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‘The Real Magic Mike’ ready for December takeoff on HBO Max

Sahara Las Vegas is building on muscle and “Magic.”

“Magic Mike Live” is back at full thrust at the hotel. No small feat, either. There was some skepticism VegasVille about what was happening in that upstairs annex at the hotel, if the show would ever return.

But it was back, ready to rock, with its premiere Friday night. Look for the related reality competition series “The Real Magic Mike” to premiere Dec. 16 on HBO Max. The six episodes were shot over an eight-week period, including a couple of COVID interruptions, at the hotel and its spiffy second-floor theater.

The series follows 10 guys who have lost their magic, and their accompanying mojo, and want to transform into professional dancers. A champion is indeed crowned and will have a chance to perform with the pros in “MML.” Good luck with that, we say. These guys wear you out just watching them.

The live show is performed in a nifty playground, the new Magic Mike Live Theater. The multi-level venue is an adult theme park, with cast clambering from its upper levels and using an aerial platform for a drum solo and a torrid water sequence. The theater is similar the old Body English venue at Hard Rock Hotel (today’s Virgin Hotels Las Vegas), but with cleaner site lines.

The show’s numbers are of the same flavor as before. There is inventive use of a fire hose, for instance. A great, full flip from the stage by one of the guys. An aggressive aerial routine. A unique application of a New York Yankees hat and jersey, too. We like the musical elements in the production, the sound of piano and guitars coming from the stage. David Terry, especially, adds top-notch vocal chops to what is otherwise semi-organized bedlam.

Hotel owner Alex Meruelo and GM Paul Hobson were both at Friday’s relaunch. The company has a lot riding on the “MML” investment, and so does co-producer Channing Tatum (that’s his voice-over welcoming the audience to the revelry). Around the horn, Sahara has pulled apart a venue we actually liked quite a bit, The Sayers Club, in favor of Noodle Den restaurant. The noodle emporium opens in November.

We were especially impressed by Azilo Ultra Lounge, connected to Azilo Ultra Pool, which also just opened Friday. It had that new-lounge smell of fresh vinyl or leather or whatever is covering the seats. But the lounge is really chic, opening to the pool deck, which sits under massive LED screens. It’s not as hyped as some other pool experiences, where swimming is done in a stadium, but Sahara has a very cool and refined layout. Add the consistently funny, boundary-pushing comic Eddie Griffin, and Sahara has an appealing entertainment lineup. Ah, and don’t miss the hang at Casbar Lounge, either.

Newman’s next frontier

We’ll call it the LG Factor, for cool-hang purposes. This is in reference to Lady Gaga dropping in “by surprise” (quotes mine) on Brian Newman’s “After Dark” show at Nomad Library.

These events have proven epic, actually part of Strip lore. Gaga slides in shortly after Newman starts his set at the Library. Both have just performed the “Jazz + Piano” show for more than two hours around the bend at Park Theater. A couple Jameson whiskeys into the night, Gaga is called to the stage (or, rather, just walks up) and turns the performance inside-out.

Sometimes, Newman keeps his shirt on. But Gaga is there, ready sing with and disrobe the trumpet player. She also shimmies while Newman’s dancing wife, Angie Pontani, performs striptease.

It’s such a time — and has become so highly anticipated — that the room is sold out for Newman’s shows that follow “Jazz + Piano.” The next frontier for the Brooklyn-based horn player is to book the Library at capacity, without the LG Factor.

“We know we need to stand on our own, without the lead-in, and we’ve been building toward that since we started in Vegas,” Newman says. “That’s why we are bringing in so much diverse talent, giving people a lot of entertainment for their ticket.”

Newman will get a progress report during his next run, from Oct. 14-29. The series runs at 11:30 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays. Gaga’s dates are Oct. 16-31, and almost all of them lead into “After Dark.

But Newman flies solo on Oct. 14-15 and Oct. 29. Those three shows are a barometer for his future in Las Vegas. Fortunately, for those who like killer late-night entertainment on the Strip, Newman’s sales trended upward during his most recent six-show run in August. He sold out the final three performances in the 175-seat venue.

Along with his smoking core band with Alex Smith on piano, Daniel Foose on bass, Steve Koryka on sax and Nolan Byrd on drums, Newman is bringing back nimble guitarist Tim Stewart (from Gaga’s lineup). Skye Dee Miles and Mikalah Gordon will join regular featured vocalist Jaclyn McSpadden. Pontani and Buttercup head up the burlesque numbers, and expect drop-ins from the odd magician (Murray SawChuck has appeared with Newman) and side act to reinforce the experience.

Newman’s shows run notoriously long. It’s both a sprint and a distance race. Newman often doesn’t close until after 2 a.m. Asked if he might show some restraint in his next engagement, Newman laughed and said, “I’ll be keeping it to a cool four hours. But you know me, I love the tradition of late-night, Vegas shows. It’s who I am, baby.”

Newton’s millennium

Wayne Newton became famous in the previous millennium, opening in Vegas in 1959. But he’s just been honored the entertainer of the millennium — the current millennium — by the Latin Chamber of Commerce. Newton accepted the award Tuesday at Mandalay Bay Convention Center.

Latin Chamber President Peter Guzman presented Newton with the award. He’s a big fan of Mr. Las Vegas. As Newton said in his intro, “When Peter called me and asked me to be here — actually he called me and told me to be here …” A more serious note, Newton said, “It really does not matter how it all ends for me. The only thing that truly matters is are the hearts and souls that we touch along the way.”

Newton is stage-ready, set to return to Wayne Newton Theater inside Bugsy’s Cabaret on Oct. 23. We’ll be there, as we’ve known the Waynster since the last millennium.

Cool Hang Alert

Yahz Chyld and Marie Ann Abellon play Rush Lounge at Golden Nugget on Friday night. Saturday it’s Ashley Red, Sunday it’s John Jones. No cover. Great place to take a break when the blackjack tables turn cold.

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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