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‘This Is Christmas,’ a Vegas holiday show that has survived a storm

Updated November 26, 2021 - 11:02 am

This Christmas spectacular was becoming so star-crossed it seemed the Grinch himself had seized the reins.

A COVID-forced shutdown, the loss of its original co-director and water damage to the theater threw this effort into peril. But “This Is Christmas,” something of a Las Vegas Christmas miracle, made it out the other side. The family friendly, Vegas-tinged holiday show opens Friday and runs through Dec. 26 at Palazzo Theater (show times are 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays; tickets are $69.95 to $99.95, not including fees).

Following the show’s first full dress rehearsal Tuesday, creator and producer Pat Caddick is asked if he felt this project would never make the stage over the past year.

“I really, really did become concerned,” Caddick says. “The first thing I did was talk to the hotel. They gave their full support. That was an important conversation. Then we moved from The Venetian Theatre to this theater, where honestly I think this theater better suits the show.”

Of course, he means when it is dry. A burst pipe behind the theater drenched the venue and forced the show to rehearse off-site, and also at Opaline Theater at The Venetian until the place was restored to performance standards.

“The theater suffered this flood damage about 7 or 8 weeks ago and we were working overtime to get it functional,” Neil Miller says. “From the floor to the video walls, all of the presentation pieces were affected. We had to repair all that before the show started moving in.”

The cast which was sidelined on Nov. 25, 2020, a year and a day ahead of Friday’s opening. The shutdown was, of course, prompted by a return to pandemic restrictions, From that lineup, Eric Jordan Young is unable to perform because of an injury to his left Achilles’ tendon, suffered in an August performance in Usher’s “Backstory Pass” at Caesars Palace.

Veteran Vegas director Blair Farrington has stepped in as co-director, adding valuable production experience from his days with “Baz” at Palazzo, the Show in the Sky at Rio, and currently in “M.J.: The Evolution” at Mosaic On The Strip.

Onstage, the talent bursts singers Diana DeGarmo and Ace Young (“American Idol”), Randal Keith (“Le Miserables,” “Phantom — The Las Vegas Spectacular”), Laura Wright (“Vegas! The Show,” “Fantasy” at Luxor and “Idol”), Jaclyn McSpadden (“Baz,” “Postmodern Jukebox”), Lou Gazzara (“Vegas! The Show” and “Idol”), and touring duo Ben Stone and Jasmine Trias (also of “Idol”). The dance team of Sarah LeClear and Alejandro Domingo is also cast, grooving to holiday delight.

The show’s live band and lavish staging (the hotel’s oversized Christmas decorations placed onstage are positively hypnotic) should make it a popular draw, provided the audience is in a festive mood. The venue’s balcony is open, about doubling its capacity to beyond 1,200.

“That’s the thing we don’t know yet,” Caddick says. “We would love to be selling out, at least a couple shows, but that isn’t up to us.”

The show is available for families, but has moments for the grown-ups. Trias and Stone sing “Baby It’s Cold Outside” with the roles switched, Trias acting as the pursuant. The costumes are regal and flashy, hinting toward large-scale Vegas revues of generations ago.

Caddick talks of one day touring the show to performing arts centers across the country, or making it an annual event at Palazzo Theater.

“We see just enough Vegas in it to have national appeal,” the producer says.

Caddick has worked with the production “Splash” at Mandalay Bay, along with Wayne Newton, Danny Gans, “Vegas! The Show,” “Zombie Burlesque,” and “Baz” over the years. He has met any challenge, creatively, financially and (in this instance) pandemically.

“We are moving this forward, working as hard as we can,” Caddick says. “This is a cast of thoroughbreds to me. If we put it together, and we give them the opportunity, they will always shine.”

Cool Hang Alert

The room is always cooler when Clint Holmes is onstage. His annual holiday production is 7 p.m. Dec. 3, and 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Dec. 4 at Myron’s at the Smith Center. Tickets are $37-$59 (not including fees) at thesmithcenter.com. If you can’t get the spirit at this show, you ain’t gettin’ it.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Dr. Miriam Adelson, the majority shareholder of Las Vegas Sands Corp., which operates Palazzo.

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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