Caesars also saw the vision. “The CEO was Gary Loveman, who was a really bright guy,” Light recalls. “He made a bet that this was gonna work and put $20-something million into this theater. 18 months later you couldn’t get a date in the room. It was booked out for two years.”
“We invested heavily into the production,” Rudolph adds, “for a show in a 4,400-seat theater. And we built it the right way. We made it spectacular.” This included having Baz Halpin (whose clients have included Taylor Swift, Pink, Black Sabbath and Katy Perry) as creative and stage director for the show, Marco Morante as the costume designer, and a 360-degree video wall.
Light compares the show to a more historical antecedent. “Think back to Donn Arden’s ‘Jubilee,’ without the showgirls and huge headdresses of the old days,” he says, “but it was taking those big production shows and bringing it into the 21st century for that audience and done just brilliantly.”
“Here’s what I remember about the first night more than anything,” Light continues. “When she came out, everyone stood up, which was unheard of for a Vegas show. It was a party from the second it started. I was surprised because I’m so used to a Vegas audience sitting in their seats and being like, ‘Entertain me.’ It was not that.”
So what do Lady Gaga, Dave Chappelle, Bryce Harper, Danica Patrick, Bobby Flay, Sofia Vergara and Joe Manganiello, Shania Twain, Nasim Pedrad, Peaches, Jeff Dunham, Jeremy Scott, Julianne Moore, Nuno Bettencourt, Minka Kelly, Melissa Joan Hart, Tamar Braxton, Skrillex, Abby Wambach, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Miss USA Nina Sanchez and the late Florence Henderson have in common? Not much, really, but they were among the million ticket holders clamoring to see Britney’s “Piece of Me” Vegas residency.
“One night I was standing with Britney backstage,” Rudolph recalls, “and I was walking her to the stage, and as I literally said goodbye to her I said, ‘Oh, and Jay-Z and Beyoncé are sitting in the front row.’ She said, ‘No! What!? Why didn’t you tell me? I can’t go out there.’ And I go, ‘That’s why I didn’t tell you. I didn’t want you to have time to think about it, now just go out and perform.’ And she was like, ‘You motherfucker,’ with a smile on her face. And then of course, she went out and Jay and Beyoncé are sitting right there. And Dave Chappelle was there that night also. But that’s the way it rolled. Everybody wanted to see it.”