I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you straight out, that I witnessed one of the greatest performance of an entertainer the other night at the Venetian Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. Don’t just take my word for it! Take the words of someone I trust with his opinion, and a guy who knows this style of entertainment better than anyone, who witnessed the same thing I did–Bob Anderson’s show, “Frank—the Man the Music.”
“I think it was his (Anderson) shining hour,” Rich Little, one of the greatest impressionist in the business today, said. “He didn’t just do Sinatra, he was Sinatra. It was like stepping back in time. I’ve never seen anything like it; it was the most brilliant impression (of Sinatra) I’ve ever seen.” Need this writer say more?
The Venetian Theater seats 1,800. I, would say, it was very close to being filled to the rafters—after all, most of the invited guest list was “Old School,” and the rest of the tickets were free on a first-come-first-served basis. Anyone who ever had the pleasure of witnessing The Man, during the years he performed in Las Vegas, couldn’t believe their ears as, Vince Falcone, hit the ivory keys on the piano, and the 32-piece orchestra began to play Mr. Frank Sinatra’s overture. This particular overture had been arranged by 90-year old plus, Sammy Nestico, who was in the audience. Then, high over the 32-piece orchestra, the curtain opened, and a spotlight moved to the opening. The Chairman of the Board was standing there. It was HIM! And, when he hit the first stanza of, “The Lady Is a Tramp,” you could hear the gasps of surprise. It had to be HIM! Nobody sings a song with that voice, or that intensity anymore. Of course, we all knew who it really was—Bob Anderson. But, gang, that was the feeling of just about everyone who was sitting front and center that night. I can’t count the nights I spent watching Mr. Sinatra perform at the old Sands Hotel, or the Riviera, or at Caesars Palace. I had the pleasure of knowing him for more than 37 years, having met him in Los Angeles, when I was doing publicity for the former Heavyweight Champion of the World, Joe Louis. Anyhow, that’s another story for another time.
George Levine, who was one of the great Maître D’s of our village during the good ol’ days of the Copa Room at the Sands, was sitting front-row-center, along with Nelson Sardelli, Marty Allen, and Steve Lawrence. “It was a wonderful experience, listening to the beautiful music, and seeing my friend (referring to Mr. Sinatra) once again on a Vegas stage,” Levine said, following the show.
Anderson did it all. He stomped his foot like Frank would do often when he was feeling the music; he goofed on words like he would do when he felt playful; he would sometimes joke around with the band, or his music arranger, when he was recording—but, he could also get very serious and cantankerous at times. Anderson not only had the little things down pat, but the stance, the walk, the glance of an eye if he heard a wrong note from the orchestra. Bob did his homework. And, he had a great source to go to: Vincent Falcone! I would venture to say no one alive today knew Sinatra as a performer, and as a friend, better than Falcone, who was with him as his conductor, sometime musical arranger, and confidant for more than 10-years. As a matter of record, the arrangements for Anderson’s show were all original notes, as re-arranged for Anderson by Vince. That alone should be all anyone needs to really know, to be able to call this particular performance a true experience!
I could go on and on about the music, the arrangements, and the titles of every song Anderson sang, as Sinatra would sing a particular song. Needless to say, the show ran 1:40 minutes total, including an encore of, “It Was a Very Good Year.” There was a lot of gasping, and oohs and aahs, during the more than 100 minutes of, “Frank—the Man the Music.”
“It Was a Very Good Night,” for all of us.
THIS AND THAT QUICKLY:
Grant Griffin headlines a first class variety show, “Grant Griffin and The Las Vegas Divas,” at the South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa, Thursday, May 8 at 8:00 p.m. The production features Griffin, Las Vegas’ finest divas, dynamic dancers, gorgeous showgirls, a live seven-piece band led by musical director Bill Fayne, and guest singer/actor Michael Delano. The show will provide an evening of music encompassing Jazz, Classical, Pop, Rock, Latin, and Broadway. This is the third year for Griffin, and co-producer Mistinguett, at South Point. Their carefully selected divas this year include: Gabriella Versace, from “Showgirls” and “Erocktica;” Elisa Furr, who appeared in “Jubilee!” and who has her own “Tribute to Celine”show; Jeneane Marie, who has opened for Frank Sinatra and Don Rickles, and Naomi Mauro who was at the Stratosphere in “Superstars” for seven years. The production will be embellished by Enrique Lugo from “Imagine,” “Fashionistas” and “Charo,” and his dancers, plus The Mistinguett Showgirls. Tickets are $35, $40 and $45, call 702-797-8055.
On May 1st, a very important little book came out. The highly-anticipated launch of the new book, “Lindbergh: The Tale of a Flying Mouse,” by award-winning German illustrator, Torben Kuhlmann. This stunning mouse-tale is already getting stellar reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, ForeWord Reviews, Huff Post, and many more will be forthcoming, I’m sure. It’s being called: “…one of the most inspirational children’s stories of all time,” and one reviewer said, “…if I am spellbound, just think how a youngster will feel!” In fact, School Library Journal just said, “So strong is the visual narrative that the text is almost superfluous; this book can be enjoyed wordlessly. Back matter that includes a short history of aviation rounds out this rich offering.”
As for this reader, I couldn’t sit it down. It was so easy to leaf through as the illustrations just jumped off the page, and the story of how a mouse struggled to get to his final destination is so easy to read. The kids will love it! This new children’s picture book, (I’m giving it to my great-granddaughter, Imani) is a suspenseful yet inspiring story of a little mouse who conquered a big challenge. An avid reader, this mouse learned about, and then longed to find the distant land called, America. In order to do so he had to survive mousetraps, cats, owls, humans, and best of all… gravity. An aviation enthusiast, history buff, and professional illustrator, German author Kuhlmann, will be in the USA in late May, and will be attending the Book Expo in New York, and making an appearance at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
The 35th Annual San Gennaro Feast will take place May 7-11, 2014, at the Grand Canyon Shopping Center. The Las Vegas re-envisioned fun, new food and music festival celebrates the spirit of San Gennaro and features more than70 restaurant food booths, 80 amusements rides including the new 100-foot Vertigo, midway games, arts and crafts booths, and live music. Entertainment coordinator and host Tony Sacca will be introducing Las Vegas’ best bands and also perform his own headlining show. Sacca has been part of the event for more than30years. This is the best Italian Heritage Celebration this side of Naples!
WHEN: May 7-11, 2014 (Wednesday – Sunday)
WHERE: Grand Canyon Shopping Center
4245 Grand Canyon Drive and West Flamingo Road (just west of the 215)
Well, gang, that’s just about it for this week.