January 24, 2008 - 10:00 pm
Impressionist Gordie Brown is wrapping up a Venetian run that will leave Wayne Brady as the theater’s sole tenant for the time being.
The better-known Brady moved into Brown’s 740-seat theater at The Venetian in June, and now it looks as though Brady’s producer, Base Entertainment, will soon manage the theater as well. What is official is that Brown closes Feb. 13 and Brady will have more time on the Strip: 40 weeks a year, with five shows per week in a commitment that probably will run until May 2009.
But Brown has fans at The Venetian. Management offered to build him a new room within the hotel or the new Palazzo, but it will take nine months to get one ready. After scouting the Strip for alternatives, Brown decided to take them up on the offer, said a source close to the situation.
The nightclub explosion is likely making it tough for the two to remain roommates. The clubs are hurting the late shows, and both entertainers are somewhat old-school acts who would fare better in the early evening than at 10 p.m.
Brady said recently that he is enjoying Las Vegas and encouraged by his early success to increase his commitment. “The audiences and Venetian have shown me love. I really don’t stop doing something until I win at it. I feel I’m definitely on the road to (having) one of the best star-driven shows on the Strip.”
Brady and comedian Johnathan Mangum for years did an improv show on the Strip, playing off Brady’s “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” connection. But The Venetian debut last April was the first attempt to integrate a full band and Brady’s musical impressions of the likes of Prince and Tina Turner.
The show will continue to change every couple of months, Brady said. The next step is “making the improv stuff have even more production value” so it doesn’t feel as much like two shows stuck together.
“When you’re a multi-hyphenate,” he said, “you have to do things that appeal to everyone that you think is coming to see you and for whatever reason. … It’s not rocket science. It’s putting together something folks want to see. And sometimes, you’ve got to give people things they didn’t expect to see, but you know they’ll enjoy.” …
The Amazing Johnathan is pulling the plug on his Sahara run after this weekend, citing accounting disputes with management. He says he will be moving into a new theater at a hotel he is not yet ready to name.
“I was going to leave regardless,” Johnathan says of the room he has held since May 2005. “My contract was up in January but I was extending month by month. They made it impossible to work there, so I had to quit.”
The comedian is in litigation with the Sahara’s former owners, Gordon Gaming Corp., alleging hidden dressing room cameras violated the privacy of female performers in his show. The more recent dispute involves more than $150,000 worth of accounting issues and his contention that the casino exceeded its “comp” ticket limit of 25 for each show.
Johnathan says he and hypnotist Anthony Cools will finance and operate the new theater that will house three shows, and might be ready by March.
Johnathan’s roommate production at the Sahara, a trio of oldies acts, is set to reopen Friday after replacing former members of the Temptations with the Marvelettes until a legal dispute over the Temptations name is resolved. Producer Bill Caron says the Marvelettes group has free and clear use of the name. …
The producers of Wayne Brady’s show may not want roommates at The Venetian, but they are doubling up on weekends in the “Stomp Out Loud” venue at Planet Hollywood. The “Stomp” theater will now host David Spade, who defects from The Mirage to take a series of Base Entertainment-produced weekend engagements this year: Feb.15-16, March 14-15, April 11-12, July 25-26, Aug. 30-31, Oct. 10-11, Oct. 24-25 and Nov. 28-29.
Comedian Wanda Sykes also stakes out a weekend March 28-29. Neither of them doing 10 p.m. shows will inconvenience “Stomp,” which does its seven per week at 7 or 8 p.m.
However, the dual use of the junkyard-themed theater is likely to leave plenty of room for comedic comment. Jon Stewart was the first when he performed for Planet Hollywood’s opening weekend festivities in November:
“I want to start with a little bit of a message. Do you know 60 percent of everything that Americans throw away every year ends up on the walls of this theater?” …
Las Vegas isn’t a family town anymore? Tell it to the Mouse.
The Walt Disney Co. was the big winner during the perfect storm weekend of “Disney on Ice” and the “Hannah Montana” tour both occupying arenas. That meant about 93,000 Disney-related ticket sales, even if families wish the two could have been spread further apart.
“Hannah” filled the MGM Grand Garden for three shows and 43,852 tickets. “Disney on Ice” perhaps picked a bad year (its fifth) to go from 10 to 12 shows at the Orleans Arena, but still could be counted on to sell around 50,000 tickets and gross about $1 million.
“We have never seen a month like this, with so many shows targeting kids,” Orleans Arena director Steve Stallworth noted of competition that included “Walking With Dinosaurs” and “My Little Pony” at the Thomas & Mack Center.
“Disney on Ice” is produced by Kenneth Feld Productions, which pays Disney a hefty licensing fee. The ice show was locked in a year in advance — “High School Musical: The Ice Tour” is next year — and the “Hannah” tour stop couldn’t be foreseen. …
“Marriage Can Be Murder” is a familiar title to locals, thanks to a seven-year run at The Egg and I restaurant. Creator Eric Post now hopes to strike a mix of locals and tourists by moving the dinner show into the Canyon Club inside the Four Queens starting Wednesday. The Beatles tribute “4 Lads from Liverpool” will move into an afternoon slot.
There will be a learning curve with the club that boasts nice atmosphere and is conducive to the murder mystery format, but hasn’t done much to spread word of its existence. Post admitted his first reaction was typical: “When I was first told about it, I was like, ‘Huh?’ “
But Nevadans will get in for $45, $10 less than the tourist ticket and less than the price of many a dinner and most shows separately. ….
Tom Stevens is another familiar name to locals, thanks to his years of doing celebrity impressions for Suncoast and Orleans customers. Now he is trying to woo visitors with “An Evening with Dean and Friends” Thursdays through Sundays in the Riviera’s Le Bistro cabaret.
The Strip is “a whole different animal,” he said. “But if you don’t try, you’ll never know.”
Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at email@example.com or (702) 383-0288.