We Will Rock You: Las Vegas ruled my world for a year in 2005.
The show was based on the London hit of the same name, based on the music of the legendary rock group, Queen. Yes, We Are the Champions, I Want It All, Killer Queen, Under Pressure, Another One Bites the Dust and many other classic songs were the score of this musical.
The story is based around Galileo, a boy who wants to revolt against his very strict futuristic town where music is banned (at least dancing wasn't banned, but it should have been, sorry Tony Vincent...just kidding. No one will get that, maybe Amanda, hi!) The rebel meets his match in Scaramouche who is just like him and not the GaGa kids, still with me?
They meet Brit and Oz who are the leaders of the bohemians who want to revolt against the Killer Queen and her henchman, Khashoggi (there was once a time when I didn't have to look up how to spell that word). Anyway, awesome-ness happens and the bohemians rule and KQ goes away, that's pretty much the premise.
On paper, it sounds horrible right? But it wasn't.
Especally when you have the super talents of Tony Vincent as Galileo (and also Jason Wood), Aspen Miller as Scaramouche (now Aspen Vincent and Kacie Sheik as well). Patti freakin Russo as Killer Queen and Douglas Crawford as Pop(now on Broadway in Jersey Boys..yay!) and the talents of Carly Thomas and Ty Taylor as Oz and Brit.
The talent pool alone was just amazing. Everyone in the ensemble was fantastic. So the music, yeah that was good too. Paul Cook on lead guitar...hello.Aspen Miller, Brian May, Paul Cook
Okay, so let's talk why this show didn't do so well in Vegas.
You'd think this fun show would have had a long run, especially when you were allowed to bring drinks into the theatre and pretty much get up and dance at the end if you cared to do so. The price of a ticket was around $120, less if you had AAA and remembered. The show ran a little under 2 hours, if that.
Then came the cuts Mid July. Audience members were given comment cards on the state of the show, I remember something about how I put in all caps to keep the show the way it was. My comment was not taken. Anyway. The show got pretty level reviews, people who saw the show enjoyed their time. But how do you get people in seats to see a musical? Even if it is Queen? And at that, why was Mamma Mia! doing so well down the Strip at the Mandalay Bay hotel? What was so fascinating about Abba that Queen didn't have?
I don't have the answer but I do know Broadway West (as it was coined at the time) was not doing so hot. Hairspray opened up at the Luxor a little after WWRY closed in November. Unfortunately, it didn't well either. These shows were the condensed soup version of their Broadway or West End counterpart. How can they cater to the attention span of Vegas tourists? Does Broadway need to be in the desert, available for the drunked herds of the Strip?
Disney thinks so!
Surprise, The Lion King was announced this week that a production will be placed at the Mandalay Bay. In the Playbill article, it states no major cuts will take place, so basically an incarnate of the Broadway version. Brava Disney! Kill for that money! I have seen The Lion King at Gammage, and while visually stunning, nothing that great. In my opinion, of course. But this show sells more money than most shows out there. Mainly touring shows. So, it is a huge benefit for Disney and Manadaly Bay to strike a deal to present this show. Money money money.
But let's think on the other end. Will Vegas tourists want to sit with other families and watch this Disney show? Don't most adults go to Vegas to well...gamble and drink. How many families out there will go out of their way to see this production? I'm guessing a fair amount. If marketed right and the prices are not too extreme this show will be a hot ticket. Actually, strike that, people will give up their children to get a ticket to this show.
Other Broadway shows that landed on the Strip included Avenue Q(closed), Spamalot(still running? not too sure), Mamma Mia(ends its run in January) Phantom (the shortened version of The Phantom of the Opera, still running), The Producers(closed), Hairspray(closed) and my beloved We Will Rock You(closed...sigh)
Does Broadway belong in the desert, especially a place like Las Vegas were it's already a big spectacle. Is Vegas the new Broadway West?
PS-Bring We Will Rock You to Broadway. Seriously, the powers that be, do it!