Big Strip hotel sets sights on Latin extravaganza

Feb 19, 2002 4:16 AM

Wasn’t Valentine’s Day a nice respite from the Rat Race? All those wedding package deals, it was almost enough to run out and get hitched. (Note the operative word “almost”).

This just in: Big and wonderful news for Latin aficionados. A very big property on the Strip is about to produce a Latin Brazilian talk show, variety show, right here in Las Vegas. The show’s star is one of the mainstays of Latin America ”” the flamboyant Walter Mercado. He’s a wonderful gentleman, blessed with psychic powers and entertains about 40 million people a week, and he’s coming to Las Vegas with a fantastic Brazilian variety show. Listen, Luis Miguel sold out at the Mandalay Bay, and a few months ago, Celia Cruz sold out at Sam’s Town. The Latin invasion is big here in Vegas. And for those of you who don’t know, I am a Latin from Manhattan, a Puerto Rican from the Bronx. Vive.

Back to gringo business. The Rat Pack at the Sahara has been packing them in ”¦ it’s still one of the hot shows. Apparently there’s a cast change in the offing. Steve Lippia, who sounds and looks like Frank Sinatra, is leaving the show for another commitment. The producer, David Cassidy, and staff were scrambling to find a new Frank. In my opinion, Bob Anderson does the best Sinatra impersonation, but Bob is still busy at the Stirling Club and working on Jeff Kutash’s Main Event. Calls went out to Bill Acosta, who would be a worthy candidate for the Rat Pack. After speaking to Jean, Bill Acosta’s lovely wife, Bill could have had top billing for eight weeks. Seems negotiations are on-going, but the door is still open according to Bill Acosta. In my opinion, the addition of This would be great for the show, the theater-going public and, of course, Bill Acosta.

Over at the Rio, Earl Turner is closing after a long and valiant, even courageous effort. The show had been trimmed down to two days a week, even though Turner was prepared to do the whole week. Well, bye, bye Las Vegas. Earl Turner is opening at Harrah’s in Laughlin. We all wish him the very best. Also at the Rio, Tony & Tina’s Wedding seems to be picking up some steam.

At the Flamingo, Gladys Knight has begun her new one-year engagement with a “soft” opening for the executives and president of Park Place. My spies tell me the audience was cheering for Gladys. As I’ve said before, it all depends on the marketing.

The Romeo Watch continues. Did magician Darrin Romeo finally get a showroom? I find that Las Vegas is going through a transition period, in which the lounge is coming back. As a former lounge lizard, I welcome it. Maybe Darrin can pull a contract out of the hat at the Riviera’s Le Bistro.

Tony Orlando’s show at the Golden Nugget is steadfast but rumor has it that Tease at the Blue Note may be in trouble. At the MGM, La Femme is still one of my favorites. If you’re looking for country western, be sure to catch Chris Chitsey at the Silverton starting March 2. Chris is scheduled to sing the National Anthem for NASCAR at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway March 1.

Lord of the Dance at New York-New York is still a favorite and continues to do big business. Three new numbers have been added, some new costumes, but the same heart pounding foot stomping action.

The wonderful Paige O’Hara is off to San Francisco to do six weeks of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Lezlie Anders, a marvelous talent, is doing her Peggy Lee thing. It would be terrific if a Vegas joint landed her show. Fingers crossed.