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COVID KO’d a Rita Rudner residency at Caesars

The regal comedy headliner Rita Rudner is lending her name and resources to the SoHo Playhouse project in the Arts District. But she still wants to do the funny on the Strip.

And as we have just learned, one of the casualties of the pandemic was a Rudner residency at Caesars Palace.

“I had a contract that was almost completed with Caesars to come back last October and then, you know, everything happened in March, so we’ll have to wait and see,” Rudner said during a phone conversation last week. “I was going to be in rotation at Cleopatra’s (Barge), with Dionne Warwick and Wayne Newton.”

Nice gig, had it happened.

“That would have been really fun,” Rudner said. “It’s a nice venue, and I was looking forward to it.”

Instead, Rudner’s Vegas plans are in idle, her road schedule has filled up later this year and entering 2022. But she is always eager to take the Vegas stage.

Rudner has been a headliner for decades in Vegas, from her early years at Rivera Comedy Club through strong residencies at New York-New York and Harrah’s Showroom, continuing on to Sands Showroom at The Venetian. Today, the expert comic says, “I’d love to work in Las Vegas again, of course. That’s my home town.”

While she awaits the return of live performance, Rudner and her husband, Martin Bergman, have created a $2,500 grant for the SoHo Playhouse’s row of four off-Broadway theaters in downtown Las Vegas. The couple’s donation is folded into a larger $10,000 donation through the Kaufman Family Grant, the Karen Camp Grant and Victoria Bradshaw Foundation Grant.

Rudner and Bergman were introduced to SoHo Playhouse artistic director Darren Lee Cole, who was amenable to the couple’s zeal to explore new entertainment opportunities off the Strip.

“We started talking about this new venture and it’s the one thing that Las Vegas doesn’t have, you know?” Rudner said. “We have shopping, we have dining, we have spectacular shows, we have stars coming in. But we don’t have any kind of innovative, small space where things can develop.”

Funny how it works. Rudner sounds like she’s a Vegas downtowner. But after living in the city during her various residencies, she and Bergam now live in Laguna Beach. Rudner long ago nailed our city’s appeal, saying from the stage, “Wherever you’re from, Las Vegas is the opposite.”

Venetian/Palazzo stays steady

The sale of Las Vegas Sands and The Venetian/Palazzo resort on the Strip should have no bearing on the entertainment strategies at either property. Venetian/Palazzo Executive Director of Entertainment Neil Miller said Thursday that the headliners set for The Venetian Theatre are performing as scheduled, provided the venue can be seated at capacity.

That’s a classic-rock/R&B lineup of Chicago from Sept. 15-18, ZZ Top from Oct. 8-16, and a burst from Earth Wind & Fire for this year yet to be announced.

Sands Showroom and Palazzo Theater also standing as one of the hotel’s primary entertainment venues. Miller has been reviewing options for headliners or production shows, and likely a blend of such, for 2022. Spiegelworld’s “Atomic Saloon Show” is eventually returning to its theater at Grand Canal Shoppes, too.

“The reality is, over the next nine months or the end of the year our plans are still the same, like everybody else,” Miller said. “We’re at 100 (capacity) now, moving to 250, and we’ll have to see when May hits if we’ll have unrestricted capacity. But we have some very desirable venues, and we plan to use them.”

Lynx debuts

Savannah Lynx, a standout performer at the Cosmopolitan’s Rose. Rabbit. Lie (and also on her ever-invigorating Instagram Story feed) premieres her cabaret show at The Vegas Room on Friday and Saturday.

”The Missing Lynx: My Journey To Vegas” runs 6:30 p.m. (dinner) and 8 p.m. (listening show) each night. Lynx is joined by pianist Blaine McGurty, late of RRL and currently with Mayfair Supper Club at the Bellagio.

Lynx’s Saturday show is streaming on showtix4U.com.

Asked what motivated her to take on a cabaret performance, Lynx said, “Stahdom, Dahling! That always motivates me!” So does the rich talent showcased at TVR. Lynx caught her RRL co-star Skye Dee Miles’ performance in the room in August. “She was just remarkable. I just kept bothering everyone to give me a chance to sing there,” Lynx said. “Without a doubt, I wanted to be part of this.”

Lynx says she is an entertainment purist, an old-school entertainer enamored of vintage Hollywood. “I’m thinking of the stories of how Fred Astaire asked Rita Hayworth to learn a dance number, and she had down by that afternoon,” Lynx said. “The discipline, the professionalism, the glamour that makes a great ingenue fascinates me.”

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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