Boradway Musicals To Las Vegas

It was announced today that Spamalot is coming to the new Wynn Hotel starting in 2007 with a seven year (?!) contract to be performed 12 times a week in a new theater being build especially for this show.

Avenue Q opens at the Wynn this August, again in a new theater being built just for this show.

Hairspray is coming to the Luxor as soon as the Blue Man Group moves over to The Venetian Hotel. Word is that The Venetian is also getting a new Phantom Of The Opera with a lake being built on their new theater.
No word yet what will replace Mama Mia! at the Mandalay Bay if, and when, it ever closes. Again, rumor is The Producers might go there but because Mama Mia! is still selling well, this might not pan out anytime in the near future.

I am really happy about this new trend as one of the things I miss most about NYC is not being able to see the new musicals.

Ahem, that should read Broadway Musicals To Las Vegas…

It seems like Vegas took them all away from Los Angeles, which is disappointing for me, but understandable, I guess. They can’t please everyone. Well, they could tour, but they can’t please everyone simultaneously.

If they put really big video screens in orbit they could…

It bothers me only in that some of these shows won’t be touring, such as Avenue Q, and it makes it difficult for people who don’t go to Vegas or live near Vegas, see the shows. I typically take 1-2 trips a year to see shows in NYC (we see a show every night, sometimes 2 a day), but with finances right now, it’s not going to happen for another couple of years probably. We do have plans to see shows as they come to the area (we live in Akron), and go to Cleveland for a few shows, but we can’t go to Vegas to see all of these shows.

I think it’s doing a disservice to people who really want to see Broadway shows, but can’t travel to NYC or Vegas. And it’s going to limit new people being exposed to shows.


Don’t they have “second,” or “touring,” companies anymore? In the old days, there would be the first company on Broadway, and as many as two or three other road shows touring the country. I guess that’s not financially feasable anymore? But back then, shows would actually make their money on the road, and lose some on B’way.

There are still touring companies (for instance, Wicked will be here in 2006), but lately, it seems like the big thing to do is to have a hit on Broadway, then move it to Vegas and forgo touring shows. Avenue Q is NOT touring, and I’m assuming that Spamalot isn’t planning to do so either, as that’s the MO of the Vegas shows.

It seems to be a new world developing in second-run Broadway shows, and Vegas seems to be turning into a second-run movie theatre.


The biggest problem with the Vegas productions are the exclusivity rights (or whatever they’re called). While Spamalot is in performance in Vegas, it can not be performed in California, Arizona, or anywhere else in Nevada. So, even if they do a tour (which they probably will), it may not be coming to a big city near you. Here’s a crappy cite that discusses this.

I understand the somewhat bitter attitude of having shows come and park their ass here, but I also worked in theater a long time in LA and there is nobody to blame for this mess than the audience. It got to be harder and harder to bring in quality shows, even in LA, for a run worth the money it took to produce. Producers were constantly disappointed with less than stellar runs that barely covered costs. I know this on a very personal level.

So yeah, it kinda sucks that people in California and Arizona have to schlep here to see Spamalot, and other shows like Avenue Q are not touring anywhere, but the upswing is that the production values will be higher than the traditional touring shows, and you probably have a better shot at getting tickets due to the longer runs.

The major downside, and I do mean major, is that some shows are shortened as the traditional Las Vegas tourist doesn’t like to go to shows over 90 minutes. I believe they are going to “trim” Spamalot when it gets here. Don’t be looking for Nicholas Nickleby to arrive here anytime soon.

Word on the street is that they cut Spamalot down to a 90 minute one-act show for Vegas.

Not to hijack your thread, DMark, but you’re right on the money regarding tours. While certain shows (like Wicked) do very well in LA, most tours are just becoming too large to really make any money. There have been huge advances in the past decade or so in the tech theatre industry that allow B’way shows to look and sound spectacular, but a lot of these things don’t translate very well for the road. If you’re going to use them, you need a long load-in period, followed by a long run to re-coup the cost of setting everything up. It can get tricky.

There has been a lot of talk in recent years regarding the non-Equity ‘B-list’ tours that have been going out. Many people think (and I agree) that they are the only way to really make money on the road, and some folks think it may kill the Equity touring business. I spent a couple years doing non-Equity bus and truck tours, and we filled houses every night because we were only in cities for a day here, two days there, with an occasional week or two week sit-down. Keeping that schedule with a union show would be enormously expensive due to overtime and other travel related expenses. There is talk of Equity creating a ‘one-nighter’ tour rider, but I haven’t seen any movement on it. Of course, the downside of that schedule is the scope of the production. When you only have 8 hours to load in an entire show, you just can’t have all the bells and whistles of a Broadway production. I’m interested to see what happens with the touring market over the next few years, as I think large scale B’way tours are on the way out, to be replaced by ‘The Los Angeles Production of…’ (or in this case, the ‘Las Vegas Production of…’).

Hijack away. Any theater talk is fine with me.

I think you are right about the problems of touring. And LA is a perfect example. You would think a city that large could handle a big production for at least a year or so, but there have been huge hits from NY that came to LA and closed in less than three months.

One reason Las Vegas is so appealing is that along with the grandmothers taking a bus here to play penny slots, a lot of people are coming from all over the world with more than gambling on their mind. Fine hotels, fine food and, yes, fine entertainment. I have had some recent visitors and I doubt they put more than $5.00 in the machines the whole time they were here. But they went to a show every night, and ate in all the upscale, big name chef restaurants. This is the crowd that will go see Spamalot, and then see Avenue Q the next night. WIth an average of 250,000 - 300,000 tourists staying on The Strip every weekend, with money to burn and a desire to see shows - well, you do the math. As a producer, where do you want to invest? Do you think Celine Dion parked her tiny butt here for the weather? She freely admits it is easier to let her fans come to see her here than to trek around the world doing one and two night shows.

If I had a hit show in NYC that was ending its run, I would rather move the show out here to Las Vegas and do it right than send 5 touring companies on the road with cardboard sets.

Yep, and the same goes for Avenue Q, too. It doesn’t really affect me (see location) but I also have a problem with all these Vegas-bound shows. I know before I lived here I would have been pissed if a show decided to “sell-out” (in my opinion) and sign a huge contract for a Vegas show instead of touring. It’s one thing to do both, but unfortunately these current Vegas deals are instead of touring companies, not in addition to.

I’m all for this trend.

For one thing, I stand to gain some more employment opportunities.

For another, not all the shows are cut down. Mama Mia runs almost 3 hours and has an intermission. They still pack them in for 11 shows a week (I think it’s still 11 shows a week). If producers think they can turn a profit doing shows of 2.5-3 hours lengths, they will. And I think they will find that they can do this. I’ve spoken to many people who felt as I did about the Blue Man Group show: it’s a good show, but at $75 a ticket for a 75 minute show, it’s a bit of a letdown. If they charged $90 a ticket for a 2 hour show, it would kick ass. So maybe in the future we’ll see more “real” length shows.

That’s where we differ. I’d rather see a scaled-down version of a full-length road show than to see a technically-sophisticated, half-assed version of a show. Cutting down a show - so not cool in my book. The scenes are all there for a reason, and I can picture exactly what they’d cut in Avenue Q (Lucy the Slut’s song for one, and My Girlfriend Who Lives in Canada, for two).

If you’re going to move the show to Vegas and not offer a touring production, at least do it right.


Couldn’t agree more, but the bottom line is money. As much as there are some of us who still like Broadway musicals, if you will note on this board, more people are interested in speculating if Pitt and Jolie are going to get married than there are people interested with anything involving “Broadway” in a thread title (even though I did spell it Boradway).

Nothing against that. Seriously. Movies and movie actors are where the money and popularity are.

But if you invest millions in getting a Broadway musical up and running, and have the good fortune to win an award or two at the Tonys, you can still lose your shirt. So, if there is a “B” venue where some funds can be recouped on a longer basis, then any producer in their right mind is going to leap at the chance. My hope is that maybe with more and more tourists taking a chance on some of the better shows coming out here, it will build a more sophisticated audience that wouldn’t mind a 2 or 3 or even 4 hours musical. Until that time, Las Vegas seems to be a producers financial wet dream come true - and after the run here, they can still go on tour.