Although I live in Las Vegas, I hardly ever visit the famed Las Vegas Strip. Last night was an exception, as I met up with two other members of the Las Vegas Non-Fiction Book Group to see Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular at The Venetian.
The show originally opened in Las Vegas in 2006, and will finish its Vegas run this September. We managed to score a deal on an advance tickets purchased through Travel Zoo, opting for the $98 orchestra seats. One of the biggest advantages of the Travel Zoo promotion is that you don’t have to pay outrageous Ticket Master taxes and fees, and the $98 is all-inclusive.
The performance was enjoyable, and one of the better shows I’ve seen in Las Vegas (although I would probably rank O, Mystere and Blue Man Group higher). The sets were stunning, and there theater set-up made you feel that you were inside a 19th century Paris Opera house. The cast was led by Tony Award-winning actor Anthony Crivello as the Phantom and up-and-coming actress Kristi Holden as Christine.
This was the first time I’ve seen Phantom live — although I saw the 2004 movie — so I didn’t have much to compare it to. However, one of the women in our group had seen the show on Broadway, and seemed a bit disappointed in how the Vegas edition compared. To note, almost 45 minutes has been cut from the original script to keep the Vegas show at 95 minutes (plus there’s no 15 minute intermission). While all of the original songs are in the Vegas production, some have been cut in half and much of the dialogue has also been taken out. However, pyrotechnics have been added to Vegas show, likely to make it more in-line with the standards of the Las Vegas Strip.
We sat in the third row of Section 5 (the middle section of the second level), and I was happy with our seats. The only drawback was that it was difficult to see the actors’ faces, and I really wanted to catch a better glimpse of the Phantom’s deformities.
Also, the tickets indicate the show is suitable for kids 6 years and up. Although I saw my first Broadway show at age 8 (Starlight Express), I wouldn’t recommend Phantom for kids under 13. It’s essentially a dark tale about a murderous ghost-like man, and I think would serve as fodder for nightmares in some kids. (See this post for a recommendation about a good Vegas show for young kids).
After the show, we had dinner at Enoteca OTTO Pizzeria inside The Venetian’s Grand Canal Shops.
I was excited to try this restaurant because it’s a green-certified restaurant – meaning it meets certain standards for recycling, composting and conservation. Also, restauranteurs Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich are responsible for bringing the Bet on the Farm Farmers Market to Las Vegas, and the restaurant purchases many ingredients from local, sustainable food vendors such as Gilcrease Orchard, Quail Hollow Farm and the Colorado River Coffee Roasters.
For dinner, I had a glass of their house chianti, their bruschetta del giorno (preserved tuna with shaved fennel and pickled red onions) and a salad with melon, mozzarella and mint.
Their wine list was impressive, but pricy, and the glass I chose was their least expensive red wine ($15 a glass). The waiter poured it directly from the bottle at our table, and since it was the end of the bottle, I was lucky to end up with a glass-and-a-half.
The food was above average, but not exceptional. On the bruschetta, the preserved tuna was better than your average store-bought canned tuna, but not the best I’ve ever had. Also, the bread was hard to cut into with just a butter knife, and I think what the bruschetta was missing overall was a light touch of olive oil. Though I’m generally not a big fan of onions in general, the pickled onions were actually the tastiest part of this dish.
The melon on my salad was the most flavorful part of the meal, with just the right level of sweetness and juiciness. The mozzarella and mint didn’t have much flavor, however, and served more as a garnish.
I will give this restaurant bonus points for its green initiative, and also for partnering with local food producers. Also, I was impressed by its selection of vegetarian options (including on their daily specials’ menu), and though the menu is pricy, it’s fairly in line with other restaurants you’ll find on the Strip.