By Dianne R. Davis
Photos by Dianne or Burt Davis
Michael Turco Brings Magic and Mayhem to Saxe Theater
Michael Turco has joined the line up of afternoon shows with his “Magic and Mayhem” in the Saxe Theater. He received national exposure by appering on the sixth season of America's Got Talent in the summer of 2011. I had a chance to chat with this personable young man who is just barely out of his twenties.DD: Michael, how old were you when you knew you had to do magic and how did you begin? MT: I grew up in New Jersey and spent summers with my family in Atlantic City. I was about seven when I began going to magic shows. It was just something that fascinated me. Behind the scenes, the lighting, every type of live theater, music, performance. I wanted to learn more. I became fascinated with magic.
DD: Did you have mentors or teachers or did you go to every magic show around to learn?
MT: I'd go to to the magic stores to learn. As the years when on, I went to more shows, bought the books, tried to figure out how to do what they did.DD: And then? MT: In middle school I started to put together little performances for the talent shows. When I got to high school I focused on meeting other magicians. Michael Finney, Franz, Harry Rocko, guys well known in the industry. I met them when I was younger. I would write to them and ask them questions about magic. They helped me. As I got older, the shows got longer. When I finished high school, I created an hour long show to benefit my graduating class. It was cool. It was exciting. DD: Did you further your education or go right into entertainment? MT: After graduation in 2005, I studied television and film at William Patterson University. DD: I'm guessing you did more than just study. MT: Yes, all through college I pretty much designed the illusion show that I knew would tour. DD: And after graduation? MT: I took a couple of months off. Got people together. Friends that I went to school with. We toured up and down the East Coast and got the kinks out. And learned. I focused on being on stage, performing live. DD: Good for you. You worked at learning your craft.
MT: Yes and after three years, I got my big break in Atlantic City. I had the opportunity to headline at Bally's. I was there in the winter and they asked me back for summer, then winter again.DD: So you came full circle, didn't you?
MT: Yes, I grew up in New Jersey and dreamed of performing in Atlantic City. I did it with the help of family, friends, my team.DD: Tell us about American's Got Talent.
MT: The opporutnity came to me to be on America's Got Talent. It was a great experience being on stage, being in front of millions of people and being on television and getting the response that I got got from people. People saw me. They come to my shows and tell me.DD: Was it a great stepping stone? MT: Oh yes. it was great. It really helps you out. It's a competition, but more. You make friends. I made friends with everybody, but of course you deep down want to win. It is a completion and you want to make contacts as well. I'll still in touch with some of them. DD: Segments of your show were choreographed by Lacy Shwinner from Dancing with the Stars. How did that come about? MT: I've been a fan of Lacy's. We met each other and I came to her with the idea to create the show and bring something different, a choreographer. I didn't want the same old dance numbers. We came together and collaborated and worked together to come up with different dance numbers. We strived to find a balance of being unique and modern, but not overpowering. I wanted it geared toward any age. DD: Do you have a favorite charity? MT: Thanks for asking. I am a good will ambassador for DCI. Distressed Childen International is an organization that helps kids in Bangladeshwith eye sight and things like that. As a kid, I always had glasses. Dcotors can cure or help kids with eye problems. I go to conventions and do magic and speak about this. DD: What's your ultimate goal? MT: that's an easy one. I want longevity in Las Vegas. I think my magic is new and think the strip is ready for some new magic.
DD: How do you relax before and after a show? MT: I smile and laugh and make jokes. I have an outgoing personality and would rather talk than meditate. DD: What advice would you give a young person thinking of going into the business? MT: Believe in yourself and follow the dream. Tickets for Michael Turco's Magic and Mayhem begin at $39.99 plus taxes and fees. For ticket information, call 866-932-1818 or check out
Marty Allen Turns 90! And Still Going Strong
His trademark hair may be a little wild, but his kind smile is infectious. On March 23, entertainer Marty Allen turns 90. He still has a pretty good gait and a lot of good lines. And stories to tell. His most famous line is, of course, “Hello Dere!”
I recently had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Marty. I expected to do a question and answer format, but it didn’t take much questioning to keep this sprightly comedian talking.
Marty told me that he originally wanted to be a reporter. “Do you know why?” he all but challenged me. I felt the punchline coming and it did. “Because I look great in a trenchcoat,” he laughed.
Marty explained that he was, “the guy in school that had the kids laughing. I always had the feeling that somehow I wanted to be in show business.” He began playing small clubs, then entered the Air Force where he received a Soldier's Medal for Bravery while stationed in Italy.
After the service, he found jobs around his hometown of Pittsburgh. “They told me I was going to be with a girl singer and I said oh. that will be nice. It turned out to be Sarah Vaughn. Is that great!” There's that familiar smile on his face that says he loved and loves what he does.
Vaughn took a liking to Marty and recommended him to Nat King Cole because at that time all the singers used comedians to open their shows. Then he had the pleasure of opening for Eydie Gorme in Chicago at the Chez Paris.
Enter the production singer at the Sands - Steve Rossi. The singer told Nat he was tired of being a production singer and Nat said well, Martin and Lewis were the odd team. There's always room for another comedy team. Nat suggested that Steve get in touch with Marty and perhaps the two would be a great combination. “So here's a handsome guy who sings great, so I said well we'll give it a shot. The audience related to what we were doing and I said looks like we got something. When we were ready, we called Nat and he started taking us on tour.”
Gigs with the likes of Lena Horn, Paul Anka, and Sinatra followed. As did the Copa Cabana in New York and Chez Paris in Chicago. Allen and Rossi played all the big night clubs.
The Darling of Daytime Television
Then the call came from Hollywood Squares. But they couldn't use both Allen and Rossi. “So we parted very amicably. I think we're the only comedy team to part very amicably. “ Marty became a regular on Hollywood Squares and started doing all the daytime shows including Password and Beat The Clock. He earned the title, “Darling of Daytime Television.”
Marty went on to a special role on The Big Valley with Barbara Stanwyck and proudly recalled that he was nominated for an award for it. Movies followed. He never imagined teaming up again – until Karon Kate Blackwell. “I met her in Los Angeles, found out she was a singer, and took her on the road with me.” He describes this vibrant talented woman as, “a triple threat. She sings unbelievable, plays the piano like Jerry Lee Lewis, and plays straight lady.” According to Marty, they're calling Karon and Marty the George Burns and Gracie Allen. “Only I'm Gracie!” he says, laughing.
Now, he and his wife of almost 28 years work together doing concerts and traveling and entertaining on cruise ships. “We play to 3,000 to 5,000 and what is great is we're playing funny to families. We prove that you can still do a clean funny show without resorting to the vulgar humor of today.”
Who are his idols?
I asked Marty who his idols were. The list included Milton Berle, Fred Allen, and Joey Adams. One of the big thrills of his life was when he and Steve appeared with Carole Burnett. “She was a sweetheart. We did a tour with her. When she came to Vegas to the Sands and broke the record we were on the show with her.”
Does Marty have anything on his bucket list? “I want to make 90. I just love doing what I'm doing. It's like I have a second career. Like I had Allen and Rossi. Karon Blackwell and Marty Allen is just as powerful. I think it's remarkable the way she reacts to everything I do. She has no idea. I keep changing things on her. It’s the spontaneity that makes the act what it is today. We're married June will be 28 years. It has to be give and take.”
I couldn't help but wonder how they balance living and working with the same person. “Well, “he told me, “We do the show and when we get off she goes her way and I go my way for a little time. We don't discuss the act after its over. And usually the reaction is so terrific that I just say good job baby.”
Marty is elated with the reception they get on ships. “We see 3,000 people in two shows, standing and applauding and coming over. When they go to see us, they see everything that is possible to do as far as entertainment. They walk out and say, 'we've seen a show.'
Does Marty have a routine before he goes on stage? “I comb my hair.”
I told Marty that I think it is wonderful that he can walk out and say two words and make people happy. It's now, but its nostalgic. “I love people, “ he replied. “When they walk over and say I made their evening, it's one of the greatest things that they can say to me. Then I feel that I've accomplished something.”
You had your 85th birthday cake onstage. Are we going to see that for the 90?” I asked. Without hesitation, Marty is ready with the answer, “It won't be the same cake.” You can catch Marty Allen and Karon Kate Blackwell at Palace Station this Saturday at 4 p.m. Or on April 24 & 25 at 4. And be sure to wish him a Happy 90th Birthday.
Marty Allen has accomplished much during his long career. His accomplishments make us laugh. See you again at your one hundredth Marty. And thanks for the laughs.
Peepshow Joins Fight Against AIDS with 3rd LV Broadway Bares: Barelesque on April 15
PEEPSHOW, Las Vegas’ mega-hit striptease spectacular will hold the Third Annual Las Vegas Broadway Bares: Barelesque on Sunday, April 15, 2012 at 11:59 p.m. on the PEEPSHOW stage at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.
Hosted by ABSINTHE’s dynamic duo The Gazilionaire and his assistant Penny Pibbets, the show will feature the sexiest entertainers from across the Las Vegas Strip, with a special performance by PEEPSHOW’s Josh Strickland.
Tickets are available for $20. VIP tickets, which include a $20 tax deduction, are also available for $50. All tickets can be purchased in person at the CHI Showroom and online at www.Ticketmaster.com.
Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS has drawn upon the talents, resources and generosity of the American theatre community to raise more than $195 million for essential services for people with AIDS and other critical illnesses across the United States. Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS also awards annual grants to more than 400 AIDS and family service organizations nationwide.
Based off Tony Award-winning director/choreographer Jerry Mitchell’s Broadway Bares in New York City, which is one of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS annual signature performances and the inspiration for PEEPSHOW, Las Vegas Broadway Bares: Barelesque will feature the hottest dancers from the Strip’s top shows and performance groups, including PEEPSHOW, Matt Goss, The Pussycat Dolls, Show in the Sky, Jubilee! LOVE, Divas of Las Vegas, Vegas! The Show and the Sirens of TI. Others are expected to join the cast of this exciting production.
Tickets are available for $20 plus tax. VIP tickets, which include a $20 tax deduction, are available for $50 plus tax. All tickets are general admission and can be purchased in-person at the CHI Showroom and online at www.Ticketmaster.com.
A personal note: I attended this show last year. It was hot, sexy, steaming, and great fun. See the performers you love as you never seen them before. And trust me, you get to see a lot more of them. Nuf said. Go see it.