Entertainment Snapshot – Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular
For several years now, Vegas has been playing host to Broadway shows. The city that used to be monopolized by Elvis reviews, show girls and Cirque de Soleil has gotten more tony, literally. The Venetian / Palazzo is currently home to two Tony Award Winning musicals: Jersey Boys and Phantom – The Las Vegas Spectacular. The latter being a pared down version of the Broadway blockbuster.
DON’T GET SHORT WITH US: Apparently Vegas crowds can’t handle anything that lasts longer than 90-minutes (unless it’s a winning streak!). In order to keep audiences from getting antsy, the show’s original creators – Andrew Lloyd Webber and Hal Prince – were asked to give the production a haircut. They kept every song in, but axed “transitional scenes and dance moments.” Unfortunately, what is left is a characterless string of musical numbers, and a slightly confusing one at that. Without character development, it is very difficult to make an emotional connection – something that made the original production an international triumph.
PUTTING ON THE RITZ: With a theater this opulent, you might not even notice that the show lacks character development. The $40 million custom theater was designed by David Rockwell who created the Kodak Theater in LA. While the theater is meant to replicate the Paris Opera House, I doubt the Opera House is as comfortable or well laid out. Like so many Vegas theaters, there is not a bad seat in the house.
DID I SAY NO BAD SEATS?: When we sat down in our front row mezzanine seats, we were horrified that we could not see the stage! There were pieces of a gigantic chandelier floating in the center of the theater. Is this what they meant when they promised a “breathtaking chandelier experience?” You can imagine the gasps of relief and awe when – a few minutes into the show – the chandelier pieces appeared to float together and raise to the ceiling. A very neat special effect.
SING FOR ME!: The voices in this show are truly amazing and partially compensate for an otherwise underwhelming experience. To us, the show seems like a series of vocal impossibilities, but the actors pull it off. How anyone can sing these numbers night after night is beyond us!
SPECTACULAR! SPECTACULAR!: In addition to the remarkable vocals, there are some amazing sets and show-stopping production numbers. Vegas knows how to kick things up a notch when it comes to productions. The show is a worth seeing just to have a look at the stage wizardry. For instance, when the show takes you to the Phantom’s “lair,” the stage transforms into a candle lit (and oddly romantic) version of the Paris sewers.