The discussion about cutting Broadway shows to 90 minutes for the Strip and the behavior of those shows’ audiences continue to be emotional topics.
In a Feb. 13 column, I summed up a television interview "Hairspray" star Harvey Fierstein recently gave in New York in which he poked fun at Sin City playgoers. He lampooned the edited shows, the yardlong drinks, and the "tomb" environment at the Luxor. My mail (severely edited below) ranged from "Harvey’s right" to "Harvey should never be allowed to step foot inside this town again."
A cast member from the recently closed "Mamma Mia!" noted, "I attended ‘Believe’ the other night and several patrons entered with the yardlong drinks that Harvey spoke of. There’s a distinct difference between a New York audience and a Vegas one. Not that one is better. The New York crowd is stuffier, more informed, more theatrically inclined. You have a variety of shows to appeal to many aesthetics. Here, the emphasis is purely on the entertainment. The ‘think’ factor is pretty much nonexistent.
"While Harvey may have been exaggerating, he merely pointed out that there is less of a reverence for theater here than there is in New York. You have customers coming in Bermuda shorts and T-shirts, flip-flops, tank tops. It’s just all part of the Vegas experience. I’m not judging it. (But) if we want the Vegas reputation to go away, then we need to do something to change that."
A Vegas producer with a show headed from New York to Vegas commented, "This story made me sick to my stomach. It doesn’t surprise me that one of these Broadway prima donnas would do something like this. We will be coming to Vegas in the fall. Our show is 90 to 95 minutes, and we welcome people to have a drink or two and have a good time. Las Vegas does not need Harvey Fierstein."
"I find it a shame that Las Vegas management advertises Broadway productions and then cuts them down to a time frame that they believe audiences would prefer. Missing out on songs and dialogue that are integral to the show is criminal. It’s like charging for a great book and then just giving the customer the CliffsNotes pamphlet on it."
"I did see ‘Hairspray’ here with Mr. Fierstein and loved it. As far as cutting shows, sometimes it actually works. It works in ‘Phantom (– The Las Vegas Spectacular),’ which I have seen numerous times on Broadway, and it is better here."
"Bravo Harvey for telling it like it is."
Anthony Del Valle can be reached at DelValle@aol.com. You can write him c/o Las Vegas Review-Journal, P.O. Box 70, Las Vegas, NV 89125.