Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013 | 3:26 p.m.
Pop princess Britney Spears was “overwhelmed and overjoyed” by Tuesday’s welcome to her new residency at Planet Hollywood. “I couldn’t be any happier,” she said on her return private jet back to Los Angeles. “I’ve never been given such a welcome with open arms. I truly love Las Vegas, and the city just showed that it loves me back."
Britney told fellow passengers that she was thinking maybe she should get a house and live here. “I have to figure out where to stay for two years, maybe longer. I’d bring the kids to live in Vegas, too. I love it there,” Britney added.
The superstar returns here Tuesday to begin the technical onstage rehearsals at the PH Live theater, which has been specially designed and configured for her 96-show run starting Dec. 27.
“Vegas has never seen a showroom like this before. It is one of a kind —absolutely,” Planet Hollywood President David Hoenemeyer told me. “I don’t even think it’s ever been done anywhere else in the world. It looks spectacular. The sound and the projections are state-of-the-art. It doesn’t get any better.
“It’s amazing what a little money will do to fix a place up. It looks great, it really does. It’s a theater-nightclub, a nightclub-theater. The ambiance gives you that feeling. It’s the lighting, it’s the decor, the tables, the uniforms of the employees, the VIP bottle service. It’s the whole picture.”
Britney will see it for the first time Tuesday, but her manager, Larry Rudolph, received the full tour Tuesday while she was in hair and makeup for the over-the-top “circus” welcome party of contortionists, dancers, fire eaters and snake charmers.
Afterwards, Larry told me: “To actually see it become the real thing from the original concept conversations is mind-blowing, a theater that’s a quasi-nightclub. The entire balcony is filled with video projectors shooting images all across and around the theater, throughout the seating areas and the front-of-stage pit area and VIP tables.
“It’s totally incredible and hasn’t been seen anywhere we’ve ever performed before. I cannot wait for next Tuesday when Britney runs the show for the first time with all these special effects.
“Everybody who has been to rehearsals in Los Angeles has said it’s already an amazing show. To now put what has been two years in the making into this specially built theater with a couple of weeks to go to the world-premiere opening night is truly spectacular. It sure took my breath away, and I thought I’d already seen everything.”
As I reported Tuesday in advance of Britney’s official arrival, hotel officials and her management team decided to meet demand and release her second set of spring and summer show dates from April 25 through Sept. 6.
The unheard-of speed of that announcement and the new ticket sales starting this weekend indicate that her first run from Dec. 27 through Feb. 22 has already been a huge sales success.
It also confirms the strength of her “Piece of Me” show as its own best marketing tool to permit fans to make long-range summer plans to visit Las Vegas. People can now plan their travel, hotels and vacation through Labor Day weekend.
Britney Spears arrives in Las Vegas
“The show is really selling well, so this is an extraordinary vote of confidence,” David told me. “We honestly couldn’t be happier. What we’ve heard in advance is the rehearsals have been spectacular.
“I can’t believe that we have somebody of this magnitude staying here. She is such a huge pop star, multimedia talent, however you want to describe her. Wherever she goes, it’s one word: Britney. … It’s the most fantastic feeling to have Britney as our newest guest. The response to her via the ticket sales has simply been great, not just for what you’d typically figure of ages 25 to 35, but people above that. There are certainly plenty of people of all ages interested in seeing her.
“Her residency will make a tremendous impact on the Strip. It will open avenues for other performers who will say, ‘Well, if Britney can do it, there’s no reason I can’t, as well.’ This is a great day to be at Planet Hollywood.
“There are a lot of people who question the relevance of Las Vegas and eventually it’s going to burn out, but let me say Las Vegas is here to stay; it’s never going to burn out. The talent is going to keep coming here, the customers are going to keep coming here, they’re going to keep enjoying people they can’t see anywhere else and enjoying things that they can’t do elsewhere.”
Larry added: “We put the tickets on sale much earlier than we planned because of the demand. They have been selling very briskly. For the 50-year-old folks, they have a thousand choices of shows — everything from Cirque to magic. It’s an endless selection. But when it comes to people in their 20s and 30s, Britney’s show becomes their only stop.”
One ticket-brokerage company insider told me: “Shows in Las Vegas are measured by how many tickets sell every day because no residency sells out instantly. That’s for one-nighters. Now people can plan months in advance. It’s a very shrewd, sensible move based on the high ticket demand to date.
“For us it’s wonderful because we now have a modern contemporary artist. There’s a lot of speculation and hotel executive forecasts that the town is getting younger, so a successful residency with great ticket demand for a pop icon coinciding with a new single and album releases proves it. Once the show opens, that demand is only going to grow even bigger.”
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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Catering to the young and modern crowd, Planet Hollywood is a one-stop shop for entertainment with its massive shopping mall, slew of restaurants, spacious casino and clubs.
The ambiance of the casino is retro-chic meets high-tech with black granite floors throughout and colorful LED lights throughout the space. The theme carries into the 100,000 square-foot casino with 250 flat screens topping off slot machines. The casino is also home to 87 tables, a sports book and a poker room.
There's also the Miracle Mile Shops, one Vegas' largest malls, with 140 stores including BCBG Max Azaria, bebe, Urban Outfitters and The Discovery Channel Store.
Following an afternoon of shopping, guests can satisfy their appetites at one of the gourmet restaurants in Planet Hollywood, like the non-traditional approach to steakhouses at Strip House or check out the exotic Far East motif at KOI restaurant and lounge. And if guests are still looking for more, they can spend the after hours at Privé, Triq or Krave nightclubs.
Perhaps one of the resorts biggest attractions came in March with the addition of "Peepshow." The naughty twist on the story of Little Bo Peep is modern-day spin on the run-of-the-mill Vegas topless review. The "Peepshow" stage has seen visiting celebs like Scary Spice Mel B, "Dancing with the Stars" Kelly Monaco and Playboy's Holly Madison.