Britney Spears makes official Las Vegas entrance

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Fire-breathers, contortionists, snake charmers and hunky dancers welcomed Britney Spears to the Planet Hollywood Resort 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 made her way to the casino in a convoy of black Cadillac Escalades.

Spears’ show debuts Dec. 27, just in time for Sin City’s massive New Year’s crowds. She will perform 50 shows each in 2014 and 2015, performing her top hits and more recent material. Casino executives say the residency could be extended if it’s a success.

Wearing a black cocktail dress with a rhinestone top, Spears, who turned 32 Monday, signed autographs for some of the more than 1,000 fans who came to see her arrival. She told the crowd that Las Vegas was now her town, then left after a few minutes to catch a plane to her home in Los Angeles.

Her show will take place in a relatively small theater with nightclub touches, including table and bottle service.

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.

David Hoenemeyer, president of Planet Hollywood, said the pop star has a bigger following than any other musician playing on the Strip.

“She really cuts across all demographics. She has a remarkable following, and the ticket sales reflect that,” he said. “It’s a really big deal to have a star of her caliber performing for us.”

Hannah Dreier can be reached at .

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