Well, this is a real drag.
Ester Goldberg always was sort of … unpredictable. And Tuesday night, she was told to pack her bags.
Michael Airington, who portrayed the lead character in “Ester Goldberg’s Totally Outrageous Brunch” at The Sayers Club at SLS Las Vegas is no longer with the production. Co-producer Dan Chilewich announced Airington’s departure via e-mail
“The ‘Totally Outrageous Brunch’ production is going in a new direction,” Chilewich wrote, and referred to Airington in character form and not by his off-stage name. “Ester Goldberg will no longer be continuing with the production. We appreciate her efforts these last few months. However, we felt it in the best interest of the show and its continued growth and success to make this decision at this time.”
A red-head of a certain age developed to remind of a tart-tongued great aunt, Goldberg was at the center of the adult production, which opened Feb. 23. The show featured (and, supposedly, still features) several side acts, comedy bits and a strip tease by burlesque performer and famed pinup model Sabina Kelley.
“I am in total shock right now,” Airington said in text Tuesday night. “They are saying they are changing the direction of the show and my character and me are not part of it.”
The production, which runs at 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, is going dark at least for this weekend. The cast is now spinning in a holding pattern, but still remains employed.
Earlier in the day, hours before Chilewich’s comment, Airington said he was excited about the addition of one of Las Vegas’ favorite vocalist and “Monday’s Dark” producer, Jassen Allen. The show is already laden with such talented local performers as comic actor John Di Domenico (with his celebrated Donald Trump impression) and co-director/associate producer producer Anne Martinez.
Airington said he actually learned of his fate in the show at about 8:15 p.m., when he was informed by Di Domenico while having dinner at SLS. There have been reports from within the production of personal and professional friction between Airington and his co-producers. As recently as Tuesday afternoon, Airington was known to be independently pursuing a reality-show concept, focusing on Ester and the cast of the show.
Airington had done an impressive job of selling the show to SLS officials, and securing partners with ample experience in live entertainment. Chilewich worked on “S Wonderful — The New Gershwin Musical,” “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer — The Musical” and “”Over The Rainbow.” Beebee was on the touring versions of “Wicked,” “Mamma Mia!” “Legally Blonde” and “The Book of Mormon.”
But all that pedigree does not necessarily breed harmony in a tight Strip production show.
“My relationship with Dan and Kevin was unique,” said Airington of his New York-based co-creators in the SLS show. “I had a great relationship with the cast.”
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.