Barry Manilow In Paris....Las Vegas
Using the hotel — with its Tour Eiffel, boulangerie, bistros, and olde-Paris cobblestone streets — as a backdrop, Manilow's show in the Théâtre des Artes revisits his songbook and some significant moments in his life.
I've been in that theater many times, most recently during the annual ShoWest convention where it was used for showing films. It is a lovely venue with 1,500 seats. But, for Manilow's show, it has been transformed. Using lights and the curtain that depicts a classic French painting, the theater becomes a jewel box lined with red velvet. Beautiful.
Manilow mentions a recent trip to Paris — the one in France — and talks about it, most especially the art.
He was, apparently, so impressed, that the art of the likes of Cézanne, Monet and Renoir, among others, "hangs" on the stage during the show. It is, actually, fascinating to watch the technology employed in the production.
At times ornate gilded picture frames are shown on a wall (really, a curtain) and, as Manilow sings and talks these pictures are exchanged with other pictures. It is as if you are in a real gallery. In addition, when he talks about his Brooklyn roots fabulous photos of the Brooklyn Bridge are projected.
We see photos of him as a boy when his beloved grandfather took him from their Brooklyn home to the store in Manhattan where you could "record your voice." He plays two of those recordings, one of his grandfather coaching him to sing Happy Birthday to a cousin and, a few years later, his version of the Nat "King" Cole hit, Nature Boy.
There's video of his first appearance on American Bandstand with Dick Clark — introduced in the show by Manilow's own theme Bandstand Boogie — and of his first appearance on Midnight Special, where he's introduced by Clive Davis (talking to an unidentified Mac Davis) who, coincidentally, is co-producer on Manilow's newest CD, The Greatest Love Songs Of All Time.
A few of the songs from that CD were included — Our Love Is Here To Stay, Where Do I Begin? (The Theme From Love Story) and the 1898 tune, When You Were Sweet Sixteen.
He also did Somewhere In the Night, Weekend in New England, I Write The Songs and, of course, closed with the rousing, dare-you-to-sit-still-in-your-seat, Copacabana.
The show is directed by Jeffrey Hornaday and, as always, Manilow's band under the leadership of Ron Walters, Jr., is top notch.
Barry Manilow's back-up vocalists double as very skilled dancers. Muffy Hendrix, Kye Brackett, Melanie Nyema and Keely Vasquez really add to the show — not only as singers and dancers, but as part of the overall ambiance with costume changes and real personality. They are more than merely back-up.
Present at the show, as they are at most, are some very ardent "Fanilows," people who pay $1,000 a ticket for the "Platinum Experience." This means they sit in the front row, enjoy a meet-and-greet at a pre-show champagne reception, a photo with Manilow and an autographed show program. The money goes to the Manilow Fund for Health and Hope which, in turn, is funding the Manilow Music Project. This year, the Project is providing instruments for middle and high school students in Las Vegas' Clark County School District. For information on how to participate in the Platinum Experience visit <a href="http://www.manilow.com" target="_blank">Barry Manilow's website</a> or call 310-957-5788.
Manilow has signed to do 78 shows a year in 2010 and 2011. He is there some Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights at 7:30. Tickets range from $95 to $299. To order you can call 1-888-727-4758 or, purchase online at Paris Las Vegas.
This is the third time I've seen Barry Manilow in Las Vegas. The two other times were at the Hilton, where he did a show called Music and Passion. I am by no means a Fanilow. Like most other adults I know his music because, let's face it, he is and has been ubiquitous in the last few decades. Even though he sang his hits in the first two show I saw and put on an excellent show complete with a book and sets, this production is even better. It is more personal, with subtle shadings and it is clear that every detail has been polished like a valuable diamond.
Photo: Denise Truscello