As reported Thursday, “R.U.N” is closing March 8 at Luxor after a 4½-month residency, the shortest run of any Cirque du Soleil show ever in Las Vegas. Stunning. But what have we learned from the company’s dalliance with graphic-novel storytelling?
In no particular order:
— The next show moving into Luxor theater might not be Cirque. I can impart confidently that it is not a certainty that Cirque will move a new show into a theater it has effectively occupied for more than 11 years.
All options are being evaluated, including another collaboration with Cirque, a non-Cirque production, or even a headlining series.
Headliners did perform in the room between the closing of “Hairspray” in June 2006 and Criss Angel’s opening of “Believe” in October 2008. Liza Minnelli, Earth Wind & Fire and Lindsey Buckingham were among the rotation of stars to play the venue. A focus on headliners make sense, as the room is regally appointed and recently renovated (courtesy of “R.U.N”). And, MGM Resorts has had ample headlining success at Park Theater, the company’s only 1,500-plus theater not home to a Cirque show.
— Stamping “Cirque” on a Cirque du Soleil production isn’t always the best option. The crucial strategic decision to stamp the famous Cirque logo onto R.U.N” promotional material actually hindered the show’s prospects in Las Vegas. The idea was to tap into the Cirque’s extensive brand equity. But enforcing that brand only confused ticket-buyers, many of whom thought they would see a show closer in line with “Mystere” or “Ka” than, say, Robert Rodriguez’s “Sin City.”
— Cirque is not infallible in Las Vegas. This is especially true of the company’s newer shows. We’ve known for more than two decades Cirque’s hold on Las Vegas as the Strip’s predominant production company. But three of company’s more recent original productions have fallen short of box-office success.
Prior to “R.U.N,” “Viva Elvis,” a seemingly foolproof blend iconic Vegas institutions, closed in August 2012 after a 2 1/2-year run. “Zarkana,” also at Aria, closed in 2016 after a sluggish four-year run, as MGM Resorts turned the theater into convention space rather than risk another production show. “Michael Jackson One,” which premiered at Mandalay Bay in 2013, is the only original Cirque show to open in the past decade still onstage.
— Luxor is still dedicated to entertainment. There are no plans to pull apart Luxor’s theater for convention space, restaurants or a bingo hall. The resort remains home to Blue Man Group (a Cirque acquisition) in its own theater; and Carrot Top, “Fantasy” and Terry Bradshaw’s production show at Atrium Showroom.
The hotel’s emphasis on a wide swath of entertainment should remain unchanged. Whether it has an appetite for such a risk as “R.U.N” remains to be seen.
Here’s to life
The man who had a hand in “Copacabana” for Barry Manilow, “Here’s To Life” for Barbra Streisand, “I’ll Never Love This Way Again” for Dionne Warwick, and who played the keys on Joe Cocker’s “Feelin’ Alright” is headlining Myron’s Cabaret Jazz at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday.
But it’s not Artie Butler’s first appearance in the room. He was a guest at The Composers Showcase of Las Vegas last April, holding court for 25 minutes (easily a TCS record) with tales of his 45-year entertainment history. Then he wowed the crowd with “Here’s To Life.” Afterward, Smith Center exec Paul Beard told Butler he’d love to have him play the room, and — by happy coincidence — Vegas producers Alan and Kathi Glist stepped in to start that conversation.
Butler will play piano, sample from his more than 75 hits, and spin some tales along with video from his impressive career.
Butler is billed as the most famous artist you’ve not heard of, but he’s good with that. “When it was put to me to play Las Vegas, my knees buckled,” the 77-year-old composer says. “That was the thing that got me. I mean, the first time I was in Las Vegas, I was 17 years old and playing with Milton Berle at El Rancho Vegas. What a journey.”
Louie Anderson was the surprise guest during “Jill Kimmel Live” at her brother Jimmy Kimmel’s Comedy Club on Thursday night. Anderson took in the show to see his friend Jason Schommer, Anderson’s opening act during his days at Plaza Showroom. A Vegas resident, Anderson told several jokes about gambling. “The gambling stuff still kills,” he said. It did on this night …
Bill Medley and Bucky Heard of The Righteous Brothers and “America’s Got Talent” finalist Daniel Emmet were guests at the Bronx Wanderers’ show at Harrah’s Showroom on Monday night. Coincidence? Maybe not. Righteous Brothers have played the room for four years BW just moved in and — I have it on good authority — Emmet is about to book dates there, too.
Give me a quesadilla at 3 a.m. and you’ll have a friend for life.
Eldorado Cantina’s new Tivoli Village location is offering such, and its full menu, having moved to a 24-hour schedule on Thursday night as it celebrated its grand opening. The 24-hour Eldorado on Sammy Davis Jr. Drive is a frequent Kats! Bureau outpost (walk toward Sapphire’s Gentlemen’s Club and make a quick left).
A testament to the new Eldorado is I’ve been there three times since its soft opening on Jan. 24. Before that, I’d been to Tivoli Village exactly twice in the previous year.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.