Not all shows feeling pinch

The year is half over and every night blood still flows onto the stage at the Four Queens.

In this case, that’s a good thing.

Another poor victim means the interactive “Marriage Can Be Murder” hasn’t become part of a metaphoric blood bath on the Strip.

I checked with producers on each end of the entertainment spectrum — there wasn’t time to call the 70 or so in between — to see how they are weathering the subprime economy and $4.25 gas.

On top of the entertainment ladder at Cirque du Soleil, “Right now we’re not as concerned as you would think we should be,” spokeswoman Anita Nelving says with a laugh. “It’s really surprising that it’s going so well.”

The flagship productions, “Love” and “O,” “continue to soar,” she says, running at capacity and needing no extra push for now.

“Mystere,” “Zumanity” and “Ka” will be selectively discounted in what Nelving calls “a pre-emptive move.” But promotions will be for specific periods of time and selected performances.

So if Cirque isn’t feeling the recession, the ball of subprime dung must be rolling downhill to take out the mom-and-pop shows, right?

But at “Marriage Can Be Murder,” largely the effort of married couple Eric and Jayne Post, “Every month is better than the last,” says producer John Bentham. He figures the little dinner show — the rare one to serve food during the comedy — is picking up price-sensitive customers; locals get both steak and show for about $50.

“I do think people are trying to find less-expensive ways to entertain themselves,” Bentham says. “People are looking for bargains, but they’re still looking for things to do.”

Perhaps the place to look is in the middle, the vast gulf of shows driven by neither high demand nor bargain pricing. But this year’s casualties mostly have been the type that come and go every year: the magic show “Wohscigam,” the “Gazillion Bubble Show.”

So far, “Hats!” at Harrah’s Las Vegas is the only closing where producers actually blamed gas prices. Perhaps the musical put too many eggs in one basket by so narrowly targeting the Red Hat Society. But a prominent center-Strip location makes the failure more prominent.

I’m wondering if the ripple effect won’t be felt until the second half of the year. This holiday weekend might fall right between “cause” and “effect.”

Plenty of seats remained for a recent show by the classic party band The Time. The $165 top ticket probably was locked in months ago, before gas prices cooled Southern California traffic. But that doesn’t explain why a Bud Light is still $8 inside the showroom.

Perhaps the attitude at the Flamingo is, “Get it as long as we can.”

Mike Weatherford’s entertainment column appears Thursdays and Sundays. Contact him at 702-383-0288 or e-mail him at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com.

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