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Phantom Opening Night Gala in Vegas

O.K., PHANTOM 'Phans'... I have found your nirvana...and you can find it at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, where I attended the lavish opening of PHANTOM: The Las Vegas Spectacular last night (Saturday, June 24th at 7pm).

From the moment you check in, you can hear the score of the longest running musical being piped through the hotel lobby. Then you are handed your room key which has PHANTOM splashed all over it. Enter the casino where the music continues to play and, on your way to the elevator, as you flash your PHANTOM key to security, you pass by the PHANTOM Gift Shop (to end all gift shops) where you can find something for everyone who loves The Phantom of the Opera.

The hotel itself is beautiful, with everything you could possibly need or want, including multiple pools, a Canyon Ranch Spa, a salon, restaurants galore, nightclubs, stores and multiple theatres. If you like to gamble, you can even find blackjack tables newly felted with the famous Phantom mask logo and, of course, gambling chips to match. 

You will no doubt find yourself humming every song from The Phantom of the Opera involuntarily, as was everyone, and it would be humorous, were it not that you realize just how well-known this score is across the globe.

No expense has been spared on this production, which has been efficiently pared down to 95 minutes by its creators and masterful director, the legendary Harold Prince.

Entering the theatre at the Venetian for the gala opening night was an event in itself. Red capret, paparazzi and in attendance were many New Yorkers who made the trek, including the show's producers, representatives from the Shubert Organization and the Wasser Office (Alan Wasser, Robert Nolan, Steve Schnepp) and others. The Venetian production of the Cameron Mackintosh / The Really Useful Theatre Company Musical is also being presented by The Really Useful Theatre Company, Live Nation and Base Entertainment (Brian Becker and Scott Zeiger). Notable people in the audience included Carol Burnett, who collaborated with Mr. Prince on Hollywood Arms, Linda Lavin, who worked with Mr. Prince on It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman. Robert Goulet and his wife Vera, the show's choreographer Gillian Lynne, Lord Lloyd Webber, Peter Brown, Charles Hart, David Caddick, three time Tony-winner Hinton Battle, Las Vegas Hairspray's Corny Collins Kevin Spirtas, William Morris' Clint Mitchell, Marty Bell, Marty Erlichman, Richard Jay-Alexander, Las Vegas General Manager Michael Gill, Siegfried Fischbacher, Jerry Mitchell, David Zippel, Roy Horn, Sheldon G. Adelson and Miriam Adelson, Clint Holmes, David Ian, Randall Mays, Bernie Yuman, Rita Rudner and Bill Weidner, among others. 

One of the most fascinating aspects of the evening was that, as the show is double cast (they do 10 performances a week) I kept wanting to know who would open. I couldn't find out and I thought that people were being coy, when in reality, how the decision was made actually appeared on the front page of our opening night's program. It read as follows:


Dear Patrons:

Because of the demands of the score, The Phantom of the Opera offers two Phantoms, two Christines and two Carlottas.

We did not want to choose between our equally talented leading players, so being in Las Vegas, we flipped a coin. And tonight you will be seeing Anthony Crivello as The Phantom, Elizabeth Loyacano as Christine and Elana Jeanne Batman as Carlotta. However - during the bows we want you to meet Brent Barrett (The Phantom), Sierra Boggess (Christine) and Geena Jeffries Mattox (Carlotta).

Enjoy the performance!
The Managers of the Opera Populaire

Top Photo: Anthony Crivello and Elizabeth Loyacano
Bottom Photo: Anthony Crivello and Sierra Boggess

The theatre, from the moment that you walk in, is astonishing! It has been named "The Phantom Theatre" and is said to have cost in the vicinity of $40 million dollars to custom build and house the famous production. I don't want to give away the production's differences or surprises but can promise you multiple "jaw-dropping" moments. There's no need to go into describing PHANTOM or critiquing it, as it would be difficult to believe there's anyone out there that doesn't have some knowledge of the show based on the Gaston Leroux novel - and we'll happily leave that task to those who do this kind of work for a living.

After last night and for every future performance of PHANTOM in Las Vegas, there will be 1,815 people seeing the show in an unbelievable setting, which recreates the 19th century Opera Garnier in Paris.




A standing ovation greeted the end of the performance and the curtain call brought on the evening's cast, as well as the alternate leads, the creators of the show (including Prince, Lynne, Lloyd Webber and Hart) and the Las Vegas producers got the final bow with the entire company.

The party that followed was yet another production. As we exited the theatre, in a buzz of excitement, we walked across the casino and down towards the Venetian Ballroom. After flashing our PHANTOM magnetic pins at the security guards for entry, people chatted and grabbed drinks and passed the paparazzi and then took a right turn into "the lair." We walked down a long hallway as dry ice smoke floated along our feet and we all seemed to be floating towards the main event. When you finally arrive, it simply made your jaw drop (yet again) and in primary red color was another room with a huge chandelier and bars literally made of ice with light shining through them and rose petals everywhere. We were treated to "Phantinis" (raspberry martinis) or whatever else you might have wanted. Stolichnaya Vodka was the vodka of choice for the night. There were classical musicians on stage (which later changed to a dance band) and food and celebration everywhere. Also, an entire room devoted to desserts in another area. As revelers decided to go hit the gambling floor, upon exit you were handed a velvet box of chocolates from Desage. It was an evening that you don't get to experience very often...and I might add that the rooms at the Venetian are quite beautiful and I would highly recommend that you stay there.

Check BroadwayWorld.com out for official production shots and additional coverage shortly.

It's going to be hard to go back to work after such an exhilarating weekend. 

See you on JetBlue!

For tickets, call 866-641-7469 or visit www.phantomlasvegas.com.

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Robert Diamond Robert Diamond founded BroadwayWorld.com in 2003, which has now become the largest theatre web site in the world. He also serves as the site's Editor-in-Chief, covering Broadway and beyond, with specific local coverage for 100 cities in the United States, 30 countries worldwide and 15 other related areas of entertainment - including dance, opera, fashion, concerts, comedy, films, television and more.

The 2001 Syracuse University graduate (School of Information Studies) is also the owner of Wisdom Digital Media, an award-winning leading design company for entertainment and technology web sites. In his previous life, he held an executive position for the world's leading publisher of technology magazines, web sites and conferences and, as a result, was named among the "Top thirty magazine industry executives under the age of 30" by FOLIO Magazine.

Diamond got his start in the entertainment field, accidentally, when he created the 'official web site' (while in college) for Michael Crawford, the popular actor and original Tony and Olivier Award-winning star of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. (He still blames Crawford - and credits him - for anything that goes particularly right or wrong during an average day.)

As a respected member of the Broadway and theatre community, Diamond also served as Lead Producer for a series of sold-out shows using the BroadwayWorld.com 'brand' for a set of 'Standing Ovations' concerts, which also branched out into titles that included Holiday Shows and even more specific concerts like 'From Stage to Screen and Back Again' in tandem with publishers and movie studios. All proceeds were in turn donated to Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS, the industry's leader in aid for performers in need.

Robert lives in Manhattan with his wife and two dogs, growing the business and getting little sleep. In addition, you can usually find him in a theatre many nights a week.

Robert's very popular blog, 'The Broadway Pulse' appears daily on BroadwayWorld.com and he also writes weekly about theatre for the USA Network's Character Approved blog.

In December of last year, Diamond was one of 5 Syracuse University Alumni, all having achieved success in the world of start-ups, business growth and venture capital, participating on a panel addressing young alumni who are currently pursuing their dreams of running their own business and experiencing the day to day challenges of a startup. It is part of the university's new Student Accelerator Program, for which Rob was recommended by Syracuse University's i-School.



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