Avenue Q to Play Vegas, Not the Road

News   Avenue Q to Play Vegas, Not the Road
 
In a surprise move, the producers of the Tony-winning Avenue Q have decided to cancel plans for a national tour of the puppet-friendly musical. Instead, they will mount an open-ended run of the Jeff Whitty-Robert Lopez-Jeff Marx musical in Las Vegas.

Avenue Q's Princeton
Avenue Q's Princeton

Avenue Q producers will work with Steve Wynn on the Las Vegas production, which is set to open in fall 2005 in a $40 million theatre that will be built especially for the musical. The Q producers explain that a sit-down production would eliminate the high costs of touring a show and a Las Vegas mounting would be able to gross nearly twice what the show earns on Broadway.

Impresario Wynn told the New York Times that a key factor to the Las Vegas deal was the agreement that Q would be playing nowhere else but in Manhattan. "I want it to be a special experience. I don't want it to be something people can get anywhere," he said.

After months of negotiations with Wynn, the deal was struck June 2 and the decision not to tour was revealed to the Avenue Q creators last week. The Vegas production of Q will be seen in a 1,200-seat ($40 million) theatre within Wynn Las Vegas Resort and Country Club, a new $2.5-billion casino resort set to open in April 2005.

Avenue Q, which began life at Off-Broadway's Vineyard Theatre before taking Broadway by storm, had been expected to begin a national tour in fall 2005. Scott Zieger, the chief executive of Clear Channel Communications — an owner of theatres around the country — said the tour's cancellation would be disappointing to "the road presenters around the country."

Other hit Broadway shows have played Vegas in recent years, including the Tony-winning revival of Chicago as well as the ABBA megahit Mamma Mia! Those shows, however, have toured as well. Off-Broadway's Blue Man Group: Tubes recently added new material that was developed at their Las Vegas staging. Avenue Q currently plays the Golden Theatre in New York. It received three 2004 Tony Awards, including Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score and Best Musical.

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