The Las Vegas entertainment landscape is powered by a broad collection of unique artists and creatives. But even among so much specialized talent, there are a few true outliers. David Saxe is one of them.
“I wear several hats,” he says, wildly understating his reality.
First and foremost, Saxe considers himself a Vegas show producer, having cut his teeth helping out with his sister’s landmark Melinda: The First Lady of Magic during the late 1980s and later breaking through with his own V – The Ultimate Variety Show at Venetian. A native who grew up with a showgirl mom and a bandleader dad constantly working on the Strip, Saxe has a singular perspective on the industry and a rebellious, DIY approach toward creating Vegas entertainment.
He’s a guy who just wants to put on a show, but that seemingly simple pursuit has evolved into a one-stop-shop company that creates original productions and owns and operates two of the busiest venues on the Strip. Before the pandemic put a halt to everything, the V Theater and Saxe Theater at the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood were hosting multiple daily performances by more than a dozen different shows in every genre imaginable, from V and the big-band nostalgic spectacular Vegas! The Show to the quirky Zombie Burlesque and family-friendly Popovich Comedy Pet Theater. There were musical tributes like Hitzville and All Shook Up; magic and mentalism from Nathan Burton, Marc Savard and Gerry McCambridge; and a new concert residency from ’80s pop group The Jets.
Saxe never envisioned this kind of entertainment empire, and he certainly didn’t plan to become a theater operator collaborating with so many other producers. He just kept making moves and rolling with the punches in that same simple pursuit.
“I am a creative guy, and it’s always been, well, now I have to run a business, and now I have to learn all about sales, and then I have to buy a theater,” he says. “And now, of course, I have to become a COVID expert, and there are guidelines and restrictions, but it’s really put in your lap as a business owner to figure out all aspects and everything. And yeah, I just want to put on a show.”
It’s something he hasn’t been able to do for a year now. “In this timespan, one of the showgirls from Vegas! The Show met a guy, got married, had a baby and moved away,” Saxe marvels. “People’s lives have changed significantly.”
When state officials updated restrictions last week and reduced the required distance between showroom stages and the audience from 25 feet to 12—or just 6 if performers are masked—it removed one of the greatest obstacles preventing shows like Saxe’s from reopening. “Although we’re elated to see this step in the right direction, a 12-foot moat plus the natural setback of at least 2 to 6 feet still seems to be overkill,” he says. “Entertainment has continually received the most unfair restrictions. That said, the show must go on, even if we can only perform for 20% of our normal occupancy.”
Saxe says he’s planning to open three shows on March 26 and three more on April 2 in two separate spaces at the V Theater.
Saxe has stayed busy during the downtime and has essentially been rebuilding his company for a fresh start, streamlining everything, changing policies and personnel, and updating the theaters and box office operations. He has been renovating Saxe Theater in preparation for a summer comeback, while also writing and developing new shows.
“It has been exciting to fix all the problems we’ve had in the past, because you never get a year off to fix those issues,” Saxe says. “But it does feel like starting a whole new company. You can’t just shut down shows overnight and then come right back and start again. It’s all-new everything.”