Told you so. Sorry.
A columnist/reviewer’s license to predict and pontificate allowed me to raise doubts about three big-budget ventures on the Strip, one already closed and two headed into their final days.
No gloating, though. I roll with the stand-up comedy and magic, but enjoy this gig a lot more when big bets pay off with shows people will plan trips to Las Vegas to see. Too bad three such bets didn’t.
■ ”Surf the Musical”: If something sounds too good to be true … Yes, someone beyond Cirque du Soleil spent big money on the Strip in 2012. But three producers turned out to have more dollars than sense.
Ominous words: “Las Vegas hasn’t proved itself to be overly welcoming as a development ground for new works.” – May 17.
That was diplomatic, to say the least. This one never sounded right, with extravagant spending that proved too high on every level. “Surf” was said to be losing $300,000 per week, facing a near-impossible break-even point (which should have been closer to $50,000).
Worst of all? The debacle may discourage even wiser investors from trying something new here.
■ ”Viva Elvis”: Cirque du Soleil is nothing if not a wise player, but the company’s Achilles heel is diversifying the signature acrobatics.
On one level, Elvis Presley seemed a Vegas-perfect icon to follow the Beatles on the Strip. On another level, ominous words: “Preview audiences reminded the directors why Elvis hits are seldom covered. He was the show, and the songs lose traction without him.” – Feb. 19, 2010.
Still, I called the show “a happy mess,” and you could do worse than to see it before it closes Friday.
■ ”Phantom – The Las Vegas Spectacular”: The concern from the get-go was the Broadway blockbuster arriving at least five years past its saturation point, echoed in these ominous words: “(The challenge is) to get the word out that this is a high-tech reinvention, not simply a road company plopped down on the Strip.” – April 13, 2006.
A few months after its June 2006 opening, the leaner road show was sounding good. Lavish extras fueled a $35 million upfront cost that could never be recouped; the idea of selling 18,150 tickets each week at an average $112.50 turned out to be as naive as a Countrywide mortgage.
Unlike the “Surf” folk, the “Phantom” producers can at least say they didn’t see a recession looming.
But the mistakes made offstage aren’t seen onstage. And if you haven’t seen this production that will never be again, you have until Sept. 2.
Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0288.