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Las Vegas Spotlight: June 2006

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The Phantom of the Opera's
Anthony Crivello and Brent Barrett
(Photo © Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Mega Phantom is here! Starting June 12th, The Phantom of the Opera will be haunting the Venetian in a new version of the Andrew Lloyd Webber smash that is simultaneously bigger and smaller than previous incarnations. The pop opera has been cut down to 95 minutes, but a lot more spectacle is being packed into that hour and a half, now dubbed Phantom -- The Las Vegas Spectacular. The production is opening in a specially-designed $40 million theater, and for this Phantom the sets are more elaborate, the stunts more daring, the pyrotechnics more fiery, the magic more magical, and apparently even the infamous chandelier has been given an upgrade.

Fans of the musical, which is now the longest running show on Broadway, might fear that one of their favorite songs has been lost in this intermissionless version, but advance word is that only transitional and dance music has been compromised and the heart of the score -- which contains contemporary classics like "Music of the Night" and "All I Ask of You" -- remains intact. With a demanding schedule of 10 performances a week, three of the musical's major roles (the Phantom, his muse Christine Daae, and opera diva Carlotta) have been double cast. Most notable among the ensemble are the two Phantoms, who are being played by Broadway regulars Brent Barrett and Anthony Crivello. The official opening of Phantom -- The Las Vegas Spectacular will take place on June 24.

Also beginning performances on June 12 (though to slightly less fanfare) is the Asylum Theatre's production of The Devil, the Damsel, and Demon Rum. Billed as "a new musical comedy in the style of old melodrama," it is an adaptation of the W.H. Smith play The Drunkard. Lost innocence, lives destroyed by the lure of strong drink, and true love foiled by a very bad man are all threatened in writer Raymond Hull and composer Mike Corda's contemporary take on the melodramatic formula. Booing the villains is strongly encouraged!

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, the first of four musicals in the Super Summer Theatre season, starts on June 14 and goes through July 1. Presented by PS Productions, this is the version of the Mark Twain classic that had a brief run on Broadway in 2001. The show has music and lyrics by country songwriter Don Schlitz ("The Gambler") and a book by veteran comic playwright/bookwriter Ken Ludwig (Crazy For You, Moon Over Buffalo, Lend Me a Tenor). Following the adventures of lovable troublemaker Tom Sawyer and his pal Huck Finn, this musical is a sure-bet for the whole family and a great way for the kids to kick off summer break.

Cirque du Soleil is going to make sure that 2006 is the summer of LOVE with its latest spectacular, a tribute to The Beatles that will be previewing throughout June.

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