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‘This Is Christmas’ at Venetian a rare new production in COVID

Updated November 24, 2020 - 7:33 pm

We knew, at some point, a new production show would premiere on the Las Vegas Strip during COVID reopening. It has arrived, appropriately wrapped as a Christmas present.

“This Is Christmas” opens Nov. 27 at The Venetian Theater. The show is headed up by creator, producer and music director Pat Caddick. The concert-style musical runs 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Fridays through Sundays, through Dec. 27. Tickets are $69.95-$99.95 (not including fees) and available at venetian.com, Ticketmaster.com or the Venetian/Palazzo box offices.

The show will play to a socially distant, protocol-adhering audience of 250 in the theater’s lower level.

“The theme is, we need Christmas,” says Caddick, a veteran Vegas entertainment professional who has most recently worked as co-MD on “Vegas! The Show” at Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood. “We need it now, more than ever.”

Eric Jordan Young of “Rock of Ages” and “Baz” is director and also performing in the show, which is a sample platter of Christmas classics, including “O Holy Night,” “Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town,” and “White Christmas.”

“I wanted to go with the types of Christmas shows I’ve always remembered,” Caddick says. “We have those memories of Christmas shows when we were kids and we’re going back to those times.”

The singing lineup is sprinkled with well-known and high-caliber vocalists Randal Keith (“Le Miserables,” “Phantom — The Las Vegas Spectacular”), Laura Wright (“Vegas! The Show” “Fantasy” at Luxor and “American Idol”), Jaclyn McSpadden (“Baz,” “Postmodern Jukebox”), Lou Gazzara (“Vegas! The Show” and “American Idol”), and touring duo Ben Stone and Jasmine Trias (also of “American Idol”).

Caddick, who, also co-produced “Hairspray” at Luxor and was music supervisor on “Baz,” heads up the show’s six-piece band. The show’s pace to the stage is impressive, as Caddick signed the agreement with the hotel on Oct. 15. And, in a rarity for anytime and especially COVID, the property is funding the production.

“It’s been a frenzy,” Caddick says. “We are working some long, hard hours.”

Front and center are the venue’s safety directives.

“Those are the longest conversations we are having,” Caddick says. “We’ll be socially distant, we’ll be safe, and people can enjoy Christmas. And we’ll see a lot of Christmas masks.”

Vegas Room shakeup

The Venetian holiday production sent a ripple to a favorite, off-Strip venue, The Vegas Room supper club at Commercial Center. Jordan Young had been planning to direct and co-star in the supper club’s Christmas show. But over the weekend, his involvement in the Venetian show led to a dispute with TVR proprietor and chef David James Robinson.

The fallout was swift: Jordan Young is no longer in The Vegas Room’s plans. Entertainment director Brent Barrett (who had also planned to perform in The Vegas Room Christmas production) resigned on Saturday. The behind-the-scenes drama unfolded during what was reportedly a boffo run by Ruby Lewis and Ian Ward in the supper club.

The Vegas Room will move forward with its Christmas plans and is on the cusp (the cusp, I tell you!) of hiring a new entertainment director with strong ties to the city. There is also an opportunity to expand the club’s scale over the next few months.

“While we’re certainly disappointed that Eric Jordan Young will not be working on ‘A Vegas Room Christmas,’ the show will still be moving forward with a wonderful combination of great singers, delicious food and the incredible music of Irving Berlin and White Christmas,” The Vegas Room President Tom Michel said in a statement. “We wish Eric nothing but the best with all his future endeavors.”

Michel added, “We also want to thank Brent Barrett for the time and dedication he put into making The Vegas Room the success that it has become. It would have been wonderful to have him continue with us as we grow and expand what we’re doing, but he has chosen not to do so. In terms of the future, we hope to have some announcements soon about our new entertainment director and other exciting expansion plans for The Vegas Room brand.”

Barrett says he is unsure of his next move He and his husband, Bernie Blanks, have developed a duo act that would be a good fit at a cabaret-style venue somewhere in town. And, expect EJY to kill it in the Venetian production. As we say, showbiz!

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. Las Vegas Sands operates The Venetian and 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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