IT'S THE NORM 11-03-2010

Visited a couple of shows recently, and, I must say, this writer found both of them very interesting, extremely entertaining and well produced.  The first one sent me downtown to the Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino, while the second found me traveling across town to the Suncoast Hotel & Casino.

Country Superstars Tribute is at the Golden Nugget, in the Gordie Brown Showroom. This is a must see tribute show if you like country music, and if you don’t like country music, it’s still worth the trip–believe me!

The fast-paced, concert-style event, features a world-class live five-piece band and some of the best country music star impressionists in the business today. The 75-minute production features an array of incredible impersonations (they rotate in and out of the show by the night, week or stay forever) ranging from Brooks & Dunn, Willie Nelson, Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban, Big & Rich, Wynonna Judd, George Strait, and my personal favorite, Reba McEntire, as portrayed by Corrie Sachs.

Making up the country band is Mike Tucker on drums;  Roger Xavier, lead guitar; Johnny Douglas, rhythm guitar; Mike Batchelder, bass guitar; Harvey Sharp on the steel guitar (a lost art except in country music), and musical director, Joe Spraker on keyboards. And, gang, this band swings with the best.

The show was created by Ron Keel and Leonard Quenneville, of Radical Productions Media, LLC. Since their debut a few years ago, the Country Superstars Tribute cast has performed more than 800 shows to fans around the world. Now, they have found a permanent home in Las Vegas, where they continue to pay homage to some of the world’s most popular entertainers.

Tickets start at $25.00 plus tax and fees, with a special show and buffet package priced at $34.99 per person plus tax and fee. Showtime is 9:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Call (702) 386-8100 for more information.

Our second stop was at the all new Suncoast Showroom, where producers, Ed and Philip Mathews, brought together a group of talented performers, to bring back the days when radio ruled the world, and television was just a radical idea. “Hit Parade The Show,” is a fully scripted play, utilizing the services of many regulars from the Thursday afternoon (2:00 p.m.) gigs, “Hit Parade,” at the Suncoast, and “Variety—Toast of the Town,” at Sam’s Town.” Both afternoon shows are free to “B” card holders.

Mathews didn’t have to look too far to find the proper voice for the radio announcer. Nate Tannenbaum, he of bow tie fame, and former weather procrastinator on television and radio, was recruited for the job, and it turned out to be perfect casting.

The props were simple. The costumes took a little more thought as the script begins in 1937 and ends in 1962. The first sounds heard were the unmistakable music of Glenn Miller, with the “In the Mood Dancers,” led by Kristen Gressley. Throughout the 95 minute show, Tannenbaum recalls events and little tidbits, which actually took place in any given year, as he prepares to introduce one of the 13 guest stars. The Swing City Dolls (Robin Vincent, Natalie Carson, Connie Murray and Lisa Smith) came out swinging with a Boogie Woogie song, followed by Genevieve Dew singing “That’s My Desire.” Next up, in a long line of great singers, came a Mills Brothers tribute, with Frank Sinatra next, as played aptly by Carmine Mandia, singing “Five Minutes More.” Ron Smith and Ms. Dew performed a beautiful “If I Loved You,” with Sinatra returning to sing “Prisoner of Love.”

One of the big highlights of the evening was Mark Giovi (who stars in “Bite” at the Stratosphere) performing a Mario Lanza hit, “Be My Love.” Ronnie Rose did a couple of Nat King Cole songs, including “Mona Lisa.”

Ron Smith returned to sing a fabulous rendition of “Some Enchanted Evening.”  Jay Joseph honored Bing Crosby with a chart breaker, “Slow Boat to China.” Bill Fayne dropped in to do a tribute to Elvis and the show closed with Giovi and Dew singing, “All The Way.”

The super fine band was composed of music director Ned “Lionardo” Mills, Billy Wade on drums, Wilbert “Jiggs” Hemsley on saxophone, Steve Meyer on trombone and the fantastic trumpet of Charly Raymond, who also did a solo number from the past.

The audience was well entertained and the father and son producers are to be congratulated on a job well done.

That’s about it for this week. I’m outa here!