‘We had incredibly high standards of sanitation and safety when we had restricted audiences coming to see THE FUNNIEST SHOW IN LAS VEGAS,” Tape Face, legal name of Sam Wills, said in a text message Monday. “With the new restrictions in place we will continue to maintain these same high standards for safety for any audiences coming to see THE FUNNIEST SHOW IN LAS VEGAS.”
No false modesty there.
This is how the comic mime at Harrah’s Showroom announces that his show is among the Las Vegas Strip productions still running, even as Gov. Steve Sisolak is mandating more stringent limits on mass gatherings statewide.
The updated restrictions call for no live performance or gathering for more than 50 people. Previously, the governor had allowed for crowds of up to 250, as long as the seating was socially distant performers were 25 feet from the audience.
Tape Face is using the new protocols to comic advantage. Originally a street performer, Wills inventively fastened 100 mannequin heads atop the seats in that 25-foot, “entertainment moat” section. The result has been a faux audience, which will be in place as the show continues to roll along at Harrah’s.
“We were forced to re-evaluate what we were doing,” show producer John Bentham says. “We want to keep people happy, and also employed.”
To bolster the bottom line, Tape Face is adding shows at 5:30 p.m. nightly, along with 7:30 p.m., over the three-week pause. The room will be set at 50 humans, along with the 100 fake humans.
Also at Harrah’s, the adult revue “X Country” is continuing at that hotel’s cabaret venue, adding second performances at 7 p.m. (along with 10 p.m.) Thursdays through Sundays. Piff The Magic Dragon is also expected to return to the Flamingo Showroom, though his status at this writing has yet to be finalized.
Caesars Entertainment President of Entertainment Jason Gastwirth said in a statement Monday that the status of all ticketed performances is being evaluated, with safety of guests and staff the top priority. “There will likely be changes in show schedules and ticket prices to absorb the impact of these limitations,” Gastwirth said.
As anticipated, MGM Resorts International is benching all the productions it reopened Nov. 6. There was a sliver of a possibility Sunday that such shows acts as Australian Bee Gees and Thunder from Down Under at Excalibur would play on. But those shows join David Copperfield, Jabbawockeez, Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club, Carrot Top and “Fantasy” as going dark through at least Dec. 17.
Also going dark for three weeks is “MJ Live,” the Michael Jackson tribute show at the Strat. But L.A. Comedy Club, along the hotel’s retail promenade, will remain open.
The dinner shows at Mayfair Supper Club at Bellagio is one exception to MGM Resorts’ temporary shutdown of live entertainment. The popular supper-and-show hang will keep its programming onstage, while obeying updated protocols. Similarly, Rose. Rabbit. Lie at the Cosmopolitan’s dinner-show packages are ongoing.
Those two column faves have been presenting the “ambient” singing and dancing numbers since the original resort reopenings in June.
Several smaller venues on and off the Strip will continue to present live entertainment. What we’re finding is these venues are largely unaffected by the latest restrictions, because they were operating at the lower scale already (just remember, folks, always wear your masks).
These venues include, but are not restricted to:
— Notoriety Live. Ken Henderson’s multi-theater, top-floor annex at Neonopolis can socially distance audiences to meet the 50-person requirement. In fact, Notoriety has run consistently through the shifting COVID requirements. Up next at 8:30 p.m. Friday is the “Four Funny Comics” lineup. The show’s formal title actually has a modified profanity, which we can’t use. As we say, for publication purposes, “Keep it clean, keep it clean.” Oh, and try the Notoriety pizza. Three minutes of deliciousness.
— Alexis Park. The “Motown Extreme” R&B revue, Jokesters Comedy Club and mentalist production “Alain Nu — The Man Who Knows” are all still in place at Athena Showroom. Club operator Pete Housley of Admit.VIP says a second, 5 p.m. nightly performance for “Motown” on Thanksgiving. Those shows play to 50 people anyway, and typically sell out.
— Fremont Room at Downtown Grand. Don Barnhart’s’ “Delirious” comedy show plays to 42 ticketed audience members. So, he’s in. Barnhart, a veteran room operator and stand-up, is also behind the Jokester’s club at Alexis Park.
— Mosaic on the Strip. The entertainment venue across the Strip from the Park MGM video marquee, and right next to Walgreens and Target, continues to present its three-pack of productions. “Queens of Rock,” starring Elyzabeth Diaga; Kyle Martin’s “Piano Man” tribute to Billy Joel and Elton John; and the male revue “Aussie Heat” will perform to the limited audiences. Room operator Dean Coleman took a week away from running the shows, but says, “We’ve been going on as normal, and consistently cleaning the room, doubling up on sanitizing and the crowds have been very good.”
— The Vegas Room. The cabaret/supper club’s combination of ambience onstage and Chef Davis Robinson’s multicourse dinner is intact. Travis Cloer, with Chris Lash at the keys, performs at 6:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday (those shows are sellouts). Nieve Malandra shakes up the ambience for brunch 1 p.m. Sunday. Then the Christmas show runs for 20 performances beginning Dec. 2.
— The Mint. The club that sits just a couple cartwheels from the Golden Steer on West Sahara still showcases “Dimmare’s Martinis and Magic.” Come for the magic, stay for the martinis or #fizzywater, and again, wear the mask.
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.