Wednesday, May 16, 2012

'Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular': VIP Experience at The Venetian 2008

Phantom actor Brent Barrett and The Hopeful Traveler.
Tonight was not the first time I've took the VIP Experience at 'Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular' at the Venetian. Back in February of 2008 I saw two performances of this Sin City version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'The Phantom of the Opera' and one of them was to take the VIP tour.

At that time, the show was still playing 10 performances a week and Anthony Crivello and Brent Barrett was playing five performances each. The night of my VIP Experience, Barrett was playing the Phantom. I could kick myself for not asking him to sign my Playbill but at least I got the photograph during the meet and greet.

Barrett has appeared in Broadway 'Grand Hotel' (1989), the revivals of 'Candide' (1997) and 'Annie Get Your Gun' (2001). His most recent credits include starring in the off-Broadway production of 'Silence! The Musical,' a parody of the move "Silence of the Lambs," playing Hannibal Lechter and an upcoming return stint in the Broadway production of 'Chicago' as Billy Flynn.'
(story continued below)

Back in 2008, the 'Phantom' tickets had a romantic look with a
rendering of Venice. (photograph: TheHopefulTraveler)
Despite inflation the cost of the VIP Experience was $250 in 2008 and the price has not changed in 2012. I found the tour so fulfilling that I had hoped to repeat when I returned to Las Vegas. Who knew I would wait four years and during the show's final month. In 2008 I also the took the opportunity to see the show with a four-night stay in one of the Venetian suites.

The tour guides in 2008 covered the areas of the theatre as in 2012 but I'm guessing over the years the guides have been empowered with more information based on the questions guests have asked. In the 2012 tour, I learned many new things about the production.

One of the changes I missed was the Phantom Boutique that stood next to the Phantom Theatre during the first years of the show. The gift shop was filled with merchandise promoting 'Phantom' and many of the products were made exclusively for the Vegas production. Most of the products were discontinued over the years and only the basics (t-shirts, mugs, souvenir programs) are now sold in a small kiosk at the theatre. The shop remains but it now sells Venetian hotel merchandise and sundry items. Perhaps it was one of the first signs that an end was in sight for the Las Vegas 'Phantom' production.

The three guides who conducted the tour. (photo: TheHopefulTraveler) 
The glorious Phantom Theatre looked great in 2008 and still
sparkled like new in 2012. (photo: TheHopefulTraveler)


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