Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2010 | 4:11 p.m.
The President Obama/Las Vegas circle of life has reached an inevitable destination: "The Lion King" at Mandalay Bay. A news release sent today reminds would-be visitors to the show of its "unbeatable" ticket price for college students who might suddenly be concerned about dropping a wad of cash in Las Vegas.
This is how we do it here — when the president gives us lemons, we mix a Gin Fizz!
The deal is, current college students are offered a rate of $25.50 for a ticket to the show at Mandalay Bay Theater. Tickets to the production usually range from $64-$113, without fees. Student are required to show a valid college ID, and the offer is available only on the day of purchase at the box office and tickets are limited to two per person.
Some blackout dates apply. That's hardly a concern, as most college students visiting Las Vegas know all about blackouts. This city was built on blackouts, in fact.
As noted, the open-ended ticket package has been in place since October, but because of recent developments in national politics a timely reminder was issued today. Some restrictions apply. Go to LionKingLasVegas for ticket and show information.
More notes to follow:
Carrot Top has received a few tepid entries to his national prop contest, which he announced Monday. Entries will be taken until midnight May 1. The winner's prop will be used in Carrot Top's stage show at Atrium Theater at Luxor, and if you can approach the inspired "Balloon Boy" prop that lasted about eight shows, you're in the hunt. The winner will also win round-trip airfare for two to Las Vegas, two nights at the pyramid, dinner for two and a pair of show tickets. Some of these props have a rather long shelf life. Thompson's first prop used in front of an audience was a Neighborhood Watch sign. "Where did I get this?" he asked. "I stole it." Still works today, though he hasn't dusted that one off in a while.
Appearing onstage with Santa Fe and The Fat City Horns at Tropicana's Tiffany Theatre, which my new Monday night revival, were Clint Holmes and Earl Turner, singing together on "Wishing Well." It was a terrific surprise, especially, to catch Turner, who is on the cruise-ship circuit since his most recent attempt to make a show stick in Vegas ("Voices" with Lani Misalucha at the LV Hilton) faltered. Last month Turner performed on the behemoth Oasis of the Seas, which is akin to CityCenter if CityCenter were a resort-themed watercraft offering such entertainment as Earl Turner instead of "Viva Elvis."
Holmes made it to the regular (and free) Monday performance of Santa Fe, once his backing band, after appearing at his wife Kelly Clinton's open-mic night at Bootlegger Bistro. Holmes has announced dates at Suncoast Showroom on March 13-14 (the Suncoast has booked longtime Vegas favorite The Scintas on Feb. 13-14).
Word from the Trop on Monday was that there has been some pushback about the hotel's plans to shut, gut and renovate Tiffany Theatre beginning sometime this spring. The work is set to begin sometime after Wayne Newton's "Once Before I Go" ends its run in April (it would be a hell of a turn of events if that work started before then, right?). The last listed date on Newton's Web site is April 24, and Trop President Thomas McCartney said last month the showroom would be turned into a more contemporary-styled theater (similar to Luxor's) with the booths removed in favor of tiered rows of bucket seats.
But there are those on site, including entertainment director Lee Ann Groff-Daudet, who like the vintage Vegas-style booth and table seating arrangement. If it's purely about money, and in this instance it is because the theater's seating capacity would grow from 800 to 1,000, it would take a financial and not nostalgia argument to change the executives' minds. Whatever, this Monday night showcase, which this week featured a late-night show by the South Beach orchestra at Celebrity Lounge after Santa Fe finished, is great old-Vegas fun.
What else. Oh, Wayne Newton is now dark on Fridays, beginning with the Jan. 29 show and effective through the end of his run, which is listed as April 24, giving fans an even more limited chance to catch Mr. Las Vegas. The schedule is now Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays for "Once Before I Go."
Larry Ruvo, the founder and visionary behind the Lou Ruvo Cleveland Clinic Center for Brain Health, says plans for long-term expansion at the clinic at Symphony Park include high-rise projects that will occupy the land between the clinic and World Market Center and the under-construction Smith Center for Performing Arts. He says the architect he selects will not have any history in Las Vegas, which (if that holds true through Ruvo's vetting process) would eliminate Cleveland Clinic design architect Frank Gehry and any of the esteemed architects who contributed to CityCenter.
Also during our interview Tuesday for an upcoming episode of "Our Metropolis" (which airs Tuesdays at 6 p.m. on KUNV 91.5 FM), Ruvo said the April 1 date for the grand-opening party at the center was chosen for those who thought he was a fool to embark on the project. Earlier, as I took a tour of the clinic Tuesday morning, I learned that the clinic's events space is available to rent for weddings and bar mitzvahs, even a Pro Bowl party. One such event has already been planned, a bar mitzvah, in May. All of this to raise money to shift back into the clinic. The "Power of Love" gala, starring Barry Manilow performing for the city's most influential audience, is set for Feb. 27 at Bellagio.
I'm hearing that a "significant" headliner in town will be announcing a new ticketing strategy next week that should draw a lot of attention.
A week ago, as I was leaving Planet Hollywood Theatre for the Performing Arts after the final night of preliminaries for the Miss America Pageant, I noticed my car keys were missing. Naturally, I suspected Miss New Jersey (ba-dum-bum!).
A couple of kindly ushers and two friends of Miss Oklahoma helped me search under a row of theater seats for this set, a process that did lead to an uncovered and unclaimed cell phone. I asked lost-and-found reps at both Planet Hollywood and the Miracle Mile Shops. Nothing. I thought to check the KatMobile, which was parked in the Miracle Mile garage, to see if I somehow locked or shut the keys inside. I got to the car and — as if by Miracle! — the keys were hanging from the driver's-side door. They'd been there for about three hours, in a vehicle just begging to be stolen.
On Friday night, at Fremont Street Experience garage, different story. I parked there to take part in a fundraiser for Haiti relief by tending bar at Hennessy's. As much time as I've spent at bars in my life, I'd never been on the business side. Great fun, except for when I got swatted on the tushie by one of my fellow bartendresses while I was leaning on the bar and talking to KKLZ's Mike O'Brian. But at some point, I lost my parking ticket to the FSE garage. We looked everywhere, found nothing, and I even stamped a cocktail napkin to see if that would work as my get-out-of-FSE-free card. Nope. When this happens at the FSE garage you pay $18 and are required to show your (own) driver's license and registration to the person occupying the checkout booth. The moral of this story is, the breaks even out. Or, when parking downtown, pin the ticket to your shirt.
A quick plug to my man Tony Sacca at Vegas Rocks Café, where he's fighting the good fight with Chef Josette Leblond (who, by happy coincidence, is le blond) in the space formerly known as Jillian's in the heart of Neonopolis. The restaurant/speakeasy, where Sacca leads a three-piece band on weekend nights, offers such Vegas-ized culinary items as "Newton's Nuggets," "Charo's Chili," and "Liberace's Linguini." The place sits on the corner of Fremont and LV Boulevard, so maybe the Vegas theme will work there and give a pulse — if not some actual outdoor lighting — to JoshiLand.
Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at twitter.com/JohnnyKats.