Phantom: surviving and thriving on the Strip

The cast of Phantom — Las Vegas Spectacular at The Venetian.

Panic was in the air when Phantom—The Las Vegas Spectacular first raised its curtain at the Venetian in June 2006. Producers were understandably nervous about what had once seemed a sure thing: one of the most successful musicals in history permanently showing at the most popular tourist spot on Earth.

The Details

From the Calendar
Phantom—The Las Vegas Spectacular
Monday-Saturday, 7 p.m.; Monday and Saturday, 9:30 p.m. (times differ during holidays)
Venetian, 492-3960.
From the Archives
Phantom celebrates 2-year anniversary milestone (6/24/08)
Fantoms of the opera (6/29/06)
Prelude to a Phantom (12/23/04)
Beyond the Weekly
Phantom Las Vegas

Not only had there been a string of flops of Broadway-style productions—Avenue Q, Hairspray, We Will Rock You and, later, Spamalot—along the Strip, but Phantom also had to contend with the blockbuster Love, capturing the attention of audiences and media right across the street at the Mirage.

And then people stopped calling the Strip Broadway West. Instead, emphasis was placed on how different and unique “Phantom on the Strip” would be compared to Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. The Vegas version would be shorter and more special-effects-driven and run without intermission. (Of course, all of that irked creator Andrew Lloyd Webber, who had thought everything would switch back after a few months of success.)

Ultimately, what happened here spread. Vegas techs visited touring Phantoms all over to train counterparts on the Vegas Spectacular’s staging, lighting and musical-delivery tricks.

Of course, the most impressive element of Phantom—The Las Vegas Spectacular cannot travel: the reported $75 million theater with its incredible stage, impressive chandelier and indoor fireworks. In short, Webber’s musical, spectacular or not, has truly been turned into a Vegas spectacle.


Richard Abowitz

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