Las Vegas Real Estate
Stiffs & Georges
They burned the Monte Carlo ... and may get away with it
JohnTerez said: Try see it. , <a href="http://smart.fm/lists/152... glass supplies</a>... [More]
They burned the Monte Carlo ... and may get away with it
SoloJ3ss said: Great... , <a href="http://boxesandarrows.com... to make deer a... [More]
Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog.
alex yemenidjian ameristar animals architecture atlantic city australia baseball boulder strip boyd gaming california cannery casino resorts carl icahn charity cirque du soleil citycenter colony capital colorado columbia sussex cosmopolitan current detroit dining don barden donald trump downtown economy election encore entertainment environment florida fontainebleau g2e george maloof harrah's harry reid herbst gaming horseracing igt illinois indiana international internet gambling isle of capri james packer kansas kentucky labor lake tahoe laughlin lawrence ho louisiana lvcva m resort macau marketing massachusetts melco crown entertainment mesquite mgm mirage michael gaughan mississippi missouri monte carlo fire morgans hotel group movies neil bluhm ohio oscar goodman penn national pennsylvania pets phil ruffin pinnacle entertainment planet hollywood politics problem gambling regulation reno riviera sahara sheldon adelson singapore sports stanley ho station casinos steve wynn tamares group taxes technology the strip tilman fertitta tourism transportation tribal tropicana entertainment tv wall street
We took in Saturday night's opening of Terry Fator and his Cast of Thousands, as did quite a few C- and D-list celebrities, plus several MGM Mirage executives -- no doubt enjoying 90 minutes' respite from worrying about their company's future. MGM brass weren't nearly as visible as Harrah's Entertainment exec-about-town Don Marrandino. He was last seen chatting up a threesome of bottle blondes in matching, skintight, red dresses. Presumably they were the string trio Alizma, although I hope they're better at fiddling than at finding their seats, a feat which required circumnavigation of the auditorium. (Such are the perils of wearing bright, identical outfits.)
The evening was more like a corporate cocktail party with intermittent entertainment by special guest Terry Fator, as audience members couldn't be bothered to take their seats for a full 20 minutes, kibbitzing away interminably. This meant that people who were actually prompt (Quaint notion!) were treated to tape loop upon loop -- I lost count -- of Fator having his portrait painted. At least it gave one plenty of time to appreciate the skill and energy of DJ Ben Harris, as good a warm-up act as you could have.
Terry Fator and co-worker.
Although the crowd seemed extraordinarily reluctant to actually sit down and watch the show, once it started, they ate it up. Some Red State-friendly material was red meat to the opening-night audience, but the biggest laugh had to be when Fator took a jab at Believe divo Criss Angel. You had to wonder how the MGM execs felt, listening to the roar of savage glee directed at their failed, $80 million wonder boy. (Looking on the bright side, never has Lance Burton gotten such good reviews as he did right after Believe exploded on the launch pad.)
With the exception of Norm(!) Clarke, local press reaction to Fator has been pretty 'meh,' the consensus being that it's mostly tame, old-school fare (or, "cloyingly cute, reactionary and regressive") that will play well to a broad audience. Sounds like a can't-miss box office formula to me.
Perhaps it's because I have low expectations where ventriloquism is concerned or don't find Strip entertainment very cutting-edge anyway, but I thought Fator exceptionally good. Singing is in and of itself very difficult -- doing it well while also throwing your voice and manipulating a puppet takes an inconceivable level of skill, to say nothing of stamina. And, save for a brief costume change, Fator is onstage for the entire show. In fact, it's so densely packed with material that it risks overload. It's like walking that tightrope between being sated or outright stuffed at the buffet.
Fator has a snazzy-looking set and a crisp, seven-piece backup ensemble. The CGI imagery that accompanies most of the songs is beautiful and state of the art. The video montages for "Home" and "What a Wonderful World" aren't just corny, though, but are so literal-minded they stray into parody.
The vast majority of Fator's songs and pop-culture references are contemporary, with Patsy Cline and Roy Orbison impersonations are throwback-y as he gets. James Blunt, Gnarls Barkley, Amy W(h)inehouse and several other current artists get their due, so I'm perplexed by the critical consensus that Fator's material is tepid and dated. By contrast, Danny F. Gans adds two or three adult-contemporary numbers into his mix and it's treated like a massive reinvention.
OK, so maybe ridiculing Michael Jackson is like tripping a dwarf but this is a Jackson-obsessed town. Our dailies keep tabs on Jacko's whereabouts and speculation about if or where he'll headline in Vegas is neverending. So Fator is hardly off-base here. His sudden swerves into political japery, though, are so unexpected that they can throw you right out of the rhythm of the show. They contrast jarringly with the prevailing soft-and-cuddly vibe, sounding more like sudden irruptions from Fator's id. Most of the other laugh lines are ribald enough for Vegas but not so raw that a parental advisory is required.
The giant, flanking-video-screen setup is de rigeur for almost any showroom these days but give Fator props: He's in closeup much of the time, so any technical sloppiness on his part will be writ large. As for his occasional confusion as to which voice should be emanating from which mouth or his tendency to "corpse" in mid-routine, dissolving in laughter ... well, that's part of the fun and keeps the evening from feeling too slick.
At first, I thought The Mirage was taking a huge risk by awarding a long-term contract to a ventriloquist. But Fator is no ordinary ventriloquist and the gambit appears certain to pay off. The Mirage looks like it's got a huge hit on its hands -- maybe not Donny & Marie huge, but not too far behind either.
As though to put Fator in perspective, the truly awful Gordie Brown returns to the Golden Nugget on March 27. (Given former owner Steve Wynn's affinity for things French, I always think of that place as Le Nugget d'Or ... but I digress.) At least Brown won't be contractually obligated to sing that craptastic "Golden Nugget" theme song with which Rich Little opened his shows -- we think.
I won't get to find out, as we have an insuperable conflict with Trent Carlini's Elvolution that night. Aw shooty!
Update: Darn it all but they've gone and pushed the Trent Carlini
opening media night back to April 24. Guess I'll just pass on Gordie B. in favor of watching DVDs of Space: 1999.
Coming attractions: You'll get Anthony Curtis' take on Terry Fator when the next issue of Las Vegas Advisor makes print.