The past two Fridays have been marked by significant announcements from Nevada Health Response, which have quickly changed the live entertainment landscape in Las Vegas.
On March 5, Gov. Steve Sisolak signed an emergency directive that immediately reduced the required minimum distance between performers and audience in showrooms, theaters and other venues. The previous 25 feet was chopped down to 12 feet, or just 6 if everyone onstage is masked.
Then on March 12, the state streamlined the process for the planning and approval of gatherings and events larger than 250 people, including potential shows and concerts. Various venues can now plan events up to 50% of their total capacity, if their plans are approved by the department of Business & Industry.
Several Las Vegas Strip productions were already planning to resume live performances this month, before these moves to ease restrictions were made, and some of them can now seek additional audience capacity and sell more than 250 tickets per show. But don’t expect to see bigger events like headlining music residencies and Cirque du Soleil shows suddenly return to their Vegas stages.
A lot of work still needs to be done to ramp back up and get those massive productions back on track, and 50% of ticket sales won’t make financial sense for those blockbusters, which are looking ahead to May and June.
Here are the latest Vegas shows to come back online:
Absinthe (March 17)
Spiegelworld has been one of the most outspoken entertainment producers in terms of lobbying for the loosening of restrictions in recent months, and one of the most adventurous in terms of installing additional safety measures and innovations. Absinthe, its cornerstone show, became one of the first Strip events to return on October 28, and after the holiday season restrictions cut audiences to just 50 people, the show gave it a go for nearly a month before closing again. It returned to its Caesars Palace tent on St. Patrick’s Day with an adjusted seating plan for 153 people at distanced cabaret tables, with Spiegelworld planning to gradually add to the capacity. Wednesday-Sunday, 7 & 9 p.m.
The Australian Bee Gees Show(March 15)
This overlooked but consistently popular musical tribute will celebrate 10 years of Strip residency at Excalibur this year. It’s also one of several reopening shows that only ran for a few weeks during the past year. “One of the biggest things that’s changed in our lives [is] not being able to get together at sporting events, concerts and live shows,” says Aussie Michael Clift, who co-created the show in 1996 and toured the world before landing in Vegas. “That’s the biggest chunk taken out. And people will want to embrace that again when it’s safe. … The Bee Gees music is really fun and really heartfelt. There’s soul music as well as the disco stuff.” Sunday-Monday & Wednesday-Friday, 6 p.m.
David Copperfield (March 21)
The iconic illusionist returned to his own 750-seat showroom at MGM Grand on November 6, but shut the show down again when the 50-person cap was installed a few weeks later. Copperfield’s magic spectacular is expected to resume with an audience of 250 this week, but the show could push closer to 375 soon due to the traditional booth-and-table fixed seating in the venue. Sunday-Friday, 7 & 9:30 p.m.; Saturday, 4, 7 & 9:30 p.m.
Terry Fator (March 18)
The headlining ventriloquist, singer and comedian remained in his own sort of limbo in 2020, since he was in the middle of moving his show when the pandemic struck. “We couldn’t announce anything, because we were kind of vetting three or four different venues to find out which was going to be the best,” Fator says. “And then I didn’t get a chance to finish signing a contract before everything just shut down.” After 11 years at the Mirage, he’s opening a limited engagement of new show Who’s the Dummy Now? at New York-New York, in the 1,260-seat theater left vacant by the closing of Zumanity. “I am so excited about getting back onstage live,” he says. “I think I’ve continued to be creative this year, but it’s so much harder when you don’t have a real, live audience in front of you.” Through April 4; Thursday-Friday, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 7 p.m.
Jabbawockeez (March 11)
The Jabbas’ new show ,Timeless—which debuted just before the pandemic shutdown last spring—marked one of the most intriguing reopenings of the fall, since the dance crew moved into the cavernous MGM Grand Garden Arena for socially distanced audiences of 250. It closed in November and opened again last week, and it’s expected to expand ticket sales soon to make the most of that big space. Thursday-Monday, 7 & 9:30 p.m.
MJ Live (March 18)
The Michael Jackson tribute with the full live band is back in the theater at the Strat this week, another production that first came back for just a few weeks in November. With live music in the recently renovated Remix Lounge and nightly laughs at the L.A. Comedy Club, the north Strip resort is adding depth to an already compelling entertainment lineup. Thursday-Sunday, 7 p.m.
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