From Broadway to Ballroom

Tapping into America’s fascination with dance

By: Ryan Slattery

Historically, Las Vegas has struggled to find success with Broadway spin-offs. Several productions in recent years have come and gone faster than the puppets can be unboxed and wigs powered.

But now, competing resorts are banking on two household names to fill the theater seats Mel Brooks and Monty Python. The first to hit the stage will be “The Producers”, which is scheduled to begin preview performances at Paris Las Vegas on Jan. 31 with an opening night gala scheduled for mid-February. And waiting in the wings: “Spamalot.” A production, at Wynn Las Vegas, that is expected to pull the curtain back for previews on March 8.

Mel Brooks is tightening the Tony-award winning musical to a tidy 90 minutes for Las Vegas audiences and calling on a couple veteran performers to get the production off to the right start. The cast includes Brad Oscar in the role of Max Bialystock and David Hasselhoff is going to play flamboyant director, Roger DeBris.

Oscar, of course, is no stranger to the role as the theater producer in the musical. He has played “Max” more times than anyone else in the history of “The Producers” with some 1,100 performances under his belt. In fact, Oscar, replaced Nathan Lane in New York City and London, and opened the show’s national tour in Boston. Hasselhoff, perhaps best known for “Knight Rider” and “Baywatch,” has theater experience as well, having performed on Broadway in “Jekyll and Hyde” and “Chicago, The Musical.”

Down the Strip, “Spamalot” will play in the newly remodeled Grail Theater. Starring “Dancing with the Stars” alum John O’Hurley, “Spamalot” tells the legendary tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table searching for the Holy Grail complete with chorus lines of dancing divas, killer rabbits and a legless knight.

“The Producers” and “Spamalot” are hoping to buck an unsettling trend that’s seen New York City hits fizzle in the desert heat. “Hairspray” closed a mere four months after it opened and Steve Wynn’s version of “Avenue Q” called it quits following a short run in the very same theater where “Spamalot” is headed. But it’s not all bad news. “Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular” has played well to crowds at The Venetian. Brooks, for one, is counting on similar success.

“It’s going to be a tough ticket to get,” he said in an interview to Caesars Player.

Meanwhile, the newly renovated Golden Nugget downtown Las Vegas is jumping on America’s fascination with ballroom dance and bringing the idea of television’s “Dancing with the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance” to the stage.

The Golden Nugget’s “Simply Ballroom” christened the casino’s new 600-seat showroom. Created by Jon Conway, a prominent London theatre producer, “Simply Ballroom” mixes a number of dance styles including tango, salsa and the waltz set not only to traditional music but also techno and some familiar tunes such as Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” and Santana’s hit “Smooth” featuring Rob Thomas.

“Simply Ballroom” features 10 world champion ballroom dancers and has played to audiences in South Africa, Dubai and Europe. It’s the first time the show has been produced in the U.S., and it is scheduled to run at the Golden Nugget through at least March.

“Audiences in London have been following this craze for several years,” said Conway. “After experiencing ‘Simply Ballroom’, the Golden Nugget audiences will want to learn how to do the dances themselves.” v


Tickets for “The Producers” can be purchased by calling Paris Las Vegas at 877-374-7469 or visiting Preview performances begin Jan 31. Plays nightly at 8 p.m. with a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m. Dark Wednesday.
Preview performances for “Spamalot” begin March 8. Tickets range from $49-$99 and are available by calling 702-770-9966 or 888-320-7110 or by visiting

Showtimes for “Simply Ballroom” are Monday, WednesdayFriday at 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tickets start at $24.95 for matinees and $29.95 for evening shows, and are available by calling the Golden Nugget at 702- 386-8100.

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