Category Archives: Las Vegas Shows

Britney Spears Pulls the Plug on Park MGM Residency

We broke the story Britney Spears would do a residency at Park Theater following her successful run at Planet Hollywood, but even we didn’t see this coming.

Spears announced she’s canceling her “Domination” residency at Park MGM, presumably due to her father’s illness.

Technically, Spears is claiming the residency is just on hold “until further notice.” The residency was scheduled to start Feb. 13, 2019.

Britney Spears Las Vegas

You know what it means when there’s a red line through something.

When we first learned the string of shows would be canceled, we suspected it might be a case of bailing due to lackluster ticket sales.

Slow ticket sales were reported widely, and it appeared Spears and MGM Resorts may have over-estimated her ability to draw audiences following her stint at Planet Hollywood.

That 248-show run surprised everyone by selling more than 900,000 tickets and pulling in $137 million.

The “I’m dedicating my focus and energy to care for my family” line is, of course, a cliche used by celebrities to step away from their gigs, often taking advantage of outs in their contracts in order to save face as well as avoiding steep penalties for not fulfulling their contractual obligations.

The other feeble go-to excuse when ticket sales are flagging is “exhaustion.” Looking at you, Salt-N-Pepa.

We began to set our skepticism aside with Britney Spears, however, when we learned more about the seriousness of her father’s medical condition. He’s expected to recover.

Spears relationship with her father is a complicated one, to say the least. Her assets have been supervised by her father since her breakdown in 2008. He makes $130,000 a year as her conservator, and Spears can’t make legal or financial decisions without her father’s approval.

Beyond the medical element, we’ve received reliable information her ticket sales weren’t as abysmal as reported. While not as brisk as sales for Lady Gaga and Aerosmith, those are new residencies, so it’s not a fair comparison.

It’s possible Spears will be on the hook for millions in costs related to the cancellation of “Domination.”

At this point, we’re split on whether Britney Spears will return to fulfill her residency commitment at Park MGM.

Cancellations of this type have a huge ripple effect on those involved with the production and the resort involved, as well as surrounding businesses.

Spears had a $500,000-per-show guarantee (even more than Celine Dion makes) for her upcoming Park Theater residency, so even one of the best-paid female artists in the world would find it hard to walk away from that.

“Celestia” to Open in Tent Outside Stratosphere

“Absinthe” did it at Caesars Palace. A show called Fuerza Bruta is doing it at Excalibur in February.

“Celestia,” a new Cirque-style show coming to The Strat will do it, too.

What do all these shows have in common? They take place in tents.

Celestia Las Vegas

“Celestia” is a variant of Celeste which means “heavenly” or “of the sky” in Latin. Hey, not every photo caption has to be hilarious.

In the case of “Celestia,” it’s a 200,000-square-foot state-of-the-art tent. Which, in the parlance of entertainment venues, is one bigass tent.

We’ve gotten question about the tent outside Stratosphere for several weeks, and you sort of can’t miss it.

Celestia tent

If you said this is a unique tent, you’d have a point.

“Celestia,” which opens January 30, 2019, is an all-new international production featuring 32 performers. (Update: The opening date has been pushed back to March 30, 2019.)

The 90-minute show will feature acrobatics, aerialists, contortionists, dance, fire, silks acts and magic.

“Celestia” comes from Sasha Ivanov, former music director for Cirque du Soleil’s show, “Kooza.”

The new show boasts other entertainment heavy-hitters as well. The Technical Director of Acrobatic Elements is Juan Carlos Valencia who worked for more than 25 years for companies like The Royal London Circus, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey.

Celestia tent

“Celestia,” coming to the Strat’s north wing.

The choreographer of “Celestia” is Bonnie Story. Her work has been showcased on shows like Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance” and three Disney Channel “High School Musical” films.

We hear the production has some serious financial backing, and may go on the road following its open-ended run in Las Vegas.

The show’s Web site was recently updated to show one of those “Wheel of Death” things, easily the most harrowing part of the dearly-departed “Zarkana,” formerly at Aria.

Celestia

Oh, and there’s some sort of oxen. We told you it’s “Cirque-inspired.”

It’s an interesting time to open a Cirque-style show, actually. Reports are many of the Strip’s six Cirque du Soleil shows are at half capacity most nights.

Note: It’s seven Cirque shows on The Strip if you count “Blue Man Group,” owned by Cirque, or eight if you count “Le Reve,” which has no affiliation with Cirque other than absolutely being a Cirque show.

Check out our One Minute Guide to All the Cirque Shows in Las Vegas.

Keep in mind “Mystere,” Cirque’s longest-running show in Las Vegas, opened in December 1993, a quarter century ago.

A big benefit of hosting a show in a tent, rather than a traditional theater, is the costs are comparatively low. “Celestia” has what’s known as a “four-wall” deal with Stratosphere. The producers front all the costs, but also get to keep the profits (other than paying The Strat for use of the vacant lot).

The Strat casino

Told you they call it The Strat now.

“Celestia,” like its Cirque counterparts, will also benefit from the fact such productions don’t rely heavily on a story, so foreign visitors don’t need to know English to enjoy the show.

Tickets are on sale and run $29 to $89. There are also tickets for $69. We’ll be getting the $69 tickets, because we’re 12.

Here’s to new things in Las Vegas, especially ones with attractive, bendy people in them. Just saying.

Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 90: Stuff Your Face With Vegas

It’s time for a new installment of the Las Vegas podcast that’s nearly as annoying as being issued a W2-G form.

We kick off the show with an irredeemable holiday poem, “A Very Pappy Christmas.”

There’s also an interview with chef James Trees, owner of Esther’s Kitchen. The downtown restaurant has gotten great buzz, and listening to the chef it’s fairly clear why.

Esther's Kitchen

The flatware at Esther’s Kitchen is from the Dunes. ‘Nuff said.

You won’t want to miss our “12 Days of Las Vegas Christmas,” or our perfunctory round-up of Las Vegas news.

Bond at Cosmo will be Barbershop Cuts & Cocktails in 2019, “Totally Twisted Brunch” is coming to SLS, investors are working to bring Major League Baseball to Las Vegas, Salt and Pepa are on hiatus at Paris, Palms is making moves in nightlife, target dates for Resorts World and The Drew are pushed back, same for Criss Angel’s new show at Planet Hollywood, “Fuerza Bruta” comes to Excalibur, Sadelle’s opens at Bellagio in December, 322 Pizza Bar opens on Fremont and Rob Lowe brings “Stories I Only Tell My Friends” to Planet Hollywood in April.

We pop into Bellagio’s Conservatory, too, because podcasts are the perfect vehicle to share something so visually stunning.

Bellagio Conservatory Christmas 2018

It’s not Christmas until the Bellagio Conservatory says it is.

Just for good measure, we also review Holsteins at Cosmopolitan, as well as the cookies in the casino’s completely awesome high limit lounge.

It’s all the Vegas you can stomach, so let out your belt a notch and take a listen.

“Friends” Parody on Its Way to The D Las Vegas

A parody of the long-running sitcom “Friends” is slated to open at The D Las Vegas in Oct. 2018.

The show, “Friends: The Unauthorized Musical Parody,” has put out a casting call for Sep. 14-15, 2018.

Rehearsals are set to start Sep. 24, and the plan is for the show to start previews Oct. 18, with a media opening Oct. 25.

Friends parody

We’re looking forward to this despite not being a musical theater person. Any more. Long story.

The “Friends” TV show had a 10-year run, from Sep. 1994 to May 2004.

The off-Broadway version of the “Friends” parody opened in Dec. 2017 and ended July 22, 2018. The show clocked 213 performances.

Here’s a video with some behind-the-scenes scoop about the off-Broadway incarnation of the show.

The show was written by Bob and Tobly McSmith. The team has a history of creating spoofs, including “Bayside! The Saved by the Bell Musical” and “90210! The Musical.”

“Friends: The Unauthorized Musical Parody” is described thusly, “It’s a seemingly typical day at New York’s only coffee shop, Central Perk, until an unexpected runaway bride with beautiful
hair enters the picture and kicks the whole gang out of second gear.”

Friends parody

Before they landed on “Friends,” the working titles of the TV show included “Insomnia Cafe,” “Friends Like Us” and “Six of One.” Naming things is hard.

The “Friends” parody casting call sheds some light on rarely-shared aspects of stage productions in Las Vegas.

The notice says, “local talent encouraged, as performers will not be relocated if cast.” The show is not a union production.

Performers will be paid $300 a week for rehearsals and $100-150 per performance, with six shows a week.

Auditioners are asked to bring in a “16-32 bar cut of a ’90s pop/rock song.” Then, in all caps, “Please don’t sing the theme song or ‘Smelly Cat,’ Gunther will tell you to leave immediately if that happens.”

Those vying for a part in the show are also asked to “be prepared to tell a quick funny story or joke or monologue.”

We are a huge fan of “Friends,” so our fingers are crossed for this take on the series, despite the spotty history of spoofs in Las Vegas.

“50 Shades: The Smash Hit Parody” had a solid run (Feb. 2015 to Sep. 2017) at Bally’s, but “Spank! The Fifty Shades Parody” at Golden Nugget got spanked hard.

Another parody, “Pawn Shop Live,” also at Golden Nugget, tanked.

In fact, “Spoofical the Musical” never even opened at all.

Still, let’s hope “Friends: The Unauthorized Musical Parody” defies the odds and takes the “oof” out of spoof. Or something.

Rumor: Jimmy Kimmel Comedy Club in the Works for Linq

We live to scoop, and this is a juicy one if it comes to fruition.

Word is Caesars Entertainment is working on a deal to bring a Jimmy Kimmel comedy club to the Las Vegas Strip.

A reliable source says the deal hasn’t been finalized yet, but the comedy club would be at the Linq resort.

Jimmy Kimmel

Jimmy Kimmel is narcoleptic, an excuse he’s sure to use when he attends meetings with Caesars Entertainment executives.

Jimmy Kimmel, of course, is the affable host of ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

Kimmel is a Las Vegas native who got his start in the entertainment business during high school by hosting a show on UNLV’s college station, KUNV.

The Linq has a vacancy in its showroom due to the recent, and abrupt, departure of its “Divas Las Vegas” show amidst some glorious drama. Mat Franco’s magic show is currently the only show in the Linq’s theater.

We’ll keep an eye on this one, but don’t be surprised if there’s some comedy in the future of the Linq resort, along with its new zipline and the upcoming Kind Heaven attraction.

Update (10/3/18): Our story has been confirmed by Jimmy Kimmel and Caesars Entertainment. The Jimmy Kimmel Comedy Club is set to open in spring 2019 at Linq promenade, across from Brooklyn Bowl. The 8,000-square-foot “expandable showroom” will seat up to 300 guests.  The club will be open seven nights a week.

Magician Hans Klok Set to Make Las Vegas Comeback

Dutch magician Hans Klok will return to Las Vegas with a new show in 2019, according to rumors.

Word has it Klok, whose real name is Johannes Franciscus Catharinus “Hans” Klok (say that five times, fast), will star in a show at Excalibur.

It’s believed the show will be a tribute to Houdini.

Hans Klok

Hans Klok is also an actor, but magic is his mane gig.

Klok has toured extensively in Europe with shows named “The Houdini Experience” and “The New Houdini,” so our money’s on one of those for the name of his Excalibur show.

Here’s an interview with Klok about The Houdini Experience.

We first heard rumblings Hans Klok would return to Vegas back in June, and it appears those rumors will come to fruition.

Apparently, Klok will peform in the Thunder Theater at Excalibur, the space currently occupied by Thunder From Down Under.

Hans Klok

Expect Hans Klok’s show to include some world-class smoldering gazes.

Hans Klok has a long and interesting history in Las Vegas.

He first performed on The Strip in 1994 in a TV show, “The World’s Greatest Magic,” broadcast live from Caesars Palace.

In 2007, Klok really made his mark in Sin City with a show at Planet Hollywood which co-starred Pamela Anderson, “The Beauty of Magic.” The show ran for six months.

Hans Klok once started a rumor he’d been intimate with Pamela Anderson as a “publicity ploy.” How was that a “ploy”? Siegfried and Roy are Klok’s favorite magicians, if you get our drift. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Magicians are having a bit of a tough time in Las Vegas at the moment—”Imaginarium” at Tropicana (closes Sep. 30) and “Masters of Illusion” at Bally’s (closes Sep. 3) are just two of the recent casualties—so Klok and MGM Resorts (owners of Excalibur) will be showing some temerity with this production. Doubly so because we’re only about 20 percent sure we know what “temerity” even means.

While news of a Hans Klok show at Excalibur hasn’t been confirmed, look forward to an official announcement soon.