Broadway and Las Vegas share a lot of talent. But to call it a two-way street is still dangerous.
Bob Anderson’s tribute show “Frank — The Man. The Music.” wraps its run at the Palazzo on Saturday. Locals hosting Sinatra fans for the holiday weekend should suggest it as a fine way to pay back their host for all the Turkey Day hospitality.
Good as it is, the tribute with the high overhead of a live orchestra ground along as Vegas shows tend to do these days, playing the discount-ticket game to try to fill about half of its 1,640 seats, a 50 percent number the casino once required of its show tenants.
Even though Anderson brought a quality crowd, as they say, the most plausible part of rumors that “Baz” will replace him is that the theater would be substantially cut down in capacity. If you’re looking for a sad truth about the ticketed show scene of late, it’s that only concert stars need a theater of that size, and the adjacent Venetian already has one.
“It stayed there two weeks short of a year. It was a tremendous success,” Anderson maintains. “We have accumulated 628 letters and comments from corporations and individuals (and) they’ve all been unbelievably super.”
The Sinatra tribute’s future is open to a number of options: A regional theater tour, symphony pops concerts, single or multi-night concerts in prestigious big-city venues such as Carnegie Hall. And yes, Broadway. But let’s hope they save that one for last.
The Gloria Estefan jukebox musical bio “On Your Feet!” opened on Broadway this month. Its box office is building with a recent $1.2 million weekly gross, amid mostly positive reviews that tend to repeat the phrase “crowd-pleasing.”
If it finds its way to Las Vegas — either for a week at The Smith Center or an extended casino run — it would be something of a full circle, considering its local connections. One of its producers is Bernie Yuman, longtime manager of Siegfried & Roy. And its director, Jerry Mitchell, staged “Peepshow” at Planet Hollywood.
But sometimes the circuitous path is the right one. At one point, it seemed like Estefan project would originate at the Tropicana. That seemed a questionable idea at the time, and now the main producers, the Nederlanders, must be grateful they went the conventional Broadway route instead.
The Trop turned out to have a knack for snatching failure from the jaws of victory. Two years ago, it hosted the only money-losing production of “Mamma Mia!” on the planet.
If the New York critics now think of “On Your Feet!” as crassly commercial, how would a probably short-lived Las Vegas run have tainted their opinion? Can’t help but think they’d be sharpening the knives even more for Anderson’s full-makeup Sinatra tribute.
Five years ago, I wrote that Estefan actually performing would be a better idea for the Trop: “How about, for now anyway, we strike a truce with Broadway? They do the R&D on the more theatrical concepts, while we try to blaze some new trails with the performers themselves?”
Doesn’t seem like enough has changed to make me change my mind. …
If you call your show “Failure Is an Option,” you do give yourself an out clause. And if you are both a stand-up comedian and an entertainment attorney, you should at least be realistic about your odds of success.
That’s Tom Rubin, who is self-producing his long-form comedy piece in the Sin City Theatre at Planet Hollywood. It’s a parody of self-help gurus such as Tony Robbins, only Rubin is teaching us how to lower our expectations and just chill out.
“I like to call it smart comedy, or not-stupid comedy,” Rubin says of the 5:30 p.m. show. “I like something that’s going to stick with you.”
If the premise sounds vaguely familiar, perhaps you remember Jason Alexander’s self-help parody “Donny Clay,” which also played Planet Hollywood in 2010.
But Alexander was competing with his own fame — or at least that of George Costanza — and it was hard to advertise the premise (which sort of fell by the wayside anyway, once the show started).
Rubin’s version is more like “Defending the Caveman,” in that audiences are buying the idea, not the fame of the performer. And, more like “Caveman” than “Donny,” he sticks to his narrative. “You can’t stray off and do random jokes,” he says.
Long-form comedy seems like it should have a better presence on the Strip, and it does get tested from time to time. Last year it was Matt Kazam’s “40 Is Not the New 20.” Veteran club comic Jeff Wayne has showcased “Big Daddy’s Barbeque” in the suburbs but hasn’t found a taker on the Strip.
Rubin volunteers the adage, “Any lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client,” and laughs that if he negotiated a bad deal for himself with Sin City proprietor Norbert Aleman, at least he’s fully aware of it.
But he’s been juggling stand-up and entertainment law for years now. It was Rubin who closed the deal between Rick Harrison’s “Pawn Stars” and the History Channel. So who knows? He might find a way to make this work. …
Blink and you missed it department: “Nunsense” lasted only about a week in a place where, well, it probably would have only lasted a week: the Kahunaville restaurant inside Treasure Island.
Producer Jay Harvey said the show’s financing partner decided it wasn’t the right venue. Admittedly, it was a challenge to teach even locals there was show space inside the party bar, which also hosts the “Island Heat” revue.
Dan Goggin, the show’s creator, can write off the trip he made to supervise the production. But it’s too bad the local cast, veterans of a previous Las Vegas production, got the title back up and running only to have the plug pulled so early.
By the way, Harvey says his other enterprise — Rich Little’s autobiographical showcase at the Tropicana — is doing well enough to extend until March. …
Why break up a great team? No, not Donny and Marie Osmond, but the Flamingo’s combined clout of the Osmonds and Olivia Newton-John. The enduring Australian pop star had to wait for the singing siblings to lock in next year’s dates before she could follow suit.
Newton-John has at last confirmed 49 shows next year, splitting a 7:30 p.m. time slot with the Osmonds in the Flamingo’s retro showroom.
Next year’s show dates are Jan. 19-22 and 26-30; July 5-9 and 12-16; Aug. 9-13 and 16-20; Oct. 18-22 and 25-29; Nov. 22-26 and 29-30 and Dec. 1-3.
— Read more from Mike Weatherford at reviewjournal.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow @Mikeweatherford on Twitter.Like Neon Las Vegas on Facebook: