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Piff, Tape Face find way to stay on stage, add dates as Caesars shifts

Updated December 15, 2020 - 9:59 am

Under normal circumstances, the turbulence in Caesars Entertainment on this week would have seemed abnormal. But hey, it’s 2020, it’s COVID, and this is showbiz in Vegas.

The company lost “Absinthe” at Caesars Palace for the rest of this year possibly longer, due to the pandemic’s economic crisis. But by even as that show took down its dates Monday, we have learned Piff The Magic Dragon is coming back to Flamingo Showroom for 2 1/2 weeks, and Tape Face has added eight matinee shows at Harrah’s Showroom through Jan. 2.

Both headliners are playing to just 50 fans per show, of course, but no matter. That’s entertainment.

Piff had been sidelined since Gov. Steve Sisolak’s “pause” on Nov. 22, restricting the size of public gatherings. But after some quiet reflection and talks with Caesars officials and producers Matt and Angela Stabile of Stabile Productions, the costumed dragon opted to fire it up through the end of the year.

“After putting our cast and crew on hiatus for three weeks during the pause, they are now facing the holiday without work,” John Van der Put, who portrays Piff, texted Monday night. “As the pause has been extended, we will perform our remaining shows between now and the end of the year. We hope to be able to provide work to those we call family and bring a little happiness to guests coming to the show.”

Piff, along with co-stars Showgirl Jade Simone, the Squire Brett Alters and King Matt Donnelly, had reopened at Flamingo Showroom Oct. 27, when capacity restrictions were limited to 250. The show has moved from Bugsy’s Cabaret to the larger showroom so folks can space out.

“To put the 50-people rule in perspective, that’s the cutoff point for our meet-and-greet when we’re on the road,” Piff said. “Now, it’s the whole audience.”

Angela Stabile says she hopes Sisolak can up the capacity to 100, 200 or back to 250 and drop the 25-foot distance between the audience and stage. Stabile said between six and 10 feet would be sufficient “so other shows are able to re-open and get the entertainment industry at least working again.”

A bit north on the Strip at Harrah’s, Tape Face has continued through the “pause,” without pause. The comic mime put an octet of 4:3o p.m. shows onsale beginning Friday. Those shows are in addition to his scheduled 7:30 p.m. performances.

Tape Face, whose legal name is Sam Wills, said in a text, “We feel pretty good knowing that we are not only THE FUNNIEST SHOW IN LAS VEGAS but also that we are maintaining an incredibly high standard of health and safety at all of our shows.” (Uppercase treatment is from the mime.)

Along with comedic sidekick Christina Balonek as Phyllis Vanillis, Tape Face has set up 100 mannequin heads atop theater seats in the showroom’s front section. This is to fill seats in the restricted 25-foot “Entertainment Moat.”

Those figures don’t count against the venue’s 50-person capacity, at least not yet. But check back Jan. 15.

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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