Younger audiences can be reached

Figuring out how to get the club demographic to buy show tickets is still a bit of a mystery. But one thing isn’t.

“You know you’ve lost them when you see those phones pop out,” Anne Martinez says. “You’re like, ‘No-o-o-o.’ ”

Martinez speaks specifically of her enterprise BBR Las Vegas and the project “Alice” it has been showcasing at The Tuscany.

“We’re lucky,” she adds. Having purged her energetic revue of phone-generating ballads, “The only time we see phones in our show is when they’re taking pictures.”

But Martinez nails the larger challenge when she says, “It’s a new generation now, and it’s about trying to figure out what exactly they want. And I think we’re all kind of on that journey of entertaining this new group.”

Even Cirque du Soleil has joined the journey, with this week’s experiment of celebrity guest host NeNe Leakes in “Zumanity.” It’s part of a larger process of “refreshing” its Las Vegas titles with an eye to a younger audience.

Ticketed shows seem more and more in the shadow of nightclubs, but there are signs of hope in startups such as “Alice” and the unlikely hit “Zombie Burlesque.”

“Alice” is a near-complete product in search of a venue. Martinez and her collaborators developed their rocking jukebox musical of “Alice in Wonderland” through five late-night showcases that packed the lounge at The Tuscany.

“We set our goal and then we achieved it. … We’ve done what we can do in this room and it’s been awesome,” Martinez says, with the support of Tuscany owner Brett Heers.

“Right now it’s just finding the right home so we can go further,” she says. “We need a new playground.”

“Zombie Burlesque” on the other hand, had a room built out for it by its creator, V Theater operator David Saxe. The campy revue came together in front of paying customers as a work in progress.

Now “Zombie” is packing its 200-seat venue, going from six to nine shows per week so far. Saxe thought he would have to start with horror geeks and the burlesque subculture and build out to the mainstream. But he hasn’t even had to bother with the fan-based marketing that “Evil Dead The Musical” subsists on.

“People love it,” Saxe says. But why?

“I go through the (show) listings all the time thinking, ‘Honestly, would I pay for this show? Would I see this show?” But “Zombie Burlesque” sounds “quirky enough that people go, ‘Let’s try something fun and crazy.’ ”

Here, Saxe echoes Martinez, who says, “I always approached (‘Alice’), from the day I first started writing it, as what would I want to pay for? What I feel OK about spending $50 on?”

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

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