Life has been a Cabaret for Marino
August 22, 2017 3:00 AM
by Monti Rock III
This week I’m dedicating an entire column to one show – Frank Marino’s Divas Las Vegas – a true icon of entertainment.
I have seen them all – the so-called “drag” shows, or to be totally politically correct, female impersonator shows. When I was a kid, it was like a masquerade watching Milton Berle on television in the 1950’s. He would put on smeared make-up and do a female impersonation.
Over the years, “Victor/Victoria” came first to the screen and then to the Broadway stage. An unbelievably believable Julie Andrews (film version) doing the counter clockwise of a woman pretending to be a man who impersonates a woman – are you following?
Then there was the film version of “La Cage aux Folles,” with a man impersonating a woman in the 1920’s. It seems in the 1920’s, particularly in Berlin, female impersonators were having a heyday. Then there was the great Christopher Isherwood’s historical novel, “Goodbye to Berlin,” which became a play (“I Am a Camera”), then in the 1960’s a Broadway smash, “Cabaret,” but the tone was light, not as dark as the 1990’s revival.
As you look at the emcee in “Cabaret,” portrayed by Joel Grey, you see a transformation and blending of the separate sexes – almost unisex. In the enlightened times in which we live, all of this razzmatazz has changed.
Why the history lesson? Because the hottest show on the Strip right now – for all audiences – and the most fun of all, is Marino’s Divas at The Linq. Frank is a miraculous man – a talent beyond the ordinary. He took an idea of the variety show format and threads together an ongoing stream of female impersonators that are the cream of the crop.
Every moment Frank appears on stage, he is in a different Bob Mackie gown – complete with feathers, rhinestones, sequins, sparkles and glamour – just heyday Hollywood. He is funny and has an easy rapport as host. He also does a “Can we talk?” segment as Joan Rivers.
Frank took lemons and made them into lemonade after the closing of La Cage at the old Riviera. He was not going to let his dream die. Instead, he self-produced and re-assembled some of his cast-mates into the Divas showroom spectacle.
He added a terrific line-up of male chorus boys, who appear with most of the celebrity acts as they supercharge the stage with energy and power! The entire cast’s costumes are incredibly executed and give a nod to the upscale look of this amazing showcase of talent.
You will see the greats re-created by the performers – Cher, Celine, Tina Turner, Katy Perry, Patti LaBelle, Diana Ross; the list goes on and on. The beauty of it all is Frank has met and knows the stars!
When Larry Edwards comes out as Tina Turner, not only his booty shakes, his wigs vibrate, too. He is a living example of how to impersonate a famous star and do it as a star himself! Kudos, Larry!
The brief moment of poignancy is when “Katy Perry” comes onstage, takes off his make-up and garbs himself into a man. That is the moment reality sets in – these are men!
The recently added 4 p.m. show time makes it the best late afternoon show one can possibly see in Las Vegas! There are also shows at 8 and 9:30 p.m.
Everyone loves Divas – every seat was filled. This is too good not to experience and in my personal memory bank is the best of the good times to be had in Las Vegas.
This past Sunday, Aug. 20, Las Vegas lost one of its own, and one of the world’s greatest comedians, Jerry Lewis.
Born in 1926 in New Jersey, Joseph Levitch became Jerry Lewis as he began performing in the Catskill Mountain hotels. He came from a vaudeville based family and was onstage since the age of 5.
During his career he was in over 50 films and as national chairman of MDA helped raise over $2 billion.
The last of the Rat Pack era comedian greats has now left us. RIP, Jerry Lewis.
• Internationally renowned recording artist Michael Bolton will bring his soulful hits to Cannery Casino Hotel’s The Club on Sunday, Sept. 3. Bolton has released nine No. 1 singles and sold more than 65 million records worldwide. Tickets start at $49.95 and are available online at www.ticketmaster.com.
• Singer-songwriter, musician and showman Frankie Moreno (not to be confused with Frank Marino) will bring his top hits to Suncoast showroom on Sept. 9, Oct. 14 and Nov. 11. Moreno has headlined shows on the famous Las Vegas Strip and sold out concerts at New York’s Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center and the Hollywood Bowl. Tickets start at $19.95.
• Emmy-nominated actor and comedian Rob Schneider will take the stage at Tropicana Theater inside Tropicana Las Vegas on Labor Day weekend, Sept. 2-3, at 9 p.m., returning to his entertainment roots after starring in comedic hits such as “Grown Ups,” “You Don’t Mess with The Zohan,” “50 First Dates.”