Troublemakers Penn & Teller Extend Residency at Rio
Two Las Vegas comedy-magic icons have extended their extraordinary run at Rio Las Vegas.
Penn and Teller’s run has been extended through the end of 2026.
There were questions about whether the duo would stay at Rio following the exit of Caesars Entertainment as the operator of the off-Strip resort. Dreamscape, the new owner, appears to understand the value of performers who serve as ambassadors of the resort and never miss a rent check.
The extension at Rio is the latest in a series of contacts that originally started in 1993 at Bally’s. They later moved to MGM Grand, then Rio.
Three decades later, the odd couple of Las Vegas headliners are still going strong, despite Teller’s struggles with medical issues. The silent partner of the show had emergency quadruple bypass surgery in early 2023, and previously had spinal fusion surgery in 2018.
Dreamscape purchased the Rio in 2019, but the former owner, Caesars Entertainment stayed on to run the operations. Everyone agrees Caesars didn’t do a great job of keeping Rio well-maintained or relevant, but that’s expected to change as Dreamscape invests hundreds of millions of dollars into the resort.
Dreamscape announced it raised $850 million in capital for the project in Feb. 2023.
Dreamscape recently named its partners in the overhaul: Fettle, Gianpiero Gaglione Interior Design (GGID), Lifescapes International and Marnell Architecture. Illustrative of the circularity of the universe: Marnell was the original developer and owner of the Rio.
The long-awaited overhaul of Rio has the potential to return the aging casino to its former glory.
Another juicy prospect is Rio is still in the running as a site for the Oakland A’s new ballpark. Long story, as legislation was passed specifying the stadium will be built on the Tropicana site, but trust us, exactly nothing is “binding” with the A’s.
Making the A’s deal with Dreamscape tempting: The company offered the A’s the land for one dollar.
However the A’s project ends up (don’t be shocked if they don’t come to Las Vegas at all, even after all the theatrics), Penn Jillette and Raymond Teller (don’t call him that, it’s weird, his legal name is just Teller) are here to stay.
The pair continue to update their show, so even longtime fans can see something fresh every time they visit.
We’re told Penn and Teller love their Rio theater and we trust they’re getting a great deal on it, especially compared to venues on The Strip. The lower the rent, the more you get to keep. This arrangement is known as “four-walling.” The show pays the landlord (Dreamscape) rent, the show reaps the benefits if it does well and takes the hit if it doesn’t.
It’s a win-win for Dreamscape and Penn and Teller.
The success of Penn (68) and Teller (75) is a testament to their enduring chemistry onstage.
They don’t interact much offstage, surprisingly, and Teller says they never really got along. He has said, “Respect lasts longer than affection.”
Aside from the masterful magic of Teller and the comedy (and atheism) of Penn, we love that these two poke fun at the pomposity of magic itself as an integral part of their shows. They don’t pretend magic is real and trust their audiences are smart enough to enjoy magic, anyway.
The last time we attended Penn and Teller’s show at Rio, they met with fans for autographs and photos after the show. For free. They don’t do this any longer (reason: lots of germs from lots of places, Penn is 68 and Teller is 75), but they did for many, many years. That says a lot, and we wish them continued success.
We’re glad to see these Las Vegas mainstays will be along for the ride with the upcoming rebirth of the Rio.