Study,” which performs in unannounced MGM Resorts venues.

“This is a show that involves not only the magician performer but also the host and the bartender as your host for the evening,” Levit says. “There is byplay and banter between those two characters as they interact with each other and the audience. There are moments of intimate sleight of hand magic, balanced with comedic and interactive elements within the show.”

For Steck, the show’s “reveal” was a showcase in January 2022 at Wassa Coulibaly’s Baobab Stage at Town Square.

“I went with my wife, Bri, and we were blown away. We’ve always kept in the back of our heads where it might fit in,” Steck says. “When Noel asked if we’d like to participate in this project, it was the first act I thought would be perfect for a 50-60 capacity show.”

The Docksiders, a popular and well-traveled vessel over the past two years, quickly becoming a favorite of the Vegas entertainment community.

Sucher fronts the breezy, buoyant band with his vocalist wife, Erin. They sample yacht-rock favorites Toto, Lionel Richie, Christopher Cross, Hall and Oates, Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins, and (for Erin) Olivia Newton-John.

Donning blue blazers, white slacks, and captains’ hats, The Docksiders played The Duomo at Rio for eight weeks beginning September 2022. The show has since performed at Notoriety Live From May to November 2023, headlined at Sand Dollar Downtown at the Plaza, stormed through Casablanca in Mesquite on March 8, and prospered in a pair of U.S. tours.

A three-time Grammy nominee and expert in production, Sucher is using the 1923 Live show to catapult the Docksiders to opportunities elsewhere.

“I’m hopeful that being at 1923 Live will help us market our touring shows differently,” Sucher says. We’re also hopeful of serving the locals we have come to love with Venetian’s free three-hour parking.” He means vehicles, folks—not boats.

Cool Hang Alert

Fergusons Downtown at 1028 Fremont Street presents live music noon-2 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. No cover. And the Don’t Tell Comedy showcase takes over from 7 p.m.-10 p.m. Saturdays. A cool and cozy spot; go to fergusonsdowntown.com for intel.

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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