‘Hairspray’ Is to Close in Las Vegas, Following ‘Avenue Q,’ Another Broadway Offshoot

The New York Times

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June 7, 2006

‘Hairspray’ Is to Close in Las Vegas, Following ‘Avenue Q,’ Another Broadway Offshoot

What happens in Vegas does not always stay in Vegas.

On Sunday night, less than four months after opening, the Las Vegas version of “Hairspray” is to close. It will become the second Broadway-to-Vegas show to fold within the last three weeks: “Avenue Q,” which famously announced it was moving to Las Vegas days after winning the 2004 Tony Award for best musical, closed on May 28 after running less than a year.

The $12 million production of “Hairspray” opened on Feb. 15 at a 1,500-seat theater in the Luxor Las Vegas Hotel. The producers of the Broadway “Hairspray” did not produce the Las Vegas version, which, like most Las Vegas-ized musicals, was much shorter and lacked an intermission. But the original creative team helped the transition, trimming and polishing the script. Harvey Fierstein and Dick Latessa, who won Tonys for their performances in the original production, acted in Las Vegas for the first few months. But sales lagged.

Meanwhile, the $10.5 million production of “Hairspray” on Broadway, which opened in 2002 and won a Tony for best musical in 2003, has grossed more than $180 million and is still attracting large audiences. A movie based on the musical is scheduled to open next year, and a second road tour is gearing up to replace the first one, which ends this month. The success of “Hairspray” on the road might have been a problem even for Las Vegas: the show had been playing in Los Angeles during the last couple of weeks.

Yet all is not gloomy on the Strip. The Las Vegas production of “Mamma Mia!” remains strong at Mandalay Bay, a hotel and casino; a shortened version of “The Phantom of the Opera” opens at the Venetian on June 24; and “Monty Python’s Spamalot” is scheduled for the Wynn next year. But producers are discovering, as countless gamblers have before them, that the rewards of Las Vegas are more elusive than they might have at first appeared.

“To compete with $150 million productions of Cirque du Soleil, Celine Dion and others when somebody has one night to see a show proved to be a little more challenging than we thought,” said Myron Martin, executive director of the Las Vegas Performing Arts Center Foundation and a producer of the Las Vegas “Hairspray.” “The truth is, nobody knows.”



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2 Responses to “‘Hairspray’ Is to Close in Las Vegas, Following ‘Avenue Q,’ Another Broadway Offshoot”

  1. writerdirector said:

    this is just another example of the unprofessionalism that is rampant in our business

    eg no one bothering to notice that in casino venues a key if not the key attribute is that the shows have to 80 – 100 minutes in length
    period; and good time drinking shows; musicals or comedies. then people want to get back out and gamble; surely the vegas company of chicago with UTA LEMPER BEN VEREEN AND CHITA RIVERA closing in flames because of the excessive length should have been a cue
    richard haase

  2. writerdirector said:

    people dont bother to do basic research;
    casino form shows must be 80 – 100 minutes top or they fail; people want to get back to gambling etc

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