In Las Vegas production shows, financial numbers trump musical numbers, every time.
The latest example of that entertainment-industry reality, “Baz — A Musical Tour de Force” is closing after its July 29 performance at The Palazzo Theater.
Actors Equity Producer and General Manager Blair Farrington informed the cast just prior to Tuesday’s 8 p.m. performance.
“Las Vegas needs more shows like ‘Baz,’ unique and original shows that can match the hotel’s brand standards,” said Farrington, a veteran Vegas producer who also produced the Show in the Sky at the Rio and the splashy arrivals of Britney Spears and Gwen Stefani at Planet Hollywood. “We provided that, and the numbers have been quite good lately. But in all these cases, the numbers need to stand on their own, and ours didn’t. At some point, it just comes down to business.”
The decision to shut down the production was confirmed Tuesday night by the property’s PR team. The statement said:
“After a solid two-year run, ‘Baz— A Musical Tour de Force,’ will end its run inside The Palazzo Theatre on July 29. From the very beginning this show has been special to The Venetian and The Palazzo families. Having won accolades in Las Vegas and national press alike, ‘Baz’ featured some of the best musical talent Las Vegas had ever seen.
“We wish all of the show’s performers the best of luck in future endeavors. At this time there are no plans for a replacement.”
The cast and crew are said to be “devastated, blindsided” by the sudden news, which was handed down at the corporate level. The show had been produced by, and financially sustained, by the property. A stage adaptation of three Baz Luhrmann films (“Romeo + Juliet,” “Moulin Rouge” and “The Great Gatsby”), the musical opened at Palazzo under its original title of “Baz — Star Crossed Love” on July 13, 2016.
The show had struggled to sell tickets in its first year, but business did pick up after the show marked its first anniversary. The cast had been eagerly anticipating the production’s upcoming second anniversary when the news came down tonight.
Also, “Baz” had just launched a new marketing campaign in May, and new costume pieces had just been delivered to the performers, making the decision even more unexpected.
In a tweet that might well have referred to the sad news, original cast member Timyra Joi posted at 8:02 p.m., “Hmmm. So funny how the universe works.”
“Baz” originally opened as a For The Record production out of Los Angeles in June 2015, at Light nightclub at Mandalay Bay. The show closed the following August as then-club owner and production partner Cirque du Soleil moved completely out of the nightclub business.
Tuesday night’s closing of “Baz” spells a second lancing of musical theater on the Strip in less than a week. On Friday, “Marilyn! The New Musical” at Paris Theater announced it would be shutting down after Sunday’s performance. But unlike “Baz,” that production “Marilyn!” intends to return to the stage on Sept. 4.
Irony further permeates the demise of “Baz” in relation to “Marilyn!” That show’s lead, Ruby Lewis (who also starred in the show at Light), left “Baz” to take the Marilyn role in the show at Paris. Lewis is also featured in “Baz’s” the new ad campaign, the photos taken just before she announced she was leaving the production.
And, Strip stage vet and renowned vocalist Randal Keith, who plays Darryl Zanuck in “Marilyn!”, had just accepted the role of Zidler, full-time, in “Baz,” where he had performed as swing for the character. Keith had planned to seamlessly shift to the show at Palazzo Theater after “Marilyn!” closed Sunday night. Keith’s first scheduled performance: July 28.
The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. Las Vegas Sands operates The Palazzo.