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Empty spaces filled by shows on Strip

If you think there are too many shows on the Strip, you aren’t busy making room for more by converting former buffets and nightclubs into new performance spaces.

"Tony ‘N’ Tina’s Wedding" celebrated 10 years of Las Vegas chicken-dancing earlier this year but is now preparing a June 1 move from the V Theater to its fourth venue: the long-closed buffet on the second floor of Bally’s.

Meanwhile, the Rok Vegas Nightclub that closed at New York-New York on April 1 will reopen May 1 as The Broadway Theater, hosting two shows from British producer David King: the Abba tribute "Dancing Queen" and the dance revue "Spirit of the Dance."

The latter parked at the Golden Nugget in 2002, but this time "Spirit" – which first traveled in the wake of "Riverdance," but reaches beyond Irish dance to other ethnic traditions – will include a singing group, Dublin’s Irish Tenors.

The room conversion is a rare turn back from a nightclub to a show space. Before the rock-themed club took over, the room was the home of Rita Rudner and the occasional musical act.

King has a far-reaching operation with tours and resident shows in Myrtle Beach, S.C. and Branson, Mo. However the Branson Variety Theater remains out of commission until September, after a February tornado swept through the Ozark resort town.

The Las Vegas shows were said to be booked before the tornado, but the theater manager in Branson assures me that we are getting "the best of the best of my singers" as a result of the dark season there.

The producers of "Tony ‘N’ Tina’s Wedding" have made a habit of "going into spaces that to us have been like diamonds in the rough, but other people look at us like, ‘What are you gonna do with that?’ says co-producer Jeff Gitlin.

So it took Gitlin and co-producer Raphael Berko to revive the Bally’s buffet as a new home for the interactive, partially improvised dinner comedy.

"It’s almost ideally built for what we need," he says of the room the producers first explored four years ago, closer to the time it closed as a buffet. "It’s in the best room that it’s ever been in, (with) the largest buffet space that it’s ever been in."

The interactive dinner show – where about 20 actors improvise with audience members, folding them into a raucous Italian-American wedding – was making money in an unused restaurant area of the V. But the capacity was limited to about 150.

The new venue boosts capacity to 400 and gets the show back in the fold of Caesars Entertainment. Gitlin says he and Berko are leasing outright and will operate the entire venture, including the food service. They also are open to booking other titles before or after the evening "Wedding."

Larry Pellegrini, director of the original New York production, remains affiliated with the local effort. …

A more famous impressionist follows a less famous one into the LVH. Rich Little moves into the Shimmer Cabaret at the former Las Vegas Hilton on April 30 with a new show called "Jimmy Stewart & Friends."

The 73-year-old impressionist will take the 8:30 p.m. slot last held by singing impressionist Greg London. Little will do five shows a week produced by Jay Harvey, who also helms the musical "Nunsense," one of the four titles sharing the cabaret.

Because Little will limit his schedule to five shows a week, "Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack Show" will expand from one to three weekly performances starting May 1.

"Rich is perfect for the older half of our clientele," says Rick White, who oversees entertainment bookings for the casino. The new show is more focused than Little’s standard variety act, focusing on his friendship with Stewart and the Hollywood icons of his era.

The Las Vegas-based impressionist has been developing the Stewart tribute since at least 2007, performing it in other cities of late. …

Impressionist Bethany Owen closed her Rio afternoon showcase "One Voice" on Tuesday. …

Finally, the entertainment community mourned two losses this week. Pamela Langevin, a dancer and instructor in both the ballet world and casino shows such as "Lido de Paris," died in a scuba accident in Grand Cayman, where the 50-year-old was living.

And fans of Cook E. Jarr may remember the days when it was Cook E. Jarr & The Krums, the latter being a band rather than a karaoke machine. The loss of always-amused guitarist Phil Volturo will be noted in private services tomorrow.

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.

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