Producer hopes shows will go on


Producer David King says he learned enough about Las Vegas in the past year to put together “a business course on how to open a show in Las Vegas and what to do if you get kicked out of your venue: Follow these six rules.”

“I’m not sure what those six are,” he adds, “but I think I can write them after all of this.”

That might be too specific a syllabus for undergrads, but a familiar conundrum does emerge from the latest show closings: Move fast or your show loses all its traction. But move too fast, and you might jump from the frying pan into the fire.

King is the British producer who oversees a cottage industry of modest titles, which have done very well for him in less-crowded, older-audience markets such as Branson, Mo.

Last year, King leased out a former club inside New York-New York and installed three titles (“Broadway Celebration,” “Dancing Queen” and “Shades of Temptation”).

“Just when you thought everything was fine, along come the bulldozers and whack you from behind,” King says with a laugh.

The shows will close July 21 because the venue will be absorbed into a remodeling project, part of the larger retail/outdoor plaza that eventually will connect New York-New York to the Monte Carlo.

“We’re sad to be going. Things were going well there,” King says. MGM Resorts was a great partner and the hotel an ideal location for the shows, which were at least breaking even, he adds.

But what now? Ideally, King would like to lock up a new venue and reopen the very next day, both to keep his casts intact and to sustain momentum with those who sell his tickets.

“We’re now well established with most of the major players,” King says. “My biggest concern from a business point of view is if there was any gap at all, that good will and those connections we’ve built up will just fly out the window.”

But on the other hand, “You’ve got to balance the urgency to try to replace the venue with the common-sense business acumen that we’ve got to get the right situation and the right deal,” he says. “The overriding issue is to make sure you’re in the right place with the right partners.”

The main thing King has on his side? He’s still open. The battle will be much tougher for “iCandy The Show,” which closed June 1 at the Saxe Theater.

Theater landlord David Saxe says he didn’t pull the plug, even though Silver Entertainment, the contracted production entity, wasn’t all current on its bills.

“They were making efforts,” Saxe says.

But Nannette Barbera, who created and staged the show, posted on Facebook that the “ruins and devastation” left by the closing are forcing her to liquidate $250,000 worth of costumes and props and sell “the brand iCandy.”

“The entertainment chapter of my life has come to an end,” she writes. “(A)fter 50 years of a fabulous career in entertainment it’s time to say goodbye, this last show crippled my company, myself and family ... it’s over!!!”

John Stuart, who was also involved in producing the venture, paints it a bit differently.

“If we find a home for the show, then she’s not going to liquidate anything that has to do with ‘iCandy,” he says, just materials from past productions in other markets.

The problem with this one seemed fairly obvious when it launched late last summer. It wasn’t technically a topless show, but had to compete with them in a 10 p.m. time slot.

Stuart agrees the show “just wasn’t climbing,” and needs an earlier time slot.

He acknowledges cast members are still owed two weeks worth of pay and says he is working to see that they are paid. “I, John Stuart, will see that everyone is taken care of.” ...

Two other shows have departed the LVH’s Shimmer Cabaret as part of a schedule shuffle there. “Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack Show” had its last call last week. Management wants to have the room go dark on Tuesdays, the one night this “Pack” was in residence (presumably to preserve its Las Vegas connection as a mark of authenticity for out-of-town bookings).

And Esteban, the king of home-shopping flamenco guitar, will play his last Shimmer notes June 28, having opted not to move into an afternoon time slot. ...

Friends of Anthony Del Valle, the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s theater critic for nearly a decade, will gather at 3 p.m. Saturday for a celebration of his life at the Las Vegas Little Theatre, 3920 Schiff Drive.

The memorial for the writer, reviewer and “Theater Chat” columnist who died last month is hosted by the Little Theatre and organized by friends who say it must include coffee and cookies, because Del Valle was known for conducting his theater chats over coffee. ...

Three years ago I did a column about classic-country crooner Ray Price, who was almost 84 and still on the road after a victory over colon cancer.

“It’s kind of up to other forces, but I’m going to stay as long as I can still do it and do it good,” he said then.

The singer was to perform at the Silverton this weekend, but was sidelined by severe dehydration related to treatment for pancreatic cancer that was discovered last year.

The Silverton’s press release says the hotel is “in the process of scheduling an alternate date.” And if Price proves indestructible enough to make good on it, we should all be impressed enough to show up.

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.