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Ta-da! Murray Sawchuck closes, reopens without missing a beat

Murray Sawchuck + April Leopardi Annenberg

Ira Kuzma

Murray Sawchuck.

Updated Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016 | 4:40 p.m.

Murray Sawchuck + April Leopardi Annenberg

Murray Sawchuck. Launch slideshow »

One thing about magicians: Keeping track of them away from the stage is like trying to follow some serious misdirection: My show is canceled? Hey, over here! Britney Spears is in the audience!

Thus, The Kats Report begins the year abuzz with a great reappearing act from a magician with a penchant for pulling media coverage (if not a rabbit) out of a hat.

Capping a series of events over the past five days, we’ll start with the big “reveal”: The esteemed and indestructible Murray Sawchuck, who has held the 4 p.m. time slot at Sin City Theater at Planet Hollywood for a little more than a year, is moving to the 10:30 p.m. slot at that theater in February.

Sawchuck is currently offstage until Jan. 20 and still performing select afternoon dates at least until the new production is together. Sawchuck’s late-late show is to be a more adult tenor, “edgier,” as is promised, with maybe a dance number spotlighting his new assistant, April Leopardi.

His sidekick, Lefty (as performed by the jumpsuit-fashioned Doug Leferovich), is still in the mix. The new show’s full schedule is to be worked out, but Sawchuck announced from the stage Sunday that he’d just signed a new yearlong contract.

Amid this percolation, none other than Spears showed up — great timing there, Brit — on New Year’s Eve with her two sons Sean Preston and Jayden James. Front-row seats, too.

Working through this entire stretch was some kinda slalom for Team Sawchuck and requires a bit of a rewind: On New Year’s Eve afternoon, the magician was informed of a change in his show. Expressly, that it had been canceled.

The reason given by room manager Pete Housley was that Sawchuck, who leases the space, had been spending an inordinate amount of time performing away from Sin City Theater. The landlord in such a business partnership needs the tenant to perform regularly to turn a profit (though Sawchuck had not missed any of his financial obligations).

The initial plan was for Sawchuck to close his show and haul out after Sunday afternoon’s performance. But sometime between New Year’s Day and Sunday morning, Housley and he worked out a new plan, with Housley texting that they were both “very excited and optimistic” about the new 10:30 p.m. production.

Also announced in this confluence of events is a new Crazy Girls cabaret club at the spot on the P.H. mezzanine level where Pussycat Dolls Lounge once stood. That club, connected to Sin City Theater anchor production “Crazy Girls,” is set to open Jan. 18. (The schedule for the “Crazy Girls” show, nightly at 9, is unchanged.)

This all happened with such velocity, and so unexpectedly, that I actually dialed Housley directly to make sure his initial text to me was not some sort of a prank (magicians are notoriously fond of practical jokes). But it was real, and so is Sawchuck’s new schedule.

Murray had a heck of a wild year, with changes in his personal life and stage lineup when his now ex-wife, Chloe Crawford, left to join the Empire of the Criss (Angel).

As he wades into 2016, Sawchuck continues to record his Facebook and YouTube videos with viral whippersnapper Seth Leach, having just announced a series of 100 more clips to be recorded this year. So, on one hand, he has about 100 million hits on those platforms with the videos already recorded over the past three months. On the other, he has a 225-seat Strip room to fill on a regular basis.

Meeting that second goal is far more challenging than cutting a video clip. Believe it.

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

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