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Vegas producers redouble safety efforts as COVID spikes

Updated November 11, 2020 - 6:28 pm

Buckle up and mask up, is the message from Las Vegas show producers, as Gov. Steve Sisolak has asked Nevadans to stay at home as much as possible in the next two weeks to fend off rising COVID-19 infection trends.

“The governor is totally on point, and we’re ready to stand and assist in his mandate and his direction, which is measured in this situation,” Spiegelworld founder and “Absinthe” producer Ross Mollison said Wednesday. “For us, the people who don’t need to be at the show aren’t there. We have installed some new cameras so we can watch the show at home so we don’t need to go down to the tent.”

Mollison said the show is already enforcing its mask-mandatory rules for audience members. The Spiegeltent’s staggered entry-exit protocol, reduced capacity, table spacing and 25-foot “Entertainment Moat” are all set for the foreseeable future.

At Excalibur, Adam Steck of SPI Entertainment also said the rules in place would be reinforced. Steck’s company is returning “Australian Bee Gees Show” and “Thunder From Down Under” to Thunderland Showroom.

“It’s a matter of being vigilant about the rules we’ve been given,” Steck said Wednesday. “We’re going to have communication from our performers, from the stage, to the audience, literally right before the show, telling them the rules. We need people to wear masks and to wear them properly, over their noses. We’re being specific about what’s expected.”

Matt and Angela Stabile’s “X Country” at Harrah’s was the first Strip show to return after the pandemic-forced shutdown of live entertainment in March. Harrah’s Cabaret has been redesigned for distancing and the dancers are masked, common modifications in the return of production shows on the Strip.

“No changes,” Angela Stabile said Wednesday. “We’re keeping all guidelines as we have been.”

Piff The Magic Dragon remains on schedule at Flamingo Showroom, with plans to celebrate the 13th birthday of Mr. Piffles onstage Friday night.

Also at Caesars Entertainment, Tape Face’s return is going off as scheduled. The headliner is back onstage at Harrah’s Showroom beginning Wednesday night. The comic mime is making the proverbial lemonade out of lemons, filling seats in the 25-foot, off-limits zone with 100 mannequins.

MGM Resorts International hotels returned seven shows to the stage on Friday, presenting David Copperfield, Jabbawockeez and Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club at MGM Grand, Carrot Top and “Fantasy” at Luxor; and Steck’s shows at ExCal. MGM Resorts has also presented live entertainment since June at Mayfair Supper Club at Bellagio.

The company said in an email Wednesday, “We remain focused on our health and safety initiatives.”

Harry Basil of Laugh Factory at the Tropicana has no plans to adjust his onstage lineup, but he is discouraging impromptu “drop-ins” from comics, fans and even the occasional journalists.

“We’re talking about headliners from other clubs coming in to hang out,” Basil said Wednesday. “But right now, we have limited seats that are spaced out and we can’t have a lot of non-ticketed guests in the club.”

Basil added, “I’m kind of glad the governor cracked the whip a little bit, to get everyone’s attention.”

The schedules at Mosaic on the Strip and Notoriety at Neonopolis remain unchanged. Notoriety’s Ken Henderson is actually adding to his club’s busy schedule, debuting a jazz night next week, “Fat Tuesday” hosted by Dixie Flatts. Further out, Vinny “Vin A.” Adinolfi of Bronx Wanderers and Jimmy Denning of Tenors of Rock are premiering their Vin & Jimmy’s Downtown Hootenanny act next Wednesday.

Dean Coleman, proprietor at Mosaic, said he might review his show schedule after the weekend. The venue will continue to sell the “Queens of Rock” tribute to female rock vocalists starring Elyzabeth Diaga; Kyle Martin’s “Piano Man” Billy Joel-Elton John tribute, and the male revue “Aussie Heat.”

“We’re keeping everyone within the mandate,” Coleman said. “But we might go dark for a week. I just don’t want to jeopardize anybody’s health, but we do want to move forward and not lose the traction we’ve gained.”

At least one off-Strip venue has shifted to a digital format at least for the next two weeks. The Vegas Room at Commercial Center is moving Ruby Lewis and Ian Ward to a “pay what you can” livestream at 6 p.m. Thursday, with no audience. Travis Cloer’s scheduled performances Nov. 19-21 are pushed to Nov. 27-28. Nieve Malandra’s brunch shows this Sunday and Nov. 22 are instead rescheduled to a single performance Nov. 29.

Mollison said the governor’s Tuesday announcement reminded all of the difficulty of shifting the way humans interact.

“The important thing to know is, we’re being told to act in a way that is contrary to our learned behavior patterns,” Mollison said. “We have to constantly remind people to reverse their actions. That is a challenge, but is something we can do and something that we’ll need to do at least for a few weeks.”

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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