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Pavilion or tent? It’s all good for Jabbawockeez

Call it a pavilion. Or call it a tent. Jabbawockeez producer Fred Nguyen doesn’t really care – either way he’s happy to see it on the southwest side of the Monte Carlo.

If you asked him a few months ago, he would have been on the fence.

The masked dance troupe could have toured in the months between the Blue Man remodeling the former Lance Burton Theatre (while still performing at The Venetian through Sep. 30) and opening their own theater at the Luxor next April.

"It was really up to me," the producer says, meaning it was his job to finance the interim venture. "It went away (and) came back to the table probably twice before we finally made a decision."

But so far, the pavilion/tent is shaping up as a good idea. Saturday’s debut sold about 600 of its 867 seats, on a weekend that included the Pacquiao-Bradley fight and the Electric Daisy Carnival.

The Monte Carlo was "going to go without a show until Blue Man came (next fall), so I think it worked out for both sides," Nguyen adds. "It wasn’t anything anybody was doing wrong, there was just no home for us."

While "Absinthe" takes tonal inspiration from the low-fi structure that houses it on the grounds of Caesars Palace, the Jabbawockeez don’t specifically make the new surroundings part of the act.

"The tent is very basic, or the pavilion if you want to call it that," Nguyen says. "I did it on purpose, I didn’t want to fool anybody. I just wanted something that was functional and let the show kind of speak for itself."

Opening-weekend feedback was good. "Everybody’s saying it’s a lot more warm and more intimate," Nguyen says, drawing more laughs from the crowd than it did in the theater. …

Pat DiNizio will offer his last "Confessions of a Rock Star" at the Riviera on June 25. The worthy little effort from the Smithereens rocker challenged the usual tired genres on the Strip and offered a true alternative.

Still, the news doesn’t come as a huge surprise. An 11 p.m. start time is a tough sell in the nightclub era, and the closing of this one follows the departure of impressionist Jonathan Clark and the drag revue "La Cage."

But unlike those tenant productions, DiNizio works under a financial guarantee from the hotel and was invited to perform at the property by the Riviera’s president, Andy Choy.

"We mutually agreed to move forward," Choy says now of DiNizio’s Facebook announcement that it’s time "to reunite with the rest of The Smithereens and begin work on a brand-new Smithereens studio album."

But DiNizio had been playing weekend shows on the road with the Smithereens anyway, perhaps denying the Riv of the one or two nights when "Confessions" might have pulled people into the 11 p.m. time slot management had doomed it to.

"I still say it’s a fantastic show," Choy says. "After the new album comes out, you never know what’s going to happen." Though DiNizio’s residency was originally announced as a year, Choy said the contract was in the option phase after an initial six-month commitment.

With buyout negotiations perhaps in the works, the usually talkative DiNizio is uncharacteristically wary of talking about "Confessions." However, he does say his work in Las Vegas is not done. When the Smithereens album is finished, he and a financial backer are planning to open "a community-oriented restaurant and music venue" downtown, one that will "help develop the careers of Las Vegas artists and musicians" as well as showcasing touring acts.

Choy disputes the idea that the Riviera simply had too many shows for its room count or its lack of pedestrian flow on the north Strip. In fact, the president says he "wants to get back up to six or seven" because it doesn’t compete in the nightclub realm and needs entertainment as part of its old-Vegas draw.

DiNizio’s show wasn’t billed as a limited run but others might be. "Our (core) customers are telling us they want new product and new offerings all the time." …

With "Phantom – The Las Vegas Spectacular" heading to a Labor Day closing, some cast members are hoping the side projects they do for fun might lead to a more secure future.

Ted Keegan, Randal Keith and Bruce Ewing (who already has left "Phantom") join forces to sing standards as "The Phat Pack" at 2 p.m. Sunday for a free show at Community Lutheran Church.

On Saturdays and Sundays all this summer, the show’s assistant conductor, Jonathan Gorst, and his wife, Maria, a "Phantom" ballerina, helm a ticketed family revue called "Bonnie’s Old West Musical Revue" in the Saloon Theatre at Bonnie Springs Ranch.

Gorst became interested in Vaudeville and musical theater of the 1890s when he was a young man playing piano at the historic Imperial Hotel in Cripple Creek, Colo. "It’s interesting how doors are opening as the show is closing," he says.

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

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