Buzz News Chicago: Theatre and Concert Reviews

One thing for sure - there is no shortage of shows to see in Las Vegas. Home to some of the most dazzling production shows, Broadway-esque musicals and magic acts, The Strip is sure to entertain, finding something for just about anyone, including music lovers of all varieties. As the other shows go, when it comes to live music, choices also span widely from resident acts such as Donny and Marie to Celine Dion, and though fantastic shows in their own right I’d be more than hard pressed to find a more action-packed show than The Australian Bee Gees performed at Excalibur Hotel and Casino. 

 

One of the most outstanding tribute shows ever assembled, this outfit does the Bee Gees right. In fact, Barry Gibbs’ own mother quoted her son as saying the AGB is the best in the world at what they do. And who can really argue with that? After watching their show I sure can’t. 

 

Set in an intimate theatre that probably holds less than three hundred people, fans are able to get an up close and personal experience to the music of the Brothers Gibb. Barry, Maurice and Robin Gibb are wonderfully played by Matt Baldoni, Wayne Hosking, and David Scott who perpetuate the famous band’s legacy with an enormous amount of respect, talent and excitement. This engaging, hit-filled show is broken down into different periods taking on the earlier triumphs of the Bee Gees before heading to their later, and probably most influential, years when Saturday Night Live was all the rage. With a comprehensive catalog of material hitting on love ballads like “How Deep is Your Love” and “Too Much Heaven” that are nearly guaranteed to bring out the romance in everyone, the set also lets the crowd get their boogie on with popular disco faves “Stayin’ Alive”, “Tragedy”, “Jive Talkin’”, and “You Should Be Dancing”, even transforming part of the venue into a dance club for the last handful of numbers. 

 

In their heyday, it was probably difficult to find someone who did not own an LP or 8-track of a Bee Gees album. Many of us have grown up with the band’s music that still holds a dominant place and influence in today’s world, making this show an exciting trip down nostalgia lane. And for those who did not, I envy their experience of discovering this music in such a fun and unique way. Immortalized in classic films, still played regularly in radio rotations, the music of the Bee Gees always takes us back to one of the most memorable periods of pop culture, highlighting the ever so groove-laden, bell-bottomed, big collared, gold medallion-hanging-over-open-chest disco era. Yet, we cannot overlook the incredible talent involved in writing and performing the music that made them famous, making The Australian Bee Gees show all that more impressive as they handle the vocals and instrumentation with amazing precision while infusing the perfect amount of energy and personality into their act to create this rare show opportunity. In other words, they wholeheartedly capture the spirit of the Bee Gees. 

 

Owned and operated by David Scott, Wayne Hosking, bassist Tony Richards and Michael Clift (who also performs as Barry Gibb), The Australian Bee Gees are not only a successful Las Vegas act, as they are well into their fifth year to performing for packed houses at Excalibur, they are also a popular international touring group. How can they tour while playing six nights a week in Las Vegas? Easy, by rolling out more than one band. In fact, they even have a third outfit assembled for good measure. That said, The Australian Bee Gees success is world wide. It also helps that people from all over the world attend the band’s Las Vegas’ shows, adding to their already large amount of world-wide exposure, a segment of the show proudly paying homage to the homelands of their audience members in a uniquely fun fashion. Outside of their current Las Vegas home, the band has also had residencies in other parts of the world including a six-week run at The Broadway Playhouse in Chicago. 

The band formed just over twenty years ago when “the guys” played in various cover bands and original projects throughout Australia upon realizing that no one was doing a Bee Gees tribute. Thinking it could be a challenging project and having an obvious appreciation for the music, the musicians gave it a shot and clicked immediately. Testing the waters the ABG’s booked some shows in China and after three weeks of sold out shows in Hong Kong, it was apparent they were on to something special. After their inaugural tour success, the band quickly flew back to Australia and put an entire show together based on the One Night Only concert (The Bee Gees one and only concert). Since, it has gradually snowballed into what it has become today - a fantastic tribute to an iconic band where fans around the world can relive the magic of The Bee Gees - a band that has performed in over forty-five countries.

 

Though their initial success caught on overseas, the band still had to conquer America. The Bee Gees certainly achieved a great level of success here and that naturally played into their favor. However, if any trepidation existed amongst the ABG members, it was unwarranted as Americans welcomed them with open arms. Wayne proved to be correct when he said, “If you can make it in Australia, you can make it anywhere”, referring to the band’s rather tough home audiences. 

 

The band describes the Bee Gees music as universal and timeless so much so that they cannot fit enough hits into one show. In seeing the AGB’s live, it is evident the band members are not just going through the motions but rather are playing with a true love and enthusiasm for the music - something the audience feeds on rabidly.  

 

When asked the band’s favorite song to perform they quickly agreed that they often have a special moment with the audience when playing “Words”, as fans sing along with the ballad word for word - even in countries where English is not widely spoken. Though many songs head the list of favorites, the band also explains that set lists are changed depending on where they are playing. For instance, what may be popular in Germany, may not be as popular in other parts of the world. Another example would be the popularity of Spicks and Specks, The Bee Gees breakout number one hit in Australia that, over there, compares to the popularity of Stayin’ Alive here in the States.  

 

Family-friendly, edgy and brilliantly performed, this is a show that can be enjoyed over and over again. Catch the fever - the Saturday Night Fever - and pass it on - it’s contagious.      

 

As a heads up, here are a few things one might expect at an Australian Bee Gees show - lots of toe tapping, hand clapping, dancing (whether at your seat or a few feet over at “Club Mo”), humor, the likeness and sound of The Bee Gees remarkably revisited and and all around experience where you will leave knowing that you just attended one of the most energetic and memorable shows on The Strip. Tickets are priced at an ultra reasonable $49.95-$59.95, making this not just one of the more affordable Las Vegas shows but one of the best overall values. 

 

Published in In Concert

My guests and I were seated directly in front of the center stage - I could touch it.  I had not taken a ‘sneak peak’ of the acts as to what we might expect. So, with only the anticipation of the unknown, V - The Ultimate Variety Show was completely surprising and entertaining from beginning to end.  The variety of acts went from unusual to jaw dropping.  

The host was Russ Millin, who apart from doing a wonderful job introducing the acts, had one of his own.  I’ll get back to that later!  

With so many acts to digest, I’ll just quickly run down the list of a few that stood out most to me, though there was not a single act that disappointed.

“Turf”, a young male contortionist awed (and shocked us a little) with what seemed like impossible moves, like the illusion of his head not being attached.  You can’t go to dance school to learn this style! 

Iouri and Gabor acrobatic act of strength and balance was totally Las Vegas worthy.  I would venture to say that if you don’t see this act up close and personal, you would not be able to appreciate the extreme talent and precision it takes to present what they did for us.

The Quiddlers had the audience roaring with laughter!  It was a trio of ‘little people’, or rather the illusion of it…. hard to tell.  The coordination that consumed the entire stage with song, dance and comic jesters was a commitment of hard work that really paid off.

Tamara Yerofeeva, Anna is a petite beauty who amazed us with her handling of up to 5 or 6 rings.  She made the impossible happen in more ways than could be expected and was absolutely hypnotic.

The Robot Boys from Denmark were just wonderful to watch.  Their two characters were fluid in robotic movement and acted out a number of scenarios to background rhythms.  

Recycled Percussion who actually have their own Las Vegas act consisted of two very gifted performers.   Starting out with what almost looked like ‘homemade drums’, their act began with low key sounds, escalating to competitive drum fun, and complicated duos.   Don’t want to spoil it for you, so check it out!

The husband and wife team, “The Skating Aratas” presented themselves in what I would have to describe as a thrilling and frightening routine.  Skating on a small, round platform above my own head, I could hardly watch!  With much needed perfection together the husband secured his wife in ways that seemed so daring that it seemed she would go flying into the audience at any moment.

I loved how this production mixed it up with the type of acts we saw, keeping true to its name, V-The Ultimate Variety Show.  With its great combination of humor and a unique blend of talented, sometimes seemingly death-defying acts, this is one of the most entertaining shows I’ve seen in some time. Funniest of all, or at least comparable to the Quiddlers, Russ surprised us with an audience participation routine.  Picking four men (my ‘lucky’ husband was one of them), the followed Russ’ lead on stage, acting out a skit of sorts, creating sidesplitting laughter throughout the audience.   

V-The Ultimate Variety Show is a great night out for those searching for entertainment on The Strip.  The show is reasonably priced and entertains in more ways than one could imagine.  The above mentioned are not just the acts scheduled for the show we attended, many of them have performed in other parts of the world and states, leading them to the ‘center of entertainment’ right here in Las Vegas!

V-The Ultimate Variety Show is being performed twice nightly at The V Theater in Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino. Tickets are general admission at $69.99. 

 

Published in Theatre Reviews

As I sat down in my second row center seats in Planet Hollywood Casino Hotel and Casino’s Saxe Theater, the couple next to me told me excitedly that they had seen Vegas! The Show as VIP's to meet the cast afterwards ten times! This lovely couple in their early sixties from the Midwest said that they return to the show every year and even have favorite cast members that they hope will be in the constantly evolving large cast.

 

The show starts off in what appears to be a dark warehouse filled with a slew of large, worn hotel and club signs once brightly shining to dazzle the Las Vegas crowds. Enter “Ernie” the maintenance man. Ernie addresses the crowd, telling us about Vegas’ golden era when the likes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Ella Fitzgerald and Lena Horne were in their heyday, entertaining audiences and setting the unachievable standards for future Las Vegas stars. Ernie reminds us that these were the days when women would attend shows in fancy dresses and dapper gentlemen arrived in well-tailored suits or tuxedos as opposed to today’s show-goers that arrive in shorts, sandals with white socks and t-shirts that ask “Who Farted?”. After a bit more reminiscing, he then takes us to yesteryear and we get a glimpse at what once was. In a blink of an eye, the stage suddenly transforms into a sparkling set full of life, dancers, and colorful lights. A full band appears as we are thrust into the magic of classic Las Vegas. Vegas! The Show beautifully presents a timeline of entertainment that makes stops from the 1940’s through the 1970’s, sets changing with the times as we hear one classic number after another. 

 

Refusing to allow any gaps in entertaining its audience, the show brings forth a variety of amusing acts front of stage during set changes from jaw-dropping juggling acts to an aerial balancing beam team that gets plenty of “oohs” and “aahs” from nervous crowd members. This show is simply oozing with talent and entertains with the best of them. It is no surprise this show has been named “Best Show in Vegas” many times during its five-year residency.       

 

I enjoyed this show from beginning to end. If you have a yen to see a little bit of everything Vegas is known for like tall, beautiful showgirl numbers, great personality impersonations of singers like Tina Turner, Elton John, Tom Jones, Wayne Newton, Sonny and Cher and Elvis Presley, this is the show for you. 

 

As impressed as I was with the singing voices of the various star impersonators I was also blown away by the large cast of well-trained energetic young dancers who filled every number with so much excitement and sexy surprises it was hard to decide which part of the stage to watch. 

 

This is a saucy, slightly sexy, but never raunchy respectful tribute to the historic performers and places that have made the history of Vegas what it is today, is a breeding ground for great talent.

 

There's also some humor mixed in with the great singing and dancing and although the costumes are sexy, I would not hesitate to take kids to this show. 

 

The most poignant moment of this very upbeat variety show came in the form of a slideshow at the finale as “Elton John” sang “Rocket Man”. The footage consisted of film clips of all the past great who have graced Las Vegas such as Liberace, Elvis and The Rat Pack before switching into a montage of all the hotels (Sahara, Frontier, Dunes, etc.) actually being leveled by explosives to make way for the new and modern Vegas we know today.

 

Filled with interesting history tidbits about Vegas yet never slowing down by literally filling the stage in this intimate 400-seat venue with old school, eye popping glamour, this really is a show to see with friends and family who'd like to experience a little of each of the great parts of Vegas just like one would at a buffet – by getting a healthy gander at so many fabulous themes in a single night. 

 

Tickets currently run at $79.99 for general admission though a VIP package is offer for just $20 more that assures seats closer to the stage. Showtime’s are 7pm and 9pm seven days a week. Be sure to add Vegas! The Show on your Las Vegas to do list.  

 

Published in Theatre Reviews

Las Vegas - Dazzling light displays, glitzy hotels with themes ranging from some of the planet’s most desired locations such as Paris, Venice and Egypt, exciting casinos filled with the sounds of cheering and the cha-chings of slot machines, energetic clubs with sexy dancers and, maybe best of all, some of the most colorful and original shows one could hope to see. When going to Vegas, it’s easy to check the show sites only to be barraged with so many options the task can become a bit frustrating. Well, the good news is the Buzz News Chicago staff makes a point to visit Las Vegas on an annual basis to keep our readers informed on some of the best shows the Strip has to offer. If we don’t like it, we won’t write about. Rather than tell you what not to see, we’d prefer to make recommendations on shows that deserve your attention.  

This year, there were a few shows stood out as “must sees”, one of my personal favorites being Jabbawockeez, currently being performed at MGM Grand Hotel and Casino inside the Jabbawockeez Theater. The latest of the Jabbawockeez adventures “JREAMZ” is an amazing blend of hip-hop, break dance and dreamlike theatrics that is thrilling, interactive and best of all, completely original from any other production show. The show, voted three years running for “Best Family Show” and “Best All Ages Show” Jabbawockeez is not just a modern workshop of hypnotic dance moves and brilliant choreography, it is a throwback to mime to which a large amount of humor is injected into its dream sequenced series of events. Despite the lack of any dialogue, the Jabbawockeez dancers, faces hidden in white masks of varying degrees, have no problem communicating their point with their fellow performers and audience members. Considering the vast amount of people who travel to Vegas from around the world, this show gets extra points as a production everyone can follow.

Walking Dead fans will enjoy the show’s beginning that takes its audience through a full on zombie apocalypse, before gradually shifting to rotating successions of dreams that could either fall on the nightmare side, be a joyous, blissful experience or can be an adventure in itself. No matter the scenario of the moment, we always receive a heavy dose of stunning dance moves where you can only shake your head in disbelief or think, “What the…?”   

Adding to the comedy of the show, members of the audience are sometimes plucked by the dancers and guided to the stage for some good old fashioned embarrassment that create big laughs. Performed in a somewhat intimate venue for Vegas standards where every seat is a good seat, the audience gets slammed with an up close, in-the-face experience that is sure to be remembered. Jabbawockeez is a unique production that can be enjoyed over and over and suits just about any audience. 

The dance troupe is not just recognized in Las Vegas, they have made a splash nationally appearing on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show”, “Dancing with the Stars”. “So You Think You Can Dance” and “I Can Do That”. One of the most original dance productions recognized across the country, Jabbawockeez is a Vegas experience like no other - an experience that will inspire, make you laugh and leave you amazed.

Like most every show in Vegas you can purchase souvenirs of the performance, the main difference being that Jabbawockeez offers products from its own clothes line – and they’re cool!

Tickets for this fantastically entertaining production are very reasonable and in line with many of the other shows on The Strip. Performed at 7p.m. each night except Tuesday and Wednesday, prices range from $49.99-$82.99. For an additional $55 a VIP Package can be purchased which includes a photo op with the Jabbawockeez dancers, an after show meet and greet and a bag of goodies.    

 

Published in Theatre Reviews

I still remember dancing with my brother in front of a wall of mirrors on our shag carpeted living room in the 1970's and thinking we were going to be the next Donny and Marie. Posters of the two famous Osmond’s sprouted up on most teenage walls and “Puppy Love” was all the rage until “I’m A Little Bit Country, I’m A Little Bit Rock N’ Roll” themed the Donny and Marie show, airing from 1976-1979. Charismatic, funny and vocally skilled, the gifted siblings left their mark on the 1970’s launching each into successful solo careers before reuniting once again years later in perhaps one of the most unlikely places – The Las Vegas Strip.    

 

Picture perfect smiles still as visible as ever, Donny and Marie have now become one of the most sought after attractions in Las Vegas, finding an on stage home in the Flamingo Las Vegas. Star presence and charming good looks have not eluded the two, who perform a high energy set full of classics and standards sure to please die-hard and casual fans alike with favorites like "A Beautiful Life", “It Takes Two”, “These Boots Were Made for Walking”, "I'm Leaving it (All) Up To You" and Marie’s “Paper Roses” highlighting the evening along with their still funny banter that injects the perfect dose of comedy into their act. Amidst their song and dance numbers the two still exhibited a great sense of humor that made them even more adorable. The lighthearted teasing and playful ribbing between them, like about which one of them won the Dancing with the Stars trophy and which one ONLY made it to the finals, seems genuine, fresh and unrehearsed.

 

Watching their show was a delightful surprise that made me feel really young to see that after all these years this dynamic, talent-packed brother and sister team are still going strong in every way!  

 

There is wonderful slideshow and several video clips that run in various places throughout the show, some that brought tears to my eyes of performers who have passed though most brought back happy memories of a time when these two adorable and handsome siblings took the world by storm. 

 

Both Donny and Marie are talented dancers and singers and have a really fresh team of dancers behind them to fill out the show. I'm not sure if most remember her true vocal talent, but Marie blew audience members away when she sang, especially on an operatic piece, which was perfect and showed not only the versatility of her voice but the amazing strength of her range as well.

 

Projecting a strong sparkle in his voice and step, Donny, an ageless wonder, still looks like he is in his early forties. His dancing really showcases the fantastic shape he is in and his face appears as young as ever. Marie simply looks stunning. 

 

The songs were varied, enthusiastic and upbeat and there are a handful of occasions where Donny runs through the crowd and connects directly with the audience in this lovely, intimate, yet still glamorous venue. Seeing them at The Flamingo Las Vegas was actually perfect. Every seat provides a great view. It had the flavor of old time Flamingo glamour along with the fun, casual feeling that you could just wander in off The Strip and totally enjoy a trip back in time to the happy part of the 70's many of us grew up in or raised kids or grand kids.

 

After the show be sure to take a walk in the beautiful, sweet smelling night air of the Flamingo Sanctuary and you will have just about as much fun and lighthearted an evening in Vegas one can enjoy. 

 

Highly Recommended.   

 

Published in In Concert

zarkana-jugglingCirque du Soleil has innovated the circus as we once knew it and has transformed it into something that has become so more visual, musical and exciting than ever could have been imagined. While some Cirque shows are set to a particular theme such as the music of the Beatles or Michael Jackson or perhaps an epic Asian battle or even a water spectacular, Zarkana is different than most as it focuses on three ring circus acts that we grew up with, likely beneath a large tent.

Zarkana is performed center strip at Las Vegas’ Aria Resort and Casino inside a massive, and very beautiful theatre. Prior to the show, some of the 70-plus cast members from around the world are sprinkled throughout the venue interacting with people searching for their seats setting an exciting tone for what is about to come.

Each circus act brings out another gigantic set and bevy of creative costumes that are full of imagination with colors and movement that transcend the audience to another world for ninety minutes. Bringing to the forefront such fantastically traditional circus feats such as walking the high-wire, balancing acts, death-defying flying trapeze stunts and mind-boggling juggling, Cirque intensifies the experience of each with hypnotic music, amazing visuals and often incorporates its rich Vaudevillian humor.

Oohs and aahs are heard across the auditorium as acrobats fly overhead, performing maneuvers that can only be found in one’s deepest imaginings. Dream like motions are brilliantly blended with dangerous stunts that sometimes will have one on the end of their seat. An ingenious cast of characters are as colorful as they are funny. Zarkana is a show that can appeal to just about anyone’s sense of adventure.

Of the many acts performed, the Wheel of Death was probably one that caused the most amazement. The "wheel" is actually a largespace framebeam with hooped tracks at either end, within which the performers can stand. As the performers run around on either the inside or outside of the hoops, the whole apparatus rotates. The performers also perform balancing skills with the wheel in a stationary position. As the device spins faster and faster the stunts become more intense. Another stand out act was the Cyr Wheel. This is where acrobats rolled around the stage within large hoops while performing all kinds of mind-blowing tricks.

Each act was remarkable in its own right and opened one new world of imagination after the next. Whether an eight-year-old kid or a seventy-five year-old kid, Zarkana is certainly a sight to be seen and an experience you will not soon forget.

A Las Vegas show not to be missed, Zarkana has two performances each evening (7pm and 9:30pm) Friday through Tuesday. Tickets currently run between $69-$180 and can be purchased at 855.ZARKANA or by visiting http://www.aria.com/cirque/zarkana. 

Published in Theatre Reviews

One could only picture what would have happened should four of the greatest rock and roll pioneers ever stepped foot in the same studio at the same time. And just imagine if the above referenced were Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash. Well, one winter afternoon in December of 1956, that’s exactly what occurred when these four music trendsetters met unexpectedly at Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee. Though no one really knows all the details of what happened during that meeting, most are quite certain a jam session like no other took place, later earning the four the nickname “The Million Dollar Quartet”.

MillionDollarQuartet-lasvegasCurrently playing at Harrah’s Showroom at Harrah’s Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas and at the Apollo Theatre in Chicago, Million Dollar Quartet brilliantly takes its audience into the Sun Records studio where it combines theatre with a truly entertaining rock and roll show. Filled with jaw-dropping singing and instrumental feats, Million Dollar Quartet in fact conveys the excitement of mid-1950’s rock music while at the same time providing viewers with a good feel for the time period itself. Let’s focus on the Las Vegas production, which is certainly on par with Chicago’s.

Million Dollar Quartet does not require elaborate set changes, taking place entirely in a recording studio (Sun) converted from an auto parts store. The show makes its mark as one of the hottest shows on stage thanks to its amazing musical performances, well-defined characters and a storyline that perfectly delivers the enthralled, but forceful supposition of “What could have been?” The story also points to the importance of Sun Records and their impact on the music world, mainly owner Sam Phillips (superbly played by Marc D. Donovan) and his ability to recognize and shape the talent of each recording artist, by having them reach inside themselves.

What contributes greatly in making Million Dollar Quartet so special is the incredible cast they managed to assemble. Not only does the Las Vegas cast deliver the personality traits and behaviors of each, including Jerry Lee Lewis’ dancing eyebrows and Elvis’ sneers and unique body language, but it is each actor’s ability to convincingly sing as their character along with their musicianship that takes this show to a much higher altitude.

At times, Martin Kaye literally makes the audience forget they are not watching the real Jerry Lee Lewis with his maniacal piano playing intertwined with the showmanship that helped the rockin’ pianist become famous. Robert Britton Lyon’s sizzling guitar licks and strong vocals makes a highly believable Carl Perkins, while Benjamin D. Hale nails Johnny Cash with spot on singing and his ability to capture his live qualities. Justin Shandor who first stuns the crowd with his accurate rendition of “That’s All Right” and then later seals the deal with a classic performance of “Hound Dog” plays Elvis Presley. The cast is rounded out by studio session players Fluke (Mark Ferratt) and Jay Perkins (Josh Jones) who are a show worth watching in their own right, and Felice Garcia plays Elvis’ Girlfriend Dyanne that joins in the jam session with a couple songs of her own including an inspired version of “Fever”.

Million Dollar Quartet starts off with a bang with “Blue Suede Shoes” and then continues to highlight memorable songs from each performer including “Folsom Prison Blues”, “Who Do You Love”, “Great Balls of Fire”, “Peace in the Valley” and many more. A good mix of concert and theatre, the show is heartfelt, entertaining and will be sure to leave a lasting impression, not to mention have many go searching through their record collection when they get home. This is definitely a show you want to check in while in Las Vegas that embodies rock n’ roll fun throughout and ends on a high note with its dynamic ending as a big Las Vegas show should.

Million Dollar Quartet is currently playing at Harrah’s Showroom in Las Vegas, the Apollo Theatre in Chicago and is also touring nationally. For more information visit www.milliondollarquartetlive.com

Published in Theatre Reviews
Tuesday, 28 October 2014 00:00

Trent Carlini Brings The King to Life

When you think of Las Vegas many things come to mind – gambling, bright lights, monstrous hotels and casinos to which one can easily get lost, glamorous showgirls, dry heated air, the Bellagio fountain, The Rat Pack, Bugsy Segal and Seigfried and Roy. But maybe the largest association one has with Vegas is none other than the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley himself. After flopping in Las Vegas during the 1950s (they just weren’t ready for rock n’ roll), Elvis returned with a vengeance in the late 1960s and had several highly successful years as a residency and touring act until his death on August 16th, 1977.

Since the King’s passing there have probably been more Elvis impersonators than one can count, and though most may go unnoticed, Trent Carlini does not. Formerly known as the Las Vegas Hilton where Elvis performed with regularity, Carlini currently performs an amazingly inspired tribute at what is now called Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino. Known as one of the best Elvis impersonators in the business, Carlini does not disappoint.

Set in the Shimmer Cabaret, a 350-seat theatre, fans are treated to a very intimate Elvis experience that is a true celebration of Elvis’ life and music. Trent Carlini packs an accurate, and highly entertaining, musical chronology into his 75-minute show that starts with Presley’s earliest hits like “Blue Suede Shoes” and keeps on rolling through the 1970s. Touching on the movie years, we hear classics like “Rock-A-Hula”, “G.I. Blues”, and of course “Viva Las Vegas”, before Carlini appears in that famous leather suit for some ’68 Comeback Special action. Carlini also dons Elvis’ legendary white suit for an emotionally stirring rendition of “If I Can Dream”.

“The King starring Trent Carlini” gives audience members a taste of Elvis Presley’s music in a way many thought could not be done. Carlini’s vocal ability to sound like Presley is haunting, his likeness almost uncanny at times, his movements right on and he even captures some of the late legend’s renowned charm whether it be in joking with the crowd or letting off a simple impish grin. Band members play along with Carlini but are not exposed until a few songs in, adding another dimension to the show. Expect a good amount of audience participation, as Carlini prods the crowd to sing along on occasion (or on their own!), invites the ladies to step up to the stage for a kiss, personally greets a good amount of the crowd during “Love Me Tender” and later passes out scarves to the adoring women in true King fashion.  

With each period of Elvis’ life, Carlini sports the proper attire from Presley’s Lansky collection to his well-known jumpsuits (complete with karate demonstrations). We get a little history lesson along the way though the main focus is on the music, as it should be in a tribute show. Pumping out the Elvis faves like “Hound Dog”, “Jailhouse Rock” (one of Carlini’s self-proclaimed top choices), “Burning Love”, “Can’t Help Falling in Love” and “The Wonder of You”, fans leave the theater feeling as though they got their full dose of Elvis-mania. The show concludes on an apropos note with Carlini’s powerful version of “American Trilogy” that really gets the goose bumps going. Carlini hits the song’s final note with precision and might – a note that so many other tribute artists substitute with a lower octave.

There is a huge variety of shows to see in Las Vegas, but this is one that should be on your must see list, Elvis fan or not. It is a show for all ages and one that anyone who likes to rock can enjoy. “The King starring Trent Carlini” is completely entertaining and thoroughly engaging. Trent is one of the best in the business and what better place than to relive, or get a taste of, the musical performance of Elvis Presley.

“Thank you. Thank you very much.”   

Published in Theatre Reviews

....a few minutes in, Human Nature welcomed us to the 'party'.  Their shiny shoes and bow tie look indicated to me to get ready for a class act!  From Sidney, Australia, these four men who referred to themselves as ordinary guys, proved within minutes to be 'extra ordinary'.  With a love for music and dance as teens they performed as a barber shop quartet, but soon shifted to Motown, loving the beat and soul of such groups as the Temptations.  Motown was birthed in the United States in the late 50's, but soon reached the ears of Mike, Andrew, Phil and Toby lighting a fire that never quit.

During the performance the highs and lows of harmony was done beautifully.  Music and rhythm aside, just watching four handsome men, suited up, brought class into the house and heightened the crowd with anticipation.  "Shop Around" brought back memories for me, and when "Stop in the Name of Love" filled the room it took you back in time when young people would escape into the fun of music.  This show was family friendly, but it wasn't a surprise to see the seats filled with older folks who related so much with the Motown sound.

Mike, Andrew, Phil and Toby have been together musically for twenty-five years.  The lead singer Mike, who initiated this 'dream' said it all began with "I'll Be There".  Their relationship with Smokey Robinson is genuine and productive in honoring Motown, and Human Nature is continuing to keep the heart and soul of Motown alive.  The energy level these guys had, the 'moves' and quality singing certainly is worth checking out.  Each performer is gifted, but the four together were amazingly entertaining. There was just the right mix of performance and audience participation to really keep the fun going.  Backed up by the Hollas Band Las Vegas, Human Nature brought home a sound that brought history back to life!  It just couldn't have been better!

Smokey Robinson’s Human Nature: The Motown Show is currently playing at The Sands Showroom inside Las Vegas’ glitzy Venetian Hotel and Casino. With hits from the Four Tops, The Supremes, The Temptations and Stevie Wonder you’ll find this show to be one of Vegas’ most fun and inspirational.

Published in Theatre Reviews
Register

Latest Articles