With gaming revenue on a slight decline due to increased competition and a partial smoking ban in the casinos, Atlantic City's 11 gaming halls have cut back on the number of acts booked for the fall season. But that hardly means show business will become no business at all. There are still a number of A-list artists scheduled between now and the end of the year.
"Entertainment in the casinos has always been cyclical," says one theatrical booking agent, who asked not to be identified. "[Entertainment] is the one thing that separates one casino from another. It's also one of the first items that gets cut when [revenues] drop. But it's also one of the first areas that recovers. We've seen this happen before."
Predictably, the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, which is coming off the city's biggest summer entertainment schedule during the past 30 years, has corralled many of the big-name artists during the final quarter of the year.
Borgata, whose entertainment is booked mostly through Philadelphia-based Electric Factory concerts -- a subsidiary of global entertainment promoter Live Nation -- has a diverse schedule of acts that includes two shows by the reunited pop singing group New Kids on the Block, who will perform in the casino's 2,300-seat Event Center Sept. 27 and Nov. 7.
Singer Carly Simon, once so stricken with stage fright that she confined her singing to a recording studio, returns to Borgata for a one-off concert appearance Oct. 18. Simon, who made her Atlantic City debut two years ago at Borgata, recently released a new album, This Kind of Love, a collection of original material influenced by the rhythms of Brazilian music.
Comedian Robin Williams, whose live stand-up comedy shows are as rare as a $5 blackjack table on a Saturday night, plays two shows at Borgata Oct. 24-25, and the legendary rock band The Who returns to the casino Oct. 31 for a one-nighter.
The one show at Borgata that attracted the most interest -- and sold out faster than any other show -- is the Dec. 13 appearance by the reunited stoner comedy team of Cheech and Chong, who haven't performed together in a quarter-century. Tickets were gobbled up so quickly that a second show was added for the same night.
While Borgata has the strongest autumn lineup, it doesn't have a monopoly on big-name artists.
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld, who has an exclusive performance contract with Harrah's Entertainment, Inc., will return to the company's Caesars Atlantic City casino for a one-night stand Oct. 11.
Caesars, which also utilizes Boardwalk Hall to present big concert attractions, is presenting Celine Dion in the 12,500-seat venue on Sept. 20 and Madonna in the big room on Nov. 22.
Another artist working exclusively for Harrah's properties is Tony Bennett, who returns to the Concert Venue at Harrah's Resort Nov. 21-22.
Fleetwood Mac guitarist and singer Lindsey Buckingham, flying solo these days, brings his tour to the Trump Taj Mahal for an Oct. 11 show as he supports his fifth solo album, Gift of Screws, due out next week. One-of-a-kind ventriloquist and impressionist Terry Fator, winner of last year's America's Got Talent television showcase, brings his unique act to Taj on Nov. 21-22.
The House of Blues at Showboat continues to fulfill founding partner Dan Aykroyd's stated mission of presenting a diverse range of entertainment.
Halloween gets extended by one day when Alice Cooper returns to HOB's intimate Music Hall on Nov. 1. Other notable bookings include the indie rock band Death Cab For Cutie on Oct. 5, the brotherly pop-rock trio of Hanson on Oct. 23 and blues legend B.B. King on Nov. 29
And there's still enough work to go around for some of the more traditional casino headliners.
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