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Mandalay Bay hideaway uncorking live entertainment

Updated March 18, 2021 - 7:28 pm

Something about ducking into a Vegas hideaway after a shutdown sings to us. So does Nieve Malandra.

The popular Vegas lounge performer is first up as 1923 Prohibition Bar at Mandalay Bay returns to live entertainment beginning 9 p.m. Saturday. Malandra is also set to perform at that time on March 13, March 27, April 3, April 10, April 17 and April 24.

There is no cover. The familiar pandemic safety measures are being enforced.

The latest version of the 1923 club abuts Minus5 Ice Experience on the second floor of the Shoppes at Mandalay Place. Noel Bowman owns both venues. He’s planning to grow out the entertainment program from Malandra’s performances, adding a three-piece band and burlesque acts performed around the room.

“I can see a band, juking and jiving, and my plan is top pop in some dancers, moving around with vignette performances,” Bowman said Monday morning. “We’re picking up dates as we go along, and if this turns into a residency, so be it.”

Malandra, who has performed at several Vegas venues for nearly a decade and has previously sung with Zowie Bowie, texted: “I’m so excited to be bringing a cabaret vibe to the beautifully redone Prohibition Bar on Saturday nights. It’s going to be so fun to incorporate vintage music, dance and fashion into the ambience!”

Malandra also heads up her own fashion boutique, her dazzling styles worn by performers across the city.

The 1923 club previously took up the space across from House of Blues, Starbucks and the Yogurt Inn stand on the casino level on Mandalay Bay’s casino level. The venue opened in 2014 as 1923 Bourbon & Burlesque by Holly Madison in a partnership with Madison, after she left “Peep Show” at Planet Hollywood. Several Vegas stage stars, including Skye Dee Miles, performed at the club.

The name and emphasis shifted from its original concept after Madison split with the ownership group in ‘14, and the club was re-titled 1923 Prohibition Bar.

During the COVID shutdown, Bowman moved the club upstairs to the 2,500-square-foot space formerly occupied by the Lodge at Minus5. The venue reopened last September when pandemic restrictions were relaxed to allow bars to reopen.

Apart from prohibition-themed music and specialty cocktails, Bowman plans to tee up “Rock Star Karaoke” nights later this year.

“I’d rather wait until the NFL season starts,” Bowman said. “I think that crowd will want some rock-star karaoke.”

The Alexis sprint

My night-time schedule is feeling a little more pre-pandemic these days. I saw three shows in about an hour at Alexis Park’s Athena and Apollo showrooms Friday night, starting with Don Barnhart’s Jokesters Comedy Club.

Once more I laughed through Greg Vaccariello’s bit where he impersonates a sports coach shouting at a ref in very slow motion. Next time I’ll capture video of this, becuase … it … is … priceless.

Keith Lyle hosted, with Ralph Tutela and David Ryan also in the mix. It was a tight crowd, a lethargic group that had probably not paced itself, but solid material.

The “BurlesQ” dance/variety show offered a chance to see Sean E. Cooper for the first time in more than a year. Coop, who spent 17 years in “Fantasy” at Luxor, is a terrifically talented guy and was especially loose in front of the small house (he crawled onstage through an opening in the curtains during a dance number, just to tell a joke).

Ventriloquial artist April Brucker was also a highlight. Brucker has been performing professionally since age 13, and once pink-slipped her fiance after he demanded she choose between him and her puppets.

Don’t mess with the puppets, guys.

“Late Night Magic,” hosted by the well-presented Doug “Lefty” Leferovich, was an impressive rotation of such experienced magic performers as Bizzaro, John Shaw of Zak Bagans The Haunted Museum, Hollie England and the show-closing Mondre (“So smooth he makes velvet jealous!” is his righteous claim).

Leferovich’s Lefty character performs much of the same material as he does as guest star of Murray Sawchucks’s show at Laugh Factory. But unlike that routine, in which he never speaks, Lefty unleashes the blue material “Late Night.” Hang on for some F-bombs, in the verbal Lefty’s show.

Oh, and hit the Stinky’s Gourmet Hot Dogs cart out front, a partnership of veteran Las Vegas hypnotists Anthony Cools and Steve Falcon. Yep, Vegas is the place where you can enjoy a foot-long sold by a hypnotist in front of a hotel on a Friday night. And similar to these shows, they are a good late-night call, but not for the meek.

The purple period

Add the not-insignificant name of Prince to the list of stars who caught Santa Fe & The Fat City Horns play at the Lounge at the Palms. These unbilled drop-ins were in 2006, when Prince was about to headline Rio Showroom and the adjacent 3121 club.

Though there was never any hoopla about the legend in that venue, Prince did sneak in and check out the band when he was across Flamingo Road at the Rio. On Monday, Vegas publicist Laura Herlovich recalled those days, when her PR Plus firm repped both the Palms and Prince’s Rio residency.

Santa Fe band leader Jerry Lopez said Monday that he remembers that recording artist Michael Ruff was a guest-star with band at the Palms. Ruff’s keyboardist, Renato Neto, was also in Prince’s band. So Lopez recalls that Prince showed up at least once to see that show.

As we have already chronicled, Santa Fe is the first band to ever perform at Allegiant Stadium. They might well be back. Next time, they cover “Let’s Go Crazy.”

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.