The Palazzo Theater was filled to near capacity last Saturday evening (Jan. 24, 2015). The stage was dim behind the beautiful curtain. The stars of Hollywood, television, and Las Vegas were slowly finding their seats. Anticipation was high. The Excitement was building as we heard the stage beginning to fill with 32 musicians. As quiet as they try, you can still hear them, if you’re sitting in the front rows. The lights dimmed. The curtain parted. And there stood Vincent Falcone (Frank Sinatra’s conductor for 10 years) standing in front of his orchestra. The musicians were ready. He signaled. And, suddenly we heard 32 live musicians in unison hit those beautiful notes of the overture to the show, “Frank–The Man, The Music.”
There were no more rehearsals. This was the moment Bob Anderson had been waiting more than 20 years to achieve. He went into full gear about three years ago, mapping out what he wanted to do as he would pay tribute to his friend. Bob was going to be transporting himself back to a time in Las Vegas when the village was coming of age. It was a glorious time when men and their ladies dressed to the nines, as they attended a show on the Las Vegas Strip. And, there was never a bigger star on the Strip than, Francis Albert Sinatra. Man those were the days.
I was fortunate to begin my Las Vegas career during a time when the Stars were aligned in the heavens, and they were displayed on various stages in hotel showrooms and great lounges. There was Robert Goulet at the New Frontier, Debbie Reynolds at the Riviera, Judy Garland at the Sahara, Jane Mansfield and Mickey Hargitay at the Dunes, Pearl Bailey at the Flamingo with Joe Louis the opening act. Don Rickles was in the lounge at the Sahara, Fats Domino was the headliner in the Flamingo Lounge, and Shecky Green held forth in the lounge inside the Riviera. Yes, those were the days! And, Sinatra? Well he was at the Sands, exactly where the Palazzo Hotel now stands.
Just some of the celebrities and VIP’s spotted among the nearly 1200 in attendance opening night were: Johnny Galecki, from the Big Bang Theory, Biggest Loser star Alison Sweeney, TV actor Laurie Metcalf, Cote de Pablo of NCIS TV fame, Nelson Sardelli, Arthur Schroeck, who wrote “Here’s to the Band,” for Sinatra in 1983. Rehan Choudhry, creator of the Life Is Beautiful promotion in downtown Vegas, Chadwick Johnson, Clint Holmes and wife Kelly Clinton, Linda November (who sang back up with Frank), Cathy Bittinger (who was in the violin section when The Man played the Riviera), Dennis Bono and Lorraine Hunt-Bono, and Chef Rick Moonen.
Falcone closed the overture and a familiar voice was announcing the show, Alan Stock (of KDWN fame). The show was on. Frank was standing right there in a beautiful tux as he began to perform some 25 songs in the next 90 minutes. I must confess I have known both Bob and Sinatra over a span of years. I had also been at the dress rehearsal Friday night along with my friend, the Supreme Ms. Mary Wilson. And she also knew the Chairman as a good friend and as a performer. It was extremely hard for me, and Mary, to differentiate between the two men. Every little mannerism Sinatra had over the years, the stomping of his feet, the clicking of his fingers, the sideway glances, they were all on that stage. Within minutes you were convinced that The Man was alive and singing. It’s important to point out that Frank Sinatra had stopped performing in 1995 and passed away in 1998.
I asked Anderson what song, or songs, of the many that he performs gives him those little Goosebumps on the arm while he’s singing it: “Gosh, that’s a tough question, ‘cause they’re all so darn great. I would definitely put, ‘Maybe this time,’ right up there. I really love ‘em all, but that one and maybe ‘Here’s to the Band,’ by Arthur (Schroeck), who was in the audience Saturday, are those type of songs,” Anderson said. “Between Vince (his conductor) and myself, and Stephen (Eich who was formerly managing director of the Steppenwolf Theater) my director, we’ll be constantly changing out the music, with other hits. After all, we have a gold mine of music to choose from.”
If you love great music there is no excuse for not seeing this show. Here are just a few of the more than 25 songs you will be listening too: “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” Come Fly with Me,” “Saturday Night,” “You Make Me Feel so Young,” “My Heart Stood Still,” “My Kind of Town,” “New York, New York,” “That’s Life,” and “Night and Day.” He does two medleys during the 90 minutes, a saloon set up, and the closing. Between them he does a very personal two song medley with the great guitarist, Joe Lano, “Meditation,” and “The Girl From Ipanema,” which was absolutely beautiful. You could hear a pin drop during this medley. The closing medley consists of a slew of hits including: “Witchcraft,” “Summer Wind,” and the final song of the evening, “My Way.”
And should you have some young people in the household, who may ask who was or is Frank Sinatra, take them along with you. They will never have to ask you again once they see this show. Show times are 8:00 p.m. from Tuesday through Sunday, with the exception of Friday when it starts at 9:00 p.m.
THIS AND THAT QUICKLY:
The Laugh Factory inside the New Tropicana, will be celebrating a special birthday on Saturday, Feb.7, when a veteran of the Comedy scene, Sammy Shore, celebrates his 88th birthday on its stage, birthday cake and all. Shore was the comic who was hand-picked by Elvis as his opening act. “He made him laugh,” Elvis has been quoted. And headlining the entire week, opening Monday, Feb. 2 through Sunday, Feb. 8, will be Brian Scolaro, with Rick Right the featured comedian, and Traci Skene doing the hosting chores.
Scolaro is an actor, writer, and stand-up comedian. Brian has done stand-up on his own half hour special, “Comedy Central Presents Brian Scolaro,“ as well on “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” The Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” Comedy Central’s “Live at Gotham,” and ABC’s, “Comics Unleashed.” He is most known for being Doug on TBS’s new hit series “Sullivan and Son,” and was Stuart Miller on FOX’s “Stacked,” starring Pamela Anderson. Born in Brooklyn, Brian began his comedy career on the NYC scene. Telling his parents he was at his ‘real‘ job he was actually out performing every night at the comedy clubs and became one of the city‘s favorites. After he appeared in the “New Faces Show” at Montreal‘s Just For Laughs, he landed several great roles in TV pilots. Some of his other TV roles include, NBC‘s “Harry‘s Law,” Showtime‘s “Dexter,” HBO‘s “The Life and Times of Tim,” TNT‘s “Men of a Certain Age,” and Bob Odenkirk‘s “The Brothers Solomon.” He appears as several characters on “The Life and Times of Tim,” and as Goblin, on the Disney Channel‘s “The Wizards of Waverly Place.”
After 28 years, and several thousand gigs in 37 of the 50 states and 24 countries, Rick Right is still out there, entertaining people well under half his age with his knowledge of all that is good and bad and worth ridiculing in the world of music. What sets Rick apart from other musical comedians is his ability to create on-stage, a musical based on challenges/requests from his audiences. His knowledge of popular music, bolstered by a collection of over 30,000 vinyl records, is encyclopedic. Right’s passion for music is obvious, and being a fine guitarist, singer, impressionist, and humorist, he combines all those skills to create an act which delights audience all over the world.
Traci Skene was featured on season seven of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing“. Traci has appeared on VH-1’S “Fools for Love,” “Stand-up Spot Light” and was named, “Funniest Woman in Philadelphia.” Skene co-wrote “The Comedy Bible,” the complete resource for aspiring comedians, which was published by Barron’s Educational Series.
Tickets for the 8:30 and 10:30 performances at the Laugh Factory are priced at $34.95 and $44.95. For information call 702-739-2411 or 800-829-9034.
Well, gang, this is about it for this week.
I’m outa here!