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Park Theater in play for Shin Lim, Aces of Comedy headliners

Updated February 20, 2021 - 10:06 pm

Shin Lim might not have considered performing at Park Theater a couple of years ago. But the two-time “America’s Got Talent” champ might ply his craft where Cher cavorts.

Lim, the Mirage Theater resident headliner, is likely to move into the spacious theater as MGM Resorts International continues to reopen entertainment on the Strip. Lim and the “Aces Of Comedy” lineup, featuring Bill Maher, David Spade, Ray Romano George Lopez and Daniel Tosh, can easily move into the venue after March 15. That’s the date public gatherings are allowed at 50-percent statewide.

MGM Resorts International President of Entertainment and Sports George Kliavkoff stops short of formally announcing that Lim and the “Aces” crew will use Park Theater as a temporary home. But he broadly hinted at such a solution. Clearly, the venue’s availability (empty, at the moment) and architecture (it seats 5,200, with a variable capacity) is suited to host these shows.

“These are performers that want to be in venues in front of 1,000, 2,000 fans, and we have a 5,000-seat venue with the right seating capacity requirements,” Kliavkoff said. “We could put them into that venue, and use that venue for them, and then move them back into the Mirage Theater when that’s appropriate.”

Mirage Theater’s seating capacity is about 1,250.

“That’s the exact, right size of an audience for a great lineup like the Aces of Comedy comedians, and if you could only fill the Mirage room to 50 percent, it wouldn’t work economically,” Kliavkoff says. “But if you can put them in a bigger venue to get 1,200, 1,500, 2,000 fans, that works really well and it’s a great temporary solution.”

Asked if Park Theater would be held for such a strategy, Kliavkoff said, “Absolutely.”

More from our chat:

Cirque du Soleil can return by the summer: With four of its five remaining shows at MGM Resorts hotels, Cirque can come back safely and turn a profit at less than 100-percent available as early as this summer. Blue Man Group at Luxor, also a Cirque holding, should be at the front of that reopening effort.

“The shows that require more like a 50- to 70-percent capacity to be profitable in their current locations will start coming back a month or two after this May 1 date everyone is talking about, and leading into the third quarter,” Kliavkoff said. “We will be bringing back those shows, and Cirque shows fall into that kind of wave.” Word around Cirque is shows could start coming back as early as July, barring unforeseen spikes in COVID numbers.

Park Theater headliners are coming back: Lady Gaga, Aerosmith, Bruno Mars and Cher are all expected to resume their residencies, though no firm timeline is possible.

And they will have company.

“We anticipate that all of the residencies that we had when COVID started will be back after this period ends,” Kliavkoff said, “and we anticipate that we’ll have several new and really exciting residencies to announce as well. The announcement will be coming this calendar year, for sure.”

The Moat will be adjusted: Kliavkoff said the 25-foot “Entertainment Moat,” or simply, “The Moat” as it has been dubbed, will be reduced “in the near future.” The distance required between the stage and audience has prevented several smaller-scale shows on the Strip (such as, “Opium,” “Atomic Saloon Show” and every David Saxe Productions show) from reopening.

“We’ve been asked to give our recommendation. I know others on the Strip are giving their recommendations as well.” Kliavkoff said. “I think you’ll see a coordinated effort to reduce that moat to still have people be a safe distance from fans and customers, but to reduce because 25 feet is a little bit of overkill. I’m confident in the next little while we’ll see that reduced.”

Safety authority over MGM Resorts properties shifts on May 1: Importantly, the Nevada Gaming Control Board and the Clark County Commission take over enforcement of pandemic directives from the state’s emergency directive on that date. Such lingering concerns as the moat, for instance, will then be dealt with at a more localized level.

“I think we’ve had a great conversation with both the state and the county and other agencies that oversee what we’re doing,” Kliavkoff said. “I think when the state of emergency declaration disappear, people are going to feel comfortable that the health and safety metrics are trending in the right direction. I think we can be more liberal about letting more people into the shows, and we’ll do that in partnership with the proper regulatory agencies.”

Options abound for the old Zumanity Theater at New York-New York: Terry Fator is in a limited run at the room beginning March 18. Cirque wants to develop something, but is not in a formal partnership with MGM Resorts in that venue.

“As you can imagine, when you announce that a theater like that is available, every great creative artist in the world who has a show idea wants in,” Kliavkoff said. “Several existing, well-known, large-scale shows on Broadway and otherwise have raised their hand and want to be in that theater and we’re going through a very careful selection process.” Kliavkoff said that a rotating headliner series has not been ruled out, though the venue is designed for a proper production show.

Luxor Theater will have talent: Carrot Top and “Fantasy” are using the theater for now. But Kliavkoff says, “We have a great show that we hope to be opening before the end of the year and we look forward to announcing it at the appropriate time.” We expect it will be an American TV hit, and loaded with talent.

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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