Las Vegas musical ‘A Mob Story’ is dark until the spring

The Kats! Bureau at this writing is Palms’ CG Technology Sports Book. The hotel is hot right now — hot, I tell you! — with vaunted punk pioneer Billy Idol performing at Pearl Concert Theater on Friday and Saturday, and noted cocktail master Francesco Lafranconi’s Mr. Coco cocktail lounge VIP party Friday night.

Lafranconi can really deliver the FizzyWater, and many other libations. The place opens to the public Jan. 25.

More from this scene, and elsewhere:

Another ‘Mob Story’

“A Mob Story” plans to be back onstage at Plaza Showroom in April.

It has a lot of work to do before then.

The inventive mix of organized-crime and musical theater went dark in December, and is certainly facing serious financial challenges. The man at the center of the story says as much.

“Yes, there is outstanding debt,” show producer and reformed Colombo crime family “capo” Michael Franzese says. “I was handed a budget of $1.1 million and ended up spending over $2 million on the show, all money that came from and through my efforts. I was very disappointed with those I trusted to deliver the show on budget.”

Consequently, those who have done business with the production say they are owed a lot of back pay. Plaza Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Jossel said this week that he would not stage the show until he’s confident everyone who is owed money is paid.

Franzese says the show’s struggles have accelerated over the past few weeks, and are the result of a production team working together for the first time in Las Vegas. He is seeking financial partners for its next run. But if the show returns, fully funded, to the Plaza Showroom in April, it will have beaten some long odds.

“The show was an independent production in it’s entirety. I worked hard to make sure cast and crew were paid and paid since day one,” Franzese says. “Having said that, it was only the last few weeks that some crew and cast were owed money. Much of which has been resolved. I can say that cast and most all the crew love the show, understand what I did to keep the show going and want very much to return.”

The original Las Vegas musical is co-produced, written and directed by Vegas entertainment vet Jeff Kutash (who has not returned texts asking for comment). Financial struggles aside, “A Mob Story” has proven a uniquely entertaining trip through mob history, and has been well-received by critics and show-goers. The production has a great set designed by Emmy Award-winner Andy Walmsley, a terrific dance team and effective narration by Franzese himself.

Jossel, especially, is eager to see how the show deals with Franzese’s frequent absences to fulfill his many speaking engagements across the country. The show has gone dark whenever the onetime mob overlord/motivational speaker has hit the road.

“Jonathan and the Plaza brass want the show to return, and we have a mutual understanding as to how we will work together to reopen the show,” Franzese says. “It will be even a better production, operating more efficiently, I can assure you.”

He continued, “It’s a tough town. People have a lot of shows to choose from. We gave our audiences a great show, uniquely entertaining in many ways. We will be back. It is not wise to bet against us.”

Britney’s status

Published reports, some sourced accounts and widespread social-media speculation (which can always be trusted) indicate Britney Spears’ ticket sales for “Domination” at Park Theater were substandard in the weeks leading to her decision to call off all 32 dates this year. But there is no reason from here to doubt Spears’ stated reason for her decision on Jan. 4 to table the highly hyped show: Her father, Jamie Spears, spent nearly a month in Las Vegas’s Sunrise Hospital after emergency surgery on a ruptured colon.

On Wednesday, her Las Vegas manager Larry Rudolph said officials with MGM Resorts (which operates Park Theater) said they were “very happy” with advance sales. The show was to have opened Feb. 12-13. Rudolph reiterated that Spears’ decision was simply a family matter and the possible return of the show has yet to be addressed. “It’s just the set of facts,” Rudolph said in a text message. “When her father he’s in a better place, we will probably say something then.”

Untitled Saxe projects

Longtime Las Vegas producer David Saxe is developing two entertainment venues on the Strip this year. One is for a showroom-style venue that he says will play host to an immersive-interactive experience that Saxe says is “a little like ‘Sleep No More,’ but sexier. That’s a reference to the popular New York theater show based on “Macbeth” and other film-noir elements. Saxe’s other concept is a larger nightclub that can run thousands of folks through the venue in a single night.

In about six months, Saxe will be auditioning versatile entertainers who can dance, sing and act to populate these venues. As we say, more — much more — will be revealed. This is one reason Saxe Productions has been relatively quiet about developing or revamping shows at his V Theater and Saxe Theater at Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood. This effort has taken up most of his time.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts.Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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