Updated February 16, 2021 - 11:12 am
Matt and Angela Stabile have been X-ing out days on the calendar for months, methodically planning for a full return of their collection of Las Vegas Strip productions.
The co-founders of Stabile Productions have proven to be at the forefront of returning shows during pandemic, leading with “X Country” at Harrah’s Cabaret and Piff The Magic Dragon at Flamingo Showroom in late-October.
The Stabiles are still at it, bringing a refurbished “X Rocks” back to a new location for The Back Room Bally’s. The venue is next to Buca di Beppo, across from the old Back Room location, which is where the rock-themed adult revue performed before COVID.
Plans were already in motion to move the show when the pandemic hit. The venue was ready just as the shutdown was enforced March 18. The show’s return hinges on elimination of the 25-foot rule for live-entertainment venues.
It seems that timeline would be on or after May 1, when pandemic reopening protocols shift to local authorities. The state Gaming Control Board is the authority over Strip hotel-casinos. Producers now hope the GCB will adjust that distance, which has thwarted many shows’ chances at returning even with 100- and 250-capacity limits.
“Once we get rid of the 25-foot rule, we can reopen ‘X Rocks,’ ” Angela Stabile says. “We’ve revamped the show, we did it right before March 2020, but were shut down before we could reopen in the new venue.”
“X Rocks” is well-remembered for its boffo performance opening for Metallica with comic Jim Breuer at T-Mobile Arena in November 2018.
The Stabiles’ Melody Sweets burlesque revue, pitched pre-pandemic for Cleopatra’s Barge at Caesars Palace, is another production hinging on the territory in front of the stage. That concept features Sweets at the center, backed by a band and summoning burlesque numbers. The Stabiles have not said whether the show is fully topless, but it will doubtlessly be adult-themed (read, pasties).
The production would take up a late-night, weekend time slot currently occupied by David Perrico’s Pop Strings. Wayne Newton and Dionne Warwick have been the room’s superstar anchors, with psychic Thomas John (who should have seen all this coming, right?) as a recurring headliner.
Newton certainly wants to return, Warwick reportedly wants back in, with John as a wild card. But the Barge looks like it’s moving toward a fully ticketed format, post-COVID.
It remains to be seen how Perrico’s popular no-cover show would work in that concept. If the Barge is a ticketed room, Perrico could charge while toggling the late-night slots. Or, he could find a stage elsewhere. Pop Strings had already expanded to Westgate Cabaret for midnight shows just before the shutdown.
Perrico has moved his equipment out of Caesars Palace. The expert musician and band leader has several productions in various formats, and is reviewing his options beyond Caesars Palace.
Sweets, meantime, has not performed in a ticketed show on the Strip since October 2017, when she left “Absinthe.” She did co-host a wild, Facebook Live “PodKats!” show from her back yard on Labor Day weekend.
Of her Caesars Palace show, Sweets says, “The only thing I can confirm at this point is there will be live music and glamorous burlesque.”
The former Green Fairy also issued a surprise Valentine’s Day single, a cover of The Beatles’ “All My Loving,” on Sunday afternoon (Beatles fans know the importance of that classic, as it was the first song the band performed on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in February 1964).
The great Mike “Beans” Benigno, of “MJ Live” at The Strat, produced the track. The tune’s tempo has been slowed considerably and seductively, as if to tease to something more. It would fit effectively in a burlesque show (heart emoji).
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.