Steve Wynn has had his fill of Cirque du Soleil and thinks Las Vegas visitors have, too.
That’s why, he said, his new show dubbed “ShowStoppers,” will be different.
“We can’t just surrender to Cirque du Soleil,” said the casino-hotel developer and billionaire.
“How many shows can you stand of that stuff. Jumping, popping, swinging. I mean, enough already,” Wynn said, not entirely seriously.
After all, he brought the swinging and the popping to Vegas in the early 1990s by building the first permanent theatrical home for one of Cirque’s shows at the Treasure Island resort. He benefited along with several other casino-hotels that host Cirque shows on the Strip at any given time. Plus, Cirque’s founder is a personal friend, he said.
But the man who invited Siegfried & Roy on a Las Vegas stage and introduced the Strip to Cirque’s acrobatics is set on presenting the one thing he says the entertainment capital has lacked: Broadway, in a way that can’t be seen anywhere else.
“Give ’em the old razzle dazzle …” Wynn sang softly in a deep, gravely baritone in his office at the Wynn during a recent interview with The Associated Press.
His “ShowStoppers” will take 20 of Broadway’s most memorable songs, a list likely to rotate as producers see fit, and present them in a way that explains what sets them apart, including the number from “Chicago” he hummed.
Wynn stressed the simplicity of a single powerful voice_no gimmicks, no technological support, no place to hide— when he talks about the allure of the show he has personally produced and helped write.
Tickets will cost $90 each and go on sale Thursday. Shows in the 1,480-seat Encore theater begin Dec. 16.
Wynn says the show — its 34 dancers and singers and 30-piece orchestra plus costumes and sets — will cost him $10 million, a bargain compared to the $100 million to $200 million it can cost to retrofit a theater for an elaborate Cirque du Soleil production, he said.
The 72-year-old casino-hotel developer said it’s not a show for the 20-year-olds but rather a 40-plus crowd.
A show that could have been for the younger-set, “Spider-man Turn off the Dark,” was long-rumored to be the next show to grace the Encore stage after country music star Garth Brooks’ residency ended a year ago. The rumors were only fueled by the involvement of that production’s director, Phil McKinley, in VIP-attended birthday show Wynn hosted for his wife Andrea that eventually inspired “ShowStoppers.”
Wynn said Spider-man was never in the cards.
“I’m not looking for the next Broadway show I can put here while it tours America,” he said. “We’ve got to do our own thing here.”
He wasn’t looking for a celebrity concert, either. “If you hire stars, they get all the money,” Wynn said.
His love of Broadway runs deep. He attended the University of Pennsylvania from 1959 to 1963, a couple hours commute to New York’s theater district, “right smack in the middle of the golden age of Broadway,” he said.
Wynn has tried to bring Broadway to the Strip before. He lured “Avenue Q” to the Wynn resort after its Tony Award-winning run, keeping the production from touring the country, and later staged “Monty Python’s Spamalot.” Neither were money-makers. He even enlisted Broadway composer and lyricist Jerry Herman to write an original Broadway-style production called “Miss Spectacular” that was shelved when Wynn’s company was bought out in 2000.
What makes him think it’ll work this time?
“It’s just too good,” Wynn said. “Look I’ve been doing this for 40-odd years, I’ve got an instinct about things like this.”