Strip's attractions suit tastes of the 'quick-fix' crowd

LAS VEGAS -- The scene on the Strip has mellowed since the era when the "Rat Pack" reigned over a rowdy crowd that reveled in an atmosphere of "booze and broads," according to a veteran people-watcher in this gaming capital.

The Generation X and dot-com crowd that makes the scene these days demands a quick fix of entertainment that fits its fast-paced lifestyle, according to Gina Cunningham, editor of the Las Vegas News Bureau.

"The young [people] today are not as wild and have a lot more expendable income. It all has to do with the length of their stay. They're in and they're out," Cunningham said.

"It's a dramatic change from the lifestyles of the past."

Not that anyone is complaining.

"It's good for us," said Cunningham, whose news bureau is affiliated with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

She noted that young men and women on the go as well as convention groups have promoted tourism to close to capacity levels year-round.

Popular concert performers appearing in limited engagements, Broadway-type shows, innovative acts and special effects have become the major attractions in entertainment showrooms.

In the casinos, dazzling computer graphics are used to attract gamblers to the machines, she said.

Instead of going to see their favorite crooner, the now-generation visitor might attend a performance of the "Blue Man Group: Live at the Luxor," which Cunningham reported is packing them into the 1,200- seat Luxor Theatre.

Founded by Matt Goldman, Phil Stanton and Chris Wink, the production involves a blue man who transforms a neon-like landscape into the site of an intense "techno-tribal" ritual.

Blue Man Group and its accompanying band play musical instruments created by the group, including backpack tubulums; a three-story drum well, and airpoles, which are amplified by advanced sound technology.

Cunningham said a perennial favorite with audiences is Ballys' "Jubilee," a special-effects dazzler with 100 dancers who stage "The Sinking of the Titanic" and "The Destruction of the Temple of Samson."

Comedian George Carlin is a regular headliner at Ballys' 1,035-seat Jubilee Theater.

One-to-three-night stands by superstars, such as Ricky Martin's planned July 22 appearance at Mandalay Bay, have proven successful, Cunningham said.

On tap are Gladys Knight at the Desert Inn, July 20; Julio Iglesias at Caesars, Aug. 17 to 20, and Britney Spears at MGM Grand, Sept. 4.

Nostalgia buffs can catch a one-night appearance by Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme at Caesars, Aug. 31.

Broadway-style entertainment also draws people who want to see firsthand what's hot on the East Coast.

For example, "Michael Flatley's Lord of the Dance," an Irish dance act that wowed audiences in New York, is booked for a long run at the New York New York Hotel & Casino.

Magic acts have made a big comeback, and nowhere are they more elaborate than in the show presented twice nightly by Sigfried & Roy at Mirage.

Designed by Tony winner John Napier, the act features royal white tigers and the lions of Timbavati on stage.

Tourists who don't often get to New York can have a taste of the Big Apple and dinner at the Great Radio City Spectacular at the Flamingo.

The world-famous precision dance act is packaged with just about the only dinner show available in Las Vegas.

The eclectic taste of the 20- to 30-something generation places Las Vegas in a desirable marketing position, Cunningham said.

Although the city along with the travel industry acknowledges the interest in family destinations that has emerged in the past decade, "this is still an adult town," Cunningham said.

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