This summer, the name of the game at the Hard Rock Hotel Casino Atlantic City is “Something for Everyone”.
That’s because the casino resort, which celebrates its fourth anniversary this month, has put together the most eclectic entertainment program in recent memory, if not in the 44-year history of legal AyCee casinos.
Admittedly, pop music, the daily bread of the Hard Rock brand, remains the main attraction: among the headliners expected between now and Labor Day are Lionel Richie (June 24); New Kids On The Block (July 3); Toby Keita.m. (July 31); Alicia’s Keys (August 6) and Rod Stewart (August 19).
Also on stage (until August 7), popular revue “80s Live” has filled the SoundWaves Theater every Sunday for several months, while comedy will be represented by heavy hitters and more. John Mulaney (June 17 and 18) and Kevin Hart (July 8 and 9).
But it’s the off-the-beaten-path (for a casino, that is) attractions that separate The Rock from its competitors. For starters, there’s the titan opera Andrea Bocelliperforming at Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena on June 25. Then there’s arguably Atlantic City‘s most unusual gambling hall offering since 2001’s “Torture Through the Ages” exhibit at what was then called Tropicana Casino Resort (today it’s is Tropicana Atlantic City).
It would be “Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience”, the internationally acclaimed interactive exhibit that allows visitors to experience a 360-degree, three-dimensional view of some 300 of the legendary 19e-century master paintings.
Additionally, an announcement for at least one Broadway musical is expected, though as of this writing, nothing has been released.
So what’s behind this high-profile entertainment philosophy at Hard Rock? According to the executive who oversees the gambling den’s entertainment programming, the variety of bookings stems from a mandate to expand Hard Rock’s heavy rock and pop strategy.
“I think our leadership, starting with Jim Allen [the Atlantic City native who serves as chairman of Hard Rock International, the property’s corporate parent] really wanted to focus on Hard Rock as an entertainment brand,” offered Michael Woodsidethe casino’s vice president of entertainment and marketing.
“It’s more than music. It’s more than a genre. So we see ourselves more as an entertainment company. And I think that changes the way you see programming. So we want to make sure we have something for everyone.
“If you look at our clientele – people from Philadelphia, North Jersey, New York – it’s a very diverse audience. And so we want to make sure we have something for all these different people.
Woodside is particularly excited about the Van Gogh exhibit, which runs from July 8 to August 28 in the Seminole Ballroom.
“It’s just something different for Atlantic City,” he said. “Again, it’s another way for us to evolve what entertainment means to Atlantic City itself. But it’s going to be a great exhibit. There’s about 30,000 square feet [in the Seminole Ballroom]; Van Gogh’s art comes to life around you.
“We expect around 100,000 people to show up for this event over the summer. It’s another great way to entice people to come to the Hard Rock who wouldn’t normally.
As for Bocelli’s date, Woodside considers it a very special booking not just because of the tenor’s status as a vocal giant, but because of where the gig is being held.
“Andrea Bocelli is obviously such an iconic name; it’s going to be an incredible performance. We are very lucky to have him play at the Hard Rock because of the size of our venue,” he said.
“He can go to a stadium in other areas, but the fact that he’s playing here in front of 5,000 people, I don’t know when else you’ll get to see someone of that caliber in such a small intimate room. I think it will be a great experience for our guests to be exposed to this.
Doggin’ it at Live!
Live! The Casino Hotel Philadelphia offers a small stadium atmosphere with a special “Dollar Dog” offer at every Phillies home game.
Discounted dogs are available at Sports & Socialthe South Philly amusement arcade bookmaker as well as the Central bar. And speaking of dogs, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of said francs goes to two Philadelphia animal shelters: PSPCA and PAWS.