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Short-lived ‘Puppet Up!’ faces Sept. 17 closing at Venetian

There’s a word the stars of “Puppet Up! Uncensored” would use at the news of the show’s fate, but we can’t use that word here.

It’s six-weeks-and-out for the troupe of comic puppeteers (six of them, coincidentally enough) at Venetian’s Sands Showroom. Officials with show producer Base Entertainment began notifying the cast and crew Saturday morning of the decision to close the show Sept. 17.

Funny and smartly conceived by co-creators Brian Henson and host Patrick Bristow, the production faced challenges from the beginning in attracting audiences for an improv show on the Strip. In an incidental twist, Bristow was the guest on my KUNV 91.5-FM radio show last week, and talked of a new video marketing campaign to help boost the show’s numbers.

“Puppet Up!” featured comedians operating some 60 puppets set on a rack on the stage, with Bristow fielding scene suggestions from the audience. Fans of improv comedy relish this format; international tourists, especially those not particularly comfortable with English, found the show hard to follow. The over-14-only age restriction did not help grow the audience, either, and the improv-puppet concept was never easy to market.

The show marks the latest in a string off short-lived productions for Base, which this year has closed Frankie Moreno’s “Under the Influence” (after 10 weeks) and Paul Zerdin’s “Mouthing Off” (12 weeks) at Planet Hollywood Showroom.

Base is also legally challenging the upcoming relocation of the highly successful “Absinthe” from Caesars Palace to the Cosmopolitan in November. The company does plan to bring “AGT Live” back to Planet Hollywood Showroom in Oct. 27-29.


Sometimes this column feels like the stage-show obituary page ….

Anyway, a reliably funny experience since 2009, Sin City Comedy & Burlesque at Planet Hollywood is playing out its run at the hotel’s Cabaret room. The final night on the P.H. mezzanine level will be Oct. 2. The lineup of top stand-ups interspersed with burlesque dance numbers opened April 1, 2009, at V Theater at the Miracle Mile Shops, and moved to Sin City Theater in 2012.

The owner of the Sin City Comedy & Burlesque title, longtime Vegas comic and club operator John Padon, moved to Hawaii last year. Running the show from that distance led to some “financial stress,” as venue operator Pete Housley put it, prompting Padon’s decision to hit the plunger.

In 2015, Padon sold the Sin City Theater license to Norbert Aleman of “Crazy Girls” fame, who moved that show to Planet Hollywood as the Riviera closed.

In June, Sin City Comedy relocated from the 215-seat Sin City Theater to the 150-seat Cabaret, with top club comic Greg Vaccariello as the headliner. Housley is now on the hunt for a 9 p.m. show. The initial idea is to bring in more comedy with a headliner in the Andrew Dice Clay (Laugh Factory at Tropicana) and Eddie Griffin (Rio’s Kings Room) mold.


Sean Christie has shown how a hospitality executive can ascend from the nightclub to the board room. Hired by Steve Wynn about a decade ago to orchestrate the opening of Blush boutique nightclub at Wynn Las Vegas, Christie last week was promoted to executive vice president of business development for Wynn Resorts.

The position is new, created as Wynn has just opened Wynn Palace in Macau and is beginning construction on Wynn Boston Harbor for a 2019 opening.

Christie’s imprint is felt across the Wynn/Encore resorts. He opened Society Café with chefs Kim Canteenwalla and Elisabeth Blau, and also piloted the development of XS, Tryst (and later, Intrigue), Encore Beach Club and Surrender Nightclub. Christie was at the front of the renaissance of high-priced star DJs along the Strip, bringing David Guetta, Calvin Harris, Tiesto, Skrillex, Deadmau5 and Avicii to the hotel.

John Katsilometes’ column runs Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday in the A section, and Fridays in Neon. He also hosts “Kats! On The Radio” Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on KUNV 91.5-FM and appears Wednesdays at 11 a.m. with Dayna Roselli on KTNV Channel 13. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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