Off-the-wall comedy elevates the city's latest entertainment showcase.

The afternoon entertainment market has become quite a bustling place. Resident productions are adding matinees, weekend brunch shows are all the rage, and mid-day variety offerings are packing them in. VEGAS 411 already told you about Thursday staple The Dennis Bono Show, an iconic favorite now in its 22nd year. Now another well-known performer has stepped up to the plate, and Bono's fans might want to clear their alternate Wednesday schedules, too.  The awesome MARK O'TOOLE VARIETY SHOW has arrived, and it's a side-splitting blast.

Mark O'Toole is a beloved crooner who's performed in just about every venue up and down the Strip. Easy-going, silky-voiced, and down-to-Earth, O'Toole becomes as much a part of the audience as the spectators themselves. The former STAR SEARCH contestant relates to his audience in a way that few can, making each and every moment special. And best of all, he's damned funny!

Recognizing his own target demographic, the Boston native took a daring and somewhat innovative approach by collaborating with the team at Sun City Anthem. An extensive, somewhat affluent community for those fifty-five and older, Sun City Anthem is lush, glorious, and much more than just a town-within-a-town. It's a haven for people who truly appreciate talented performers. For their residents and visitors, Freedom Hall Theater brings the best in Sin City entertainment directly to the neighborhood. Shows are open to the public, too.

Now in its fourth month, Mark O'Toole Variety Show is already a must-do event. The 300-seat Freedom Hall Theater fills up every 1st and 3rd Wednesday for songs, skits, charming conversation, and jaw-dropping gags. Popular stars are clamoring to be on Mark's panel, and it's easy to see why. Who else would don a fake bodybuilder suit and climb aboard a blinged-out ladder for a raucous duet with country star Chase Brown

Mark O'Toole Variety Show w/Chase Brown

VEGAS 411 cornered the busy host recently to pick his brain and asked why he felt "MARK O'TOOLE VARIETY SHOW" has become an instant smash.

 "Entertainment has always been an escape from reality. I think the majority of people are sick of staying home and not being able to enjoy their lives. Vegas was hit the hardest and people are ready to get back to normal, whatever that is these days. It's long overdue."

Most of us underwent some kind of trauma during the worst of COVID-19, but Mark's experience was especially harrowing. Booked aboard a cruise ship in international waters, he became stranded at the very beginning of the shutdown along with the cast and crew. They were uncertain as to how...or if...they'd be able to get back home. 

"My last cruise was a nightmare, being stranded on the other side of the world in Somalian waters. I was on a ship wrapped in barbed wire to deter pirates. There was the possibility of living in a hostel for six months. During the pandemic, it was time to reflect on my career and try to reinvent myself."

"Having only one job in entertainment for forty-five years was a serious issue. I was literally standing in front of a mirror rehearsing 'Welcome to Walmart' and came to the harsh realization that I might never be on a stage again. But if I did. it would be something that contributed to the entertainment community."

Mark and fellow entertainer Chuck Curry were stranded aboard the Viking Sun.

Entertainers aboard the Viking Sun helped to keep spirits high during a frightening ordeal.

Fans who know Mark from his singing might be surprised by his off-the-cuff humor and improvisational skills. It seems that his comedic background is actually a well-kept secret. 

"I'm fortunate to have worked with so many people throughout my career, not only singers and actors but comedians. I was discovered by Jay Thomas at the age of 27 and had the opportunity of a lifetime to move to L.A. and be heard by millions of people. I wrote and produced scripts for everyone that appeared on his show."

"It was a huge responsibility for a young kid with no prior professional experience. To be given that chance was a blessing. I had to write bits on the spot, and I've been so fortunate to have that ability in my lifetime to use that talent on many occasions, especially during my shows. By watching others I've taken little bits and applied them to my own style. The best advice I got when getting started was 'Just be yourself.' My mom would always say 'And remember, don't take shit from anyone!"

Rich Little and Pia Zadora join Mark O'Toole at "The Desk"

Along with a mile-long list of celebrities, the host is joined onstage by a crackerjack band under the direction of MENOPAUSE - The Musical's own Vita Corimbi Drew. But your eyes will undoubtedly be drawn to the set's main attraction - a massive wooden desk. 

"I wanted to have that nostalgic feel of 'The Tonight Show'. I'm not comparing myself to Johnny Carson or Steve Allen but felt that I could separate myself as a performer and take more responsibility as a host and make it more about the guests...giving them the opportunity to get their stories out. The notes on that monstrous desk help me to stay focused and keep my scattered brain in order. Believe me, I need it. Oh, look...a shiny object!"

Las Vegas has been on a long and sometimes painful road to reclaiming its title as "The City of Entertainment". THE MARK O'TOOLE VARIETY SHOW launched only this March and is already selling out nearly every performance, I asked the charming host why he thinks his showcase caught on so quickly.

"It's mostly word of mouth. Ticket prices are affordable, we have professional guests, an amazing five-piece band, and the content of the show is fresh and never the same. It's that simple."

"Also, I've been fortunate to have an incredibly loyal fan base since day one. They love the spontaneity of the show and that it's so unpredictable. It takes a village, but in order for the show to work, it always has to be about the guests...and more importantly, the audience."

'The Mark OToole Variety Show' on MORNING BLEND

Stellar guests are indeed a prime ingredient in MARK O'TOOLE VARIETY SHOW. Entertainers like JERSEY BOYS star Travis Cloer, COCKTAIL CABARET's Niki Scalera, jazzy heartthrobs Jonathan Karrant and Chadwick Johnson, Broadway great Phillip Officer, legendary comedian Rich Little, Golden Globe winner Pia Zadora, R & B favorites THE NEXT MOVEMENT, and America's Got Talent winner Michael Grimm have all visited the Freedom Hall stage...and pulled up a chair at "The Desk".  

Funnyman Dennis Blair, the two Vinnys from The Bronx Wanderers, and Zowie Bowie have all appeared, too. Even Dennis Bono himself was on board for the show's launch. Only Mark knows who's coming up next, but he certainly has a few "dream guests" in his sights: 

"I'm trying my best to give everyone in the community an opportunity to be seen. Not just those you see and hear all the time, but performers who deserve the glory and praise that is long overdue. But if Manilow and Celine are available, please feel free to give them my number."

Freedom Hall Theater is located inside Independence Center at 2460 Hampton Road, Henderson NV 89052. Click HERE for map and directions. MARK O'TOOLE VARIETY SHOW takes every first and third Wednesday at 3 pm. Tickets are only $10 and can be ordered HERE or by calling 702.614.5800.

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