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September 1, 2014

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Voice(s) of Vegas

WEEKEND EDITION

April 30 - May 1, 2005

Who: Danny Gans.

When: 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays and Saturdays-Sundays. Dark Mondays and Fridays.

Where: The Mirage's Danny Gans Theatre.

Tickets: $100.

Information: 791-7111.

Vocalist-impressionist Danny Gans has extended his contract with the Mirage through April 2008, which is good news for the army of fans who have packed his showroom five nights a week for the past five years.

Gans spent 15 years on the road performing for corporate events before arriving in Las Vegas in 1996 to headline at the Stratosphere.

The all-around entertainer came to Vegas a virtual unknown to the general public and since has become one of the most popular performers in town.

Gans, known for not speaking for long periods of time to save his voice, recently answered questions submitted by the Las Vegas Sun about his contract extension and other issues:

Las Vegas Sun: We are conducting this interview via e-mail and fax to save your voice. Why do you go to such lengths to protect your voice?

Danny Gans: After 90 minutes of nonstop singing, talking and dancing my body and voice are pretty exhausted at the end of each show. In order to be 100 percent for the next night's show I try to limit my talking, which usually means zero talking until I wake up the next day after hopefully an eight-hour sleep.

I learned this long ago, that there is only so much sand in the hourglass. If I spend it talking to my friends on the golf course for five hours there is no way I will be 100 percent for that night's show. I take that responsibility very seriously, so that's why you don't see me around town at parties and clubs. I owe those people who spent $100 to see my show the very best I've got.

Sun: What are your thoughts about staying at the Mirage for three more years?

DG: Like telling a kid Christmas has been extended for three more days. I love to come to work, I still get nervous before every show and I still get goose bumps when the audience stands up at the end of my show. I have an incredible team I work with, meaning my band who are the finest musicians I've ever worked with, my lighting and sound crew, who are tremendous at what they do, and my manager, Melanie VanBurch, is a very caring and meticulous person who is not satisfied unless everything is perfect. I love my job.

Sun: Can you discuss any of the terms of the extension?

DG: The extension was part of my initial contract, which was six years with a two-year option. The option was mine, not the hotel's.

The Mirage is a first-class casino and they've given me nothing but support from Day One. I must say I miss Steve Wynn, who was the reason I came to the Mirage. He is a man of incredible vision and really understands entertainment. I will be forever grateful to him for giving me an opportunity to star in my own theater on the Las Vegas Strip. He is one of the greatest people I know.

Scott Sibella, who is the new president, seems like a very nice guy who wants not only the best for the hotel, but me as well. I look forward to a long, successful relationship together.

Sun: Was there ever a possibility that you might move to Wynn's new property?

DG: I did not contact Steve, as I knew I would be staying. My contract is up in three years, so at that time I'll see what the Mirage has in mind and what Steve is thinking about. It's a great position to be in.

Sun: At the end of the extension you will have been at one location for eight years. Do you think that will be enough for you or would you anticipate another extension?

DG: I've been at 100 percent capacity for five years. If I continue to sell out I'm sure the Mirage will offer me another contract. I've turned down movies and television on a grand scale since I've been here at the Mirage. If something incredible came along, I might be tempted to take a hiatus from Vegas and give Hollywood a shot.

I can't predict the future, so I'll take it one day at a time, but I must say I'm very happy here, not only professionally, but I've become an everyday hands-on dad and husband, and that alone is truly a blessing.

Sun: Cirque du Soleil will be staging a Beatles tribute show at the Mirage in a couple of years. Do you see that as competition?

DG: The new show will only be more publicity for me. If they come to the Mirage to see the Beatles show, they will see Danny Gans too. I hope it's a huge success, as all the Cirque shows are. I joke in my show about a tourist commenting on my show before he sees it. "One hundred dollars for one guy in front of a band? What, no acrobats, no midgets on pogo sticks, what's he thinking?"

Sun: Are you planning any changes? Adding new voices or new production numbers?

DG: My show is a work in progress. I don't think I've ever done the same show twice. With three hours of material and the hotel expecting an hour-and-thirty-minute show, that's only half of my existing material.

That material is very generic and appeals to every age group. Stars that everyone knows from age 10 to 90, then I call it. (For) an older crowd, I'll do songs from Nat King Cole, Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Ray Charles, political comedy, etc. (For) a younger crowd, I might do songs from Dave Matthews, Macy Gray, Five for Fighting, John Mayer, U2, Jeff Foxworthy, etc.

The only downside is I'll get letters from fans who will say they came back specifically to see me do "The 12 Months of Christmas," Michael Jackson, Elvis and my tribute to Broadway, and that night I chose other material.

Sun: You've suffered a number of injuries the past couple of years. How is your health now?

DG: I'm ready to go 12 rounds with Mike Tyson, with earmuffs, of course. Yes, I had a couple of tough years health-wise. I think 80 percent was brought on by stress as my parents died three months apart. I was very close to them, as they were a part of my life on a daily basis.

I also got in two automobile accidents that were not my fault -- I stopped at a red light and a trash truck lost its brakes and rear-ended me at 50 mph. I cracked my sternum and developed back and shoulder problems.

Sun: Do you have a vision as to how long you would like to perform, whether at the Mirage or some other venue?

DG: That's a God thing. I would not be in the position I'm in now if it weren't for the earnest prayers of thousands of Christian friends all over the world. If He wanted this part of my life to end in three years I would be forever grateful for the career I've had.

Pastors Gary Moorfield and Ron Golner of Green Valley Christian Center, where my family and I attend Sunday services, also conduct a half-hour bible study for myself and crew every Thursday night. It's just a chance for us not only to have a brief study about the Man but a reflective time in prayer to thank Him for what we do have.

Pastor David Graham is another Man of God and friend (from) who I seek counsel and guidance when it comes to spiritual matters, professionally and personally. And of course, I make an occasional call to Pastor Jack Hayford in Los Angeles, who is considered the Pastor's Pastor. I've known Jack over 20 years and he has a way to help me see things clearly.

But the spiritual beacon in my life is my wife, Julie. Always praying, always reading the word for a piece of knowledge she can pass on. I rarely disagree with her when it comes to spiritual matters. She is my rock, a very lovely, curvy rock, I might add. I can't tell you how many business meetings I've been in where it gets down to the moment of truth and they say to me, "Well, yes or no?" and I say, "I'm gonna pray about it with my wife and I'll tell you tomorrow."

Their response is usually one of silence.

Sun: Are there other careers that you would like to pursue instead of or in addition to your show at the mirage -- acting, recording, writing?

DG: Yes, I'd love to act in a special movie like "Forrest Gump" or "The Santa Clause." I recorded a contemporary Christian album four years ago, which got to No. 13 on the Billboard charts. I could see doing another album, but something no one has ever done before -- like a reggae-polka-big band-retro-'60's-rock album with lyrics from Tiny Tim and Jesse Jackson. No wait, that's already been done before.

Sun: What are your feelings about the rising price of tickets in Vegas?

DG: I started at the Rio at $35 a ticket and by the time I left they had it up to $100. We started here at the Mirage at $100 and it's still the same today. I've kept it at $100 because I think it's high enough. When we do local appreciation nights all tickets are $25, and all that money goes to a local charity that I'm involved with.

Sun: What do you do when you aren't performing?

DG: Hide! Again, try to rest my voice. I love to play golf and I play with friends who know I can't talk too much so they talk and I listen. I also work out at the gym six days a week and spend as much time as I can with my family.

I own two motorcycles and sometimes I'll just take off and go. I don't go far. My motto is, "I Love to Ride, Ride to Eat." So I'll ride 50 miles, have breakfast, ride home.

Sun: Do you have any favorite shows or performers in town, or do you not have time to get out?

DG: I really haven't seen all the shows, but the ones I have are terrific! Rita Rudner, Clint Holmes, "Mystere!" "O," Blue Man Group and Lance Burton, to name a few.

I have Mondays and Fridays off. Monday is family night, so my wife cooks and we all watch a movie, or swim, or hang out together. Friday is date night, so my wife and I usually go out for dinner -- Tuscany Grill in Henderson is one of our favorite spots.

Sun: How has Vegas changed since your debut at the Stratosphere? Are the changes good or bad, in your estimation?

DG: Everything is bigger and better. So many incredible production shows -- all have a cast of 100-plus onstage and that many behind the scenes. I have seven musicians, three lighting people, one sound man and me.

I think I'll try to keep up with the production shows and hire a Moms Mabley look-alike who swallows daggers while juggling tropical fruit like papayas, guavas, pineapples and macadamia nuts. Then she spits the nuts out in half onto a macadamia nut pie that a lucky member in the audience can have for dessert. Could be the next big thing.

I think when all is said and done, it's the simplicity of my show that makes it successful in a town of extravagance. One guy who is giving 100 percent for 90 minutes and loving every minute of it. No flash, just a lot of heart and hopefully that is felt by 1,265 people five shows a week, 46 weeks a year. And if that's accomplished, then I've done my job and I'm a happy guy.

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