A Broadway show, Vegas-style!

Nov 7, 2005 1:41 AM

You won’t believe the firestorm I generated in last week’s column when I said that Las Vegas is not New York and never will be. Well, I stand by my words, and what has been happening in our showrooms and the persisting rumors only underscore what I’ve been saying.

Harrah’s has finally announced that, like its predecessors in the magnificent Paris Las Vegas theatre, the Queen musical "We Will Rock You" will end its run on Nov. 27. No big surprise here, as the production never found an audience and has been playing to sparse crowds since its debut.

Then the New York Post broke a major story about what nobody locally wanted to admit: a major mistake (gulp!) by Steve Wynn! The red flag is waving sky high in connection with Broadway’s newest import, "Avenue Q" at Wynn Las Vegas.

According to Post Broadway scribe Michael Riedel, the production has been playing to "half empty houses" for most performances and the theater balcony hasn’t been opened yet. Riedel writes that someone familiar with the balance sheet claims "Q" either breaks even or loses money week to week. And that advance tickets sales are well under $1 million.

In comparison, the Broadway advance for "The Producers" is more than $20 million.

According to Riedel, "one heavy-hitting Broadway producer, who’s sending one of his shows to Vegas, says Wynn has been grumbling about ”˜Avenue Q.’ He thinks it was a mistake, this person says. But Wynn isn’t yanking his hand out from under the puppets just yet."

No word on who the producer is, but we’ve heard that Steve wants Broadway’s "Spamalot," which might even "fit into" the "Avenue Q" theater.

I know that Wynn and some New York folk are trying to save the production from going under. The problem, according to some critics, is that one reason the show clicked in New York was that, from the very first preview, it had great word of mouth.

But where is the word of mouth in Las Vegas? The potential clientele is meandering up and down the Strip with little time to converse about Broadway shows.

I’ve also heard critics say there isn’t a permanent population on which to draw in Las Vegas. Are they crazy? What do the call you and me?

Herein may really lie the problem. The people dealing with the production know nothing about our city. "Q" may also be too sophisticated for Vegas audiences manure!

As I also reported last week, the final auditions are this week for "Phantom of the Opera." They are looking for singers and dancers. This 90-minute version at The Venetian will be directed by 20-time Tony Award winner Hal Prince. He is the show’s original director. The play has grossed more than $3 billion worldwide since its London premier in 1986.

The wonderful Mimi Hines, who lost her sister-in-law, Treasure Ford, who was Phil Ford’s sister, the ex-husband of Mimi Hines, will be opening at the Plaza in February. The Suncoast celebrated its fifth year with lots of fireworks.

At this printing, Frank Marino is still holding forth in "La Cage." Rumors keep flying that he will be replaced by Jimmy Emerson. In Emerson’s dreams!

And, Kenny Kerr seems to be the wild card in this melodrama, but I hear there is another star in the wings. Stay tuned.

What is the fate of John Stuart’s show "Ovation" now that it moved into the Plaza? Or did it move to the Plaza? I hear that John is taking back his "Legends" show. Some kind of deal is coming in. And, remember don’t ever count John out.

As I reported earlier, Planet Hollywood is ready to make a big announcement about the changes at the Aladdin. What happened with the Steve Wyrick’s big deal? What happened to his mega, sexy nightclub? This was going to be a $60 million deal. We have not heard a peep from either side.

Commander’s Palace, Las Vegas, in the Desert Passage Shops, just celebrated the 125th birthday of its New Orleans restaurant. Guests experienced the nostalgia of New Orleans with a French Quarter-style street filled with bluesy beats of jazz music and of course, mouth-watering food.