Denise Truscello / WireImage / DeniseTruscello.net
Sunday, May 22, 2016 | 9 a.m.
The Kats Report Bureau moved into a suite at Jewel nightclub Friday night to catch a lid-lifting set by Drake. Introduced by the artist manning the mic, DJ Future, Drake took the stage at 2:15 a.m. and proceeded to “make it rain” by showering the crowd with money.
“These are $2 bills!” he called out. “Don’t get too excited.” So those under the cascade of money sort of casually grabbed at the bills as the Grammy Award-winning recording star performed “Energy,” “Jumpman,” “Running Through the Six” and “One Dance.” The club was certainly at its1,923 capacity and was in full flourish by the time I scrambled out at 3:30 a.m.
When we refer to the scene in VegasVille as a participation sport, the overnight opening-night party at Jewel is what we’re talking about.
The club has overtaken the former Haze nightclub, closed 18 months ago, and the general frame of that club remains in place. The upgrades are the series of themed VIP suites ringing the top level of the space, and the media entourage was assigned the Blind Tiger suite, with its speakeasy vibe (including an old standup piano that I found sadly inoperable). Other suites are themed for sports (GOAT, or the Greatest Of All Time), high-end art (The Gallery), a recording studio (The Studio) and classic, refined living (The Prestige).
The suites set Jewel apart, and I didn’t want any part of that slammed dance floor. The same can’t be said of poker star Phil Ivey, though. I saw him down there, grooving away, drawing to a flush, as it were.
More from the scene, beginning with a similarly stylish Strip nightclub:
• If nothing else, Intrigue at Wynn Las Vegas is living up to its tantalizing title. The first few weeks of operations at the club formerly known as Tryst have led to a series of unexpected changes ordered by the man at the top.
To begin: Steve Wynn’s visit during the club’s opening night April 29 only reinforced his attention to detail for what is offered at his resorts. Wynn cut short the set by the night’s star performer, Ne-Yo, and he also stopped the pole dancing that greeted his entourage when he walked into the club.
The ensuing three weeks have thus led to a recalibration of what is presented in the club and who is staging it. Reportedly brought in to cast and choreograph the club are Louanne Madorma-Williams and Marguerite Derricks, respectively. Madorma-Williams is a longtime Las Vegas casting director who has worked on “Le Reve — The Dream” and “Steve Wynn’s Showstoppers.” Derricks also is a key member of the creative team of “Showstoppers.”
The performance-art elements of the club, which were to feature burlesque standouts Kalani Kokonuts and LouLou D’Vil and Broadway-caliber singer Cheryl Daro, have been tabled — at least for now. Kokonuts and D’Vil were reportedly informed May 17 that they were effectively let go from their roles in the club. They were being used principally as “atmospheric” entertainment, or as strolling models, and not as the performance artists clubgoers had anticipated.
Though many of the dancers also have been turned loose from the venue, the club’s entertainment company of record remains Marshun Entertainment, founded by former “Rock of Ages” star Mark Shunock. Daro, his wife and business partner, and he remain involved in the club through that partnership. (Shunock, who also has founded the “Mondays Dark” charity series at Vinyl at the Hard Rock Hotel, declined comment about the state of the nightclub.)
Thus, Intrigue continues to take shape under this significant shift in the club’s hierarchy. It retains the same beautiful design as Tryst — that layout is unchanged — but the concept of merging a Strip nightclub with unique, live entertainment from its strolling artists is, for the moment, out of play.
The upshot? It is a beautifully designed venue in a successful, upscale property on the Strip. That is a good place to start, and that’s where Intrigue seems to be.
• More shifts in the entertainment environment are unfolding at the Stratosphere, where Red Mercury Entertainment is taking over all entertainment programming in about 30 days. The company and hotel officials have signed off on the same type of operating agreement that Red Mercury has executed at Westgate Las Vegas and previously at the Riviera. Cameo and “Purple Reign” are current Red Mercury productions being staged at Westgate.
Led by former Caesars Entertainment official Carlos Reynoso and nightlife and venture capitalist and entrepreneur Darin Feinstein, Red Mercury is charged with producing and booking shows into all Stratosphere venues, expressly its showroom and pools (including the newly designed Elation pool with a capacity of 2,500 guests). The show “MJ Live” at the Stratosphere Showroom is one such production, and expect that Red Mercury will look at a new afternoon show in the 4-5 p.m. range at that venue.
Red Mercury serving as the landlord of the Stratosphere Showroom inevitably will lead to speculation of the future of “Pin Up,” which recently celebrated its third anniversary at the hotel. “Pin Up” is not a Red Mercury production and remains funded by the hotel. Thus, “Pin Up” doesn’t move unless Stratosphere officials say it moves, and it’s staying in its 9:30 p.m. slot until further notice.
And to tie this all together, returning to her role as “swing” in the show, stepping in for Claire Sinclair from June 2-6, is none other than … LouLou D’Vil.