Always did love “The Music Man,” right from the beginning with its rhythmic train-coach traveling salesmen.
“But he doesn’t know the territory!” one keeps protesting of the legendary Harold Hill.
Soon, two shows will close that were financed by experienced producers with deep pockets. But they were from way out of town, and it’s clear they didn’t learn the territory.
Google the name of Joop van den Ende and you’ll see a Forbes list ranking him No. 606 among “The World’s Richest People” in 2006, with a net worth of $1.3 billion. The Dutch producer built a TV empire that created shows such as “Big Brother” and “Fear Factor,” before selling out for $5.3 billion and turning his full attention to live theater.
Part of that attention — too small a part, perhaps — was focused upon “Hans Klok — The Beauty of Magic” at Planet Hollywood. Too many shows aren’t capitalized to ride out a slow start. This one had enough to pay Pamela Anderson a rumored (albeit doubtful, based on potential revenue) $4 million for her first 12-week shift.
The campy magic show was early-’90s Siegfried & Roy, only without the pretty tigers. Even its director, Siegfried & Roy alumni Anthony van Laast, admitted he would have done some things differently if he had known the show was headed to the Strip after a tour of European arenas.
“Beauty” closes Dec. 8 and van den Ende’s company is now raising questions about whether it knows another territory: It’s staging “The Lion King” in notoriously anti-American Paris.
Why didn’t it just bring “The Lion King” here, where it has never played? Disney once rejected a Mandalay Bay offer because of youngsters having to march through a casino. But the old Aladdin concert hall now is accessed through a retail mall, so parents would only have to brave the FCUK store.
“Matsuri” closes Saturday at the Sahara. The “Muscle Musical” also had the guidance of a successful foreign TV producer: Ushio Higuchi, who made the show so popular in Japan that it has its own theater. But the Las Vegas export never found solid footing as either an afternoon show at the Riviera nor an evening attraction at the Sahara.
The show had challenges. The marketing wasn’t great; it’s a hard concept to explain. And it was thin on Vegas spectacle. But in the year between the two engagements, you’d think Higuchi and his field generals would have learned that moving nearly next-door on the north Strip isn’t a big geographic gain, and that the family-friendly revue probably would have been better off sticking to afternoons.
Las Vegas loves to take foreign money, but you’d think these producers would know better than to be treated like traveling salesmen.
Mike Weatherford’s entertainment column appears Thursdays and Sundays. Contact him at 383-0288 or e-mail him at email@example.com.MIKE WEATHERFORDMORE COLUMNS