The 90-minute Vegas version of the Tony Award-winning Broadway hit began performances Feb. 6 at Luxor Las Vegas, starring Harvey Fierstein and Dick Latessa in their Tony-winning roles of Edna and Wilbur Turnblad. Their lucrative contracts lasted three months, and they were replaced May 1.
The hope of some company members was that the bright pop musical — trimmed to a digestible 90 minutes for gambling/tourist crowds — would provide desert-city work for at least a year. New York-based company members who had sublet their apartments back east and moved to Vegas for the run are now scrambling to pack their lives and find homes and jobs. Such is the actor's life.
Co-producers Michael Gill and Myron Martin announced the closing date to the cast and crew at "half-hour" — 30 minutes before the curtain went up — on Monday.
A source close to the production said there were assurances by producers in recent weeks that the show was doing enough business to keep it afloat through the summer.
"We make this decision with regret and disappointment, but with the reality that the show did not find the audience it needed for us to continue," said producer Michael Gill, in a statement June 6. "We want to share our deep appreciation for Luxor President Felix Rappaport, the entire Luxor team and MGM MIRAGE for the tremendous support they gave the show. Their commitment never wavered and we couldn't have had a better partner." "We have nothing but the greatest admiration for this remarkable cast and crew who never failed to deliver a wonderful performance every time they took the stage," said producer Myron Martin. "We will truly miss their incredible talent."
Rappaport said, "We are proud to have been the home for Hairspray in Las Vegas. Each performance was met by a standing ovation from audiences who overwhelmingly responded to what is a delightfully fun show."
Ticket holders for performances past June 11 will be refunded in full. Tickets for the remaining five performances are available by calling (800) 557-7428 or visiting www.luxor.com.
The shuttering of Hairspray follows the premature closing of the Las Vegas Avenue Q, the content of which was also trimmed for fidgety tourist crowds. Avenue Q also won the Tony Award for Best Musical.
Mamma Mia! continues to do boffo business in Vegas, and conventional wisdom suggests that the new Phantom — The Las Vegas Spectacular will be popular in the desert. Both show are international brand names with ubiquitous scores (by ABBA and Andrew Lloyd Webber, respectively).
Mamma Mia! is not presented in an abbreviated form there, but Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom will have a running time of 95 intermissionless minutes (and more special effects than other productions — something Vegas audiences traditionally devour).
A sitdown Vegas production of the Tony Award-winning Spamalot is expected in coming months.
Observers say Las Vegas seems to defy all logic when it comes to producing legit stidowns of Broadway musicals there. The city's transient crowds, the lack of pre-sale, and the lure of gambling, star concerts and spectaculars seriously impact the traditional way shows are mounted.
On May 1 "Mad TV" actor Paul Vogt and "Laverne & Shirley" alumnus Eddie Mekka jumped into roles created there by Harvey Fierstein and Dick Latessa.
The Las Vegas Hairspray company includes Kevin Spirtas as Corny, Susan Anton as Velma, Susan Mosher as Prudy Pingleton and the Gym Teacher, Katrina Rose Dideriksen as Tracy, Austin Miller as Link, Fran Jaye as Motormouth Maybelle, Kamilah Martin as Peaches.
The 2002 Broadway show won the 2003 Tony Award for Best Musical.
Hairspray, still going strong at Broadway's Neil Simon Theatre, also won Tonys in the categories of Best Book, Best Score and Best Director, and a Grammy for Best Musical Show Album.
The Broadway design team also reunites for the show: Kenneth Posner (lighting), Steve Kennedy (sound), Paul Huntley (wigs and hair), William Ivey Long (costumes), David Rockwell (scenic). Music supervisor is Lon Hoyt.
Hairspray is being produced in Las Vegas by Michael Gill & Myron Martin. The executive producers are Elayne Herrick, John Halle, Mike Tricarichi, Pat Caddick and Neil Miller. The associate producer is David Caldwell.
Tickets for regular performances are $85 for the main floor and $65 for the mezzanine, plus tax and handling fees.