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Tuesday, October 04, 2005


My dad sent me this article from the NY Times. Yes folks, as you know, Broadway is coming to Las a Wynn casino near you. I find this big push from the Great White Way to the Hot-ass Desert an interesting trend. After a show finishes it's run on Brodway, it often times will go on tour, bringing a taste of New York City to the rest of the country. West coast fans of commercially successful shows like Avenue Q and Spamalot unfortunately will have to wait until the 12th of Never for the aforementioned shows to hit their towns. Instead, they must make a trek to "The Great Desert Way" to see abbreviated versions of these shows. It has been noted that both Spamalot and The Phantom of the Opera have indicated they will perform cut-down versions of their respective shows while audience members will still be paying nearly $100 per ticket. While this doesn't seem fair to audience members, there is a very legitimate reason: "casino contract allows actors to play 10 performances a week, instead of 8, for the same salary." Upon first hearing the information of an abbreviated show, I feared it would compromise the integrity, but now I'm more concerned about any actor playing 10 shows a week (8 as it is seems pretty rough, but 10!?)

With 10 shows a week playing in Vegas -- "the 40 million visitors a year, three-quarters of whom attend at least one show during their [trip]" -- is a great deal of exposure for the musical theatre genre, but at what cost? On the state of Broadway, leading theatre critic, Ben Brantley said, "So much of the Broadway audience now is tourists who want to approximate the experience of going to a theme park...people come to New York to see a 'jukebox musical'..." and the feeling is likely more so the case in Vegas. While there are creative advantages in a new and larger permenant space in Vegas vs. a truck & road show, there are also issues that makes the musical theatre snob in me worry...selling out. How will it (or will it) compromise the integrity of the original shows running on Broadway? Will potential audience members pan the lack of pyrotechnic bells and whistles of the original shows while instead opting for it's Las Vegas showgirl-type counterpart?

I highly doubt the lights of Broadway will ever truly dim, but what happens when the guaranteed audiences for these "jukebox musicals" surpass the box office records of anything on Broadway? While I'm thrilled to see these shows coming to Vegas, there's something about going to see a show on Broadway, in the old theatres that just can't be replicated in an 18,000 seat auditorium. Something is just lost there. Anyhow, looking at the shows coming to Vegas, it is obvious Vegas is looking for a "jukebox musical" because I just can't see Sweeney Todd making a big mark in the desert.

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Broadway Shows currently in Las Vegas:
Avenue Q (Wynn)
Mama Mia! (Mandalay Bay)

Coming Soon:
Spamalot (2007 at Wynn)
Hairspray (2006 at Luxor)
The Phantom of the Opera (2007 at Paris)
Moving Out (not formally announced yet)
Wicked (not formally announced yet)

EFX (starring Michael Crawford)
Starlight Express
Miss Spectacular (though publicized, never materialized)


Mitch Glaser said...

Regarding Avenue Q: A musical with puppets? Now that's entertainment!

I'm impressed that Vegas visitors would shell out $100 for a show...after all, that money can buy about 10 trips to the buffet...however, most people drop far more than that at the casinos.

I think Mr. Brantley and the other "musical theatre snobs" should accept that any exposure is good exposure. Vegas will complement Broadway, not supplant it. The true blue die hards will always have their Great White Way, let the common man and woman enjoy the abbreviated version in the Hot-ass Desert.

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