By Dianne R. Davis
Photos by Dianne R. Davis or Burt Davis unless otherwise indicated.
Wayne Newton Shares Memories - Up Close and Personal - in Bally's Windows Showroom
Wayne Newton - Mr. Las Vegas - is on the strip and fans are loving what he is doing. “This show is not about me,” Wayne Newton says, “It is about Las Vegas.” This icon of Sin City is not in Bally's Windows Showroom to belt out songs, rather to talk about stories and history. Wayne Newton is an integral part of that history. It really is Wayne Newton – Up Close and Personal. The 230 seat theater gives you feeling of sitting in the living room listening as Wayne shares memories and insights about the people he knew in the entertainment world.
Wayne expertly weaves his life story with the history of Las Vegas. He tells us that his family moved to Phoenix due to his bronchial asthma. He recalls that he and his brother performed were a lounge act in Vegas, but flew back to Phoenix where Jackie Gleason saw them and invited him to be on his variety show. The story is especially poignant as Wayne shows us numerous pictures of Gleason from the early days.
Jackie Gleason played an important role in Wayne's career
If you are a fan of the man known as “the Midnight Idol” and a lover of Las Vegas, a visit to this show is time well spent. The vintage photos and film clips alone are worth the price of admission. A video of a very young Wayne Newton and the legendary Jack Benny is priceless. Photos and footage from his trips to entertain the troops are precious with memories of so many famous entertainers.
Wayne spends a good portion of the show answering questions read by his lovely..... well, he'll tell you himself who she is. He mentions Bobby Darin and Glen Campbell and tells us that they were not competitors back in the old days. There is a wonderful story about what Bobby Darin did for Wayne Newton, but you're going to have to go hear it for yourself.
Along with Gleason and Darin, Jack Benny played a crucial role in Wayne's career. See this show and learn more about these iconic entertainment stars and numerous others that are mentioned during the evening including Don Rickles, Louie Prima, Sophie Tucker, Jayne Mansfield, the Rat Pack, and especially Frank Sinatra.
It is no secret that Wayne's singing voice doesn't approach what it once was. But it is still a treat to be there as he sings along with a video of his younger self and does a duet with a video of Sammy Davis, Jr. Wayne plays thirteen instruments and you are sure to get a sample of a few during the evening. And yes, you'll hear a bit of Danke Schoen.
Wayne Newton might just be the last of the great Las Vegas entertainment icons. I have seen the show more than once and can say that although the format is the same, the film and video clips and comments about various performers differ. You can see Wayne Mondays through Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. in the Bally's Windows Showroom. You will most likely leave feeling like you've had a great visit reminiscing with a pal about mutual friends.