Monday, Oct. 27, 2003 | 6 a.m.
"Sirens of TI" received a standing ovation during its premiere public performance at 6 p.m. Sunday.
Of course the crowd, estimated at more than 5,000, stood through the entire 20-minute production there is no seating.
Officials estimate the standing capacity for the show at about 2,500. The curious not only filled the bridge that separates the man-made bay from the sidewalk, they filled the sidewalk and spilled onto the Strip, crimping traffic to two lanes and causing a near-traffic jam.
And, until Metro police officers on bicycles began shooing them away midway through the production, spectators stood and sat on the cement median dividing north and south traffic on the boulevard.
Hordes more craned their necks from the sidewalk on the east side of the street.
For some, the scene outside the pirate battle was more exciting than the battle itself.
"It's a bit boring," said Guy Peckett of London, one of those polled as they exited the bridge.
"Too much singing," shouted a young woman who had a child on her shoulders. "Very stupid."
Laura Gonzales of Mexico wasn't particularly enthused.
"It's OK," she shrugged.
But others gave thumbs-up signs.
The ovation at the end of the show, though standing, was tepid. No one seemed to know quite what to make of the adult-themed production that replaces the family-oriented "Battle of Buccaneer Bay."
Though "Sirens" is touted as a show for adults, parents didn't seem to mind bringing children, dozens of whom mixed with the crowd.
For those who missed seeing the "Sirens on the Strip" during one of their three performances Sunday night, they will sing the national anthem tonight during "Monday Night Football," 6 p.m. on KTNV Channel 13 (ABC).
"Sirens" replaces the free, 12-minute pyrotechnic pirate show "Battle of Buccaneer Bay" which was the signature production of Treasure Island from the time it opened in 1993.
More than 4.5 million people per year crammed the sidewalk on Las Vegas Boulevard along the east side of the resort to watch pirates aboard the Hispaniola combat British sailors aboard the HMS Britannia.
After a spectacular exchange of cannon fire, the Britannia was sunk. The ship went down for the last time in July, after 16,334 battles.
Treasure Island President Scott Sibella said the "re-imagined" conflict, whose length has almost doubled, "is going to knock the socks off everyone. It is better than a lot of shows you pay to see on the Strip."
He described the production as "more of a musical Broadway show that turns into a concert, with 17th-century sirens evolving into the 21st century."
The fight has moved from Buccaneer Bay to Sirens' Cove, where 13 scantily clad seductresses sing and dance their way through a battle with 11 pirates in a production created and directed by choreographer Kenny Ortega.
Ortega has choreographed more than 20 feature films, including 1980's "Xanadu," and numerous concerts, including Barbra Streisand's "Timeless" in 1999.
He won two Emmy awards for Outstanding Direction and Outstanding Choreography for his work on the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics at Salt Lake City.
Ortega was also the choreographer for Gloria Estefan's engagement earlier this month at Caesars Palace. Record producer and songwriter Emilio Estefan, Gloria's husband and producer, scored the music for "Sirens."
"There are some great stunts and pyrotechnics in the show," Sibella said. "The lighting has been improved. There's a lot of singing and dancing and diving -- some of the cast members are Olympic divers."
The revamped pirates' battle is the culmination of multimillion-dollar renovation project that Sibella says brings the Treasure Island into the 21st century.
"This has been planned for a long time," Sibella said. "Over three years ago we realized who we are and who we want to be."
What they were was a pirate-themed hotel/casino decked out in a Caribbean motif. What they wanted to be was a more refined resort more closely associated with adults than children, an "elegant Caribbean hideaway."
One of the first things to go was a 25,000-square-foot arcade, which was reduced to 1,200 square feet.
"We started with our $65 million room renovation, changing from a cabin theme to elegant rooms overnight," Sibella said. "It took off from there with changes to restaurants and bars. We even changed the carpeting in the casinos and the uniforms.
"We consistently made changes knowing that we would have to energize the outside."
Energizing the outside included painting the building (with 6,200 gallons of terra cotta, or "Salmon Stream") and erecting an LED screen marquee that is 137 feet high and 84 feet wide (and reads "TI" instead of "Treasure Island").
And finally, the old show had to go.
"It had become a Vegas icon," Sibella noted, "but it wasn't really attracting the quality of customer we wanted.
"We decided to create a show that better sells TI."
Sibella said "Sirens" will attract visitors "and expose them to the new property."
Even with all the publicity about the adult nature of the production, Sibella says it is suitable for the entire family.
That would be a relief to Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt, who returned from a trip to China last week. Commenting before the debut of "Sirens," she noted that Las Vegas "should be and is something for everyone. Therefore, something in full view of the public must be done with great taste and discretion."