After the surprising failure of shows like “The Producers” and “Hairspray,” Vegas today hosts only two real Broadway musicals on the Strip. The good news is that both tuners are doing well.
“Phantom — the Las Vegas Spectacular,” as it’s been dubbed, celebrated its fifth anniversary in June at the Venetian. Although it has occasionally had to resort to discount tickets, like all of Vegas in recent years, it’s in for the long haul.
The other show with staying power is “Jersey Boys,” which opened 3 1/2 years ago at the Palazzo and is moving to the Paris as of January. Director Des McAnuff says the show works well in Vegas “partially because of the elements that make it work everywhere — the story, the music — but they’re all somehow amplified in Vegas. All those things that make up the subtext of Vegas — the mob, rock ‘n’ roll, gambling, sex, success — they’re all front and center in ‘Jersey Boys.’ It’s a show that feel right at home in the city.”
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Cirque du Soleil’s “Viva Elvis!,” on the other hand, has proven to be a major disappointment, never playing to more than 60% houses since its opening in February 2009. “Viva Elvis!” needs such drastic surgery ($10 million worth) that it’s stopping perfs for an indefinite period in early 2012 to allow the changes to be made.
Cirque’s latest, “Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour,” enters the Mandalay Bay for a limited run of 30 perfs in December. Then it goes back on the road, but Cirque’s Renee-Claude Menard indicates a permanent version will be returning to Vegas “in the last quarter of 2013” and that Mandalay Bay itself “would become part of an entire Michael Jackson experience.”
On a smaller scale, in the longrunning “Blue Man Group” and “Menopause, the Musical”-style of entertainment, there’s the new “Name That Tune — Live,” a reincarnation of the famed TV show. Superannuated boomers can play it, live, at the Imperial Palace Hotel, every afternoon and then make their way to “Phantom” or “Jersey Boys” in the evening.
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