LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Phantom of Las Vegas is singing his final opera.The Sin City version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera” is preparing for its final curtain call after a six-year run. Show officials announced Tuesday that the cast of “Phantom — The Las Vegas Spectacular” will give their last performance Sept. 2.
The amped up production set in a replica of the Paris Opera House is the latest victim of Nevada’s struggling economy. Tourism-dependent Las Vegas holds the nation’s highest unemployment rate and visitors are spending less than they did before the recession.
Producer Scott Zeiger said the show has had a triumphant run, but visitors these days demand discounted tickets, requiring budget cuts that can threaten a production.
“They are still coming, but the yields are less,” Zeiger told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “Instead of seeing two shows, they are seeing one.”
The classic story of a beautiful, young singer and a disfigured musician was revamped with a few Las Vegas-style twists and opened to rave reviews in June 2006. A custom-made $40 million theater houses the $75 million production at the Venetian hotel-casino.
The show features all the songs from the original, but the story line was condensed into 95 minutes. Nearly an hour of transitions and character development were eliminated to appeal to tourists determined to sample as much of Las Vegas as possible in one weekend.
The production initially struggled. Only two months after its grand opening, the curtain call was moved up to avoid competing directly with Las Vegas’ many nightclubs, late-night restaurants, bars and casino floors.
A $5 million chandelier that quakes, splits apart and nearly falls on the audience during each performance as a special effect helped pack the 1,800-seat theater.
Still, the show was eventually scaled down to 8 weekly performances instead of 10.
“When we opened the show the Las Vegas economy and the world economy were massively robust, and we weren’t worried about Greece and Italy and the stock market and the unemployment rate… and huge Las Vegas skyscrapers that are still empty,” Zeiger said.
Venetian officials have not said what the casino will do with the theater space once the show ends.
“The Las Vegas production of Phantom took all of the classic elements of the show and added unique aspects that created a whole new experience,” said Lloyd Webber in a statement. “It enjoyed remarkable success in Las Vegas, was enjoyed by millions of fans and proved that a timeless love story told in a fantastic theater will always be in vogue.”
“The Phantom of the Opera” celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2011. It has played to more than 130 million people in 27 countries and has grossed more than $5.6 billion worldwide.
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