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2 'other' 'Phantoms' to play Miami in fall, chasing same audiences

July 5-11th 1989 | Page 98
Written for Variety magazine

Ken Hill and Kenley editions in collision as both steal a march on Lloyd Webber B'way hit

Miami - The first showdown beteween the two non-Andrew Lloyd Webber "Phantom of the Opera" productions has erupted, with Ticketmaster handling remote sales of both the Ken Hill and John Kenley/Robert Thomas Noll scripts due in the fall.

Although booked near each other in other cities on both their tours, the Miami engagements mark the first test of their competing promotions while the trend-setting pop opera by Lloyd Webber develops its touring plans.

The Electric Factory Concerts tour of the Hill "Phantom" will play Miami in early September. The non-Equity Carrico Prods. tour of the Kenley/Noll treatment will appear in Miami and Fort Lauderdale in November.

The Lloyd Webber version, controlled by Cameron Mackintosh Inc. and the Really Useful Theater Co. Ltd. won't appear in the region until at least 1991.

Promoters compete

At commercial odds locally are impresario Arie Kaduri, who has exclusive Florida rights to the Carrico tour of the Kenley/Noll version, and Diamond Bullet Prods., which has booked about a dozen cities on the Electric Factory tour of the Ken Hill treatment.

Kaduri broke his promotional campaign for a Nov. 8-13 booking of the Kenley "Phantom" at Miami's 3,300-seat Dade County Auditorium June 9 and claimed a strong takeoff. On June 16, Diamond Bullet launched its sales for a Sept. 12-17 appearance of the Hill "Phantom" at the 1,800-seat Gusman Cultural Center, also in downtown Miami. Both promoters are headquartered in the area.

Diamond Bullet and Kaduri have arranged through Ticketmaster for computer and telephone operators to explain that their shows are not the Lloyd Webber production. Instructions pop up on computer displays for operators to recite whenever an order is placed.

News reports in Miami and Fort Lauderdale note that the Lloyd Webber "Phantom" is expected to appear at the region's larger houses late in the 1990-91 season or early in 1991-92 as part of the PTG-Florida subscription series. PTG is a subsidiary of Pace Theatricals, which has a national circuit of 24 cities.

Sales launch upped

Diamond Bullet veep Larry Turk said Kaduri's initial ad break in the Miami Herald forced his company to push up its sales launch by at least a week. Turk also said the initial box office reaction to his booking was soft, but ascribed the performance to Miami's typically late-blooming sales patterns rather than to Kaduri's scoop.

Representatives of the Carrico tour, meanwhile, admitted that Kaduri reported a sales dip immediately following the competition's kickoff, but said sales picked up later. Kaduri said his package also will play the 2,100-seat War Memorial Auditorium in nearby Fort Lauderdale Nov. 21-26, and that both his South Florida bookings include options for a second week.

Turk sees the concurrent sales campaigns as a preview of events likely to occur in other cities as the Carrico and Electric Factory Tours begin to overlap.

Diamond Bullet's Miami promotions for the Hill "Phantom" carry a disclaimer that "This is not the Andrew Lloyd Webber production." The disclaimer is a result of the company's experience in Atlanta, where the Georgia administrator of Consumer Affairs recently instructed a clear explanation. Miami ads for the Diamond Bullet booking were placed after Electric Factory Concert sued theater operators in Atlanta and Cincinnati, charging libel, slander and interference regarding comparisons with the Lloyd Webber musical.

Kaduri makes no mention of the Lloyd Webber version in his promotions, which prominently bill the Kenley/Noll version as "the play with music and a tribute to the original Lon Chaney film."