Playhouses should avoid duplicating productions

Looking over the list in Thursday’s Neon of upcoming productions in the 2012-2013 season, it’s easy to get excited by the number of Vegas premieres.

Too often theaters, because of what they saw as financial necessity, have played it safe with tried-and-true titles. We still have plenty of the familiar (and familiar ain’t bad), but this time out a good number of playhouses are bringing stuff we haven’t seen before.

Of course, a good production of just about anything is welcome, but it’s especially gratifying to see the old mixed with the new.

If I ruled the world, though, all area theaters would sit down at a big meeting prior to announcing their season and would do away with duplicates. Mounting multiple productions of the same script can be fine in major arts cities, but in Las Vegas it comes with regrets. There’s so much we have yet to see, that it seems a pity we’re getting three “Hamlets,” two “Romeo and Juliets,” and two “Closers,” not to mention the repeats of shows not yet announced, and remountings of what we saw just last season. …

In my Saturday review of the splendid touring production of “Wicked,” I did not have room to mention the mesmerizing presence of Kim Zimmer as the evil Madame Morribe. Her over-the-top nasty attitude seems to make her tower over the stage. You enjoy hating her. …

I received a dose of complaints about George Hamilton missing performances at The Smith Center in last month’s “La Cage Aux Folles.” Missed performances are sometimes to be expected. But some folks were upset that no verbal announcement was made. President and CEO Myron Martin said the union (Equity) doesn’t require one.

When I asked Martin’s opinion about the matter, he said, “When it comes to (Equity), I’m not sure my opinion matters.”

Too bad. Seems to me it would be a kindness to audiences to make a star’s absence clearly known.

In the old days, Equity required the verbal notification, which was often followed on Broadway with a round of boos and then a dash by some for refunds at the box office. I also emailed Martin on Aug. 21 to find out why The Smith Center’s only water fountain is on the fifth floor. Seems like a cheesy attempt to push expensive bottled water. Martin’s response? “I’ll look into (it).” This is a man who’s been working with the theater well before the plans were designed, and he’s apparently never noticed the lack of reasonably placed water fountains? Audiences sure have. By the way, I haven’t yet heard back from him. …

In my “best of” list for the 2011-2012 season, I misspelled the name of a recipient. The outstanding choreographer category should have read, “Jason Kalish for his incredible knock-your-socks-off routines in Super Summer Theatre/P.S. Productions’ ‘Crazy for You.’ With tap, ballroom and on-the-carhood showmanship, this Vegas newcomer suggests he just might be able to do it all.”

Anthony Del Valle can be reached at vegastheaterchat You can write him c/o Las Vegas Review-Journal, P.O. Box 70, Las Vegas, NV 89125.

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