The Venue performance space at Horseshoe Casino in Hammond celebrated a quiet fifth birthday last July, after having logged a successful marquee roster of headliners brought to Northwest Indiana, including Liza Minnelli, Paula Deen and Mike Tyson, Smashing Pumpkins, Wayne Newton and Ringo Starr.
It was legendary Bette Midler who opened the $500 million facility with a special grand opening gala performance Aug. 8, 2008 coming to Hammond direct from her Las Vegas extravaganza, "The Showgirl Must Go On," at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace. Both Horseshoe and Caesars share the same umbrella under the Harrah's parent company.
While in Las Vegas last September, and again in November, it's clear this is a city that's always changing. From shows and hotels to restaurants and nightlife, Las Vegas is constantly going through transformation and Caesars Entertainment is leading the change. With several properties now located right on the heart of The Strip, Caesars Entertainment is resuscitating new life into Las Vegas.
Last month, I caught up with Kurt Melien, vice president of entertainment for Caesars Entertainment, to chat by phone to find out more about the evolution and direction of entertainment in Las Vegas and within Caesars Entertainment, including the decision of modernizing "Jubilee!," Las Vegas' most iconic traditional showgirl performance along the famed Strip of hotels, restaurants and casinos.
"Jubilee!" at Bally's Las Vegas, a sister property to Caesars and our own Horseshoe, still ranks as the longest-running show on the famed Strip and the only place in Las Vegas to see traditional performing Vegas showgirls. I'm told by Melien it's recently undergone a major transformation in order to appeal to a wider range of audiences. He said while keeping the "original spirit" of "Jubilee!," it's now been coupled with a modern spin. Featuring award-winning creative director and choreographer, Frank Gatson Jr., who has worked with today's hottest artists including Usher, Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna and Beyoncé, it also now boasts a creative team consisting of who he says are the industry's most talented people including Anthony Burrell, Chris Grant, Kimberly Burse and Justin Collie; all of whom have also worked with an impressive list of clients. First opened on July 31, 1981 at an initial cost of $10 million dollars, it was originally produced by Donn Arden to showcase an array of Bob Mackie gowns and costumes. Melien said refreshed choreography, updated music, projectors with state-of-the-art graphics, new lighting and stage pieces are all part of the new concept.
"The demographics of who comes to Las Vegas has changed and we are ready to welcome this younger generation, while also happy to see the many who have been enjoying our entertainment hospitality for years," Melien said.
He mentioned the debut of Britney Spears' new two-year engagement headline show, which premiered earlier this year at The AXIS Theater at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino.
After raising the bar for Las Vegas entertainment with Celine Dion's show at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace 11 years ago, Melien said Caesars Entertainment has Spears as the Strip's first pop residency in a newly-renovated theater featuring innovative amenities including a dance floor and VIP table seating. FYI: Caesars.com