News for producers: No one cares about your show

A fresh reminder to aspiring producers and performers just in case you need one early each year: Most people do not care about you or your show.

That is to say, you have to make them care. Big-name headliners or comedians are one thing. But for most second- and third-tier titles, it’s safe to say most of your audience arrives in town not knowing you exist.

January gives me time to check out fledgling titles such as “Piano Man” and “Sexxy,” and to follow up on a December casualty most people were too busy Christmas-shopping to notice: “Celebrity Idols” starring Billy Hufsey.

John Padon, proprietor of the Sin City Theatre in Planet Hollywood Resort, pulled the plug on producer Nannette Barbera’s lease last month. There are lingering accusations, but the two agree on some common points, if not about where the blame lies.

First, “Idols” opened without an infrastructure for ticket sales and promotion. “You have to be fully loaded opening any new show,” Barbera agrees of the need to have ticket brokers and a marketing campaign in place.

Why not just wait to open when all that is ready?

“We were pressured into opening at this time,” she says, because Padon told her (and still maintains) other producers were waiting in line.

Time for another annual reminder: A landlord-tenant relationship works better with shared risks and rewards.

While Barbera says she is close to placing two new titles at other hotels, another recent Sin City tenant is more upbeat about his 90-day limited run there.

Eric Jordan Young launched his retro-variety showcase “Shakin’ ” fully aware he was an unknown, despite his work in “Starlight Express” and “Vegas the Show.”

“I didn’t step into ‘Shakin’ ’ thinking that I’m some big star everybody knows about,” or “just assume that everyone was going to run to my show,” he says. “You have to earn it.”

Making the rounds of “The Dennis Bono Show” and a Toys for Tots benefit had a direct effect. So did the controversial tactic of “papering the house” with locals who subscribe to various seat-filler websites.

Some producers say no tangible good comes of this unless they can sell T-shirts and magic kits, or share in bar sales. Young found a less specific connection.

“Because of the seat fillers, the locals put the word out and went, ‘This is worthy … Now we’re going to send people to see this show.’

“People want to feel like they found the next best thing,” he adds. ‘The local people remember the talent in this town that was similar to what I’m doing.”

Just putting the show up “prove(d) we’re not joking around, we actually have the investment in place,” Young says.

And, this time at least, someone cared. “We wanted to see if we had an audience and we did.”

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.

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