Math tricky for show tickets

Repeat after me: Never, ever pay full price. Unless, of course, you get to meet Marie.

That’s the basic message of an annual tally of show ticket prices conducted by the Las Vegas Advisor, a publication that sniffs out the best values in town with Consumer Reports-like intensity.

In the 18th annual attempt to crunch hard numbers, publisher Anthony Curtis finds the average show price has gone up again, by almost $6, to $76.18. He tallied 80 shows, not counting weekend headliners such as those at The Orleans, but including part-year headliners such as Cher and Bette Midler.

The average cost of "A" ticket shows — excluding matinees and comedy clubs — increased by $4.62, or about 6 percent, to a new high of $80. And 25 titles have at least one ticket option costing more than $100.

But Curtis notes this annual exercise gets harder to pull off every year. The reasons help explain numbers that seem to run contrary to rampant room-and-restaurant discounting in the face of hard times.

"When you look closely, there’s a good case to be made that show tickets are actually getting less expensive," writes Curtis (who is publisher of my book "Cult Vegas").

First, there is what I call the "mark ’em up to mark ’em down" syndrome. Producers as much as double the realistic ticket price, because they know it will come in closer to that number after averaging sales from same-day discount outlets, coupons and the bundling of shows with rooms.

"Except for those who want to see the latest and greatest, does anyone really pay retail anymore?" Curtis asks.

You do if you want to hobnob with Donny Osmond. Producers have good luck with "upsell" or VIP tickets, such as $280.50 for Donny and Marie that include a post-show meet and greet.

The difference can be huge. The Hard Rock Hotel is selling VIP tickets averaging $234 for Santana’s upcoming run. The average price for regular tickets is $113.

Curtis ran the numbers again, taking out the VIP tickets for 11 titles. That cut the average increase almost in half, to more than $3. Still, last year’s overall increase wasn’t much more than a dollar. …

Ivan Kane’s Forty Deuce closed last weekend after more than four years in the retail shops adjacent to Mandalay Bay. MGM Mirage officials were cryptic amid rumors last week, and only confirmed the closing in a "Listing Update" e-mail that said a new bar and lounge is coming in late summer.

Kane fueled the retro burlesque revival with the Hollywood nightclub that interrupted the usual mingling with periodic turns by burlesque dancers. But his Hollywood location is gone as well; Kane’s name now is affixed to the more subdued Cafe Was.

Kane’s publicist promised he would call to explain the local closure, but instead sent a press statement that doesn’t clarify much. In it, the entrepreneur says he and Mandalay Bay executives "mutually agreed to close our doors. Although the economy is probably a contributing factor, it feels good to know that Forty Deuce has remained packed every night since it opened." …

The early word on the Forty Deuce closing came from comedian Susannah Perlman, who had talked the club into what sounded like a most intriguing match for her "Nice Jewish Girls Gone Bad" revue. Instead, she is moving it to the Beauty Bar on Easter (of course). …

Two high-profile music videos will feature former "Evening at La Cage" performer Derrick Barry’s drag impression of Britney Spears. He and other drag impersonators first took part in Katie Perry’s "Waking Up in Vegas" shoot. That led to a callback for "We Made You," the leadoff single from the new Eminem album.

Eminem and Dr. Dre were sighted around town apparently filming the clip as a parody of "Rain Man." …

Broadway buffs tired of Vegas getting musicals a few years down the line may be cheered to know Patti LuPone will debut a new one-woman show, "The Gypsy in My Soul," at The Orleans June 20-21. Tickets are on sale. …

It may push a pun too far, but you can see Bette Midler’s dancers up close at noon Saturday at Whole Foods Market Town Square, 6605 Las Vegas Blvd. South. In the Caesars Palace show they’re introduced as the Caesar Salad girls, which inspired someone to get them to judge a salad recipe contest with Midler tickets as the prize.

Please don’t ask the Playboy Club to judge anything involving Easter bunnies.

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.

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