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Secret spots of the stars: Vegas showrooms hold hidden history — PHOTOS

Updated June 30, 2024 - 1:27 pm

The spot where Elvis spent a moment in silent reflection lies just a few feet from the stage where he thrilled sellout crowds at the International/Las Vegas Hilton.

But that historic location is out of sight from theater patrons at the property, today known as the Westgate.

Audiences at the Golden Nugget Showroom don’t see Frank Sinatra’s backstage dressing room or VIP suite, his private enclaves when he headlined the room in the 1980s.

The extensive and evolving signatures and tags from headliners and productions at Reynolds Hall dominate the walls just off stage right, unbeknownst to ticket holders. The theater’s backstage hallway is decorated with photos from the hall’s opening night in 2012.

Smith Center President Myron Martin’s framed pics adorn the backstage walkway at Myron’s cabaret room, dating to the venue’s launch a dozen years ago.

And though it looms high over the audience, the chandelier at the Venetian Theatre often goes unnoticed as headliners rock that room. The lavish ornament’s history is not readily apparent; the stage show for which it was conceived closed 12 years ago.

You don’t always know what history looms in Las Vegas theaters and showrooms. Here’s a look at some hidden items, spaces and places:

Elvis Presley - Westgate’s International Theater

For several years, the well-worn wooden platform where Elvis stood in solitude was only randomly noticed. A decade ago, members of the “Raiding the Rock Vault” production show were blown away to discover that particular spot.

When Gordon Prouty took over as the hotel’s vice president of public and community relations in 2018, he dressed up the space. The sign proudly states it is where Elvis stopped and meditated before striding onstage.

It is a stop on the “My Brother Elvis” tour hosted by Presley’s stepbrother, David Stanley. It is also a VIP add-on for “The King Comes Home,” a tribute show starring Daniel Durston that opened Tuesday night at the Westgate Cabaret.

The sign there repeats an inaccurate number for Presley performances at the venue, 837. That statistic is also shown on the bronze Elvis statue at the hotel’s entrance. The accurate number is 636.

Elvis historians say that Colonel Tom Parker bumped up the number of shows on the statue. Consider it a conversation piece, explained during the VIP tours.

And downstairs, below the International Theater, a section of the bar from Presley’s original dressing room, a mirror bordered by lights and a small sleeping room and even a water fountain from 1969 used by Presley are preserved.

Frank Siantra - Golden Nugget Showroom

Sinatra headlined the showroom from 1984 to ’89 and recorded his “Live From Las Vegas” album at the venue. Nabbing Sinatra for an extended run was a coup by then-owner Steve Wynn, a massive Sinatra fan and a close friend.

The showroom is in its original, 600-seat configuration from the Sinatra days.

The “Frank” star on the dressing room door, the mirrors on the ceiling, marble table and leather furniture are all original from the Ol’ Blue Eyes era. He had seen the leather pieces on a tour of Europe and ordered them delivered.

They are still in good shape, used by the rotation of “52 Fridays” headliners (Foghat, Tommy James & The Shondells, and Blue Oyster Cult among them) and resident headliner Gordie Brown. Sinatra occupied the suite on the floor above until his showroom dressing room was finished.

The 1,250-square-foot suite is still rented as a guest room for $650 to $750 per night, escalating according to demand. Many ’80s design effects (such as a push-button phone and silver-beaded curtains) remain. Don Rickles was the most recent celeb to use the suite as his dressing room and private quarters, for his final shows at the hotel in October 2007.

The Smith Center

The touring cast of “Les Miserables” were the first performers to tag the stage-right wall at Reynolds Hall in 2013. Since then, hundreds of headliners and cast members from Broadway shows have marked the walls. The signatures, hand-crafted logos and banners stretch nearly to the back of the stage, all the way to the theater’s third level and even to the doors facing the hallways outside the theater.

Lily Tomlin, Steve Martin, Natalie Merchant, Paul Anka, Dave Koz, Gordon Lightfoot, Jerry Lewis, Willie Nelson and George Thorogood occupy one coincidentally iconic area. “Mayor Carolyn Goodman and Oscar” reads one signature, near that of veteran rock promoter Danny Zelisko. “One Night for One Drop,” “Escape to Margaritaville,” “Newsies” and “School of Rock” are some of the many shows to leave banners behind. The lantern from “Hamilton” hangs in the space.

A hall of fame, of sorts, from Reynolds Hall’s opening night on March 10, 2012, greets performers as they head to a series of dressing rooms. Epic shots of the night’s host, Neil Patrick Harris, along with John Fogerty, Emmylou Harris, Jennifer Hudson and Carole King are displayed.

Across the courtyard at Myron’s, portraits line the backstage walls. Such sellout resident performers as Clint Holmes, the Lon Bronson Band, David Perrico and the Pop Strings Orchestra with the Raiderettes, and Frankie Moreno are among the dozens of entertainers honored.

The Venetian Theatre

A most obvious effect, visually, has a history long forgotten by many recent visitors to the Venetian Theatre.

The chandelier at the top of the regally appointed room was the signature effect in “Phantom — The Las Vegas Spectacular,” which ran from June 2006 to September 2012, nearly 2,700 performances. The Phantom, as portrayed by Anthony Crivello and Brent Barrett, hung from the giant fixture while tormenting the theater cast and crew.

The chandelier was made of four interlocking pieces, which started in individual positions and came together at the start of the show.

Closing the first act in a major theatrical moment, the chandelier dropped 5 feet, to gain the audience’s attention. Then it fell 35 feet — at 18 feet per second — halting just a few feet from those seated in the middle section. The stage went black as the piece fell.

The chandelier’s dramatic use in “Phantom” is part of history. The once-dominant production effect has been locked in a fixed position, unplugged and out of commission, since the finale on Sept. 2, 2012.

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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