National Amusements Books Live Entertainment

Sep. 17, 2008

-By by Andreas Fuchs

“As part of the experimentation with alternative content,” Shari Redstone advises, “we have successfully done live music and stand-up comedy in our theatres.” Designing a dedicated venue for this type of entertainment—and more—seems like a natural extension of the idea. And Showcase Live! is the fitting name that builds upon a long-established brand in entertainment.

As the president of National Amusements explained in her opening remarks on August 6 at the company’s Patriot Place location, “People have been telling us, ‘We want more, more, more.’ I hope they meant what they said, because…when you go to Showcase Live! you are going to get more, more, more and more: a selection of music from jazz to blues to rock, anything you could imagine, [creating] a night out unlike anything that you can experience anywhere else.”

Although plans call for “additional unique entertainment venues” across the country and abroad, on opening day Redstone stated, “To be able to do something so near and dear to us right here in my home community and together with the Kraft Family, who is so beloved by all of us, is really such a deep pleasure. I am very, very happy to be sharing it with you… This is all part of what we want to be for all of you: a community entertainment destination where you know, when it comes to Friday and Saturday night—or Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday nights—there is only one place to go.”

And what a place it is! The high-tech and highly atmospheric multi-functional space provides patrons with a dinner theatre setting for just over 500 and standing-room-only performances for 1,000 guests “when it’s more about hopping and rocking,” according to Redstone. The 28-foot concert stage on one side is matched by its 52-foot counterpart bar at the other, with the entire room being wider than it is deep to further increase already unmatched sightlines and that close-up-to-the-action feeling. Additionally, a video camera can beam even closer looks at the performers on large projection screens. With the exception of a good dozen VIP banquettes strategically framing and defining the seating areas, the layout is fully configurable and calls for business meetings and tradeshow presentations as well. Weddings and anniversaries have already been mentioned, along with the likely option of Showcase Live! becoming the ultimate “players club” for team members and fans of neighboring Gillette Stadium. Apparently, one of the New England Patriot football team is a big karaoke fan.

Redstone, who says she has been a Patriots fan “forever” and attended “every single one of their Super Bowl games since 1986,” mentions other possible benefits. “The first year we started broadcasting the Boston Red Sox games, they won the World Series. We just started with the Boston Celtics and they won the World Finals. I think we’re the place to go for instant karma…”

Instant success seems likely too, looking at acts and performers from Al Jarreau and The Bacon Brothers to Hanson, Peter Frampton, Squeeze and Suzanne Vega, to name but a few of the already booked attractions. Does this mean performances there could potentially be ending up on the big screen? Given “a lot of rights issues that we need to work through,” Redstone and NA “are definitely taking a look at the options” of broadcasting Showcase Live! events into digitally equipped movie theatres across the country. “Who knows, you may even end up seeing DirecTV Specials brought to you by Showcase Live! We are certainly putting the systems in place to have the ability.”

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