It takes courage to be first at something. But if you succeed, you don’t have to worry about getting it right.
Who knows what Moe Dalitz thought in 1958, before signing off on the crazy idea of building the Stardust stage with six hydraulic lifts and an ice rink, all to support a plane full of topless showgirls from Paris?
But when “Lido de Paris” was a big hit, the producers of “Folies Bergere” and “Casino de Paris” were the ones to worry how many Parisian feather shows were too many.
And no one knew if Cirque du Soliel’s “Mystere” would work in 1993. Now we have five Cirques, plus “Le Reve.”
But when the Strip proved seemingly incapable of any more original ideas, it turned to Broadway musicals.
Big difference here. Local producers were introducing a proven commodity and not a new idea. Perhaps it was easy to be overconfident and assume the heavy lifting already was done elsewhere, by others.
Once “Avenue Q” and “Hairspray” closed, producers realized the task of selling a nonexclusive product might even be harder. If you weren’t in a rush to see “The Producers” before it leaves Paris Las Vegas on Feb. 9, maybe it’s because you saw it elsewhere.
You can look to the April arrival of “Jersey Boys” and say one of two things: “Don’t they get the message? Broadway doesn’t work in Vegas!” Or, “At least this one can benefit from what others learned the hard way.”
It’s no surprise that “Jersey Boys” co-producer Michael David leans toward the latter, and counts lessons learned in other cities as well. “This will be the fourth production of ‘Jersey Boys’ we’ve done,” he says. “As we get wiser about the one we just did, we try and refine and improve the new one we’re doing.”
A deal with the Palazzo was done early enough to enable the producers to scale down the seating, from 2,200 to 1,650.
David gives kudos to casino management for agreeing. The extra seats would be “money in the bank if people come, but they were in agreement that making it more intimate would be more helpful (to the show) in the long run.”
A learning curve also helps determine when to bring a Broadway title to Las Vegas. “Avenue Q” came before a national tour could promote the brand. “The Producers” came after the saturation point.
“Jersey Boys” played almost all of last year in San Francisco, but David hopes shorter tenures in Los Angeles and Tempe, Ariz., helped more than harmed. “You couldn’t get a ticket in Los Angeles. Theoretically you heard about us but you weren’t able to see us,” he says.
“My hope is that we have tantalized or titillated an audience nearby but hardly used them up.”
Mike Weatherford’s entertainment column appears Thursdays and Sundays. Contact him at 383-0288 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.