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November 12, 2018

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Moving elephant gives Jabbawockeez a chance to open trunk at MGM Grand


Tom Donoghue /

Cast members of Luxor headliners the Jabbawockeez arrive at the 2014 Fighters Only World Mixed Martial Arts Awards on Friday, Feb. 7, 2014, at the Venetian.

Jabbawockeez’s ‘Regenerate’ Premiere at Luxor

Austin “Chumlee” Russell, left, and friends attend Jabbawockeez’s premiere of “Regenerate” on Monday, Feb. 17, 2014, at Luxor.

Launch slideshow »

Jabbawockeez Prism at Luxor: Opening Night

The Jabbawockeez's opening night of their new show Launch slideshow »

We’ve heard of the proverbial elephant in the room, the obvious topic of conversation that is never broached.

But rarely do we encounter an actual elephant in the room.

Metaphorically and for real, the Jabbawockeez know about the elephant in the room.

“When we came in here, there was a big elephant in here,” said Joe “Punkee” Larot, an original member of the Jabbawockeez during an interview in their new home at MGM Grand. “It was really hard to see how we would change this room around.”

The first step, naturally, was to find a temporary spot for that elephant, which serves as a giant prop in the Beacher’s Madhouse club performances in that room.

The venue has been renamed Jabbawockeez Theater, supplanting the Beacher’s Madhouse title, to accommodate the Jabbaz’s new show, “Jreamz.” That title reinforces that the Jabbawockeez’s use of language can be as inventive as their far-flung choreography.

“Jreamz” has opened about as silently as the wordless Jabbawockeez characters themselves. The show runs 7 p.m. Thursdays through Mondays, with additional 9:30 p.m. performances Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. No formal premiere, VIP performance or media night has yet been scheduled.

But changes in the theater, and among the troupe, are already evident. The Jabbawockeez Theater is a fully reformed space, full of proper theater seats facing a central stage.

The booths and tables (and all those wild props) from Beacher’s are stored away, returned for the club showcases, which are now Saturday nights and on occasional Fridays.

It’s become clear over the past several months that this room, built out originally for the “Le Femme” (later renamed “Crazy Horse Paris”) adult revue, is the home of the Jabbawockeez.

The move was enacted quickly in a tumble of dominoes across MGM Resorts properties as Blue Man Group was hustled from Monte Carlo Theater as that hotel prepped for the construction of its new 5,000-seat venue facing the Strip.

That led Blue Man Group back to its original hotel, the Luxor. And the Jabbawockeez returned to their first Las Vegas home, MGM Grand, where in 2010 the troupe performed at the then-Hollywood Theater in the blush of its win on Season 1 of “MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew.”

The series of events was abrupt, but the result was the Jabbawockeez returning to their roots.

“When this happened, we were in a meeting with some MGM Resorts executives, and they sprung the idea on us,” said Rynan “Kid Rainen” Paguio, also an original member of the troupe.

“The whole idea of what’s happening at Monte Carlo and the (Las Vegas) Arena, Blue Man Group back to Luxor, happened in this random meeting, and it was a shock for everybody to hear that. But, at the same time, what we realized is everyone is going back to where they started.”

What is immediately obvious about the Jabbaz’s new home is the space is far cozier than the troupe’s most recent venue at the Luxor. The old venue, to be the new venue for Blue Man Group, seated 830 and the new room 350. And aside from the drawdown in seating, the Jabbawockeez are using a smaller room simply for its extensive production.

But keep in mind, the Jabbawockeez did not start with an 830-seat theater.

“We are seeing the magic that could be brought into this theater,” Larot said. “The fact that it is smaller reminds us that we always were used to dancing in intimate theaters and stages before we got to Las Vegas. We were street performers, and whenever we did shows, they were small theaters.”

The troupe will close ranks some, with nine or 10 performers onstage at the same time rather than the 15 — or more — at its “Prism” show at Luxor. They will use “crazy, amazing” 3D, as Larot promises, on both sides of the stage.

The dancing? That’s a given. As the Jabbaz showed Tuesday night during an appearance at Ethel M. Chocolate’s annual cactus lighting event, they can impress in any format.

“Even if we’re doing it solo, or with two people, it can be amazing,” Larot said. “What we say is, you can’t hide in here. If you make a mistake, people will notice it. This will help us find the highest quality of our dancing and will make everybody work harder.”

And if you need to work around an elephant to make that happen, so be it.

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