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Gaming Guru

Jeff Simpson
 

Jeff Simpson on Wynn's New Dream for the Show 'Le Reve'

19 June 2006

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Steve Wynn had a few reasons for buying out his partner's interest in the Wynn Las Vegas production show "Le Reve."

Wynn explained to me last week his reasons for buying "Le Reve" creator Franco Dragone's interest in the show named for his (and wife Elaine's) Picasso painting of the same name, the moniker Wynn had originally slated for Wynn Las Vegas.

The reasons were financial and creative, he said.

"We wanted 100 percent of the show revenue," Wynn said first.

The bigger reasons came next.

Dragone had other time obligations that wouldn't allow him to make the changes Wynn said he wants to make to the show.

"He'd need to be here all of the time, but he had other commitments," Wynn said.

Artistically, Wynn wants to zig while the rest of the shows on the Strip are zagging.

Expect Wynn and his artistic team to remove some of the gymnastic elements of "Le Reve" in favor of dramatic and provocative dance.

"I'm looking for a deeper and more penetrating feel of choreographic sensuality than the more muscular type of performances that have become popular on the Strip," Wynn explained.

The "Le Reve" changes are not an admission that the show has failed, he said. Rather, he hopes to make it stand out from the pack of entertainment offerings on the Strip and take the show to the kind of buzz-generating success he enjoyed with Frank Sinatra and Kenny Rogers at the Golden Nugget, Siegfried & Roy at the Mirage and the Cirque du Soleil shows "Mystere" and "O" at Treasure Island and Bellagio, respectively.

Wynn bristled at the notion that the short run of Broadway smash "Avenue Q" and the "Le Reve" retooling suggest that he may have lost his touch when it comes to picking entertainment winners.

"I'm the same guy that worked on those problems in the past. Each time we've faced those issues, it's been a different kind of challenge. It's worked out all right, hasn't it?" he retorted. "I remember I was insecure about my judgment on 'Mystere,' yet it's been proven sound."

Wynn admitted to being less than certain about the future of musical theater on the Strip.

"Avenue Q" made a little money but drew fewer customers than Wynn had counted on before he closed the show last month.

Wynn is converting Q's 1,200-seat space into the bigger 1,499-seat Grail Theater in the hope that "Monty Python's Spamalot" will prove a stronger draw when it opens in February.

"We've got more questions than answers - as usual - about entertainment in Las Vegas, and that's always been the case," said Wynn. "Entertainment's always been the toughest thing, matching the sense of spectacle with more penetrating, richer experiences. The balance is tricky."

Wynn said there is a simple reason that he and other Las Vegas resort operators shorten the length of musicals that run two hours or longer elsewhere.

"We're talking about 90-minute shows here," he said. "There's so much to do in Las Vegas. In New York or Los Angeles, the theater is the big event. They go to the show and they have dinner. Here people have evenings that are so layered. Shows. Dinner. Nightclubs. 90 minutes is about right. People like to get going."