Published Wednesday, March 4, 2009 | 3:01 p.m.
Updated Thursday, March 5, 2009 | 5:50 p.m.
I’ve been to more Wayne Newton shows than I care to count (OK, seven), including last night’s performance at the MGM Grand’s Hollywood Theatre. The Wayner closes his run tonight, but he’ll be back April 23-April 29. Between now and then he’ll embark on a typically nomadic U.S. tour of such burgs as Lincoln, R.I. and Wheeling, W.V. On March 12, he’s headlining the Amaine Center for the Arts in Moncton, Neb. If Inkom, Idaho, were to build a performing arts center, The Wayner would probably hit that haunt, too (“You Inkomites are HOT!”).
In a purely Vegas development that often strikes me dumb – no achievement, that -- I am friends with The Wayner. Yep, we go back more than a decade now, dating to the days when scrubbed the pens of his African Penguins at Casa de Shenandoah. So it’s always a charge to catch up with Team Newton, which I did after the performance last evening (check out the attached photo, which, at the risk of speaking in platitudes, is the greatest picture ever taken since the advent photographic technology). The show was, as it has been for more than 40 years, a uniquely Las Vegas experience. To borrow a line from Mr. Las Vegas himself, “Here’s a medley of numbers that I really enjoy, and I hope you enjoy, too.”
10: Minutes it took to tell us, the audience, we’re “hot!”
Five: Number of times, total, he reinforced that claim throughout the show.
Three: Couples seated between us and the stage who spent most of the show canoodling. This crowd was indeed hot(!), hormonally supercharged, revved-up like Kyle Busch’s No. 18 Toyota Camry on the white-flag lap. I have no idea what was going on with this audience. Maybe they simply wanted to emulate the Casa de Shenandoah petting zoo, you know, to make The Wayner feel at home. Whatever, as The Wayner banged out “Baby Face” on his trusty banjo, many in the audience could not have cared less as they euphemistically enjoyed a trip to Inspiration Point. One couple, seated just in front of us, left about 20 minutes from the end, unable to finish (the show).
67: The Wayner’s age on his next birthday, April 3.
15: Wayner’s age when he and his brother, Jerry, began performing at the Fremont in downtown Vegas.
30,000: The conservative estimate of the number of shows The Wayner has performed in Las Vegas over his career.
Zero: Costume changes. It is a black tux for the star, and white tuxes and gowns for the orchestra, always.
15: Minutes into the show it took to perform “Mac the Knife.”
A little Danke Schoen
90: Minutes into the show it took to perform “Danke Schoen.”
12: Tours of Afghanistan and Iraq that The Wayner has taken over the past two years as head of the USO.
5: Number of instruments The Wayner played during the show: Piano, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, banjo and fiddle.
One: Number of times, I think ever, that The Wayner has tumbled off the piano stool. That happened last night. One of the stool’s legs, fastened to a wheel, simply gave out and The Wayner wound up on his back. He carefully pulled himself up, checked his parts and said, “I think that’s left over from the Tom Jones show.”
3: Different versions, on Las Vegas stages, I have now heard of the Four-Hour Viagra Joke. You know, the one beginning with the warning, “If an erection lasts for more than four hours, call your doctor.” Comic Robert Schimmel’s punch line: “I’m not calling a doctor! I’m calling a hooker!” Steve Lawrence’s capper: “I’m not calling a doctor! I’m calling the McGuire Sisters!” The Wayner’s rim-shot: “I’m not calling a doctor! I’m calling the newspaper! I want this reported!” Well, it might or might not be “breaking news,” but it could be an opportunity for some interesting corporate sponsorship for The Wayner’s next tour. I’m all about the ideas.
I’m certain we’ll catch The Wayner in April, if not sooner, maybe in Inkom. Until then, what’s the line? Ah. Danke Schoen, darlin’, danke schoen ...