Las Vegas Sun

July 25, 2021

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Curtain Up: The impact of Siegfried, Thunder From Down Under returns and more Vegas showbiz news

Siegfried & Roy + Emma Goldsberry

Tom Donoghue / DonoghuePhotography.com

Siegfried & Roy feed a tiger cub during a Make-a-Wish Foundation event Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015, at the Mirage.

The giants of the Las Vegas magical universe were quick to take to social media Thursday to express their feelings about Siegfried Fischbacher, who passed away Wednesday night at his home in Las Vegas at age 81 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. His longtime partner Roy Horn died from complications of COVID-19 in May.

“[Siegfried & Roy] invented the full-length magic show headlining Vegas. A very different style but without S&R there is no [Penn & Teller] in Vegas,” wrote Penn Jillette. “Pure showbiz and pure class. He was a team. We are a team. As Tolstoy wrote, successful magic teams are all the same.”

Lance Burton, who performed on the Strip during the same era in Las Vegas entertainment as the legendary duo, wrote that Siegfried’s passing marked the end of an era.

“Siegfried was for decades the epitome of what a Las Vegas entertainer should be. Onstage he was larger than life … a brilliant magician with an original and highly successful show,” Burton posted. “Offstage he was charming and at times shy. I will always cherish the times I spent in his company. … He was kind, funny, and exuded an old-world class that is difficult to define, but easy to recognize.”

David Copperfield wrote Siegfried was a “pioneer who — together with Roy — illuminated Las Vegas with illusion. His legacy will live on not only in magic, but in truly shaping the history and future of this city.”

Criss Angel echoed those sentiments, pointing out that Siegfried & Roy, an act that began in Las Vegas in 1967 in “Les Folies Bergere” and evolved into a true headliner at the Frontier and the Mirage, paved the way for Copperfield, Burton, Penn & Teller and himself.

“There will never be another Siegfried & Roy. They transformed our art and their impact will remain forever. Magicians owe so much to the legends Siegfried Fischbacher and Roy Horn,” Angel posted. “May they be reunited performing for angels in heaven.”

Click to enlarge photo

Thunder From Down Under

Officials announced Thursday that funeral services will be private with plans in the works for a public memorial.

Back to the current-day entertainment scene, where the 30-day extension of the tight coronavirus restrictions on shows and live events won’t stop the return of one of the longest-running revues in Las Vegas. “Thunder From Down Under” will reopen this weekend at the Thunderland Showroom at Excalibur, coming out of the gates strong with three shows on Saturday. Producer Adam Steck of SPI Entertainment says he’s tweaked the deal with casino operator MGM Resorts in order to make the numbers work, and the Australian lads will hit the stage for 14 shows a week (two shows nightly except Tuesdays at 8 and 10 p.m. plus a 6 p.m. show on Fridays and Saturdays) in front of an audience of 50 people, seated in groups of two and four.

“It all goes back to necessity being the mother of invention. We had to adapt and attack it from a different angle,” he says. “You do what you’ve got to do and we’re so thrilled to be able to do it. It will be an extremely safe environment with all the protocols in place, arguably safer than restaurants that have larger capacities, and what an incredible experience for the lucky customers that get to see this show, just them and our cast. It’s going to be potent.”

“Thunder” reopened for the first time since the March shutdown with other MGM Resorts shows on November 6, but closed down weeks later when the rules tightened. Since SPI operates the Thunderland space in a unique partnership with the casino, there was additional flexibility in making the show work with the reduced capacity.

Steck is holding back on reopening the room’s other regular production, “The Australian Bee Gees Show,” but believes the popular male revue will reconnect with its audience quickly.

“We’ve had so many inquiries about ‘Thunder’ on social media and by text and email, people asking us to please open, so I think the demand will be there,” he says. “Hopefully we can lure people to Vegas that didn’t want to come before. They can re-do the bachelorette parties and girls’ nights out they didn’t get to do or haven’t done in a while.”

Another Australian-themed male revue is set to launch a new production next week at the off-Strip Alexis Park Resort. “Aussie Heat,” which continues its own performances at the Mosaic theater on the Strip, will unleash “Rock Candy” on January 21 in the bustling Athena Showroom. The new show takes over the 8 p.m. slot Thursday through Sunday, moving musical tribute “Motown Extreme” to 6 p.m. all four nights and sexy variety show “BurlesQ” to 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday. The space also hosts “Alain Nu: The Man Who Knows” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, “Amazing Magic” starring Tommy Wind at 5:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and the Jokesters comedy shows at 9 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.

Mondays Dark is back with its first show of 2021 on Monday. Tickets are sold-out for the in-person experience at the Space but you can catch the livestream at 7:45 p.m. at mondaysdark.com. The musical theme is big pop hits of the last decade, the money raised goes to benefit local animal charity Barn Buddies Rescue, and the lineup includes Camden West, Stephanie Sanchez, Carnell Johnson, Jenn De La Torre, Fletch and Ian Ward.

As for this weekend's shows, all the Strip stuff that has been open will stay open, and you can also catch singer Skye Dee Miles at the Vegas Room for a 1 p.m. show on Sunday. She'll be taking over that off-Strip spot for the rest of the month for Sunday brunch.