A wise entertainer recently told me "There are no bad audiences, just bad performances". Well, after spending a recent afternoon at Alexis Park Resort's Pegasus Showroom, I'd have to respectfully disagree. The double feature of Tommy Wind - Amazing Magic and The Big little Variety Show was packed with hard-working, skilled entertainers giving it their all...yet you inexplicably could have heard a pin drop at some points. Talk about a tough crowd.
Yes, the world of live entertainment is in turmoil like never before. There are reports all over the city of massive shows playing to nearly-empty auditoriums. Many, like Le Reve and Zumanity, have closed up shop permanently. Most of the surviving ones have raised their prices exponentially. A back-row seat at Atomic Saloon Show now runs over $200.00, once taxes and fees are worked into the bill. Same thing for Absinthe, which used to cost $69 and change.
Tommy Wind - Amazing Magic
With live productions facing such bleak prospects, let's give credit where it's due. Those hard-working entertainers have dedicated their lives to putting smiles on peoples' faces with ever-decreasing returns. Skilled magician Tommy Wind knows this all too well. He's gone from television appearances and his own self-named theater on the Strip to a series of ever-smaller venues. And yet, he keeps smiling and giving it his all, never missing a beat. That's the mark of a true professional.
That being said, the performance this writer attended at Alexis Park undoubtedly wore the young man down. Working in front of an indifferent crowd (many of the non-English-speaking variety), Wind found his jokes landing flat with only a smattering of applause to his finely-performed illusions.
Tommy Wind AMAZING MAGIC Alexis Park Las Vegas
WInd's portion of Double Feature, entitled Amazing Magic, is truly that...if you haven't seen a magic show before. His repertoire of tricks includes decks of cards, a "shell game" of wine bottles, a floating table, and pre-written predictions to audience responses. All of these are familiar if you've seen this type of show before. In that case, your level of satisfaction will depend on the delivery and charm of the star. That's where Tommy Wind may win you over.
It's nearly impossible not to like the Staten Island native. He's boyish, a little silly, and almost innocent in a very charming way. Relaxed and informal, Tommy's not the kind of guy to show up in a magician's coat and top hat. That makes him relatable, especially to younger audiences. Alas, that lack of gravitas also makes his performance very "light", but quite suitable for a family-friendly afternoon show. So a thumbs-up to the "Amazing Magic" portion of Double Feature.
WIggins vs. Annabelle - choose your winner.
Another kernel of show-biz wisdom applies specifically to the second half of Double Feature, and the quote goes something like this: "The great thing about variety shows is that if you don't like what's happening onstage, just wait a few minutes". And that's absolutely true unless the host happens to be Penny Wiggins of The Big little Variety Show.
You might not know Penny Wiggins, but she's been around forever. A nasally, bargain-store Kathy Griffin knockoff, this supposed comedian continues to get work despite never having been truly successful. Just like that scary Annabelle doll, you can toss her into the back of a moving garbage truck and she'll be right back in your living room chair the next morning.
If you can get past the lame opening monologue and equally painful Wiggins-led interludes, The Big little Variety Show is pretty damned entertaining. It's a rotating roster of comedians, singers, acrobats, magicians, jugglers, and the like. The talent is pooled from local acts, touring performers, cruise ship veterans, and seasoned entertainers from big-name shows who just love doing a little more of what they already do elsewhere.
Like Tommy Wind - Amazing Magic, The Big little Variety Show is earnest, fast-moving, and suitable for all ages. Seen as a pair, they're a fun, simple way to spend two hours with friends or family. And with tickets starting at only $37.95 (plus taxes/fees), Double Feature is an excellent value for your entertainment dollars.
Big Little Variety Show - Official Video
DOUBLE FEATURE: Tommy Wind - Amazing Magic and The Big little Variety Show performs at Alexis Park Resort every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday starting at 3:30 pm. There is a ten-minute intermission between shows. Tickets start at $37.95 (plus taxes/fees) and can be ordered here.
Alexis Park Resort is located at 375 East Harmon Avenue, across from Virgin Hotels Las Vegas
Photos: Clay Bushes, Penny Wiggins via Facebook, and Alexis Park Resort. Annabelle image is the property of Warner Bros. Pictures