Tegan Summer isn’t the first creative to come to Las Vegas with big plans of making an impact in the entertainment capital of the world. But his ambitious intentions are more strategic than most, and he’s already lined up some powerful collaborators.
The English writer, producer and CEO of Prospect House Entertainment relocated his company to Las Vegas from LA within the last year. The key project that enabled the move is Marilyn! The New Musical, announced this week for an opening at Paris Las Vegas on May 23. Plans call for a rotation of celebrity stars to play the part of Marilyn Monroe, with Ruby Lewis (who recently wrapped a run in Baz at Palazzo) taking the role as resident and leading a cast of 26 that includes Brittney Bertier (My Fair Lady), Travis Cloer (Jersey Boys) and Randal Keith (Showstoppers).
Thanks to a partnership with the owner of her estate, Summer has full access to Marilyn Monroe’s likeness and brand, which is essential to Summer’s goals for Las Vegas. “I want to bring back musicals, but it’s tough because Broadway doesn’t always sell here,” he says. “Today people come to Vegas for either an escape or specifically to see stars. I write feature films and musicals and put together live events with celebrities, so I want to hybridize what I do.”
That’s why, despite the immense talents of Lewis, Summer will hedge his bets on Marilyn! by bringing in celeb stars—he’s trying to combine Broadway-style musical productions with the rotating headliner model of a venue like the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. And Monroe isn’t the only legendary name he’s working with. Summer owns similar rights for James Dean and Bettie Page, and has already inked deals for those shows. “The burlesque musical is Bettie Page: Queen of Pinups, and it will have an attached burlesque nightclub called Bangs,” he says. “And the James Dean rock ’n’ roll musical is called Rebel with Jonah Platt … who was just in Jesus Christ Superstar on NBC this weekend.”
Summer has six shows planned for the next two years on the Strip, including another he’s working on now while getting Marilyn! up and running: An EDM-themed musical called One Night in Vegas with musical partner Steve Aoki. “It’s basically Rent, but with EDM. It’s like Mamma Mia!, but instead of ABBA it’s Steve.”
Summer acknowledges he’s aiming high and doing a lot, but it’s all part of the plan. “I’m coming out with a big Broadway musical in Las Vegas, and it needs to do well. I know it’s a big risk,” he says. “But I truly believe what we’re doing can make a significant imprint here.”