Fire-breathers, contortionists, snake charmers and hunky dancers welcomed Britney Spears to the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino on Tuesday afternoon in a staged event kicking off the pop icon's two-year Las Vegas residency.
One block of the Strip was briefly shut down as the star pulled
up to the casino in a convoy of black cars.
Spears' show debuts December 27, just in time for Sin City's massive New Year's crowds. She will perform 50 shows each in 2014 and 2015, in a relatively small theatre with nightclub touches, including table and bottle service.
Casino executives say the residency will feature Britney's
top hits and more recent material, and could be extended if it's a success.
Wearing a black cocktail dress with a rhinestone top, Spears, who turned 32 on Monday, signed autographs for a few of the more than 1,000 fans who came to see her arrival.
She walked up a red-carpeted staircase to a soundtrack of her own music, passing a display of her name spelled out in pink, glittery 6-foot (1.8-meter) Styrofoam letters, and accepted a bouquet of roses. A troupe of sexy, stylised circus performers vamped behind her.
"I'm so happy to be here right now. This is my city. I can't wait to see you guys at the opening night," she said.
Spears has released seven platinum-plus albums since she debuted on the music scene in 1999. She has more than a dozen Top 10 hits, including Toxic, Gimme More and Oops! ... I Did It Again.
Her eighth album, Britney Jean, was released this week to tepid reviews.
Oscar Pena, 26, said he drove from his home in Victorville, California, to see the singer. He held a sign wishing her a happy birthday in one hand and a bottle of beer in the other. He's never seen a Vegas show but was planning to buy a ticket to see Spears.
"It's exciting. I've just been into Britney since I was a kid," he said.
Tickets will range from $59 to $229. Casino executives are hoping more people like Pena, a young customer by Vegas standards, come to see Spears, and then stay for the weekend.
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