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How two Las Vegas Strip resorts are handling their live entertainment recovery during the pandemic

So far, only two major Las Vegas production shows have been permanently closed during the coronavirus pandemic, which infamously shut down all entertainment and the entire Strip in March 2020. Considering the extremely challenging circumstances of the times, this is incredibly good news.

Here are some more positive Vegas vibes: The casino properties that hosted those two shows have made tremendous progress in rebuilding and renovating their entertainment offerings and plans are in place to open new productions in those two empty theaters in the coming months.

Cirque du Soleil announced the closure of “Zumanity” in November 2020, its cabaret spectacular that served as the resident headlining show at MGM Resorts’ south Strip casino New York-New York for nearly 17 years. After Cirque ended its newest Vegas show, “R.U.N” at Luxor in early March before the pandemic closure, the closing of “Zumanity” reduced the Canadian company’s presence in Las Vegas to five productions.

That will change this year as Cirque will team with MGM Resorts once again for a new production in the former “Zumanity” space, a dramatic, 1,200-seat theater.

“2022 will be an exciting year for Cirque du Soleil as we introduce a completely new show concept to Las Vegas,” Eric Grilly, Cirque du Soleil president of resident and affiliate show divisions, said via email. “We’re working closely with our partners at MGM Resorts to define this new experience and will share more details soon.”

As one of the MGM properties that bookends T-Mobile Arena, New York-New York is a unique entertainment destination on the Strip; It sees substantial traffic and benefits from the sporting events and concert tours at T-Mobile and can therefore focus on programming more complementary live entertainment offerings.

But the debut of a brand-new Cirque residency will generate significant excitement at New York-New York, which opened exactly 25 years ago today. The new show could arrive this spring.

Mike Neubecker, New York-New York President and COO, said, entertainment plays a key role in the property’s experience. “We continuously seek to deliver new and exciting offerings for our guests and believe 2022 will be a big year as we look to introduce a new show to the Las Vegas Strip,” he said, also via email.

Singer and ventriloquist Terry Fator, who starred at the Mirage for 11 years, has been performing at New York-New York since March 18, first at the former “Zumanity” theater when COVID restrictions still involved socially distanced audiences, and then moving to the 500-seat Liberty Loft in August.

“That [larger] theater was always a temporary thing … [and] it was great, but once I found Liberty Loft, it’s really special,” Fator said recently. “It’s so intimate. When I walk out on that stage, I can just feel the energy from the crowd in a way I never could at larger venues. I’ve never been happier to perform five nights a week.”

Earlier in 2020, Wynn Las Vegas shuttered its acrobatic, aquatic original production “Le Rêve” after more than 6,000 shows over 15 years in the custom, state-of-the-art Wynn Theater, which seats 1,500 people. That announcement was made in August 2020, eliminating another one of the Strip’s most recognizable and ambitious production shows.

No performances have been held in its space, but renovations are underway there for a new, top-secret production. In a recent interview, Wynn President Brian Gullbrants declined to provide specific details but confirmed a new show has been under development for some time now.

“‘Le Rêve’ had such a successful run for us and the pandemic gave us the opportunity to step back and say, it’s time,” Gullbrants said. “We have an unbelievable creative team working on something special like no one has ever seen before.”

Meanwhile, the adjacent Encore Theater has continued its evolution into one of the most prominent Strip venues for headlining music and comedy stars since the resurrection of live entertainment during the pandemic. Residency-style shows from John Fogerty and Lionel Richie have returned; a new storyteller-style residency from country star Brad Paisley made its debut and will return to the venue in March; and established and up-and-coming standup comedy stars including Sebastian Maniscalco, Whitney Cummings, Chris Destefano, Taylor Tomlinson, Nate Bargatze and Jim Gaffigan have Encore Theater dates in the first half of the year.

“Everybody has worked really hard to make sure we’re maximizing opportunities here,” Gullbrants said. “We have a great partnership with AEG Presents [booking Encore Theater] and that is starting to pay significant dividends for us and our customers. We’re really excited looking toward 2022 as live entertainment continues to thrive in Las Vegas and especially at Wynn.”

Source: Las Vegas Sun