Saturday, Nov. 14, 2009 | 2:55 p.m.
It was a first for Las Vegas, at least maybe since the days of The Rat Pack when the friendly rivals strolled onstage to interrupt one another’s shows. It also was a first when the headliner took his applause from the audience at the end of the show and simply strolled down the stage steps and into the audience to walk out of the theater with them shaking hands and chatting!
I’ve seen neither of those until last night, when new Strip impressionist Frank Caliendo celebrated his grand opening of a new, multi-year run at the Monte Carlo. There was little doubt that the man of many voices also had inherited the mantle of the late Danny Gans as the newest comedy impressionist in the entertainment capital of the world.
It was a stroke of genius to recruit rival ventriloquist impressionist Terry Fator and fellow MGM Mirage comics Carrot Top of the Luxor and Louie Anderson of the Excalibur to interrupt Frank’s show with their own comedy ad libs and blatant plugs for their own shows! Carrot Top rolled Frank’s wig prop box off the stage, Terry had Winston the Impersonating Turtle belt out a number, and Louie kept asking for the buffet line. Hilarious -- and proof that Strip stars can get along.
Frank Caliendo and Angelica Bridges
Frank Caliendo and Shane Mosley
Angelica Bridges of Fantasy at the Luxor brought along her delicious dancers along with singing duo Zowie Bowie, who present their Vintage Vegas every Sunday night in the same Monte Carlo theater that Frank now shares nightly with master magician Lance Burton. Also there on the red carpet were UFC fighters Frank Mir and Stephan Bonnar, boxer “Sugar” Shane Mosley, our Down Under pals Human Nature and members of the casts of Phantom -- Las Vegas Spectacular and Jersey Boys.
Our contributing photographers Erik Kabik and Scott Harrison were on red carpet duty and inside the theater. Even I managed a snapshot of all the stars onstage together, and our Vegas DeLuxe regular reader Richard Corey shot celebrity video on the red carpet.
Frank’s fast and furious rat-a-tat, machine gun delivery of everybody from Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Robert De Niro, Charles Barkley, Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton and of course sportscaster John Madden proves his uncanny ability to deliver a nonstop stream of jokes, funny material and witty observations in multiple flowing voices -- all seemingly without a breath in between! Even former VP Dick Cheney comes in for a gentle ribbing, but, so far, as Frank himself jokes, no President Obama voice.
“I just wish I’d remembered you were in the audience, Robin, because I would have done my impersonation of you, too,” he told me as we walked out together in the theater crowd.
Frank told me that no two shows are ever alike because he ad libs the stories and the voices by the way he feels the audience reaction each night. Frank doesn’t shy away from tweaking the audience when they miss one of his funny lines and voices in the torrent of the high-speed delivery. Click HERE for our interview with him when he first signed on for his 10-year-deal at the Monte Carlo.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground. Read more of Robin's stories at VegasDeLuxe.com.
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