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September 23, 2014

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‘KWTD’: Eric Jordan Young, the affable janitor Ernie in ‘Vegas! The Show,’ looks to clean up solo

Image

Justin M. Bowen

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

Kats With the Dish

Eric Jordan Young

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John Katsilometes and Tricia McCrone talk to Eric Jordan Young, who just left "Vegas! The Show" to be his own headliner.

Eric Jordan Young was the first face and voice of “Vegas! The Show” when it opened in 2010 at Saxe Theater in Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood. He was the first performer to step onstage during the first night of previews, when you could still smell the wet paint of the show’s freshly constructed sets.

A one-time performer in “Starlight Express” at Las Vegas Hilton (joined in “Vegas! The Show” by Reva Rice, also from that production), Young carried the narration as Ernie the janitor at the beginning and end of each performance and portrayed a host of entertainment legends, among them Sammy Davis Jr., Louis Prima and Sonny Bono (hilariously).

Young’s contract timed out Wednesday night, and he is pursuing a solo career, first by rolling out a still-being-conceived, one-man show at a small venue in Las Vegas. He intimated that the decision to leave was primarily financial and not artistic and was mutually agreed upon by producer David Saxe and him.

Young was the guest on “Kats With the Dish,” co-hosted by Tricia McCrone and me, for the episode that aired Friday night at 9 on KUNV 91.5-FM.

Highlights from the interview:

On what led to his decision to leave “Vegas! The Show”:

Change happens, and it was one of those things that I was at the end of my contract and some decisions were made. I decided that if I am going to move forward and try to pursue some of the dreams that I have, it was time. I’ve always wanted to have my own project here in Las Vegas, and I’d like the challenge of doing that right now.

In “Vegas! The Show,” there are a lot of different name performers, but it’s not like our names were on the forefront of the show. It’s really all about Las Vegas. I have a career that brought me here from New York, and it’s something that I’m very proud of. I was invited to come out here and do “Vegas! The Show,” and I jumped at the opportunity because I’ve always wanted to come back. I did “Starlight Express” here in the early ’90s at the Las Vegas Hilton, and to come back and have the opportunity to be in Vegas again was really special to me.

It is a very scary thing to leave a show like this, especially in this time where it is very successful. It is something that is a heartbreak for me to leave, but it’s just that time. A lot of people have asked me if my contract was or wasn’t renewed. In fact, it was renewed. David made the decision to make some changes in the show and to economize the production in order to accommodate his business needs. I took the opportunity to say, “This is the time for me. Maybe the universe is speaking to me, and I need to investigate the opportunities that are out there for me.”

On future career goals:

I’ve been directing a lot lately and doing a lot of choreography for projects. I have also been writing a lot. I just debuted a song at the “Composer’s Showcase” in December that is being recorded and is going to be on an upcoming Las Vegas Artists CD. It’s a very exciting time in that I have been working on several different projects over the past couple of years that I would like to use as a vehicle here in the Las Vegas area.

I have a production that is somewhat a vehicle for me called “Enjoy the Show,” and I also have another act of mine that is very in the Sammy Davis Jr. world. I also have a show that I created many years ago that was almost launched into a Broadway production, which was called “Sammy and Me.”

I do want to continue to entertain and continue with my writing, directing and choreography. I still have that need for getting up and having that relationship with the audience. I would love to entertain the idea to do something at the Smith Center one evening and then maybe showcase myself in a room here in town. 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.

On transitioning from a production show to his own show:

This is an exciting time for me because it gives me the opportunity to lay out my own template. Being in a structured show is very cool because you have the opportunity to master the controls, but the excitement of being onstage doing your own product, with arrangements that are written for you and they are all in your key and in a style that is all about what your energy is trying to do to a specific audience is something I’m excited about.

When you are onstage as a solo artist, there is something about that communication with the audience. It’s a monologue of your heart. Whereas 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.

On what his new show will be like:

I would like to develop my own personality with the bringing forward the things that I have already experienced. It’s undeniable that who I am as a person and a talent is inspired by the talents of Sammy Davis Jr. and the people who were inspired by him like Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder. All of those things that inspire me will definitely become a part of my show. I’m a fan of all of the variety shows of the 1970s, so the show that I want to create has the energy of “The Flip Wilson Show.” I think that is something that is absent right now in Las Vegas.

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

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