Producers take ‘Avenue Q’ to Vegas


The producers of “Avenue Q,” the puppet-based musical that won a surprise Tony Award this month, will not bring their show to Los Angeles. Nor will it arrive in San Francisco, Chicago or Philadelphia.

The show’s producers have decided that “Avenue Q” will skip the usual national tour and play only an open-ended run at Wynn Las Vegas, an upcoming $2.5-billion, 235-acre casino by Vegas mogul Steve Wynn. The run begins Labor Day 2005.

Kevin McCollum, one of the show’s producers, said his motivation was “creative and financial, in that order.” The traditional national tour of big halls doesn’t make sense for this show, he said.


“We told Steve, ‘You have to build an intimate theater for us,” said McCollum, who aims to “protect the intimacy” of the show.

“You can’t put this in a Vegas-style theater. On the road you have halls of 2,500 to 4,000 seats.” Wynn’s new hall will seat approximately 1,200.

“Avenue Q” also needs time to build an audience in each city, he said, making the traditional Thursday-to-Tuesday run a poor fit. “Our show is a slow burn -- the kind of show that sneaks up on you,” he said, adding that it’s hard to describe succinctly. “I heard it’s a dirty puppet show; is it ‘Sesame Street’ for adults?”

Martin Wiviott, managing director of Broadway LA, an organization that hosts national tours, said a “tongue-in-cheek, risque show” would make sense in Vegas.

“We would have liked to have had it,” he said of his role as a presenter for Nederlander Theaters. “Whenever you have a [Tony] upset like that, people are curious to see it.”

But the show might not have hit in some cities. “It’s an adult show. Will that play in Des Moines? I don’t know. Would it have toured for two years, 100 markets? I know it would have been a hit here.”


Says McCollum: “The good news is that Angelenos love Vegas. It just gives them another good reason to check out Steve’s new property.”


Scott Timberg