Survey says show prices down

The numbers don’t lie, but don’t always get to the heart of it either.

The purity of math at least gives us a starting fact: Show prices are down by an average of $2.50 for the first time in seven years.

This comes from an annual survey by the Las Vegas Advisor. Publisher Anthony Curtis notes that it’s the only such annual research “that has any base line or benchmark to it.”

Once a year, Curtis delves into the thankless task of trying to pull an average ticket price from all the stationary shows in town — 91 this year — then chart the averages.

This year’s average price of $73.46 is only the third dip in 19 years of the survey. It bore out Curtis’ gut feeling that producers “hit a level where they said, ‘That’s enough’ ” to price increases.

But $2.50 might be just the tip of the downward trend, barely reflecting the slash-and-burn discounting we’ve seen in the past year. But most discounts try to preserve the full price as a starting point. The calculations can’t factor in discount “two for one” ticket vendors, which, arguably, drive up the face values of many tickets.

It never has been easy to keep the survey consistent on what Curtis calls the “shifting landscape” of shows and prices. He excludes rooms such as the Las Vegas Hilton or Orleans that book weekend headliners, but has to make tough calls on whether to count David Copperfield (yes, because of his ever-expanding schedule at the MGM) or recurring headliners such as Cher, Carlos Santana or Garth Brooks (yes on Cher, no for the other two based on the number of annual dates).

A few more fun facts from the survey:

■ The recession hasn’t stopped bullish show producers. Despite losing some long-running shows, 11 more titles were counted than last year.

■ One afternoon kids show on weekends may have pulled down the average: Tickets for the “Super Duper Show” at the Royal Resort are $10, $5 for children.

■ By contrast, Donny and Marie Osmond now command the Strip’s priciest ticket, if you pay $289.63 for the VIP package.

■ Still, there were 23 shows with at least one ticket option above $100, reminding us why so many people head to the discount middlemen. …

Still no word from the Wayne Newton camp on how seriously to take the “Once Before I Go” title of his Tropicana show, but Saturday is your last chance to see it at the Tropicana. The casino still plans to remodel the showroom, but comedian Paul Rodriguez will have a month’s engagement in the interim starting May 3, with a special Cinco de Mayo show in Spanish. …

Early risers on Sunday can hit the pavement with Penn & Teller. The duo again host the 20th annual AID for AIDS of Nevada AIDS Walk Las Vegas downtown at the World Market Center, at Bonneville Avenue and Grand Central Parkway.

A minimum donation of $35 per person is encouraged for the 8 a.m. walk, and includes a T-shirt. You can sign up early today and Saturday at the AFAN headquarters on 701 Shadow Lane. …

I raised the specter of doubt in this column a couple of weeks ago, so it’s fair to report that Keith Emerson and Greg Lake are on track for Saturday’s show at the Hilton, though four shows at the beginning of the tour had to be rescheduled.

“We’re holding up very well I think. As you get older these things do happen, but one just has to try and recover and adapt,” Lake said Tuesday. “Life’s long. Many things happen.” We talked too late to squeeze more into print, but fans can read more on the Vegas Voice blog on the Review-Journal website. ….

The Orleans is bundling a series of dates as “The Orleans Summer Comedy Series,” featuring Tom Papa, host of the odd NBC panel show “The Marriage Ref.”

Ben Bailey, host of Discovery Channel’s “Cash Cab” brings more TV cred to the first engagements May 21 and 22, which are to be followed by other “special guests” in return engagements June 25-26, July 31-Aug. 1 and Aug. 27-28. …

Speaking of The Orleans, maybe you’ve asked: Who is Perry Danos? If you’re curious, you can find out for $30 Friday through Sunday, when the Nashville-based singer billed as “The New Voice of Vegas” returns to the casino.

But here’s one fact: He — or someone backing him — has more money than you or me. This is a rent-the-room gig on a weekend The Orleans showroom would otherwise be dark. The Orleans is actually making money off the booking.

It’s the second visit from Danos, and the last one came complete with cab tops and outdoor advertising. A man buying his own shot at fame has more to prove, but at least he’s trying to do it under his own name instead of wearing a costume and imitating another star.

Perry Danos: One-man recession buster. Whoever you are, sir, Las Vegas needs more of you!

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

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