With gold shades on and a bottle of bubbly in his hand, Bruno Mars struts into the suite of a Vegas hotel, an entourage following him into the party that looks like the Best Night Ever. This is all happening after arriving via private jet, MGM Grand beaming in the background, and cruising down Fremont Street—only stopping for a choreographed dance routine in front of a Downtown hotel, of course. Oh, and Mars takes a jet ski for a quick spin … on Lake Bellagio.
It’s the premise of the pop star’s music video for his latest release, the title track and lead single from his forthcoming—and highly anticipated—album, 24K Magic. The narrative reaches Hangover levels of “What happens in Vegas …” epics, but this stuff just might actually happen when Mars touches down in town. With his cool confidence, infectious energy and a stream of funk-inspired, danceable hits, it’s fairly believable that Mars is ready to pop some bottles and get on his feet. And about that jet ski? The Record of the Year Grammy recipient is going to extend his 24-karat vibes, soulful sound and funky footwork to Park Theater, becoming the soon-to-open venue’s first extended engagement artist. Basically, if Bellagio execs are allowing anyone to make waves on that lake right now, it’s probably Bruno Mars.
The singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and two-time Super Bowl performer kicks off what is reportedly a multiyear partnership December 30-31, ringing in the New Year in Las Vegas before returning for additional shows scheduled in March.
Park Theater, which has been constructed from the ground up after MGM Resorts International demolished the former Blue Man Theater, is the first step of Monte Carlo’s transformation into the NoMad Hotel and Park MGM. The venue opens December 17 with a headlining performance by Stevie Nicks. Park Theater general manager/executive director Dan Bernbach says more announcements are on the way, and he’s confident there won’t be any trouble filling the calendar, which will be booked by LiveNation, AEG and MGM Resorts.
“I don’t see this as just a theater. It really is kind of a mini, luxury arena.” Dan Bernbach, general manager/executive director of Park Theater
“You’d be amazed [by] the number of artists that are reaching out to our booking team,” Bernbach told Vegas Seven during an exclusive look at the under-construction digs. He says a number of potential acts are interested in checking out the new space because of the success of its next-door neighbor, T-Mobile Arena. And while MGM Resorts’ new room certainly boasts similarities to its much larger sister venue, it’s also the differences that will make Park Theater attractive to artists and ticket holders alike.
Topping that list is an intimacy not common among similarly sized venues. While the 150,000-square-foot space can seat 5,300 and has a massive, 140-foot stage (which Bernbach says features one of the largest proscenium openings in North America), vantage points all across the theater offer attendees sharp views of the action. The back-of-the-balcony seats are only 145 feet from where it’s all happening, and they by no means should be considered nosebleeds.
“When you go to other venues that are this size, like Radio City Music Hall, it’s a huge theater. … We have a similar capacity, similar area, yet there, it is a huge cavern,” says Bernbach. “Here, you’re right on top of the artist, so it’s a very immersive experience for the fan.”
Visitors can also look forward to a 68-seat VIP section with bottle service and an upscale menu, seven concession stands that will serve craft cocktails from the theater’s mixology program, and a posh lobby area featuring Strip views and balcony terraces overlooking The Park and the Strip. Basically, it’s going to be really easy to make a night out of a concert—or MMA match, awards show, convention event or boxing bout, as Bernbach believes the space will host all in its inaugural year—at Park Theater. “I don’t see this as just a theater. It really is kind of a mini, luxury arena,” Bernbach says. “It’s a really versatile venue and something that MGM Resorts doesn’t have in its portfolio.”
The venue also boasts logistical benefits for artists, including a convenient three-bay loading dock off Park Avenue just 50-75 feet from the stage door, four headliner dressing rooms with full baths attached, two chorus dressing rooms, a meet-and-greet room and a greenroom right off the stage. Bernbach, who also has made a living as a musical theater performer and music director, is especially impressed with what his venue will be offering its special guests. “I’ve been in a lot of theaters in my life, and if I were performing here, I would be very happy.”
Potential acts will likely also appreciate the technology at Park Theater, which will feature an 80-foot-by-40-foot LED wall with 4K resolution, a projection surface surrounding the proscenium that covers 90,000 square feet, a state-of-the-art sound system and acoustics all designed by the same firm contracted for The Joint and The Colosseum, Sceno Plus. Bernbach’s hoping visiting artists will dig the space enough to stick around afterward, imagining an upper-level bar as a potential post-concert party spot. But even if Bruno or Stevie bounce out after their sets, maybe Park Theater is still accomplishing its goal …
“One of the most exciting things about this neighborhood is that we’re really striving to create that urban core, that urban center,” Bernbach says. “We’re not forcing you to be in this one box; we’re encouraging people to go outside and see different things and experience everything that the Strip has to offer.”