Raise a glass to the twisted visionaries. It may be a long time before we see the likes of them again.
There’s an ironic twist to the tale of two producers, each so driven to present a personal vision on the Strip that they dared to go it alone.
Both of their creations were totally off the hook. One was about designers of fetish fashion, the other about a laptop that somehow represented the struggle between humanity and technology.
One came from a producer who enjoyed modest success with a previous show at the Stardust. The other was from a pornographer with no Vegas track record. Both titles were bold, but only one was good.
I made it easy to guess that John Stagliano — aka “Buttman” — delivered the challenging, highly watchable “Fashionistas.” And N.D. (aka Nicole Durr) brought us “Fuego Raw Talent,” a sadly muddled mess set to close Jan. 4, if not before.
Stagliano gave up in late February after three years, saying he had neglected his main business while subsidizing the show. “Fuego” floated a bigger payroll and made it about three months. (It may resurface in a modified nightclub format). Its fate may be tied to the woes of the auto industry, as Durr’s father in Germany runs one of the world’s biggest suppliers of automotive assembly systems.
N.D. helmed the respectable “Havana Nightclub” a while back, so there was reason to expect good things from “Fuego.” It sounds like her personal attachment prohibited outside input; a writer and choreographer who could help her make sense of the thing.
But I always have a soft spot for original enterprise. Doesn’t matter whether it was purely ego-driven — David Cassidy’s “At the Copa” — or built around a “hook” with real commercial prospects: a musical about strippers called “Tease,” or another written around the title of the best-seller “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.”
Good, bad or in-between, it was just nice to see someone besides Cirque du Soleil try to do something new here. And I do mean “was.” Thanks to our lovely economy, next year brings us … (drum roll please) … impressionists and puppet shows.
The faces are familiar. Gordie Brown and Danny Gans move their impressions to different venues. Terry Fator — who wields both impressions and puppets — had a year to break in at the Las Vegas Hilton before replacing Gans at The Mirage. And “The Lion King” is welcome and new here, but tried and true in the rest of the world.
One and all, they’re as safe a bet as this economy allows. If hard times won’t permit Tim Molyneux, producer of the campy “Bite,” to open his wacky poker musical “All In” next year, some might call that a silver lining to the recession.
But I call life without the driven just plain dull.
Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0288.