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Stage Shows Returning to Atlantic City

7 March 2011 by admin

moonshine follies-billboardGovernor Chris Christie and New Jersey’s lawmakers have made revitalizing the Atlantic City casino industry a priority. Of course, they are not the first administration to take on that task and they won’t be the last (unless this group is even more successful than their own expectations). It is always better, though, when the industries are able to take care of themselves without the need for help from government. One attempt at doing that is already underway. Atlantic City casinos are attempting to drive up business by providing more entertainment.

Elaborate stage shows are returning to Atlantic City as a way to separate its casinos from its competition and a more cost-effective way of providing entertainment. More and more Atlantic City casinos are turning to elaborate stage productions full of music, style, dance numbers and, of course, sex appeal to bring customers to the shows and the casino floors. Elaborate stage shows have long been synonymous with the Las Vegas casino experience, but by the mid 1990’s they had all but disappeared from the second-largest casino industry in the U.S.

When casino gambling was first legalized in New Jersey, the law required casinos to have live entertainment every night. The requirement was aimed at ensuring that the casinos be full Vegas-style resorts rather than what some call “slot-machine warehouses.” After that law was repealed, the stage shows started to leave the boardwalk. Instead, the casinos opted for occasional one-night entertainment from rock bands and comedians. Now the trend is shifting again.

almost angelsDon Marradino, the eastern division president of Caesars Entertainment, told the Associated Press that with the stage shows “you get five or six nights a week of entertainment versus one, for the same price or less.” From a purely financial standpoint, it makes more sense to provide a weeklong stage show than a single night of Bon Jovi. It also helps set your venue apart from those in other states. I mean, there are plenty of places in every metropolitan area where you can see a concert. A big, elegant Vegas-style stage show, though? Well, I can think of only one place to find that off the top of my head.

Okay, better make that two now. Of the eleven Atlantic City casinos, seven either have already brought stage shows back or are in the process of doing so. There is plenty of variety as well. If you want to see song and dance numbers that are thinly-veiled reasons to stare at hot women in sequined thongs who, for reasons unknown, have huge freaking feathers on their heads, there are plenty of those – Moonshine Follies at Resorts Casino Hotel is getting good reviews. That show was able to get extra attention when its highway billboard (pictured, above left) was banned for being too risqué.

bronxTourists and other customers can also take in the joy that is Almost Angels at the Trump Taj Mahal Casino. My best description of that show is that it is a musical variety show that is like a slightly sluttier Pussycat Dolls. If seductive songs and dances in sequined lingerie isn’t your thing (in which case I’m hoping you’re a woman), there are other options as well. Next month, Harrah’s Resort will host the “Best of Broadway,” which will feature, among other things, Chazz Palminteri’s one-man version of A Bronx Tale.

When Atlantic City ditched the casino stage shows, they felt they didn’t need them. At that time, their only real competition was in on the other side of the country at Las Vegas. Since then, though, casinos have opened in Connecticut and Pennsylvania. Atlantic City now hopes to use stage shows to create an east coast version of Vegas that stands out from the entertainment you find elsewhere. I don’t know if it will work, but I can tell you this much: If I can choose between watching the ladies of Almost Angels or Bon Jovi, I’m going with the ladies every time – even though he rides a steel horse!

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