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April 23, 2014

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Tiffany Theatre is venerable, historic … and not long of this world

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Leila Navidi

The curtain closes for the final time on Folies Bergere at the Tiffany Theatre inside the Tropicana in Las Vegas.

When the most positive assessment you can make for a showroom is that it looks good when the lights are low, maybe it's time to gut and renovate that showroom.

That's the prevailing thought at Tropicana. New hotel president Tom McCartney said Monday night that Tiffany Theater, in its current throwback design of table seating and rounded crimson booths, is about to go bye-bye birdie. This is some old Tiffany; the theater dates to 1975, when it replaced the Sammy Davis Jr. Superstar Theater. The showroom was the site of one of the more mind-boggling bookings ever in Las Vegas when Beck performed there in May 1999 (and read the esteemed Geoff Carter's review of that show here). It is most famously known as the home of "Folies Bergere," which closed in March. At the time, the showroom reflected the same signs of aging as the stage production, with the dusted-over purple curtain closing a show that itself was pretty tattered.

Thus, shortly after Wayne Newton's "One Before I Go" production clears the hall in April, work will begin on a new theater that will most resemble the Luxor Theatre (when it's empty, of course). The new Tropicana theater will be fully seated, with space added at the back of the space to increase capacity from today's 800 to about 1,000. The back of the venue will be built up to facilitate the additional rows of seats. Work should be finished between September and the end of the year as part of the massive refurbishing of the entire property being forged by owner Alex Yemenidjian, McCartney and F&B whiz Tom Recine.

Also in the plans are a new restaurant, Biscayne (as in, "Key"), to take over the spot Legends steak house now occupies. The pool area, at once grand and largely forgotten, will be an area of emphasis, with a new indoor-outdoor nightclub set to open in time for New Year's Eve. It'll remind you a lot of XS at Encore.

There is a plan, too, at to bring live boxing to the hotel's pavilion, which is why Yemenidjian was spotted Saturday night sitting next to his friend, fight promoter Bob Arum, ringside at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel for the Vanes "Nightmare" Martirosyan-Kassim Ouma fight card (I used to hang out with a bartender in Chico nicknamed "Nightmare" who could drink an entire bottle of Jager in one sitting, but I digress). The hotel could tie into the new lineup of Saturday fights on Fox Sports Net, which broadcast the card from The Joint.

What else? Oh the rooms, which already are fairly large by standard-room standards, are being renovated. And for some information about a band that might work its way into the hotel's plans, read on ...

Santa Fe, Fat City ... and horns

Monday night, Santa Fe & The Fat City horns performed the first of two trial-run shows at Tiffany Theatre. They were great, which was a given, opening with an Earth Wind & Fire medley, performing a few original songs and even flaunting a funky version of "Come Together." Afterward, a couple dozen Old Vegas musicians assembled in the lounge outside the showroom for a vintage Vegas post-show hang. I say vintage Vegas, because Chris Phillips/Zowie Bowie was there.

The band plays again at 10:30 p.m. Monday, and Kissy Simmons of "Lion King" at Mandalay Bay has plans to sing with the band. Catch this show for free, while you can, because if it all works out this would be a ticketed show, maybe $20 apiece, at the new and improved Trop.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at twitter.com/JohnnyKats.

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