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Gans set to jump to Wynn resort

The killer bunny is out, Kermit the Frog is in.

Singing impressionist Danny Gans is moving from The Mirage across the street to Wynn Las Vegas' new sister property Encore, opening an expanded version of his show in mid-January.

Gans will replace "Monty Python's Spamalot," which will close July 13 at the end of a contract phase. The venue will be renamed the Encore Theater because it's located at the connecting point between Wynn Las Vegas and the new hotel.

The distinction is important to Gans and his manager, Chip Lightman. Sharing the limelight with Siegfried & Roy and then Cirque du Soleil's "Love" was a sticking point in the entertainer's eight-year relationship with The Mirage.

"Steve (Wynn) said, 'Chip, I can give Danny Gans his own hotel basically, and he's the act,'" Lightman explained. "It's what he's always wanted."

When "Love" opened at The Mirage in 2006, a debate over which show would get which amount of outdoor signage went public.

"That was unfortunate that that went down. I know The Mirage wanted to keep everyone happy," Lightman said. "Danny's just happy that finally he'll have his own hotel."

Wynn Resorts Chairman Steve Wynn said Thursday: "We've always wanted to have stars, just like I did when I hired Danny at The Mirage. The most important thing in Las Vegas is to have something you can't see anywhere else."

"Spamalot" is Wynn's second Broadway musical in the theater. The first, "Avenue Q," arguably suffered from lack of name recognition because it hadn't yet toured.

Conversely, Wynn suggested "Spamalot" has been too easy to see outside Las Vegas: "One of the things that suffers when you have a Broadway hit is that it tours all over the United States."

Wynn said there should be no signage issues with Gans because an entire section of a three-part outdoor sign will be an oval "with two words on it in shimmering lights: Danny Gans."

However, Gans will be sharing the theater, because he does only four shows per week.

"I'm going to have another four shows at least in that theater," Wynn said. "It will take me a while to get up to speed booking them, but that's the goal."

Lightman and Wynn both noted that Gans will be able to make his production more theatrical in the full proscenium theater, where he can add sets and backdrops. The impressionist has a three-year contract with options to extend. "He'll finish his career at Encore," Lightman said.

Gans will do his final show at The Mirage on Nov. 22. Management plans to continue with headline comedians who currently share the room with Gans, including Ray Romano, Brad Garrett and Howie Mandel.

"Additionally, we are looking at a few other ideas for the theater," hotel spokeswoman Jenn Michaels said. But she added, "It's too early to talk about any of them."

Wynn converted a Mirage ballroom into the theater for Gans in early 2000 but then agreed to sell his properties to the company that became MGM Mirage. The company began operating under the new name only two months after Gans' show opened there in April 2000.

"Danny said, 'What are you doing to me?'" Wynn recalled with a laugh. "He had come to us (from the Rio) for less money than he could have made somewhere else. I said, 'I can't take you with me. I don't have anyplace to put you.'"

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

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