Updated January 6, 2020 - 9:20 pm
Paula Abdul might be small, but her ideas are super-sized.
“I think big,” Abdul said Saturday night after closing her “Forever Your Girl” residency at the Flamingo. “I think big, but in a way that can work intimately. Visually, this show was meant to be in a bigger room.”
Throughout her “Forever Your Girl” series, Abdul incorporated extensive video footage from panels at the back of the stage and pulled the show’s dance numbers to the middle of the showroom. The costumed MC Skat Kat character arrived from his position on stage left, and his look-alike sidekick also showed up from the showroom’s middle aisle.
Abdul performed what is now her signature move, a swan dive into the awaiting arms of her wickedly talented dance team, from a tall stepladder. The stage was turned into a big boxing ring for “Knocked Out.” The effort was to create an out-sized dance studio while interspersing Abdul’s career highlights on video.
The production also ran big, or long, at two hours, with a flurry of costume changes. You left with the sense that the show was built for a stage more the scale of Paris Theater — and Abdul has been reviewing that very venue.
There’s no doubt Caesars Entertainment officials want her back, somewhere, this year. After missing a show Dec. 28 for strep throat, Abdul sold out her final two performances Friday and Saturday night at the former Donny & Marie Showroom.
As it is, “RuPaul’s Drag Race Live!” is the next production to haul into the theater, opening Jan. 30.
“You never know, there is a possibility of doing a couple more weeks here while things are decided,” said Abdul, still wearing her pink-feather outfit from her “Forever Girl” closing number.”I’m beyond grateful. You never know how people will respond, but I thought this show would be magic. I am humbled, and it’s just been amazing.”
It’s been open season on the new Cirque du Soleil production “R.U.N” at Luxor ever since it opened in October. The show has received some blistering reviews from fans online (the show has merited two of a possible five stars by fan reviewers on both TripAdvisor and Yelp). There have also been online reports that the show is destined to close at the end of April, as ticket sales halt April 30.
Time is running out for “R.U.N.” https://t.co/ynRr9d0Soh
— Vital Vegas (@VitalVegas) January 6, 2020
“R.U.N” has also cloven its schedule this month, from 10 shows to 5 (or from two shows per night to one). Such schedule cuts are usually to offset box-office losses and “doctor” a show as it still performs, and that is the case with “R.U.N.”
On November 28 I stated "I predict a full closure for this show and a massive gutting. Costumes and sequences will be tossed out and the torture depictions have to go. Right now." Last day for R.U.N is April 30th. @Cirque https://t.co/YdYxHSuZIM
— VEGAS Unfiltered by Sam Novak (@sammasseur) January 6, 2020
“We are regularly working to hone the show content, speak directly to its intended audience and market it appropriately,” company spokeswoman Ann Paladie said Monday afternoon. When asked if the show would perform beyond April 30, Paladie said, “The schedule is being reviewed as we strive to find the optimal times/days for a show as unique as R.U.N.”
A source familiar with Cirque operations said it was highly unlikely the company would close the show entirely so soon, given its $62 million production investment. Another show insider said, simply, “The show’s not closing.”
Cirque has a history of tweaking shows as they continue to perform, with varying results. “Love” was fine-tuned early in its opening months (and overhauled totally in 2015) and has been running since 2006. “Viva Elvis” was delayed, then re-written, at Aria, but closed in August 2012 after a 2½-year run.
Crucial to Cirque’s marketing effort is an examination of the show’s title. As director Michael Schwandt said at the opening, the name “Cirque” was originally not promoted in the formal name of the show. It was later added back to its official title, and when fans see “Cirque” on the Strip, they expect acrobatics — not a graphic-novel adventure stage show filled with electric motorcycles, street fights and even a torture scene.
Anticipate an eradication of the Cirque brand in this adventurous, expensive — and risky — production.
Viva Shaff Vegas
Longtime David Letterman bandleader Paul Shaffer hit Mayfair Supper Club at Bellagio on Thursday night. Shaffer, who also spent years on “Saturday Night Live,” spent four hours at the club and visited with MGM Resorts International President of Nightlife Sean Christie, and Kim Willecke and Dennis Jauch of No Ceilings Entertainment. Shaffer, who has headlined with his Shaff-Shifters band at Cleopatra’s Barge at Caesars Palace, is seeking a return to the Strip.
Frank Citro, listed on the infamous Nevada “Black Book” of those banned from entering casinos since 1990, will be honored as the longest-living member of the Las Vegas Backgammon Club at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Porchlight Grille 8416 W. Desert Inn Road. Citro joined the club in 1976, just as it was founded by the late backgammon icon Michael “Max” Maxakuli.
Citro, 74, paid his debt to society ages ago. In 1985, he and six others were convicted of bookmaking and loan-sharking. He spent two years in prison.
Citro is still not allowed inside a Nevada casino, even though, as he told the Los Angeles Times in 2013, “I never cheated a casino, never had a fight there. I’m just supposedly a notorious felon.” What he is, actually, is an avid collector of 45 records and a dang good backgammon player.
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.