Show me the money: Vegas entertainment gives ticket to commission

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LAS VEGAS -- Travel agents can score their clients prime seats to most of the hottest shows in Las Vegas and earn 9% commission to boot from entertainment ticket consolidator Keith Prowse International.

"The hottest shows," according to Kevin Streit, managing director of the company's Las Vegas office, "would be 'O' [a Cirque du Soleil production] at Bellagio; 'EFX' [starring '80s pop star Rick Springfield] at MGM; 'Blue Man Group' at Luxor; Siegfried & Roy at the Mirage, as well as Michael Flatley's 'Lord of the Dance' at New York-New York.

"We're usually guaranteed the first 10 rows," he added.

Especially popular shows like "Blue Man Group" often sell out a week before the show date, Streit cautioned, but agents will be advised if they're not going to get good seats for the show and date requested.

A scene from Cirque du Soleil's Keith Prowse consolidates tickets to most shows, but some must be booked directly, including Siegfried & Roy and the Cirque du Soleil productions "O" and "Mystere," which plays at Treasure Island.

"Tony and Tina's Wedding" was scheduled to open at the Rio Suites Casino on Feb. 1. Tickets for the show are $103 for VIP seats and $89 for standard adult seats.

A huge off-Broadway hit, the Italian-American wedding comedy involves audience members as guests of the wedding reception.

"I expect that show to be very popular," Streit said.

While "Blue Man Group" and "Tony and Tina's Wedding" were established hits in New York before heading west, tourists still will find shows that are unabashedly, quintessentially Vegas.

"Shows like 'Jubilee' at Bally's provide the extravaganza -- girls, costumes -- that old Las Vegas was noted for," according to Frank Curhan, leisure travel specialist with Preferred Travel Services in Las Vegas and past president of the South Nevada ASTA chapter. Tickets for 'Jubilee' cost $69.

In fact, a number of shows have been playing for years and are still doing well.

They include "Splash" at the Riviera Hotel, "basically one of the only shows on the Strip that features ice skating and skating stars, sexy showgirls and motorcycle stuntmen," said Streit.

Tickets for "Splash" are priced at $57.

"Folies Bergere" has been playing at the Tropicana since 1959, making it the longest-running show in Las Vegas history. Tickets start at $61.

"Terrific showgirls," Streit said of the production, "one of the Old Vegas shows that is still playing and still very, very popular."

"Folies Bergere" is a topless show, he noted, so it's not for children. Guests need to be age 21 or older.

"Legends in Concert" at the Imperial Palace, with performers impersonating the likes of Elvis and Madonna, also draws a consistent crowd, Streit said.

Regular tickets are priced at $33 and $20 for children ages 12 and under.

Perhaps the ultimate Las Vegas nostalgia trip is "The Rat Pack Is Back" show at the Sahara Hotel, which re-creates the Rat Pack's celebration of Frank Sinatra's 46th birthday on Dec. 12, 1961. Tickets for "The Rat Pack Is Back" are priced at $52.68.

The Rat Pack consisted of Sinatra (played by Steve

Lippia), singer/dancer Sammy Davis Jr. (Doug Starks), singer Dean Martin (Rick Michel),

comedian Joey Bishop (Mark Cohen) and actor Peter Lawford, who is not portrayed in the show.

"[The production] is like you're back in the Old Vegas," Streit said. "For people who want to see Las Vegas the way it used to be, I'd really recommend that show.

"It's almost like an ad-lib. They'll just do their own thing on stage."

Appropriately, the Sahara Hotel, where the show plays, opened in 1952, and the Congo Room, where the show is staged, saw the Las Vegas debuts of Tony Bennett and Marlene Dietrich in the 1950s.

A spokesman for the hotel said the property is negotiating with the producers of "The Rat Pack Is Back" to extend the show's contract indefinitely. The contract is set to expire March 31.

So, what's not to like about Las Vegas entertainment these days?

High ticket prices for the really popular shows, Curhan said.

For "O," tickets are running at a pricey $121, including tax. They started at around $100 when the show opened in April 1998.

Cirque du Soleil's "Mystere," which debuted back in 1993, is a little more affordable at $88.

"Blue Man Group," tickets at the Luxor run $102. Conversely, in New York's Astor Place Theatre, where the show originated, tickets are $55 and $65.

As for the other hot shows Streit cited, tickets are $102 for "EFX," $71 for "Lord of the Dance" and $100.50, including two cocktails and gratuity, for Siegfried & Roy.

Another complaint Curhan has heard is that some

shows "go on in the same format for years," without refreshing their productions, "limiting opportunities for repeat tourists."

Other shows have solid, fresh productions but don't fit in well with the destination.

"Notre Dame de Paris," which had a short run at the Paris hotel, played well in the real Paris and London, but its tone was too serious for the Las Vegas tourist market, Curhan said.

For additional information, contact Keith Prowse International at (800) 370-7553 or visit the company's Web site at www.keithprowse.com.

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