Monday, March 9, 2009

Exclusive: "A Bronx Tale" May Come To Vegas

In what would be a completely unprecedented -- and likely very risky -- move, the producers of the Broadway one-man play "A Bronx Tale" say they're in talks with a Strip hotel-casino for a run of the show starting this fall.

If it comes to pass, this would be the first time that I can think of that a non-musical production from the Great White Way (or anywhere else for that matter) migrated to Las Vegas.

We are currently working out a deal with a major Strip property to come in for a limited run as the idea would be to return a number of times during the year for special engagements," wrote producer Trent Othick in an email to me. "We also are closing a deal with another major casino corporation to play in Atlantic City during the summer."

The Vegas-based Othick, whose Playbill bio is online, did not disclose which properties in either city because the deals aren't done yet but he did say they
're looking at a showroom of fewer than 1,000 seats. I've got a hunch, then, that they're looking at the Las Vegas Hilton. Just a gut instinct based on the fact that the Hilton has been a friendly environs to such unlikely imports as "Menopause: The Musical" and they're always looking for something to fill in the gaps when Manilow's off.

"A Bronx Tale," a stage version of the 1993 film starring and directed by Robert DeNiro, has been on a national tour since it ended a four-month run at the Walter Kerr Theater in New York where it got largely rave reviews. The piece was originally a play written and performed in 1989 by Academy Award nominee Chazz Palminteri, who is again enacting his show. It revolves around a tug-of-war for a New York boy's soul between his honest parents and the Mafia in the 1960s. Palminteri was nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar for Woody Allen's "Bullets Over Broadway" and also appeared in "The Usual Suspects" and "Mulholland Falls." Also, he looks a lot like Richard Nixon.

As grim as that storyline sounds and as serious a drama as the film (which grossed only $17.3 million) was, Othick insisted that the
stage production "moves fast, has a star, has a star title with a history and is very funny."

On its face, I find it hard to imagine this sort of business having much of a life in Vegas, where show-goers aren't known for taking an interest in intimate -- or even comedic -- theater. Othick insists that the show, which is able to sell out 1,000 seats a night in Tucson, can do at least as well in Vegas because of the gambling and mob themes. Plus, they're only going to commit to a limited run here, so "we are not going to bite off more than we can chew."

"You have to see the show first to see what I am talking about, which is what happened with the casino companies we are talking to," Othick wrote. "They said the same thing about Vegas and then saw the show and said 'This is different.' "

It will be interesting to see.


Anonymous said...

Second City....