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More shows offering discounts

On one of the final weekdays before Labor Day, a steady trickle of downtown pedestrians ponders the choices at a discount ticket booth on Fremont Street. They seem oblivious to how much this long, hot summer has narrowed the pack.

By Tuesday, 11 shows will have closed since Memorial Day. “Ooh La La” takes its final bow at Paris Las Vegas today. “The World’s Greatest Magic Show” signs off Monday at the Greek Isles, even after a ticket giveaway campaign.

Producers of both say they hope to reopen at different venues. But that sentiment is shared by the likes of Roseanne Barr, Ronn Lucas, Gordie Brown, Toxic Audio and The Second City. In fact, it’s far more rare when presenters of “Monty Python’s Spamalot” or “Hats” say you can stick a fork in their plans for the Strip.

At the Four Queens’ Tix4tonight booth, it still takes several cycles for the video screen to scroll through the alphabetized list of shows being discounted that night. With about 70 up for grabs, few people would notice that “Ooh La La” producer Anthony Cools didn’t offer either the topless revue or his own hypnosis act on the discount board.

“I would rather have a quality show draw them in,” he says. “I just wish everybody would quit discounting. People would still go to shows.”

Instead, “Ooh La La” competitor “Fantasy” lists tickets for $27.50. Another one, “Crazy Girls,” goes for $22, and you can buy a day in advance. When the discount outlets came to town, the rules were simple: same-day purchase only, and all half-price.

Now, big hitters such as Blue Man Group and three Cirque du Soleil titles have come onboard, but with discounts of 20 percent or 30 percent. One act even sells for 10 percent more than face value: Cher, posted at $198.

Shows don’t merely compete with one another. The booth manager says he now sells about 1,000 discounted dinners each day. Outside, one taxi top advertises “Mamma Mia!” but the two behind it sport nightclub ads.

Still, it doesn’t stop the hopefuls. A magician named Scarlett or the Motown revue “Hitzville” may or may not stick, but they can cite their Las Vegas credentials in future endeavors.

Cools wonders how many shows can afford hefty ticket broker commissions or $20,000-per-month billboards near the airport. He owns eight trucks that tow advertising up and down the Strip, one of them flashing fancy LED graphics.

September brings at least three more shows to make up for the lost 11. Two of them, “Criss Angel — Believe” and Donny and Marie Osmond, come with strong advance interest and presales.

They could be bad news for still more of the weaker entries. But Cools probably is right about one thing: “The only person winning here is the consumer.”

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

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