Category Archives: Las Vegas Shows

Cirque du Soleil Files for Bankruptcy Protection

We first broached the possibility of a bankruptcy for Cirque du Soleil back in April 2020, and we’re sad to report the company has done just that. Sometimes, we hate being right.

While news coverage of Cirque’s bankruptcy has focused on “immense disruption” caused by the COVID-19 crisis, Cirque du Soleil was in deep financial trouble prior to the closure of its shows, 44 in all, including six Las Vegas productions.

What kind of trouble? Roughly $1 billion in debt, largely due to leveraged loans.

Cirque du Soleil

Let’s hope the sun isn’t setting for Cirque.

Read our story to learn more about some of the WTF moves leading to Cirque du Soleil’s staggering debt.

Cirque furloughed about 3,500 employees in March 2020. Now, those employees are terminated.

The company has signed an agreement with its existing investors to take over Cirque’s liabilities and invest $300 million to keep the company afloat. A Canadian government body called Investissement Quebec will contribute $200 million in debt financing.

Yeah, it’s confusing. We just want our bendy people and creepy clowns back!

It’s expected that once Cirque’s capital is restructured, most of its Las Vegas shows will return: “O,” “Zumanity,” “Love,” “Ka,” “Mystere,” and “One.”

Insiders believe one or more Las Vegas shows won’t be back. Likely candidates are “Zumanity,” “Love” and “Ka.”

Among Cirque’s challenges, there’s no clear timeline for reopening their shows.

Here’s hoping Cirque du Soleil can get its act together. Cirque shows are as much a part of Las Vegas as roulette wheels, strip clubs and people mistakenly using an apostrophe in “Caesar’s Palace.”

MSG Sphere Resumes Construction in Las Vegas

Officials have been reluctant to confirm the news, so we will: Construction has resumed at MSG Sphere following a halt activity due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The site was shut down in late March 2020 due to concerns around the pandemic, but when we hit the site, it was bustling with activity.

MSG Sphere

MSG Sphere is back in action!

The $1.66 billion entertainment venue is a partnership between Madison Square Garden Co. and Las Vegas Sands, owners of Venetian and Palazzo.

The previous plan was to open the Sphere in 2021, but officials say those plans have been dashed by the pandemic.

While other Las Vegas construction projects continued through the shutdown—including Resorts World, Allegiant Stadium and Circa Las Vegas—Sphere was down for the count until recently.

Construction projects across Las Vegas have been impacted by disruptions in the supply chain, the Sphere included.

MSG Sphere Las Vegas

If our supply chain could stop being interrupted, that’d be great. It’s affecting our orbs.

In recent news reports, company reps have been cagey about publicly announcing construction has resumed at the MSG Sphere. A spokesperson told the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “there is no update on the resumption of construction.”

The hell there isn’t! You just got one!

It’s likely the project would prefer as little attention as possible given the metric ass-ton of drama behind the scenes at Allegiant Stadium and other Vegas construction sites.

MSG Sphere Vegas

The Sphere is currently topless. It is Vegas, you know.

It’s great to see MSG Sphere springing back to life!

The massive budget has been a source of some concern about whether the project would be completed, especially given the uncertain future of live entertainment. The question of demand versus supply in Las Vegas was a hot topic even before the pandemic. It was mainly us questioning that, but ignore our crystal ball at your peril.

At this point, it appears MSG Sphere is full steam ahead, and the company announced Ted King, the longtime veteran behind “Caesars Magical Empire” at Caesars Palace and “Star Trek: The Experience” at what’s now Westgate, will oversee content creation for the Sphere’s massive screens.

Logistics and cost aside, MSG Sphere has the potential to rock the world of Las Vegas entertainment.

MSG Sphere Arena Las Vegas

Las Vegas is about to get an injection of OMFG.

MSG Sphere will accommodate about 17,500 people and will stand 366 feet tall.

The venue will feature inner and outer high-definition screens covering about 160,000 square feet.

Sound quality is expected to be off-the-chart, mainly because the Sphere will use an infrasound haptic system. We’d tell you what that is, but that would involved “effort,” and we are very busy
drinking for further field research involving a Top Dollar slot machine, so lower your expectations.

MSG Sphere is one of the shiny new toys Las Vegas desperately needs to help jump start Sin City again.

Keep those cranes craning, MSG Sphere.

Update (7/22/20): Construction has been halted again at MSG Sphere. Our sources say the reasons are financial. Many trade folks haven’t been paid in months. Big red flag this project is stalled indefinitely.

Big Elvis Returns to Harrah’s Las Vegas

Our buddy Pete “Big Elvis” Vallee returns to Harrah’s on June 12, 2020, and it’s about damned time.

Las Vegas wouldn’t be quite as Vegas without Big Elvis.

Pete Vallee Big Elvis

Big guy, bigger voice, biggest heart.

Big Elvis performs in the Harrah’s Piano Bar on Friday, June 12 and Saturday, June 13 at 2:00 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.

Weekend shows will continue for the foreseeable future.

As always, the show is free, but there’s usually a two-drink minimum.

We trust Pete also takes tip, so tip generously.

Guests: Please do not touch or breathe on Big Elvis. He is a Vegas institution. He’s also a heavier guy, and that “underlying condition” means you need to keep your distance, and if possible, wear a mask.

This talented, big-hearted icon will be back to hugs and handshakes soon enough.

Roy Horn, of Iconic Magic Duo Siegfried & Roy, Dies at 75

Magician Roy Horn, of the famed Siegfried & Roy, died May 8, 2020 in Las Vegas.

The performer recently contracted COVID-19 and was reportedly recovering.

On April 28, 2020, Horn’s publicist told ABC News he was “responding well to treatment” and “on the road to recovery.”

Roy Horn’s representatives have attributed his death to “complications of COVID-19.” Roy Horn was 75.

Here’s the official statement about the passing of Roy Horn.

The official sadness.

German performers Siegfried & Roy performed for 13 years at the Mirage, until Roy Horn was attacked by a 400-pound white tiger named Montecore on October 3, 2003, Horn’s 59th birthday. Read more.

The attack resulted in near-fatal injuries for Roy Horn, and even after his recovery, he had difficulty walking and talking.

Siegfried & Roy

Siegfried & Roy were in their element during Oktoberfest at Hofbrauhaus.

Siegfried & Roy also performed at MGM Grand, Stardust and Frontier.

Siegfried & Roy hold a place in Las Vegas history for being among the highest-paid entertainers in their day. Their contract at Mirage was reportedly worth $57.5 million-a-year.

Siegfried & Roy also hold a place in the hearts of those who love Las Vegas and its colorful history.

Roy Horn dies

It really doesn’t get more Vegas than Roy Horn.

The rumor of the death of Roy Horn was first shared by @LasVegasLocally on Twitter.

Despite his career-ending injuries, Roy Horn continued to make public appearances and he’ll be missed by legions of magic fans. The legacy of Siegfried & Roy, of course, will live on.

Bankruptcy Looms Large for Beloved Cirque du Soleil

Las Vegas fixture Cirque du Soleil is in a world of financial hurt, and closure of all its shows due to the coronavirus—44 productions in all—is likely to lead to the company filing for bankruptcy protection.

Moody’s credit rating service recently downgraded Cirque du Soleil’s rating to “Ca” (Moody’s second lowest rating) meaning Cirque is already in default on its loans, or soon will be. Moody’s has also said Cirque has “limited prospects for a tenable capital structure” following a stretch of what’s expected to be steep losses in 2020.

Cirque du Soleil is rumored to be more than $900 million in debt.

In late March 2020, the company abruptly laid off 4,679 people, or about 95% of its employees.

Cirque du Soleil

The “Sun Circus” is experiencing a partial eclipse.

The awkward fact is Cirque was in trouble prior to the coronavirus outbreak.

The culprit? Leveraged loans.

A leveraged loan is one given to companies with a lot of existing debt or a poor credit history. Leveraged loans have a higher interest rate than typical loans.

Insiders share Cirque began to lose its way with ownership and leadership changes following the sale of the company in 2015 to three investment groups, including TPG Capital, for $1.5 billion. Those risky leveraged loans made the sale possible.

The company’s founder, Guy Laliberte sold 90% of Cirque in 2015 for $1.5 billion, then sold his remaining stake in Feb. 2020.

The new owners reportedly pivoted Cirque toward being an analytics-driven culture, which is pretty much the best way to suck the souls from creative people. You know, the ones who made Cirque the entertainment juggernaut it had become.

Beyond taking on risky loans, Cirque’s leadership made a number of expensive decisions, leading to a string of massive losses.

The company is rumored to have lost $30 million its touring shows in China, $20 million on its NFL Experience in New York City and a whopping $70 million on the disastrous “R.U.N.” at Luxor in Las Vegas. “R.U.N.” closed on March 8, 2020, after just a few months. Read more.

RUN

We feel just terrible about this graphic. Which apparently didn’t keep us from sharing it. Do you know this blog at all?

In an attempt to cover its losses, Cirque reportedly cut marketing and creative budgets, which hurt attendance. As a result, the company raised ticket prices and feed, which further hurt attendance.

All eyes are on Cirque’s CEO Daniel Lamarre. Lamarre is the one who unceremoniously fired pretty much everyone at Cirque via video in March.

Jumping ship just before the fecal matter hit the fan was the company’s COO, Jonathan Tetrault.

Hear more about Cirque’s financial straights, and leveraged loans, on the Wall Street Journal podcast.

What does this mean for Cirque’s shows in Las Vegas? As with so many things right now, it’s “fluid.”

It seems likely theaters and other venues where crowds gather won’t open until after casinos and hotels do. That’s going to put additional pressure on Cirque du Soleil.

Cirque is no doubt scrutinizing its shows to determine which, if any, might need to go. We’ve talked to Cirque du Soleil insiders and hear the company’s touring shows may not come back, at least in the foreseeable future.

Of its Las Vegas shows, sources say “Zumanity,” “Love” and “Ka” are candidates for the chopping block.

Zumanity 69

We are not making this up.

Cirque du Soleil has become so intertwined with Las Vegas, it’s painful to hear about the company’s financial struggles.

From what we understand, Cirque’s ticket sales are still respectable. The company makes about $120 million a year in Vegas alone, and average occupancy sits at about 70% from what we’re told.

It’s worth noting several of the Cirque productions in Las Vegas are decades old. For example, “Mystere” at TI is nearly 30 years old.

For the sake of its artists and technicians, and the myriad individuals and companies dependent upon Cirque du Soleil, we hope Cirque can find a way to return to its roots, and a stronger financial footing, once again.

Las Vegas wouldn’t be Las Vegas without Cirque du Soleil.

Big Elvis to Perform Show on Facebook So We Can All Feel Human Again

Being in Las Vegas during the casino shut-down has been a daily punch to the loins.

The good news is our buddy (and the world’s greatest Elvis impersonator) Pete “Big Elvis” Vallee, is doing a free, live performance on Facebook so we can collectively rekindle our love of Las Vegas all over again.

Vallee’s show happens Saturday, March 28, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. Vegas time, that’s 9:00 EST.

Pete Vallee

In Vegas, you know you’re awesome when Golden Tiki shrinks your head. We’re waiting.

Big Elvis has been enthralling fans for decades in Las Vegas, most recently at Harrah’s. Prior to that run, he was at Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall, now the Cromwell.

His final show at Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall was on May 1, 2012.

Vallee’s first show in Las Vegas was at the Sahara in 1980. A lot has happened since then, including Saraha becoming the Sahara again.

Pete Vallee

Pete’s blushing from all the well-deserved attention.

We’ve known Pete Vallee for ages, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a nicer guy in Las Vegas. His fans are legion, and we count ourself among them.

It would be great if we could break the Internet logging on to catch Pete Vallee’s Facebook performance.

He’s the Elvis we need right now, so don’t miss it. Catch him live at Harrah’s when this mess is finally behind us. The Big Elvis show is one of our favorite free things to do in Las Vegas.