Divas Las Vegas: Frank Marino Celebrates 25 Years On The Strip

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It took me more than five years of being in Las Vegas but I finally saw Frank Marino's show. The city's best-known, and longest-running, drag performer is now in Divas Las Vegas at the Imperial Palace. The very special occasion the night I saw it was the celebration of Marino's 25 years as a Las Vegas Strip headliner.

Marino brings to the show his terrific Joan Rivers impersonation and he's very funny. I would have loved to see more of Rivers and less of, say, Madonna, Diana Ross and Whitney Houston.  Also, while I like Dame Shirley Bassey, one may rightfully wonder why it is she - who hasn't had a hit in years - that opens the show and how many in the audience knew who that show-opener was.

Even the members of the cast who - because they're plahying people who aren't often in the public spotlight anymore - should find new characters are excellent at what they do. I am not a Britney Spears fan, but Derrick Barry nails the look. Steven Wayne also gets it exactly right. His Céline is as mannered as the actual one. And his Cher? Wow! Marino - echoing my sentiments and those, I am sure, of many in the audience - said after Cher left the stage, "Even I don't know where he puts it." Wayne is Cher for those few moments.

Also loved Brent Allen's Bette. Larry Edwards' Tina Turner is a classic but his Beyoncé raises the simple question of "why?" Sammy Gonzales as Liza and Mariah captures the spirit of each. Kenneth Blake is fine as Madonna and his show-closing rendition of What Makes A Man is really well-done.

Divas Las Vegas is loads of fun. Were I in charge, I'd lose the lip-synching, some of the impersonations and bring out more Marino. (And, I'd love to see him wear only the first, shorter, most realistic, Joan Rivers wig. The two-tone bouffant-y affair is strange.)

For the anniversary, Rivers - playing just down the Strip at The Venetian this week - taped a congratulatory message to Marino that was, though quite funny, too blue to post here.

The production values are excellent - the costumes are beautiful and so well-made that they can withstand the natural scrutiny of the audience sitting thisclose.

Divas Las Vegas is a classic Las Vegas show starring a classic Las Vegas performer and classic Las Vegas performances. You should see it.

For tickets, call 888-777-7664 or 702-794-3261 or CLICK HERE

Photo: ©Lindsay Hebberd/www.culturalportraits.com

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