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Tropicana’s shows will survive hotel demolition

Updated January 30, 2024 - 5:56 pm

Harry Basil has noticed a pattern among ticket-buyers to his show at the Laugh Factory at the Tropicana.

“Wherever people are buying tickets, they are often buying not knowing we are at the Tropicana,” the club’s partner and general manager says. “They are planning while not knowing where we are exactly located.”

That brand familiarity is paramount to the club’s future, as Tropicana announced Monday morning it would close on April 2. The hotel is to be demolished as the Las Vegas Athletics stadium is built on that site.

But all of the shows currently performing at the hotel will run elsewhere. Word from production company Red Mercury is the tribute productions “MJ Live” and “Purple Reign” are planning to relocate to new locations on the Strip. No final dates have been established for those shows.

Laugh Factory is also nearly finished closing a deal on a new Strip venue. Basil says there are several interested parties, including opportunities that have arrived just this month. Details should be firmed up soon.

What is certain is March 31 is the final performance date for Laugh Factory. Basil is planning a “Harry Basil & Friends” show in the club’s final week. Headliners Rich Little and Murray Sawchuck are planning to move along with the venue. Sawchuck’s final date is March 27, so expect a Murray-esque, red-carpet sendoff.

Basil has just received word that the much-anticipated (at least from here) “Beastmode Comedy Show” hosted by Marshawn Lynch has pulled out of its Feb. 10 date. The show had planned a midnight performance. No official reason given, but a midnight performance the night before the Super Bowl presents unprecedented ticket-selling and scheduling challenges.

Basil says he plans to continue his series of headliners, with such top draws as Jon Lovitz, Jamie Lissow and Michael Blackson.

Laugh Factory opened at the Tropicana in March 2012, replacing Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club, which opened at the hotel and soon moved to MGM Grand.

The Tropicana Theater is one of the longest-running showrooms ever in Las Vegas. As the Tiffany Theater, the venue was home to “Folies Bergere” for 49 years until that show closed in 2009. Gladys Knight and Wayne Newton are among the theater’s resident headliners; the musical “Mamma Mia” ran for three months a decade ago in the room.

The Tropicana’s current tribute shows are setting their final dates.

Developed by veteran Vegas producer Dick Feeney, “MJ Live,” a Michael Jackson tribute, has played more than a decade on the Strip, moving from The Strat to the Tropicana in 2022.

Jason Tenner has fronted “Purple Reign” for more than 25 years, the past six at the Trop. The Trop shows are expected to move and relocate in tandem, and remain on the Strip.

Sawchuck opened at the Frontier in January 2002 and is a veteran of hauling in and out of showrooms. Prior to moving into Laugh Factory, he visited some 27 venues in and around Las Vegas.

Sawchuck began posting photos from such outposts as Wild Wild West and even Casablanca in Mesquite. The whole tour played out as a “Where’s Waldo?” adventure.

The comic/magician says this move should be “100-percent” easier.

“I haven’t stopped working and have been on the Strip for 22 years, which is incredible to me,” Sawchuck says. “I haven’t stopped working. I’ve been attached to Laugh Factory, and Harry is like a brother to me. We’re looking forward to the future.”

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 X, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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