Want your show in Vegas? Follow these three rules.

I was an absolute cliche last week, and celebrated my bachelor party in Sin City itself, Las Vegas, Nevada.

And before you ask, this was not a Hangover-like experience at all.  Some golf, some steak, and some great friends and that’s about it (I did think about how cool it would be to write a blog titled, “What Broadway can learn from a strip club,” but this wasn’t that type of party.  What’s funny is that, I think the modern day bachelorette party is a heck of a lot wilder than the male version).

Las Vegas is filled with all kinds of live entertainment, and every time I’m there I feel like a safe-cracker, as I try to dial in and crack the code of what it takes to be successful in this market.

One of the greatest challenges of the Vegas market is that the powers-that-write-the-checks seem to change their mind on what they want every other day.  Family entertainment is in, then it’s out, then adult entertainment is in, then it’s in some more, then Broadway is BIG, then Broadway is out, then it’s about celebrity headliners, and then dance troupes, and so on.  I’m so confused!  I’ve written about Vegas before, but it’s an ongoing education.

As I drove past hotel after hotel on this trip, I did notice a few similarities between the Broadway shows that are currently on the boards.  The trends are pretty simple, but pretty eye-opening, especially since I speak to so many people who say, “And I think my show is perfect for Vegas.”

See, in order to know if your show is right for any market, from Vegas to Broadway, you have to see what is working in the market first.  And if your show doesn’t possess the same characteristics, then getting your project up on its feet in that market, may prove more difficult than you think.  Not impossible, mind you, just more difficult.

So I looked at the four (!) Broadway shows currently running in Vegas (Mamma Mia!Rock of AgesJersey Boys, Million Dollar Quartet) and came up with three rules for getting a show on in Vegas.  If you think your show is right for V-Town, take a look at the three rules below and see how your show stacks up:


All four of the above musicals are jukebox or “Bio Musicals,” which means the casinos are counting on the pre-existing catalog to attract audiences.  And remember, Vegas is an international destination which means a lot of folks don’t speak English.  But everyone speaks pop music.


All of the above shows have had Broadway runs for a minimum of a year, and three out of the four for much longer than that.  On top of their long running NY status, all four of those shows have had multiple productions around the country and around the world.  And if that isn’t enough, get this!  Three out of four of these shows have had movie adaptations.  In other words . . . brand, brand, brand.  These shows have not only run long enough in NYC to establish a strong brand, but their titles have been exposed globally, making it much more likely that a Vegas audience will be familiar with them when they come to town.  If you’re brandless, you got troubles, right here in Sin City.


Here’s a comforting fact – none of these shows feature celebrities.  The show is the star, and there’s no need to add any third rate sitcom star to the pile.  If the brand is strong, and the show is good, then Vegas seems to be satisfied with that.  This is a similar philosophy that works on Broadway for the super long running shows as I wrote about here long, long ago.


None of the above is a box-office curing miracle revelation, but it is important to know what you’re getting into, before you try to get into it.  I know that I looked at this list and said, “Huh, so I shouldn’t focus any of my energy on Vegas at all.  I should focus it on NY.  And when NY happens, Vegas will follow.”

Of course, that’s until Vegas changes its mind again, which will probably happen in 3, 2, 1 . . .


(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)
– – – – –


– Need to raise money for your show?  Get Raise It!  My just released and guaranteed how-to guide.  Click here.

– Want $500? Only 4 days left to enter our 10 Minute Play Contest!

– Only 2 days left to vote in the 2014 Broadway Marketing Awards!  Vote today!

-Win 2 tickets to Once on Broadway! Click here.

  • Chris Marks says:

    My experience has been that Vegas audiences aren’t really Broadway theater audiences. This might be why juke box musicals seem popular (they don’t seem “artsy”.) If you want to produce for Vegas you have to be willing to truncate your show because the casinos frown on just about anything running longer than 90 minutes (yet another reason why juke box musicals – heavy on music, light on story- are popular). Steve Wynn gambled on “Avenue Q” and lost (big time) although it seemed like something that should have worked. “Spamalot” also seemed a sure fire winner for Vegas but had minimal success. “Phantom of the Opera” had limited success but, even with editing, was too long and too close to opera for the casino crowd. The team for “Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark” is supposedly considering Vegas, but if I were looking to invest that certainly wouldn’t be on my agenda.

  • Tom Stevens says:

    Hi Ken, I have been in Vegas for 12 years and I have seen so many shows open and close. Some closed before they opened. I think k my partner and I have all the ingredients of what could be a wonderfully received show by all. Have a look at our website and also go to our Facebook page from there. Martin and Lewis were the biggest musical comedy duo in the world. This show needs to be in Vegas.

  • Ed Katz says:

    Hi Ken,
    Insightful as usual- and dead on.
    Congratulations on your upcoming wedding!
    Very happy for you and your fiance!
    Happy 4th and all best wishes,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *