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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Friday, Nov. 15, 2019 3 weeks ago

Show time: Curtain rises on ritzy new entertainment venture

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A talent-booking veteran of the Las Vegas Strip brings her skills to her second home: Tampa.

What happens in Vegas has not stayed in Vegas.

Instead, it’s coming to Tampa thanks to Ann Marie Hayek, the founder of Pure Talent Celebrities, a booking agency that has provided performers for shows at some of the top casinos in the entertainment capital of the world.

Pure Talent Celebrities is bringing Las Vegas-style entertainment to Tampa, starting Nov. 15. Courtesy photo.

Hayek and her husband, Jim — a Florida native who runs the business with her — have split time between Las Vegas and the Tampa Bay region for nearly three decades, maintaining a home in Pinellas County. But now she’s bringing a taste of The Strip to Tampa with a series of over-the-top, Vegas-style shows starting Nov. 15, with “Dreamgirls Burlesque Revue” at the Avalon Event Center in Tampa. The show will also feature a set by comedian Frank Del Pizzo, a former auto mechanic and radio personality who’s opened for comedy legends including Sam Kinison and Andrew “Dice” Clay.

“Tampa, although it has wonderful entertainment, there’s just nothing like this,” Hayek tells Coffee Talk, adding that she chose the Avalon Event Center not only because it could accommodate her shows’ massive props but also for its 4,000-square-foot dance floor. At the Nov. 15 show and the next one scheduled for Dec. 14 and titled “SIZZLE Las Vegas,” guests will be able to get up and dance during the show.

“Sometimes people don’t want to just sit through a whole show,” Hayek adds. “A lot of people around here like to dance and go out and have fun.”

Some of the props are as tall as 15 feet, and the cost to transport them to Tampa was enormous, Hayek says — around $25,000. She estimates the total cost for putting on the show will be around $150,000. It’s a big risk, for sure, but that cost pales in comparison to the price tag for a similar show in Vegas.

“In Vegas," she says, "you can’t open a big show without $1 million in the bank."

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