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May 20, 2019

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BMG bananas at new Luxor venue; Life to be resurrected as Foundry Hall at SLS

Blue Man Group Returns to Luxor

Tom Donoghue / DonoghuePhotography.com

Blue Man Group returns to the Luxor on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015, on the Las Vegas Strip.

Blue Man Group Returns to Luxor

Blue Man Group returns to the Luxor on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015, on the Las Vegas Strip. Launch slideshow »

The Kats Report Bureau at this writing is the food court at Luxor, just a Twinkie toss from Blue Man Group Theater. This is the former home of Jabbawockeez, built for them, in fact, and is now overtaken by BMG in a series of recent venue and production shifts inside MGM Resorts.

The Blue Men opened at Luxor in February 2000 in the theater now occupied by Criss Angel. Since, the baldly muted troupe has ricocheted from Luxor to the Venetian to Monte Carlo and back to Luxor. The Jabbaz, as we reminded just Wednesday, have opened at Beacher’s Madhouse — retitled Jabbawockeez Theater — at MGM Grand.

Following? Today, co-founders Phil Stanton and Chris Wink appeared during an official unveiling of the new production. The morning started with a very brief, as in two-minute, firing of confetti by the Blue Men outside the venue. Preview performances have begun, and already the Blue Men have learned that plastic tarps are a necessity in the new room. Evidently during Wednesday night’s opening of previews, the banana goo fired from the chests of the Blue Men easily reached the audience. So, wear the plastic if you’re up close.

Sound calibration is vital in this room, about 400 seats less and smaller by a significant margin than Monte Carlo Theater. But the Blue Men like it cozy, as their venues across the country are all more intimate than what BMG was playing at Monte Carlo. And we do know that the tissue paper will follow the troupe back to Luxor. Back in the venue’s nether regions, the TP is hanging in place and ready to roll.

So are we. Onward:

2015 Halloween: Life, Foxtail at SLS

Lil Wayne hosts a Halloween party at Life on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015, at SLS Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »

• Life is dead. Hard to believe, as it wasn’t so long ago — August of 2014, specifically, that the nightlife venue was the cornerstone of the SLS Las Vegas entertainment program. But dreams of the monorail hauling partygoers into the groovy haunt operated by nightlife kingpin SBE Entertainment proved unattainable. Under construction now is an 1,800-seat theater, to be called Foundry Hall, to be open by the end of the year.

What’s it all mean?

“That space has been the Sahara showroom and Life, and now we’re looking at a live entertainment club,” SLS Las Vegas President Scott Kreeger said in an interview Monday, in the blush of the company’s announcement that it would partner with Starwood Resorts for W Las Vegas in what is now the SLS Lux tower. “We’re partnered with Live Nation, our exclusive booking agent for the room, and the venue has all of the lighting and effects and sound quality of the best venues in town. The energy and theatrics in there are phenomenal.”

Expect, first, for Live Nation to book music acts. That capacity, 1,800, is a tricky fit, and there is enormous competition for any act or artist who might fill 1,800 seats. One-off music shows, especially those from artists just on the cusp of making it big, are likely. Kreeger has talked of comedy in that space and also at the Sayers Club. A resident show is not out of the question, and the right type of production would be a great way for SLS to generate animation and interest beyond its distinctive design and top-level restaurants.

“We want to be creative, diversify and make sure we’re broad enough to fill that room,” Kreeger said. “Maybe that will lead to a residency-type situation. I’m certainly not ruling it out.”

Clint Holmes ‘To Ella With Love’ at the Hollywood Bowl

Clint Holmes and friends rehearse for “To Ella With Love” at the Hollywood Bowl on Wednesday, July 9, 2014, in Los Angeles.

Launch slideshow »

• The Smith Center for the Performing Arts is on one of its groovy streaks, with “Simply Ella” set for Friday night at 7:30 and Keith Thompson’s “God Lives in Glass” performed at 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets to both shows are at TheSmithCenter.com.

“Simply Ella” is a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, and know this about her: Artists who have been inspired by Ella are really into Ella. Count Reva Rice among them. She is a member of Las Vegas performing royalty as a member of “Starlight Express” at Las Vegas Hilton in the 1990s and one of the stars of “Vegas! The Show” at Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood. Another member of the Las Vegas performing royal family, Clint Holmes, and she share vocals in “Simply Ella.”

“I remember hearing Ella when I was 4, 5, 6, 7 years old. My parents would put it on, and I was exposed to this sound,” Rice said in a phone interview this week. “I had a knack for it, too. I could play with it, and I started imitating all of these instruments vocally.”

It’s known as scatting, which led to a lot of the beat-box effects that club artists employ today. Holmes, too, is one of the best scat artists out there. “What we have in common is we both try to be organic and honest. Every time I hear him sing, whether it’s a song I’ve heard him sing seven or eight times, it’s honest.”

The production showcases Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater under the direction of founder Bernard Gaddis. It is the company’s fourth show at the Smith Center, and this one will be dripping with jazz, dance and Ella.

Brad Garrett Comedy Club

Manager Tony Camacho is shown inside Brad Garrett's Comedy Club at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas Tuesday, April 30, 2013. Launch slideshow »

• Brad Garrett was in town Monday night to MC the Nathan Adelson Hospice benefit “Serenades of Life — Doctors in Concert” at Reynolds Hall. The event starred Kenny Loggins and was a benefit for Nathan Adelson Hospice’s Bonnie Schreck Memorial Complementary Therapies Program. Say this about Garrett: He gives back. He is as funny offstage as he is onstage. He is uncommonly tall.

Garrett’s character in FX’s “Fargo,” mob boss Joe Bulo, was whacked in the most recent episode (fifth of Season 2). That’s a shame. But Garrett is back at his club at MGM Grand’s Underground next week, and I am feeling vibrations from the basement of something new from Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club. Can’t say for sure what, nor can Garrett, but there is something new planned for that room. Stay tuned — to this column and “Fargo,” even though our favorite character is now on the wrong side of the grass.

• On the topic of rooms and news about such: Human Nature sure put on a great performance at the Ethel M cactus lighting event Tuesday night. Not really a note about the act’s future at Sands Showroom at the Venetian, or anywhere else, but they were in fine form to kick off the holiday season. What we know for sure is H.N.’s Motown tribute show marks its final performance Wednesday night, and in its place is the annual holiday series with Ruby Lewis (“For the Record: Baz”) as guest vocalist beginning Nov. 20.

Otherwise, to be sorted out is the guys’ next home. It still has not been formally verified that they are moving anywhere in 2016. Also in question is how much, if any, involvement Smokey Robinson will have in the next version of Human Nature’s show, which is loosely titled “Jukebox” for now and not squarely centered on a Motown theme. I, for one, am eager to see what ’16 holds for these fellas.

Click to enlarge photo

Andrea Wynn, Steve Wynn, Nicole Kaplan and Graham Fenton at “Jersey Boys” on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2015, at Paris Las Vegas.

• Just about a year ago, Nicole Kaplan was without a steady gig in Las Vegas and wondering if the city was a good fit for her musical-theater underpinnings. Then she got an audition call for a new show under development at Encore Theater. “Steve Wynn’s Showstoppers” was the name, and Kaplan was summoned in a pinch to fill a just-opened slot among the three female singers.

She was so impressive that she was being fitted for costumes before she left the property.

Today, Kaplan is a star in the show and one of the Strip’s great stage performers. She and her husband, Graham Fenton of “Jersey Boys” at Paris Las Vegas, had one of those “how the hell did I get here?” moments that seem reserved for VegasVille: Kaplan and Steve and Andrea Wynn watched a performance of “Jersey Boys” with Fenton performing his usual role as Frankie Valli.

“Steve is a ‘Jersey Boys’ fan and is so sweet. He always asks me how Graham is doing,” Kaplan said in a text exchange last week after posting the photograph of the two couples outside the theater at Paris. “I’ve seen Steve in the audience of ‘Showstoppers’ 100-plus times, and he had asked about seeing Graham in ‘Jersey Boys.’ ”

So they went, and to understand what that moment meant to Fenton and Kaplan, just check out the smiles.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.

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