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September 21, 2014

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After ‘Vegas! The Show,’ Eric Jordan Young eager to connect with audience

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Justin M. Bowen

Eric Jordan Young performs as Ernie the custodian at the opening of “Vegas! The Show” at Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood.

Eric Jordan Young left his role as Ernie the Janitor in “Vegas! The Show” in March with a plan to tell the story of classic Vegas in a, shall we say, more traditional way.

The multitalented artist with a depth of experience in Las Vegas and across the country presents songs from his latest CD, “Once in a Lifetime,” at 7 tonight at Cabaret Jazz in the Smith Center for the Performing Arts (tickets are $32-$38; hit the Smith Center website for info). Young promises a celebration of classic Vegas entertainment with new versions of such standards as “Where or When,” “That Old Black Magic,” “Birth of the Blues” and “Candy Man.”

Young left “Vegas!” as his contract timed out in what seemed a cost-cutting move for the most expensive show in David Saxe Productions. Tonight’s show is the first effort by the man often called “EJY” (at least in this column) to build a solo career.

“I do want to continue to entertain and continue with my writing, directing and choreography,” EJY said in an interview on “Kats With the Dish” in March just as he was leaving “Vegas!” “I still have that need for getting up and having that relationship with the audience. … I really like Matt Goss’s formula. I think he has a really great setup over there at Caesars. He creates a really free energy and a free vibe.”

Young has appeared in “Starlight Express” at what was then the Las Vegas Hilton, joining Reva Rice (with whom he also was cast in “Vegas!”) in that production in the mid-1990s, which represented the first Broadway-style, open-ended theater production in Las Vegas. He also performed in “Chicago,” “Ragtime,” “Seussical the Musical” and “The Book of Love,” all on Broadway.

As Young mentions the Goss show at Caesars, his own music director is keyboard ace Michael Gonzalez from that show. Michael Moreno (he of the heavy foot), Jamie Hosmer, Brian Bissel, Blaise Sison II, Alex Jackson, Mike Robb and J.R. Thibeault are the backing band.

“When you are onstage as a solo artist, there is something about that communication with the audience. It’s a monologue of your heart,” Young says. “In something like ‘Vegas! The Show,’ you get snippets of being able to connect with the audience. So I’m really looking forward to not having my ‘full snippet’ chopped up into moments.”

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.

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