Tyson bucks trend, heads to Broadway

In what parallel universe does Mike Tyson make it to Broadway before Clint Holmes?

“I’m like pinching myself. How the hell did this happen?” Adam Steck says with a laugh. He’s the Las Vegas-based producer of “The Undisputed Truth,” Mike Tyson’s autobiographical stage memoir that is booked for a week on Broadway, July 31-Aug. 6, with Spike Lee directing.

Steck wonders, is this the first show created in Las Vegas to make it to Broadway? I’ll throw that question open to reader input. But it does seem the first such reversal of the usual Broadway-to-Vegas path, at least in the modern era of the Strip.

“Surf the Musical,” which opens Friday at Planet Hollywood Resort, has a plausible shot at Broadway, though the Beach Boys musical is slated for an open run on the Strip and the producers have no specific New York plans.

Holmes put up a workshop version of his “Just Another Man” here in town in 2007, right before the economy dried up any financing for a Broadway run. It may have been a blessing in disguise, giving Holmes time to establish himself on New York’s cabaret scene and pave the way with critics.

And a few years ago, porn industry mogul John Stagliano investigated both Broadway and off-Broadway for his (nonpornographic) Las Vegas dance piece “Fashionistas,” but discovered his show landed in the awkward middle in terms of cast size. The latest hopeful is impressionist Rich Little, hoping to do “Jimmy Stewart & Friends” on a legit stage.

Other headliners who have done both – from Penn & Teller to the late Danny Gans – played Broadway before their showroom years.

But the Tyson deal came together “like light speed,” says Steck, whose SPI Entertainment produced it at the MGM Grand in April. “We always talked about the possibility of Broadway, but who knew it was going to happen so quickly? We’re just over the moon, man.”

The Nederlander Organization will be the primary producer on Broadway, but Steck will retain an executive producer credit. Tyson will perform at the Longacre Theatre, owned by The Shubert Organization.

The theater is known as an underperformer in the Broadway community, which could be a win-win here. Tyson fans don’t care about the theater’s track record for musicals, and its lack of popularity allows the one-week run to extend if ticket sales demand.

Lee came onboard as a first-time stage director after one of his friends saw Tyson in Las Vegas and talked up the effort, Steck says. Lee will “tweak it for Broadway a little bit, but the guts of the show (written by Tyson’s wife, Kiki) pretty much remain the same.” …

The Tropicana Las Vegas seems to have a hit on its hands with “Dancing with the Stars: Live in Las Vegas” extending another month, to Aug. 5. The TV spinoff was originally booked through July 7.

No word on whether any of its celebrity dancers will have to decamp because of earlier commitments. The Tropicana revue has added Tristan MacManus, who partnered with previous Tropicana headliner Gladys Knight on TV this past season. …

I always said that one big problem Cirque du Soleil had with selling “Ka” is that it’s an original story, not based on a prebranded book or movie. Better late than never.

Following its live performance at San Diego’s Comic-Con last summer, Cirque and Marvel come back to the pop-culture convention this year with the first issue of a “Ka” comic book.

Those who don’t attend the gathering July 12-15 will have to settle for a digital version of the collectible if they don’t live in one of the six cities (which don’t seem to include Las Vegas) where they can get a print copy.

Cirque put tickets on sale Friday for the Nov. 1 opening of “Zarkana,” the Aria-bound production playing in New York this summer. Tickets will range from $69 to $180 before taxes and fees, about the same as the “Viva Elvis” it’s replacing. …

The Venetian’s version of “Rock of Ages” will likely be reminding people it was a Broadway show before it was a movie, given the movie version’s dismal opening-weekend box office.

“Ages” made only $15.1 million, less than the movie version of “Mamma Mia!” ($27.8 million) or “Hairspray” ($27.5 million). By the time the stage show opens in December, the movie will be consigned to the Redbox, allowing producers to create a little distance.

If you were wondering why The Venetian is waiting for the Blue Man Group to vacate instead of dropping “Rock” into the now-empty Palazzo theater, perhaps this was why.

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

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