Thursday, Aug. 1, 2002 | 8:16 a.m.
Mandalay Bay's misbegotten production show "Storm" at Mandalay Bay Theatre has finally closed, a departure long overdue ... Equally inexplicable is the announcement that "Mamma Mia!," featuring the music of the group ABBA, will not open until February 2003 ... Does this mean that the hotel's state-of-the-art theater is going to remain dark for the next six months? ... Star policy, meanwhile?
The Righteous Brothers, the originals, hardy Las Vegas perennials, are at the Las Vegas Hilton through Sunday ... It is our understanding that the duo have one more engagement there, after which they will be returning to the more intimate confines of The Orleans Showroom ... Will the Smothers Brothers be following suit when their current Hilton deal ends?
There is a phenomena which I call the "Empty Seat Syndrome" ... The Orleans showroom seats approximately 800; a respectable count in any room; the Hilton seats half again as many or more ... If the Righteous or the Smothers Brothers do 800 at the Hilton, there will be 400 or more empty seats ... A 600 total at The Orleans looks good; at the Hilton, it is half a house.
Performers and customers hate to have empty seats when they are performing, a reaction shared by hotel management ... Example: Johnny Carson filled the 600 seats in the original Sahara Congo Room ... He moved to the 1,200-seat Caesars Palace Circus Maximus and had 800 on opening night; he returned to the Sahara Congo Room as soon as he could.
Which brings us to Darren Romeo in the 1,500-seat Mirage Siegfried & Roy Theatre ... On his best afternoon, there will be 1,000 empty seats or more ... How would you react if you spent $30, twice as much and more than the tab for any other afternoon show, see fair magic and non-stop singing to canned music in a room that may be 75-percent empty?
How many times have you discovered a small restaurant, a Mom-and-Pop operation? ... The food is very good, soon it is discovered by others and reservations become difficult ... They expand, add needed help in the kitchen, then reservations are no longer difficult, the food no longer tastes the same as before, there are empty seats and you stop going there.
If you are a show-goer and have spent a goodly figure for tickets, then find that you are part of a distinct minority, you are going to have a feeling that you've been had and you're not going to enjoy that performance as much as you might have if the showroom or arena was full ... You will be experiencing the "Empty Seat Syndrome."
It's John Mellencamp and Shannon McNally, Saturday only (Aladdin); Gladys Knight (Flamingo Las Vegas); Mac King afternoons, Clint Holmes evenings (Harrah's); Righteous Brothers and Sheena Easton in separate showrooms (LV Hilton); Blue Man Group (Luxor); Marc Anthony, Saturday only (Mandalay Bay); and Paul Anka, plus Rick Springfield starring in "EFX Alive" (MGM Grand).
There's more: Darren Romeo afternoons, "Siegfried & Roy" evenings, plus Danny Gans in his theater (Mirage); Lance Burton (Monte Carlo); Rita Rudner (New York-New York); Tower of Power (Orleans); Natalie Cole (Paris Las Vegas); Ronn Lucas afternoons, Scintas evenings, plus Penn & Teller, Samba Theatre (Rio); and Marlene Ricci (Riviera).
And still more: "Bravo" starring Charo, and Steve Wyrick in separate showrooms (Sahara); Andrew "Dice" Clay through Saturday (Stardust); McKenna Medley and Streetwise (Suncoast); Rick Thomas (Tropicana); and Melinda, First Lady of Magic (Venetian) ... "Creole Heat" is a new entry at Bourbon Street.
McNally, appearing at the Aladdin Saturday, has a debut CD titled "Sharon McNally, Juke Box Sparrows" on the Capitol label, well-produced, worth checking out ... Time changes: "Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding" (Rio) is now performed nightly at 7 p.m. ... Trent Carlini has taken over Ricci's 8:30 p.m. weekend time slot in the Riviera's Le Bistro Theatre.
"Bravo" has new show times: 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, and 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. Saturdays and Mondays, dark on Thursdays ... Pete Wilcox is the new Dean Martin in Greek Isles' "A Tribute to Frank, Sammy, Joey and Dean" ... The dinner deal makes the Greek Isles show a real entertainment and food bargain ... The Fielding West Show at Bourbon Street is now closed.
There will be a Cajun and Zydeco Festival starting at 5 p.m. Saturday at Clark County Government Center Amphitheater ... Check the LV Jazz Society for the full -- and growing -- list of jazz events ... Better yet, become a member ... Don't miss the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, conducted by his son Christopher, in the Stardust Ballroom Saturday; story in Friday's column.
It's August and so important that the Sun Summer Camp Fund can send every deserving youngster to camp this summer ... Give what you can but give something ... There is no overhead, the Las Vegas Sun absorbs all the costs of operation; every penny goes to the youngsters ... See you Friday.