The era in which gangsters helped put the “sin” in “Sin City” has made it to the Las Vegas stage. And a real mobster is the show’s host.
Michael Franzese — a Newport Beach resident who admitted to spending years in the underworld before going to prison — brings moments of raw reality to “A Mob Story.” The colorful production opened last month at downtown’s Plaza hotel-casino.
“We start it off in Havana, where all the [mob] guys had gotten together,” Franzese said of the 90-minute show’s opening scene. “We’re talking about [Lucky] Luciano, Meyer Lansky and, obviously, Bugsy Siegel. … [Siegel] bought the Flamingo hotel and Lansky and Luciano were involved in that and we trace that history.”
A cast of 25 actors, singers and dancers share the mob’s history in Vegas, right up to when hoteliers and federal lawmen successfully drove out the crooks.
Franzese makes three appearances, during which he shares stories about his nefarious past. He tells guests how he was prosecuted five times, including by Rudolph Guiliani, before coming clean.
“I finally took a plea in 1985 to racketeering,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “I got a 10-year prison sentence. I had a $15-million fine and restitution. I ended up doing eight years in prison.”
Following his release, Franzese renounced the mob and began a Christian ministry. His busy schedule as a public speaker means there will be nights when he won’t appear in Vegas.
“I have an agreement with the hotel that I’ll be here as often as I can throughout the next six months, but I’m not locked in to every night,” he said.
Oscar Goodman, the mob attorney who later became mayor of Las Vegas and a local legend, is the show’s executive producer. As the show’s ambassador, Goodman makes occasional appearances.
“A Mob Story” plays Wednesday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the Plaza’s intimate showroom. Tickets are $59.95 for general admission and $79.95 and up for VIP seating.