Viva Las Vegas shows

Castlegar News bi-weekly columnist shares Vegas memories

Gord Turner

Gord Turner

Travelers arriving home from Las Vegas are often asked the question, “How much did you win?” Yet, Las Vegas need not be just a casino experience. It could be an array of onstage shows.

Before going to Vegas, our friend Bernie suggested we sign up for Terry Fator, the ventriloquist. Generally, we’re not very excited about ventriloquists, but we decided to give the show a try anyway. We checked the prices online and discovered it was an expensive show at $119.

As it turned out, the Terry Fator show was worth every penny.  What made him different than other ventriloquists was that nearly all his puppets sang.  He had characters who sang country and western songs, he had an Elvis character, he had high-voiced characters, and he had deep-voiced characters. The singing was outstanding, and yet his lips barely moved, and the humour was engaging.

This show was at the Mirage Hotel and Casino. To get there we had a long drive from our Grandview Resort complex along the Strip. Then we had to find our way into the Mirage’s self-parking lot, select a spot not too far from the hotel itself, and then walk forever across the parking lot, through acres of casino, and then up escalators to the theatre.

After that, we got smart.  We explored the route we had to take for any given show during the daytime. That way, we discovered where to turn off the Strip, what direction to go in the parking lot, and where in the hotel-casino the theatre was located. That little mid-day trial run saved us a lot of time and grief.

We also discovered we didn’t need to book our shows online and so far in advance. Most of the shows were not sold out, and most of the theatres had good viewing from all the seats. In fact, we bought tickets to Elton John on the day of the performance for $60.

Elton John’s million-dollar piano extravaganza was held in the magnificent Caesar’s Palace Theatre. It felt like we were entering the Roman Coliseum. Five thousand people jammed the huge theatre, and I waited for the French horns to announce him. That didn’t happen, but the audience roared upon his arrival.

We sat beside a 30-something young man who was an Elton John aficionado. He knew everything about Elton John—all the biographical data, all the hits, and all the words to the songs such as “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and “Crocodile Rock.”

Frank Marino and the Divas was also an excellent show. Held in a smaller theatre in the Quad, it featured males playing the roles of famous ladies from the  music industry. These included Madonna, Lady Gaga, Diana Ross, Shania Twain, Celine Dion and many others. It was a riot, and it all began with handsome Frank Marino hosting as a sassy Joan Rivers.

One evening, we were entertained by actors impersonating Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Junior in the “Las Vegas Show,” which was held in the Planet Hollywood Complex. Another evening, we trekked into Harrah’s Showroom to be wowed by the Million Dollar Quartet. This was a rock and roll drama based on Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis coming together on December 4, 1956 for a jam session.

The setting was Sun Records Studio and featured an actor playing Sam Phillips who gave these now famous singers their starts in the recording industry. The impersonations were right on, the best of course being the musician/singer who played Jerry Lee Lewis.

We came home feeling as if we’d like another go at the shows of Las Vegas.