As a well-traveled and established performer, Drew DiCostanzo brings years of experience on- and off-stage to his current job as Stratosphere Hotel & Casino Entertainment Manager. Vegas Report asked Drew to give us some insight into the Stratosphere Hotel entertainment offerings and the process behind reviewing and developing new concepts for hotel guests.
Tell us a bit about your history before coming to your current position as Stratosphere Hotel Entertainment Manager.
I started studying theater and magic at a young age. Before moving to Las Vegas, I performed as an actor, magician, company manager and consultant in a variety of touring companies, and theme parks. I was fortunate to be cast at Caesars Magical Empire shortly after arriving in Vegas. After several years in a variety of roles there, my wife Angela and I headlined for a period of time in the larger theater, the Sultan’s Palace.
We then headlined in a variety of theatrical magic, illusion and comedy magic shows for the cruise industry with companies such as Holland America, Disney, Princess and Royal Caribbean. In 2008, I joined the entertainment team under Chris Townsend at the Stratosphere Casino, Resort and Tower. In my role, I supervised the amazing technical staff and ushers, contracted talent for lounges/pools/events at three of our properties and worked closely with our marketing and ticketing departments. I was given the opportunity to create an immersive theatrical experience for a Halloween player’s club event entitled “DR. HAVOCK’S SIDESHOW OF CURIOSITIES.” The attraction was brought back as a retail experience the following year and named one of the Top 5 Halloween Attractions by Where Magazine.
I was then able to provide original direction and be part of the production team for FRANKIE MORENO LIVE AT STRATOSPHERE which was recognized as “Best Strip Headliner” (2012) by Las Vegas Weekly and “Best All-Around Performer” (2012) by Las Vegas Review-Journal. I transitioned to Entertainment Manager at the Stratosphere and also Produced/Directed/Wrote the current show PIN UP which has gone on to receive “Best Adult Show” and “Best Showgirls” nods in the Best of Las Vegas awards by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
You are at the very north end of the Las Vegas Strip. Tell us what challenges you have when finding an act or show you really like and selling them on your property and its location.
That is an interesting question. It’s less about finding and convincing them and more about creating an opportunity to feature an act or show that is captivating and engaging for our hotel guests, tourists visiting our world-famous tower and the guests that we hope to introduce to our property for the first time via an entertainment offering. Each week we receive countless calls, emails and proposals from both well-known headliners/acts/shows and talented folks you’ve never heard of—all wanting to bring their show to the Stratosphere. Our location has not been an issue. Our biggest amenity, our Tower, creates a variety of opportunities as well.
What types of shows have you found work at your property and which do not? Why do you think this is the case?
I believe the majority of shows that we’ve featured since I’ve been at the Stratosphere have achieved certain goals for certain periods of time. When I came to the property it featured the long-running AMERICAN SUPERSTARS tribute show and the classic rock, topless vampire show, BITE. Both had “worked” for various periods of time. Then, the great recession hit. For a variety of factors, we moved towards a re-branding of our entertainment featuring original productions: FRANKIE MORENO which highlighted live music; and eventually PIN UP which re-imagined the adult show genre. Recently, we’ve added the MJ LIVE show to our offerings. As a property, we strive to work with producers and performers to create the best possible experience so that it is beneficial for everyone involved. We have a history of quality and, often, long-running shows here at the Stratosphere and I like to think that it is due to a fusion of talented, smart and hard-working people committed to creating the very best entertainment experiences.
The last long-running afternoon show was Viva Las Vegas by Dick Feeney. Any plans for an afternoon show again at Stratosphere?
We have certainly discussed an afternoon opportunity both internally and with a number of producers and performers. There are pros and cons to having an afternoon show. However, this market can be challenging for a number of reasons. If we decide we want to re-enter that market then we will seek out the best options and resources to do so.
What advice do you have for producers looking to pitch/send in proposals to the Stratosphere?
Do your homework. There are a LOT of wonderful shows, talented performers and ambitious producers that want to bring their shows to the Las Vegas Strip. However, the number of people that fail to do the most basic research of our venue and property is staggering. Come see a show here so you see the size of both the stage and seating in addition to seeing the technical resources available. Walk the property to get a sense of our players, guests and marketing to see if what you have to offer is in line with how the property is presenting itself and could it provide a greater benefit to our visitors. Additionally, expect that the people you are talking to here have a far greater understanding than you may be used to (or want them to). They know the ins and outs of the myriad of facets of our industry from performance to technical production; marketing to ticketing; producing to contracts. A little respect goes a long way—as does preparedness.
What is your favorite after-hours spot to socialize/watch fellow entertainers? To socialize?
That would be wonderful! I have a wife and young son so my after-hours socializing may not be as vibrant as some of my peers. I have been frequenting the downtown area more often recently for social occasions with family, friends and entertainers. I do often get out to see shows (large, small and everything in between) at other properties as I certainly have quite varied interests when it comes to entertainment. I am happy to see more variety performances featured in shows these days. I would have to say that when it comes to after-hours, I more often invite people here to one of the Stratosphere venues when I’m done with work – such as McCall’s for a handcrafted whiskey cocktail, Level 107 for an amazing view or the swank new Radius Rooftop Pool & Wet lounge for fun in the sun.