Mike Tyson is ready for his close-up as a stage performer, starring in a one-man show about himself set to premiere with a six-night shakedown run next month at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth — Live on Stage will run April 13-18 in the 740-seat Hollywood Theatre, offering the man himself telling what it’s like to have been feared, reviled and pitied in a career that may be boxing’s answer to Sophocles’ “Oedipus” cycle.
The director and co-writer (with Tyson’s wife, Kiki), is L.A.-based playwright Randy Johnson, creator of “Elvis the Concert” and “One Night With Janis Joplin.”
Tyson has already won acclaim for telling his own story on screen in “Tyson,” the 2009 documentary by James Toback (pictured with Tyson).
According to The Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan, virtually the only voice heard was that of the fallen champ, “holding you spellbound with his thoughts on his past. The result is as gripping as a title fight and as mesmerizing as a conversation with a cobra. You may not be happy with everything said, but you will not be bored.”
Johnson said Friday that he avoided seeing “Tyson,” opting instead to spend many hours talking with his subject, then crafting a script and a sequence that he said will allow for a written question or two from the audience.
Video and live music will augment the evening. “It’s a theater piece, not a lecture, but a real one-man show,” Johnson said, along the lines of stage monologue evenings such as Carrie Fisher’s “Wishful Drinking” and William Shatner’s “Shatner’s World: We All Just Live In It.”
After the Las Vegas run, Johnson said, “we’ll review what happened, look at the next steps, and move forward. The hopes for this are to tour the world — the fan base is staggering.”
Don’t look for any onstage shadowboxing, the director said. “Mimicking boxing would be very cheesy. We’re keeping this authentic.”
Tyson has adhered to strict Vegan diet for the last three years and has said it was one of the best decisions of his life:
“[I feel] incredible. I wish I was born [Vegan]. When you find out about the processed stuff you have been eating. I wonder why I was crazy all those years.”
The MGM Grand, by the way, is the scene of one of Tyson’s most infamous moments — it was at the resort’s arena that he bit off that chunk of Holyfield’s ear.
If Tyson wants stage-acting tips, we suspect they probably won’t be coming from his ex, Robin Givens, who recently starred at the Pasadena Playhouse in “Blues for an Alabama Sky,” giving a well-received performance as a down-and-out singer in Depression-era Harlem.