Category Archives: Las Vegas Shows

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.

Cirque’s Financial and Critical Disaster “R.U.N.” to Close at Luxor

“R.U.N.” at Luxor has confirmed what we’ve been saying for months, the show will soon be put out of its misery. Cirque du Soleil says it will close for good on March 8, 2020. It opened October 24, 2019.

It’s hard to overstate the level of WTF associated with this doomed-from-day-one show.

“R.U.N.” was savaged in online reviews and cost $62 million (some say it was substantially more). Our sources say the show has been losing about $1.6 million a month for its four-month run.

Not only was this the biggest financial disaster in the history of Las Vegas entertainment, “R.U.N.” also had the shortest run of any Cirque show in Vegas history.

RUN

“R.U.N.” made dumpster fires cringe.

“R.U.N.” billed itself as “a living, breathing graphic novel that’s non-stop tire-peeling, fist-flinging and double-crossing action including combat stunts, fast-paced car chases, cutting-edge technology and innovative multimedia.”

While we obviously feel for the performers who will lose their jobs when the show closes, we have issues with the bullshittery the show tried to pull by encouraging (and possibly paying) people to post glowing reviews to try and stem the avalanche of posts trying to steer people away from this baffling misfire.

Many of the fake reviews used approved talking points, many along the lines of “People only hate this show because it’s not a typical Cirque show.”

This delusional assertion was just one of many gross miscalculations made by the show’s producers and creative team.

The only “confusion” about “R.U.N.” was audience members expecting an entertaining show and, instead, getting one with a bewildering plot, graphic sadism, poorly-executed fight scenes and excruciatingly loud music.

Or, as reviewer Chris G. put it so eloquently on TripAdvisor, “Makes you embarrassed to be human.” Honorable mention to Troyl H. who wrote, “Getting to leave is the highlight.”

“R.U.N.” was so bad, we hated it and never even saw it. Here’s a look.

Among the missteps was having feature film director Robert Rodriguez write it. Robert Rodriguez, of course, is known for his Writers Guild Award-winning scripts for movies like “Machete,” “Machete Kills” and the upcoming “Machete Kills in Space.” Oh, and “Spy Kids.”

The show’s director was Michael Schwandt, and the performance and action designer was Rob Bollinger.

As the future of “R.U.N.” began to grow dim, we hear Cirque called in a new director to overhaul the show. The new director was out quickly, as even good directors can’t perform miracles with a fundamentally flawed concept.

As we reported in early February 2020, buzz from insiders was TPG Capital (majority owner of Cirque du Soleil) was out of patience and said it wouldn’t invest another dime. The show’s fate was sealed.

While Cirque has taken a massive financial hit from “R.U.N.,” the company continues to dominate the Las Vegas entertainment scene. We understand the average occupancy for Cirque shows across Las Vegas sits at about 70 percent, although that’s down from 80-plus percent a decade ago.

We hear the company makes upwards of $120 million a year from its Las Vegas shows alone.

RUN biker

Wheelies were popped, as were dreams.

Still, the financial damage from “R.U.N.” certainly won’t help the company’s extreme level of debt, which is rumored to be in excess of a billion dollars, leading to speculation the company could file for bankruptcy protection at some point.

Moody’s investor service reports Cirque has a “high level of discretionary borrowing, continued underperformance in several key areas previously targeted for growth as well as relative
stagnation of its existing core performing arts business.”

Moody’s adds, “We believe the company’s largely debt-funded expansion strategy could be unsustainable, resulting in financial strain on core operations and leaving minimal flexibility to address operating weaknesses when they arise.”

We love us some Cirque, but no more tire-peeling and double-crossing, please.

RUN closed

There’s no denying it was “unique.” With quotation marks. In case that wasn’t clear.

There’s no word on what might replace “R.U.N.” at Luxor, but a contender is a magic show called “The Illusionists.” The Broadway magic show recently bumped “R.U.N.” at a charity event at Luxor. It was awkward, but makes more sense in light of “R.U.N.” closing.

Best of luck to the intrepid performers and stunt persons who did their best to give “R.U.N.” a shot at success, and here’s hoping Cirque can lick its wounds and deliver more of the company’s distinctive brand of brilliance in the future to help purge the memory of “R.U.N.” from our collective memory.

Ventriloquist Terry Fator’s Show to Close at Mirage

Longtime Strip headliner Terry Fator is having the plug pulled on his Las Vegas show by July 2020.

Fator and his company, Puppet Boy Entertainment, got a six-month notice of termination via old-school letter from the Mirage on Jan. 30, 2020. That means his show is done by July 30, 2020, although we trust he can bail sooner if he chooses.

Terry Fator

Props to Terry Fator for succeeding in a pursuit we’re pretty sure peaked in 1950.

The letter from Mirage said it’s exercising its right to end the show as the “average occupancy of the show is less than 75 percent of the seating capacity of the theater during any consecutive 12 month period.”

Harsh, bro.

Ventriloquist and “America’s Got Talent” winner Terry Fator started his run at Mirage in 2009.

Not surprisingly, at least to us, we were the first to share news Fator’s residency was in trouble and would soon come to an end. Although, honestly, we didn’t expect it to end with an unceremonious kick to the nads by Mirage. Oh, well, that’s show business.

Terry Fator Mirage

We don’t know everything, it just seems like it on the Internet.

Mirage is owned by MGM Resorts, at least for now. Rumor has it the casino is being shopped for a potential sale.

Fun Terry Fator facts: Terry Fator married his first wife Melinda in 1991. Melinda filed for divorce in 2009, it was finalized in 2010. One day after the divorce from Melinda was finalized, Fator married his assistant, Taylor. Fator proposed to his next wife, Angie, onstage in front of his then-wife, Taylor. He and Taylor divorced in 2015. He married Angie a few days later.

Terry Fator’s stint at Mirage surprised a lot of folks who expected a ventriloquist show on The Strip would be short-lived. Fator proved the skeptics wrong, but like a gambler’s lucky streak and wedded bliss, all good things must come to an end.

We totally typed that without moving our lips, by the way.