Small Spaces, Towering Talent

Intimate Venues are the Hottest Ticket to Sin City’s Rebirth…


The times, they are a changing’. Gone for now are the concert tours, superstar residencies and spectacular mega-productions. As Sin City eases into a new comfort zone, the smart money is on smaller spaces, where performers and audiences can connect on an intimate level. In other words, a pure entertainment experience.

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Lounge acts and supper clubs harken a return to the days that put Las Vegas on the map…a time when true talent was the star. Their resurgence is evidence that tourists and locals alike are yearning for live music, despite concerns of gathering in public spaces. Perhaps that’s why The Vegas Room, less than a year old, is already prepping a more elaborate sister club just down the block. Look for The Nevada Room to debut in April.

NOTORIETY Live on Fremont Street is another small performance space experiencing a wave of popularity. Located in a former movie theater at Fremont Street’s NEONOPOLIS complex, NOTORIETY has attracted a number of notable names from a wide variety of Strip productions.

“Tenors of Rock” performed a special July 4th show at NOTORIETY

Spearheaded by Ken Henderson of Best Agency, the colorful NOTORIETY nightspot has been safely hosting magic shows, burlesque revues from Lucie May, rock concerts and comedy acts for months while others have remained shuttered. With its full bar service and available dining options, the 21-and-over clientele have been returning week after week for top-notch excitement (there’s a big-name residency slated to begin there soon, but I’m sworn to secrecy for now).

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While contracted productions are on hiatus, individual performers have been able to create scaled-down solo shows. Bucky Heard of The Righteous Brothers (see my Las Vegas Magazine article here) is launching “The Heart of Rock & Roll”, a concert series. Bucky tells me that it’s an intimate duo presentation with accomplished guitarist John Wedemeyer, who’s worked with legendary acts such as Donny and Marie, Bonnie Raitt, Wayne Newton and Clint Holmes.

Bucky and John’s “The Heart of Rock and Roll” premieres February 17th at Italian American Club on East Sahara Avenue. An amazing dinner is included, which starts at 6:30pm. Showtime is 8pm sharp. Tickets are available by clicking here

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If you’ve never visited Italian American Club, you owe it to yourself to discover it. Thanks to a dear friend, I’ve experienced the joys of this old-school gem and their rotating roster of talent, both established and rising. Stunning hunks like Jonathan Karrant and Chadwick Johnson performed incredible pre-Christmas shows, and they’ll be back on the IAC stage very soon.  Other favorites include Craig Canter, Chase Brown, and Frankie Scinta

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Travis Cloer, best known for his l0ng-running role in the Jersey Boys musical, has been super-busy during the pandemic. He’s had gigs at The Vegas Room and Italian American Club, among others. This weekend he’s at Chianti Restaurant with Christopher Lash for a special Valentine-themed performance. Showtime is 6 pm on February 13th, and tickets can be purchased here

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Crooners, Inc. at THE MINT Lounge…

Also this weekend is the debut of Crooners, Inc. at The Mint Lounge on East Sahara Avenue. Described as “an hour and a half of pure, classic Vegas entertainment on Valentine’s Day with music, mayhem and memories”, the production features a full band and a cast that includes Miss Mala, Tony Felicetta, Jonny Bird, JC Lopez and Dean Perry. Showtimes are 7pm and 9pm, with tickets available here

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Tuscany Resort on East Flamingo Avenue has been another go-to for superb lounge acts. Kenny Davidsen’s Bowtie Cabaret is a weekly Friday event with rotating hosts and guests. Stars like Ruby Lewis, Ian Ward, Anne Martinez, Kelly Vohnn, and Cassie Stone have recently joined Davidsen on stage. Performers Rita Lim, Ashley Fuller and Michael Grimm all have ongoing residencies there as well. 

May be an image of 6 people, people standing, people playing musical instruments and text that says 'Italian American club THE BRONX WANDERERS BUFFET DINNER & HOI LET'S DO IT AGAIN!! As we celebrate Vin A.'s Birthday Bash!! THURSDAY FEBRUARY 18, 2021- Tickets $65.00 We had such great time in January we all said "Let's Do ItAgain." Join us for fun night as we celebrate Vin A. Birthday. Great Food! Great Music! You can't go wrong. It's simply the best bada bang for your buck in Las Vegas! BUFFET DINNER 6:30pm & SHOW 8:00pm For Reservations go to iacvegas.com or call (702) 457-3866'

Harrah’s outdoor lounge Carnival Court has been playing host to a number of familiar faces, albeit under aliases. The father/son duo of Vinny Adinolfi and son Vin A. (The Bronx Wanderers) hit the C.C. stage on the weekends, operating as…well, it seems to depend on the week. Let’s stick with “VINdemic” for now. The guys also hit Italian American Club with the full band in January, and will be back there on February 18th.

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Another effect of the pandemic has been the formation of “super groups”. What you get is a superlative combination of artists from various other productions working together under a new moniker. ORIGINAL CHAOS boasts TENORS OF ROCK members Dai Richards, Chris Cicchino and Tim Sorbs (The Black Donnellys), along with vocalist Colin Cahill (Atomic Saloon Show). Together they’ve been doing gigs at Carnival Court, along with the two Vin’s

NOTORIETY Live hit the ground running in November with Vin and Jimmy’s DOWNTOWN HOOTENANY. An irreverent collection of music, comedy, and hysterical video segments, the show featured Jimmy Denning of TENORS OF ROCK, Vin A. (him again), Tim Sorbs on drums, and guest stars Bucky Heard and Colin Cahill (do you see a trend here?). Expect another edition of DOWNTOWN HOOTENANY in the coming months.

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Broadway stage and screen star Ruby Lewis, a recurring guest at The Vegas Room, will have her own showcase at NOTORIETY on February 25th. The one-night performance will celebrate both her birthday and the release of her first original song “Shock Value“. Tickets are $40 and can be reserved here

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Speaking of The Vegas Room, the classy supper club has a great line-up of acts in the coming weeks. Entertainment director Jassen Allen has booked The Doo-Wop Kings, Christopher Lash, Savannah Smith, Elisa Fiorillo (with Barry Manilow’s musical director Joey Melotti), Skye Dee Miles and many more. Click here for performance schedules and to make reservations. 

 

Return Engagement: Adam Barabáš Comes Home for “EXTRAVAGANZA”


Prolific Performer Is Back On the ‘JUBILEE’ Stage For Sin City’s Newest Spectacular…

There’s a familiar saying that you “can’t go home again”, a perspective that never made much sense to this writer. So many things in our culture revolve around homecomings: family and class reunions, “home for the holidays”, the tale of the “prodigal son”. It’s only through revisiting our beginnings that we gauge how far we’ve come in life. 

Entertainer Adam Barabáš has had many homes throughout the years. He grew up in Dubnica nad Váhom, Slovakia, and spent several years on tours across the world. He even had an extended stay in Japan that would make for an interesting movie (you’d have to ask him about that yourself). But through all those adventures, Adam still finds his way back to Sin City time and again.

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I graduated from ballet at the Conservatory of Dance and Arts in Slovakia. After that I won ‘Mr. Slovakia’, and I decided to try my chances in the U.S. So, I packed up and  moved to Los Angeles and continued taking classes five times a week. Getting an agent was how I found my way to Vegas.

I first became aware of Adam at a performance of JUBILEE. Sailing across the stage in a classic top hat and tails, the handsome blonde captured my attention with his stunning grace and magnetic smile. Waltzing through the infamous “TITANIC” sequence, Barabáš exited, then reappeared in the next set….a recreation of the ocean liner’s engine room.

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Now a sweaty laborer, Adam was soaking wet, stripped to the waist, and covered in grease and grit, fighting for his life in the fiery boiler room of the ill-fated ship. It was all very over-the-top, just as the famed showgirl spectacular was meant to be. And it showcased the visual and physical attributes of this athletic heartthrob in the best possible way (I’m not drooling…you are).

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Over at The Linq Hotel Casino, you might have caught Adam serving as arm candy to Frank Marino‘s DIVAS LAS VEGAS. Powered by a selection of top hits, DIVAS was great fun for the audience, but not necessarily the best showcase for serious dancers. Still, Adam enjoyed his time there. Asked if the DIVAS dancers got the attention they deserved, he had this to say:

Yes, we actually did get respect from the audience by the end of the show. We were basically in every number, working our butts (and our shirts) off, so the audience was able to fall in love with us and pick out their favorite dancer!

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After Jubilee, the energetic actor/model/gymnast/dancer headed overseas for a musical production of The Bodyguard. Then it was off to Japan for iMen Tokyo, a male revue that allowed him to strip and grind. After spending time in Slovakia with the family, it was back to the States to join WOW, the water-themed musical spectacular at Rio Las Vegas.

I used to perform at DIVAS at The Linq in the afternoon, then I’d run to the Rio to do two shows at WOW. Once you’re passionate about anything, it comes easy. I love singing. I used to sing folk music back at home, which I miss very much. I play piano. And I’m good in math.

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Adam’s best pal is his golden retriever “Chip”…

Right upstairs from WOW, crowds packed in nightly to see Chippendales male revue. Eventually, Adam auditioned for the touring version, and was once again back on the road. Wildly popular, he made the 2021 all-star edition of their world-famous calendar as “Mr. March”. Somewhere in between, the busy hunk managed to model, do corporate gigs, and spend time with his golden retriever “Chip”. He might have visited the gym on occasion, too.

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Just as Adam was riding a new high, civilization came to a crashing halt, and Chippendales was put on hiatus. When Las Vegas shows started to return, the first new production out of the gate was Bally’s EXTRAVAGANZA. And Adam Barabáš found himself back on the stage that gave him his first Las Vegas break. 

My roommate (dancer Derrick Boyce of DONNIE AND MARIE/JUBILEE/THE PROM on Netflix) told me about EXTRAVAGANZA. When I looked into it, I discovered that it was the same production company I worked for in WOW.

I knew EXTRAVAGANZA was looking for dancers but I didn’t know if I was ready to leave Chippendales. It was the first show I was not a backup dancer in, but the star. Yet not knowing when they would be back on the road – I missed dancing so much!

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Adam, roommate (and fellow JUBILEE alumnus) Derrick Boyce, along with friend and entertainer Alexi Irvine (center), celebrated the holidays in style…

I reached out to the EXTRAVAGANZA dance captain and she sent my stuff to the director, who already knew me…and he called me right away. After hearing his vision for the show and how amazing it would be to be a part of this, I cut my time short in Texas, flew back to get my COVID test and started rehearsals right away.

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Coming to the JUBILEE Theater and seeing most of the props backstage made my heart jump. Very bittersweet feeling. Also I worked with Silvia Silvia and her husband before, which made it even more exciting! I hope the fact that EXTRAVAGANZA is open will bring lots of hope for all the performers and shows.

Bringing up the pandemic was a perfect opportunity to explore how the 30-year-old entertainer had spent all those months away from the stage. And I hit him with a few off-the-wall questions…just for the Hell of it.

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How did you keep busy during the Vegas show shutdown? 

I spent most of the time in Texas, where I went right after rest of my tour got canceled. At first I thought “TikTok will keep me busy”, but it was actually being on the phone with  unemployment every day! It took me 19 weeks to get paid. Also I spent a lot of time outdoors on my bicycle, swimming at the lake and at night, I usually cooked with lots of wine. I had a great time. I’m very lucky.

Do you still work out at a gym or have you adopted a home fitness plan? 

My gym where I live has two floors, but now that it’s closed, I downloaded some fitness apps that work for me. Usually I work out 4-6 times a week.

It seems that no matter what role you play, Adam Barabáš always ends up shirtless. Is this a coincidence or do you deliberately seek roles that allow you to showcase your perfect body? 

Hahahahaha….thank you. I don’t necessarily seek it but anytime there is an opportunity to show what I’ve been working on so hard, I’m in! I am a technically trained dancer, so I definitely appreciate technique in a choreography. I’ve always loved hip hop music video-style dancing.

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Is there a particular celebrity you’d like to work with someday?

Lady Gaga. Beyonce. Madonna. Missy Elliott. Meryl Streep. Brad Pitt. So many. It’s always been a dream of mine to tour with people like Madonna and other pop stars. So whatever style they do is the style I love! Also, performing solo is easier to do because I can just make it my own.

Kelly Clarkson, Shania Twain and Lady Gaga all want you to work in their show. Who do you pick? LADY GAGA!

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Pick one: Pizza, Sushi or Chocolate Cake. 

Sushiand I really like Chef Kenny’s Vegan Sushi here in Vegas. You should try it!

Pick one: Tuxedo, Jeans, or Swim Trunks? And where will you be going in that outfit? 

Swim Trunks. To Whole Foods. It happened.

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You have eight hours to do whatever you want in Las Vegas, no matter how much it costs. What will you do? 

First I would go have a dinner at NOBU, then I would rent a penthouse at the Palms, hire Diplo, and would invite all of my friends and strippers. Wait…all my friends ARE strippers!

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What has been your happiest moment in show business? 

Whenever my family comes see me perform. Actually, last year in Vienna I had more than 30 people from home in the audience. To have them buy my calendars, posters and even t-shirts, was a dream come true. I am very close to my only sister Simona, who lives in Slovakia. She’s awesome. 🙂

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Is there one show you’re most proud to have been in?

My journey in Vegas started as a showboy in legendary JUBILEE. Six years later I’m back, opening EXTRAVAGANZA during a pandemic. JUBILEE will always have a special place in my heart. I am proud of every show I’ve done. I’m grateful on so many levels. #FullCircle

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EXTRAVAGANZA performs at Bally’s Las Vegas at 6:30pm and 9:30pm with 4pm matinees on select dates. Click here for full schedule and to order tickets.

Some photos courtesy of NOEL DAHL PHOTOGRAPHY

‘JOURNEY TO THE NORTH POLE’ Brings Snowy Cheer to Sin City


Holiday Drive-through Attraction Is A Labor of Love for COVID-impacted Artists…

While other cities were scrambling to adjust to life during a pandemic, Sin City wasted no time in launching COVID-safe alternatives. We already had drive-through wedding chapels and West Wind drive-in movie theater. Then came outdoor fitness and dance classes with Sin City celebrities. We even got to experience Jennifer Romas’ SEXXY revue and drag shows from the comfort of our vehicles. Now you can pack friends and family into the car and head to Santa’s workshop for JOURNEY TO THE NORTH POLE.

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Some of you might be familiar with GLITTERING LIGHTS, the annual attraction at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Now in its 20th year, the massive drive-through celebration is the largest of its kind in the Valley. It’s also about as far from the Strip as you can get while still being in Las Vegas.

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JOURNEY TO THE NORTH POLE is conveniently located at 2330 Industrial Road, just a snowball’s throw from Wynn/Encore under the watchful gaze of the Stratosphere The STRAT tower. During the rest of the year, the venue is known as The Industrial Event Space, an indoor-outdoor venue for special functions.

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While it may lack the scope of its older brother, JOURNEY TO THE NORTH POLE makes up for it for with plenty of charm and good cheer. You’ll know right away when you’re greeted at the gate by one of Santa’s friendly helpers. The happy elf will safely scan your pre-purchased admission code and guide you through the procedures while all of your party remain inside.

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A mask is required if/when you interact with any of the cast members, and your windows should remain up when possible. You’ll be given a radio station to tune to, which syncs seasonal classics with the lights of the attraction. Once inside, you’ll have the opportunity to purchase hot cocoa and snacks (very reasonably priced, by the way) before proceeding.

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The journey begins with a super-cool recreation of the Northern Lights. Once you pass through the garland entrance, you’ll enter the “Path Of Lights”, festooned with glittering orbs, twinkling tunnels and a flurry of “snow”.

Along the way you’ll encounter live dancing elves, whimsical projections, over 100,000 lights, more than 380 strands and over 100 holiday fixtures. Everything has been designed and handmade by more than 30 local creative professionals who’ve been impacted by the events of this year.

The centerpiece of JOURNEY is a computer-programmed “mega tree” which “dances” and blinks to holiday tunes. But of course everything leads to Santa’s Workshop, where you can visit with the big guy himself. Since the original Mr. Christmas is required to maintain distance this year, there won’t be any visits to his lap. But he’ll definitely chat it up and take notes for his gift-giving list.

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“Journey to the North Pole” can be experienced nightly from 5 to 10pm at the INDUSTRIAL event space, located at 2330 South Industrial Road, through Sunday, Jan. 3. Advance tickets are required and start at $20. Purchase at northpolelv.com/tickets. “Journey to the North Pole” is a co-production of Josh Abelson (the INDUSTRIAL event space), Emo Palumbo (Tag Team Productions) and Brian Rogerson (Sin City Scenic).

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‘QUEENS OF ROCK’ Is Absolute Perfection

Salute to Legendary Ladies is the latest triumph for MOSAIC THEATER ON THE STRIP…


In 1984, ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT aired a segment that would become one of the most notorious film reviews in history. Critic Leonard Maltin was scheduled to discuss a remake of the beach comedy “Where The Boys Are“. Instead of a detailed analysis, Maltin stood on a beach, tossed a copy of the film into the waves and walked away, wordlessly.

If I were to follow Maltin’s lead for my write-up of QUEENS OF ROCK, I could simply type “It’s perfect!”, hit the “publish” button and then take an afternoon nap. It really is that good. But star Elyzabeth Diaga and a sizzling live band (Alex Papa, James Oleson, Christian Brady, and Zach Throne) deserve a lot more than a stunt review from a lazy critic.

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They also deserve an auditorium filled to (legal) capacity with a cheering, enthusiastic audience. But that is far from the norm these days. Las Vegas live entertainment keeps getting kicked in the shins, with increased restrictions making it harder than ever for shows to stay afloat. So credit the team at MOSAIC THEATER for hanging in there and bringing three great productions (along with PIANO MAN and AUSSIE HEAT) to Las Vegas night after night.

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QUEENS OF ROCK is a journey through decades of hits by powerhouse female artists. Elyzabeth Diaga walks a perfect line between tribute artist and featured headliner. The chart-toppers she delivers will be forever associated with their original artists, but Diaga flavors each song with her own fiery zest. You’ll be tempted to sing along and dance at your seat, but you might miss the wonderful nuances of this star-making performance.

Like the recently-reviewed PIANO MAN, QUEENS OF ROCK is an non-stop cavalcade of music you know and love. The star, who hails from Quebec, sails across the stage in a wild collection of leather pants, capes, corsets, and boots. A veritable symphony of lights, effects, and heart-pounding music, QoR is the kind of ambitious production that ably replaces the current absence of headlining acts.

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It may be surprising to know that female rockers began as far back as the 1930s. That’s when Sister Rosetta Tharpe defied cultural norms, blending gospel, soul and R & B into what we refer to as “Rock and Roll”. A young black guitarist/vocalist who caused quite a furor in her day, Sister Tharpe nevertheless became known as the “Godmother of Rock and Roll”.

QUEENS OF ROCK pays tribute to Tharpe, then powers through decades of favorites from Heart, The Pretenders, Joan Jett, Pat Benatar, Tina Turner, and Annie Lennox. There are a few unexpected entries like En Vogue, Evanescence, Madonna, and Lady Gaga, that’ll keep you wondering who they’ll conquer next.

Without question, my favorite moment came when Diaga zoomed across the stage on roller skates for a medley of Blondie songs. Check this out:

As Ms. Diaga told me, the Blondie sequence was four decades in the making:

“When I was a little girl, I used to skate in my basement with my disco ball to “Xanadu”, “Master Blaster” and “Kiss On My List “. Then there was BLONDIE! I used to dress up in my purple shiny leggings and my white skates with yellow wheels and skate the streets all day. If you would have told me that 40 years later I would be skating while singing in front of people on a stage and getting praise for it I would have never believed you.”

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“When I created the show back in 2012, I did not have skates anymore. It was when I went to Australia to sing in the amazing horse show “Cavalia” that I fell upon a skating store” she continued. “I had not skated for 35 years (at least) but when I put the skates on my feet it was MAGIC!”, a nod to Olivia Newton-John‘s 1980 roller-disco movie XANADU.

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“Right there and then I knew there would be skating in my show. A lot of people called me crazy but I had to do it! Just recently I added a disco ball effect because of the amazing setup we have at The Mosaic. So now everybody sees what I see in my head…and it sure is loads of fun!”

Fun is definitely one of the defining elements of Queens of Rock. Everyone involved seems to be having a fantastic time, and you will, too. So when Elyzabeth Diaga takes her throne to close out the show, you’ll agree that Queens of Rock has earned her a place in Las Vegas entertainment royalty.

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Follow at @queensofrockofficial

QUEENS OF ROCK performs Thursday through Monday at 7pm. Click here for tickets. MOSAIC THEATER is located at 3765 Las Vegas Blvd, just north of HARD ROCK LIVE and across from PARK MGM Hotel Casino

‘Miracle On Spring Mountain’ Serves the Spirit of the Season…Over Ice


Immersive Cocktail experience brings the North Pole to Sin City’s Coolest Lounge…

“If the holidays are already feeling less like The Most Wonderful Time of the Year and more like open season on Big Capital, here’s a way to reclaim some Christmas cheer: drinking it.”

Update December 22, 2020Due to overwhelming response, The Sand Dollar Lounge owners Anthony Jamison, Benito Martinez, and Nathan Grates have announced the extension of Miracle on Spring Mountain into 2021. Las Vegas’ most popular holiday pop-up bar will now continue in festive mode through January 10, 2021. Since Nov. 23, the live music, craft cocktail and pizza bar has been transformed into the exclusive Las Vegas location of the renowned Miracle Bar Popup, a unique Winter Wonderland pop-up bar for the holiday season, while following and exceeding all safety protocols mandated by the state of Nevada. 

As part of the extension, the following additional chef Pizza Pop-up nights have been added and all proceeds will continue to benefit the Las Vegas Rescue Mission

Sun. Dec. 27th – Mike Vakneen & Ben Jenkins (Pop Up Pizza/Oscar’s Steakhouse) 

Sun. Jan. 3rd – Nick Dugan (Michael Mina) 

Sun. Jan. 10th – Adam Sobel (MINA Group)


With all that’s happened in the past eleven months, 2020 will undoubtedly go down as the worst year of our lives. Even the upcoming holiday season has been affected by renewed restrictions, canceled events and scuttled holiday shows. One bright spot has been A VEGAS ROOM CHRISTMAS, which plans to continue under stricter government guidelines. But what we REALLY need is a miracle. Fortunately, a special event has returned to bring peace, joy, and festive holiday cocktails to our struggling city – MIRACLE ON SPRING MOUNTAIN.

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Last year I was unable to attend MIRACLE ON SPRING MOUNTAIN due to an impending loss in my household. Those bad memories might be a little less painful now had I ventured out to Sand Dollar Lounge and its magnificent holiday festivities.

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If you’re familiar with Sand Dollar Lounge, you know that it’s a truly awesome hangout. It boasts a great staff, awesome cocktails, amazing pizzas and cool live music (when permitted by you-know-what). Nestled to the west side of an inconspicuous plaza on Spring Mountain Road (and not far from the world-famous Golden Tiki Lounge), Sand Dollar has been a legendary favorite since 1976.

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Owners Anthony Jamison, Benito Martinez, and Nathan Grates successfully restored the closed-down establishment in 2009. Not content to rest on their laurels, they’ve taken on the massive task of transforming the historic fun spot into seasonal pop-up experiences. Right after this year’s spooky NIGHTMARE ON SPRING MOUNTAIN, the team flipped the switch to create a spectacular Christmas wonderland.

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This year marks the second time that Sand Dollar Lounge has been part of the Miracle Cocktail Pop-up Bar network. The concept began six years ago in NYC’s East Side and has swept through the United States, Canada and countries like Panama, England and Switzerland. Sand Dollar proudly hosts the only “Miracle” pop-up in Nevada. 

I’m told that “Miracle 2020” is bigger, bolder, more colorful and lots more elaborate than last year’s inaugural effort. I was on hand a few days prior to the the ribbon-cutting in order to sample the season’s specialty cocktails. Witnessing the transformation in such a short time was nothing less than staggering. 

Beginning Friday 11/27, “Miracle” will open from 2 pm to 4 am.  Decor was designed and installed by Bright Light Holiday Co., a local service owned by my buddy Garrett Pattiani. He and partners Kerry and Daniel Dennis primarily do outdoor decorating projects, but couldn’t resist the opportunity to put their unique stamp on this project. Says Garrett:

“Owner Anthony Jamison and I grew up in Tonopah, Nevada. When he heard that we did holiday decor, he asked us to collaborate with him. Kerry spends months planning the interior, searching for unique items and decorations to fit the “Miracle” brand. “

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There are tens of thousands of lights, along with dozens of trees, elves, candy canes, stockings, snowmen and Saint Nicks. Highlights include a “Santa’s Twerk Shop” donation booth (proceeds benefiting the Las Vegas Rescue Mission), a North Pole stage backdrop, and a Hanukkah corner. 

The year-round drink list will be temporarily switched over to an extensive holiday-themed Miracle Bar menu. Everything from the Snowball Old Fashioned to Jingle Balls Nog are served in special mugs and glassware that are available to buy for gifts or your own party ware. To add to the fun, there will be special themed nights and pizza events. Patrons are encouraged to dress in the spirit of the theme nights, with special attractions planned.

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Ambient musical performances by solo and small combo artists will be offered on Friday and Saturday nights. During food events, prominent local chefs will create unique pizzas, with net proceeds going to Las Vegas Rescue Mission. The event schedule is as follows:

Sun Nov. 29th Justin Kingsley Hall Pizza Pop-Up

Mon Dec. 1 Ugly Sweater Party feat.  Paradise City Creamery Pop-Up

Wed Dec. 2nd Johnny Church Pizza Pop-Up

Sun Dec. 6th Josh Smith Pizza Pop-Up

Mon Dec. 7th The Grinch Day 

Wed Dec. 9th James Trees Pizza Pop-Up

Thurs Dec. 10 First Night of Hanukkah Vodka-Latke Party (free latkes while they last)

Sun Dec. 13th -Brian Howard Pizza Pop-Up

Mon Dec. 14th Candy Cane Day

Wed Dec. 16th Petrina Peart Pizza Pop-Up

Sun Dec.20th Chris Decker Pizza Pop-Up

Mon Dec. 21st Naughty or Nice night feat. Paradise City Creamery pop-up

Wed Dec. 23rd Justin Ford Pizza Pop-Up

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During Miracle on Spring Mountain, Sand Dollar Lounge management will follow all existing and newly mandated Covid-safe protocols, including 25% capacity, required reservations via their website (limited to parties of 4 seated together), sanitizing between all guest visits, masks required at all times (unless physically eating) and more. Sand Dollar Lounge is non-smoking.

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Sand Dollar Lounge is open daily from 2pm to 4am. It’s located at 3355 Spring Mountain Rd Ste. 30, Las Vegas, NV 89102. Call (702) 485-5401 or visit their website for reservations or more information. 

Photos: Sam Novak, Jose Salinas & Eric C. Gladstone/Feast of Friends

 

‘A VEGAS ROOM CHRISTMAS’ – An Updated Forecast


lastest news on the season’s cheeriest holiday dinner and show…

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It’s often said that in Las Vegas, the only constant is “change”. From entertainment offerings to the temperatures, you never know what to expect from week to week. And so it seems that the winds of change have shuffled the playbook at The Vegas Room. I’ve got the latest updates for fans and newbies alike.

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If you’re just tuning in, you can catch up with A VEGAS ROOM CHRISTMAS show announcement here, then cast bios here and here. As is the norm in the entertainment world, things tend to evolve during creative processes. And so it is that Eric Jordan Young, Brent Barrett, Bernie Blanks and Lisa Marie will no longer be appearing in A VEGAS ROOM CHRISTMAS.

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The announced cast of 20 performers has been revised with additional Las Vegas favorites. Each is a respected entertainer with their own legacy and fan base. Let’s take a look at the gentlemen who will now don stocking caps and mittens to celebrate Irving Berlin‘s WHITE CHRISTMAS:

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CARNELL JOHNSON – Familiar to thousands of Golden Knights fans…and people around the world…as “Mr. Golden Pipes”, Carnell Johnson unifies the nation regularly with his stirring rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner”. Born in Las Vegas, the gentle giant is known for entertaining enormous crowds at T-Mobile Arena and enhancing intimate moments as a singing gondolier at Venetian‘s GRAND CANAL.

A compassionate individual, Mr. Johnson regularly lends his time and talent to Ronald McDonald House and social equality movements.  He also participated in the MaskUpForNevada (#MaskUp4NV) campaign at the Welcome to Las Vegas sign that I covered in June. Carnell spent much of this summer doing small outdoor gigs, and is a professional actor and voice-over artist.

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Robert Hyatt

ROBERT HYATT – Who could ever guess that the gondolas floating on Venetian‘s canals could deliver so much talent. Such is the case with Oregonian Robert Hyatt. Like castmate Carnell Johnson, Hyatt also spent time on the fabled waters, serenading the city’s visitors in his own unique style.

Rob is just as skilled at music arranging as he is on the microphone. The husband and father is founder of the amazing Fifth Avenue jazz quartet, a managing member of E3 Digital Entertainment and was musical director/pianist for Riviera Hotel‘s long-running Barbra and Frank: The Concert That Never Was.

Ian Ward

IAN WARD – Regular readers of Vegas Unfiltered Blog know my admiration for California boy Ian Ward. Check out this profile piece to see what I mean. It’s rare to find such explosive talent in someone so young. Poised to detonate the national scene any day now, Ian had a featured showcase at The Vegas Room in August. Naturally, I attended every evening.

For the past three weeks, he and partner Ruby Lewis (who also appears in A VEGAS ROOM CHRISTMAS) presented a musical journey highlighting their ability to blend, harmonize and compliment one another. Here’s just one of the unforgettable moments:

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Ben Tucker

In addition to casting changes, dancer/choreographer Benjamin Tucker has taken on the role of Stage Director. Ben told me that he plans an immersive experience that will evoke the warmth of a holiday ski lodge. Guests will briefly leave Las Vegas behind and enter the world of White Christmas. Once you’ve enjoyed a bountiful Christmas-style dinner, The Vegas Room cast will commemorate the perennial movie classic via song and dance.

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Throughout December, guests of The Vegas Room will experience the fragrances and tastes of the season, too. Chef David James Robinson has crafted a glorious holiday menu to compliment and accompany the onstage presentation:

Savory Gingerbread with Vanilla Butter

Mini Lobster Quiche

Borscht with Sour Cream

Holiday Salad with Homemade Ranch Dressing

Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding or 

Turkey and Sage Dressing with Green Beans & Pomegranate or 

Roasted Acorn Squash with Sage Dressing and Sweet Potato Puree (vegan)

Egg Nog and Peppermint Shortbread Cookies

The Vegas Room Dessert That Snows!

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In preparation for upcoming festivities and to allow patrons to remain safely at home during increased COVID-19 concerns, The Vegas Room will be dark through November 26th (Thanksgiving). Shows will return on November 27th and 28th with dinner performances by Travis Cloer (Jersey Boys).

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Sunday brunch returns on Sunday, November 29th with international dazzler Nieve Malandra. Chef Robinson has prepared a multi-course brunch to accompany Nieve’s songs from Japan, Spain, Italy, France, and Portugal.

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A VEGAS ROOM CHRISTMAS launches its first of 20 performances on December 2nd. Join them for what is sure to become an annual holiday tradition. Click here for reservations to any performance at The Vegas Room.

The Vegas Room is located at 953 East Sahara Avenue E-18. Phone (725) 206-7059 for more information.

‘EXTRAVAGANZA: THE LAS VEGAS SPECTACULAR’ – Sin City’s First New Show In….Forever…


Long-delayed variety production finally debuts at fabled JUBILEE showroom November 23rd…

The famed Bally’s Showroom on the Strip is often referred to as the birthplace of the iconic Las Vegas showgirl. Whether that’s true or not can be debated, but the classic Donn Arden production JUBILEE! performed there for an incredible 35 years. Now, the spirit of that famed revue and the showgirls themselves are set to return in a new variety show called EXTRAVAGANZA – The Vegas Spectacular.

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Set to premiere on November 23rd after one preview performance in March (thanks for nothing COVID-19), EXTRAVAGANZA – The Vegas Spectacular will feature an international cast of more than 30 artists and performers. It’s directed by Hanoch Rosènn, the creative force behind WOW – The Vegas Spectacular at Rio Hotel Casino. And while the two share similar DNA, EXTRAVAGANZA will lean a little less towards “family-friendly” and a bit more towards the sensual and passionate.

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Advance buzz on EXTRAVAGANZA has centered around an extremely sexy cast of athletic and graceful performers. Guests can expect to be mesmerized by thrill-inducing acts that feature aerialists, acrobats, comedians, ventriloquists, and dancers. Some of the most astonishing feats of Sin City’s entertainment heyday will return, too, including the infamous “Globe of Death”.

Fans of Downtown’s Fremont Street Experience will surely remember the terrifying “Globe of Death”, a gasp-worthy stunt in which several high-speed motorcyclists roar around at top speeds while inside a spherical cage. The “Globe of Death” ranks with CELESTIA‘s “Wheel of Death” as one of the most popular and frightening daredevil acts ever to be performed in the city on a regular basis.

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EXTRAVAGANZA will also include a salute to Vegas icons like Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra, this time via state-of-the-art hologram technology. LED video screen backdrops, elaborate costumes, and large-scale sets will transport guests through several decades of songs, dances, and variety acts that laid the foundation for contemporary epic productions like Le Reve – The Dream and Michael Jackson ONE.

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Director Rosènn was inspired by the success of WOW – The Vegas Spectacular (two years, over 1,000 performances and counting) to create EXTRAVAGANZA as a tribute to Las Vegas and its legacy of entertainment.  “The show is my homage to this amazing city – bringing not only tremendous and unique performers from all over the world – but, also, some of the most iconic and thrilling acts, as well as, the return of the classic showgirls, who made the Jubilee Theatre home for so many decades.”

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EXTRAVAGANZA – The Vegas Spectacular,” resumes performances on the iconic stage at the Jubilee Theater inside Bally’s Las Vegas on Monday, Nov. 23, 2020. The show will perform to a socially-distanced audience capped at 250 guests.

In addition, for a limited time, the production will feature special guest stars and America’s Got Talent finalist and crossbow superstar Silvia Silvia and husband Victor Ponce, two of the stars from Extravaganza’s sister show, WOW – The Vegas Spectacular at Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino.

“We are excited to reopen ‘EXTRAVAGANZA’ in Las Vegas” says creator and director, Hanoch Rosènn. “We are also thrilled to have two of our WOW stars, Silvia Silvia and Victor Ponce, join our cast until we are able to reopen WOW at the Rio.”

“EXTRAVAGANZA – The Vegas Spectacular” Performance Schedule:
“EXTRAVAGANZA – The Vegas Spectacular” will perform nightly at the Jubilee Theatre inside Bally’s Las Vegas at 6:30 pm and 9:30 pm (dark Wednesdays except for Nov. 25, Dec. 23, 30, 2020 and Jan. 6, 2021).

Tickets are on sale now and prices range from $49.99 to $109.99 + taxes and fees and can be purchased at Extravaganza-Vegas.com, the Bally’s Las Vegas Box Office, Ticketmaster, BalllysLasVegas.com or by calling 702-777-7776.

Photos: Caprio Media Design for EXTRAVAGANZA – The Las Vegas Spectacular

MAYA CINEMAS Brings Unique Entertainment to North Las Vegas


Unconventional theater chain favors quirky gems over mainstream hits… 

With so little live entertainment currently available in Las Vegas, some of us who yearn for something to do have been rediscovering the cinemas. Alas, the only apparent winner from a business perspective has been West Wind Las Vegas drive-in, which I’ve reported on several times. But a gorgeous new indoor multiplex on the north side is shaking things up. And it’s definitely worth a visit.

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As an avid movie buff (and former manager for AMC Theaters) who attends film screenings at least three times per week, it pains me to admit that the expansion of MAYA Cinemas to Las Vegas escaped me. The high-tech complex began operations in early 2019, but was apparently overshadowed by the hype surrounding downtown’s ECLIPSE Theaters. That pricey restaurant/bar/cinema hybrid reportedly failed to connect with movie-goers, and remains dark for the eight month. Expensive $18 movie tickets certainly didn’t help.

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MAYA Cinemas, on the other hand, is a more economical alternative. While their ticket prices are in line with bigger brands like Regal and Cinemark, snack prices are remarkably reasonable. For instance, a large drink/popcorn combo runs $10 at MAYA, compared to over $16 at AMC Town Square. And before you complain about snack prices, keep in mind that food and beverage sales are what keep your local movie house in business, not ticket sales. The vast percentage of your admission price goes back to the studios who make the movies. So…no concession sales equals no movie theater. Period.

MAYA Cinemas is based in California. The Las Vegas location is their first in Nevada. It’s only a few minutes from the NEON Museum, and next to old-time locals casinos Silver Nugget and Jerry’s Nugget. While the location might seem puzzling to some, it was deliberately chosen in keeping with the company’s mission statement.


Maya Cinemas was chartered in 2000 with a mission to develop, build, own and operate modern, first-run, megaplex movie theaters in under-served, family oriented, Latino-dominant communities. In January 2019, Maya Cinemas North Las Vegas opened its doors bringing state-of-the-art movie-going to an area of Las Vegas seeing rapid growth of new business. 

Maya Cinemas offers first-run Hollywood movies in high-end theaters focused on quality of design, state-of-the-art film presentation technology, and superior customer service.


It’s hard to downplay the visual appeal of MAYA Cinemas N. Las Vegas. The massive modern structure features a spacious parking lot that’s landscaped beautifully with thoughtful accent lighting. Inside, touchscreen podiums allow you to reserve your tickets, or you can pre-order them online. All seats are assigned, and physical distancing protocols are automatically implemented.

An enormous lobby houses Energi Gaming arcade, a dining area, and Maya Cantina, which serves alcoholic beverages that you can take into the auditorium. Snacks, meals, and drinks can be ordered via the MAYA Cinemas App, which also includes MAYA Rewards loyalty program. Sign up to receive a free small popcorn and accrue points towards future discounts. You’ll be eligible for periodic email deals, too.

Throughout the week, you can take advantage of discounts like “Date Night Mondays”, “Family Day Tuesdays”, and “Senior Day Wednesdays”. Specially-scheduled presentations are targeted towards guests with sensory sensitivities, and the theater is available for private rentals and birthday parties.  

The wonderful design of MAYA Cinemas continues into the corridors and auditoriums, which are decorated with mellow earth tones and vibrant yellows. Plush electronic recliner seats are equipped with dining tables that easily swing into position and back out of the way. There is ample spacing between rows, once again ideal for physical distancing. Auditoriums are thoroughly sanitized between each showtime, and extra precautions are regularly implemented by the staff to protect your health. 

If you’re a techie, you’ll appreciate the presence of DOLBY ATMOS sound systems, D-BOX motion seats (in select auditoriums), and MPX, Maya’s own large-screen premium format.

MPX is the most immersive movie experience yet! Be engulfed in our large silver screen with the clearest and brightest 2D and 3D images from our projection technology. And hear every detail in amazing clarity with a true 360-degree sound!  MPX clarity of sound effects is phenomenal and delivers total immersion into the film.


Attention to detail is even evident in MAYA Cinemas restroom facilities. Family restrooms are ideal for those with small children or special needs. There are environmentally-friendly waterless fixtures for the gentlemen, and all-in-one sinks have high-speed blade dryers that instantly dry hands without paper towel waste or mess.

The best thing about MAYA Cinemas, aside from the unbelievably-delicious popcorn, is their unique approach to programming. As I mentioned in yesterday’s article on the release of STEALING CHAPLAIN, theaters have been impacted by a drought of Hollywood product. Of course, this was caused by the pandemic that shut down all film and television production this year. In place of new titles, theaters have been relying on classics, mostly from the 80s, with a few major studio releases peppered in.

MAYA Cinemas has taken that business model one step further. They’re featuring low-budget indies, urban-appeal thrillers, film festival favs, and genre-busters that might have otherwise gone straight to video. But let’s face facts…no matter how high-end your home system is, nothing beats the massive screens, booming sound, delicious smells, mouth-watering tastes, and captivating atmosphere of a real movie house. 

My first visit to MAYA Las Vegas was for LOVE AND MONSTERS, a critically-acclaimed (90% on Rotten Tomatoes) post-apocalyptic romantic adventure starring Dylan O’Brien of the MAZE RUNNER trilogy. Also showing were SPELL, a voodoo chiller featuring an African-American cast, JUNGLELAND, a boxing drama with SONS OF ANARCHY‘s Charlie Hunnam, and THE INFORMER with Joel Kinnaman. None of these titles are playing anywhere else in the city.

Previous discoveries include SAVE YOURSELVES, a riotous comedy of two city-slickers stranded in a rustic cabin during an alien invasion. Horror film favorites Tobin Bell (SAW) and Lin Shaye (INSIDIOUS) teamed up for THE CALL, a nail-biter from the creator of FINAL DESTINATION. Coming soon are SPIRAL, the latest in the SAW franchise, and MURDER IN THE WOODS with Danny Trejo (MACHETE). 

Of course, with over a dozen auditoriums to fill, major Hollywood releases like HONEST THIEF and older classics get their fair share of screen time. Ongoing series include family favorites like THE WIZARD OF OZ and BACK TO THE FUTURE, musicals like GREASE and FOOTLOOSE, and the entire HARRY POTTER series.

Retro titles are only $3.00 for adults and $1.00 for children, so pack up the kids and allow them to experience TOY STORY, CHRISTMAS VACATION and more on the big screen for the first time. It’s time to get out of the house and rediscover the pleasures of going to the movies.

MAYA Cinemas Las Vegas is located at 2195 North Las Vegas Boulevard North Las Vegas, NV 89030. Click here for showtimes, ticket prices and more information.

Photos: Sam Novak

‘Stealing Chaplain’ – Las Vegas Indie Headed for the Big Screen

Locally-produced comedy benefits from sHortage of Hollywood theatrical releases…


“Keep digging. Otherwise the next grave we’re digging is our own”. So says ‘Cal’, a con man desperate to stay alive while embroiled in a daring Las Vegas scam. That’s the premise of STEALING CHAPLAIN, a brand-new comedy filmed on location in Sin City.

STEALING CHAPLAIN is an independent production that’s about to hit big screens across the country. It’s being released at a time when theater chains are starving for new titles. For local producer Ken Bressers of Dystopian Films, this came as a stroke of luck, one that he swiftly pounced upon.

After the relative failure of director Christopher Nolan’s expensive (and downright awful, IMHO) TENET on U.S. screens, tentpole features like Pixar’s SOUL, Disney’s MULAN remake, WONDER WOMAN 84 and the latest James Bond film have either been postponed or diverted to streaming services. As a result, chains like AMC, Cinemark and Regal have relied on running retro classic titles…or have shut down altogether.

“Knowing we’ve got a quality movie ready to deliver and that theaters are drying up, we approached several theater chains directly, and they loved the idea” said Bressers. “Beginning November 13, we will be opening in over a hundred movie theaters across six major chains, and we’re still in talks with several others.” Stealing Chaplain is currently in theatrical release in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Stealing Chaplin is a comic caper focused on two British con men who dig up and ransom the corpse of legendary comic actor Charlie Chaplin. It’s inspired by the true story of a pair of crooks actually exhuming and stealing the body of the silent comedy star. Ken oversaw a production also starring The Sopranos star Al Sapienza and The Patriot actor Peter Woodward.

Eagle-eyed viewers will recognize a number of local performers who are featured in Stealing Chaplain. It even includes a cameo appearance from “Mr. Las Vegas” himself, Wayne Newton. Dani Elizabeth, fiance of comedic magician Murray SawChuck, is the popular emcee of CRAZY GIRLS at Planet Hollywood. Handsome Brent Barret of PHANTOM – The Las Vegas Spectacular (and former entertainment director for THE VEGAS ROOM) is on hand, as is sultry Cheryl Prater, a frequent host and guest at ROCKING COMEDY SHOW with Jay Bird

  Cheryl Prater has been in numerous Vegas-centric films and TV series

It was at a Halloween day private screening of the 1984 classic Nightmare on Elm Street (hosted by Jay) that Cheryl Prater first told me the STEALING CHAPLAIN news. She was undoubtedly excited by the chance to reach a large-scale audience in her latest role. In a year filled with endless bad news, this was a solid reason for cast, crew and friends to celebrate.

Bressers echoed those sentiments: “If Charlie Chaplin taught us anything; it was that laughing in times of difficulty sometimes is the best medicine. In light of everything going on in the world at the moment, we are very pleased to be partnering with Cinemark Theatres, Marcus Theatres, Malco, Starlights, and more to deliver Stealing Chaplin to an audience in need of an escape!”

Escaping to movie theaters has long been a popular Las Vegas pastime. Fremont Street’s historic El Portal Theater, built in the 1920s, was the city’s very first air-conditioned structure. Casinos throughout the valley have multi-screen theaters under their roofs, and the West Wind 6 Drive-in is filled with hundreds of cars every evening.

Several local movie producers and directors have turned Las Vegas into their own private Hollywood. Directors Joe Lujan and brothers Sonny and Michael Mahal use local talent and locations for outrageous cult horror films like Art of the Dead, Bus Party to Hell and the Immortal Wars franchise. Along with Sharknado actress Tara Reid, their films feature handsome future stars like Mark Justice, Ben Stobber, and burlesque performer Ronnie Nanos.

Even Gregory Popovich of David Saxe‘s POPOVICH COMEDY PET THEATER got bit by the movie-making bug. His endearing “Popovich and the Voice of the Fabled American West” had an exclusive run at Brenden Theaters at The Palms Casino Hotel. So, it’s no surprise that Stealing Chaplain benefits from the talent of many Las Vegas entertainers.

With all of the new precautions that have been standardized to make your movie-going experience safe and enjoyable, there’s no better time to head out and experience a new film. Enjoy this trailer for STEALING CHAPLAIN and see it on theater screens beginning November 13th. Visit the official Facebook page for more information and showtimes. 

‘James Michael – Redneck Comedy Magic’ is Rip-Roaring Fun

Laugh-a-minute show reopens this weekend at The STRAT…

You may have attended your share of stand-up comedy and magic acts. But raise your hand if you’ve seen a tattooed bad boy bodybuilder comedian who performs illusions while stripping off his shirt and donning a tutu. That’s exactly the kind of antics you can expect at James Michael’s Redneck Comedy Magic.

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“Sin City is about to get a whole lot trashier”. That’s what Mississippi native James Michael shouted before grabbing his cowboy hat, slipping on his boots and heading to The STRAT Hotel Casino for his Las Vegas residency. Now performing six nights a week at L.A. Comedy Club, the Redneck Magician will entertain you with sleight of hand, card tricks, and some risque rope maneuvers. He might even steal your beer if you happen to look away.

With so many magic acts in town, it’s tough to stand out from the crowd. Perhaps that’s why the blending of comedy and magic is proving to be so successful. As the long-running Mac King (at Harrah’s) and Mike Hammer (Fremont Street’s 4 Queens Casino) have demonstrated, there’s a hungry audience for illusions mixed with laughter. Redneck Comedy Magic ups the ante by stirring in plenty of randy humor from the kind of guy you’d want to have as your drinking buddy.

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James Michael may be relatively new to Sin City audiences, but he’s been spreading his brand of madcap madness around the world for quite some time. A fitness model and part-time tattoo artist, Michael has performed on cruise ships, corporate functions, television shows….and supposedly “UFO’s, prisons, strip clubs and a Chuck E. Cheese” if his bio is to be believed.

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You might expect such a big bruiser to be an intimidating presence while onstage, but Michael is quite the gentle pussycat. In fact, he’s been known to bust through the doors of his local fitness facility while proudly wearing a “Hello Kitty” backpack. And much like last year’s The Naked Magicians, this wild buckaroo seems to strip off a piece of clothing after every trick or two. All the better to solidify his plans for world domination via an “AARP Chippendales”-style production. “Is it getting hot in here, y’all?”

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Redneck Comedy Magic is one of this writer’s favorite adults-only comedy shows. Tickets start at only $39.95 for general admission.  And with the money you’ll save, you might want to share a round of drinks with the star. He loves to hang around for conversation and pictures after the show. Just pretend that you don’t notice the tutu…

Redneck comedy magic performs nightly at the L.A. Comedy club at The Strat hotel casino. Showtime is at 6pm. Click here for full schedule and details.