Las Vegas strips Spamalot to close in July after 15-month run - Wednesday 30th of April 2008

The short list of Broadway hits on the Las Vegas Strip is about to get shorter.

After a 15-month run, "Monty Pythons Spamalot" at the Wynn Las Vegas resorts Grail Theater will close in July, the casino announced Thursday.

Longtime Las Vegas staple Danny Gans, an impressionist and comedian, will replace the Tony-winning musical.

"Spamalot" opened in late March 2007 as casino mogul Steve Wynns second attempt to infuse the citys Cirque du Soleil-dominated entertainment scene with a touch of musical theater.

Wynn said Thursday that "Spamalot" filled an average 80 per cent of the 1,500-seat theatre for seven shows a week. "Its pretty good. Its good enough to keep it going," he said.

The move had more to do with branding the shows theatre as part of Encore, a $2.1 billion adjoining casino-hotel now under construction, he said.

"You have to have an entertainment centerpiece like Bellagio had O, like Mirage had Siegfried and Roy," Wynn said. "You have to establish the brand and make a clear statement that this is its own place."

Wynn previously owned both the Mirage and the Bellagio casinos and is credited with bringing Cirque du Soleil to Las Vegas. The popular French-Canadian troupe plans to open its sixth permanent production on the Las Vegas Strip in September.

Broadway musicals have a much shakier record with Las Vegas audiences.

"Avenue Q" closed after nine months at Wynn Las Vegas; and "Hairspray" folded at the Luxor last June after fewer than four months. "The Producers" lasted a year before closing at the Paris Las Vegas.

"Mamma Mia!" is scheduled to close at Mandalay Bay by late summer after 2,300 performances in Las Vegas, making it the longest-running, full-length Broadway musical on the Strip.

The shows battle a language barrier with many international visitors and gamblers short attention spans in a city with many diversions.

Wynn was once among the most vocal advocates for bringing musicals to the Strip. Although hes turning to a tested headliner, he said he hasnt given up. He also is working on a musical production that would open in Las Vegas, he said.

"The things that have worked the best in this city are things that cant be seen anywhere else," he said. "My dream is to one day have musical theatre that has the capacity to be spectacular, that has great music, but can only be seen here. It doesnt go on tour, it doesnt open in New York."

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