Las Vegas Sun

August 28, 2014

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John Katsilometes recalls the theater expansion at the Rio that helped give Danny Gans’ career a lift

Long before Danny Gans was a well-known performer on the Strip, Variety magazine attempted to describe his vast collection of onstage personalities.

The entertainment publication settled on, "the Cirque du Soleil of voice."

That was in 1996 as Gans prepared to debut at the just-opened Stratosphere's Broadway Showroom. Last week, in a how-flime-ties piece of news, Gans celebrated his 10th anniversary in Las Vegas, enjoying a celebratory cake before his show Tuesday at the Mirage and drawing a standing ovation from a packed house at the Danny Gans Theatre after mentioning the anniversary from the stage.

Gans, who has returned to full-time performing after stepping away in November to have surgery to repair a torn right rotator cuff, was asked through his manager, Melanie VanBurch (Gans tries to limit his verbiage away from the stage), about the moment he'd realized he'd made it in Vegas.

It was not at the Stratosphere, where it all started. Or at the Mirage, where Gans performs in a customized theater bearing his name that cost $15 million to build more than six years ago. It was at the Rio's Copacabana Showroom, where for a time Gans split time with "At the Copa" starring David Cassidy and Sheena Easton (and I do get a bit nostalgic when recalling the reportedly combustible chemistry of those two stars).

The showroom originally seated 500. But soon after Gans started his run in January 1997, the theater had to be expanded to satisfy the thick stand-by lines of between 200 and 300 fans per night. A couple of bars were removed, walls were knocked out, cocktail tables were added in the back and Gans had forged his first venue expansion. "Yep, this is going to last," was his thought at the time.

Gans' contract at the Mirage runs through 2009, making it likely he'll spend nearly all of this decade at the resort. Having recently turned back an offer from Simon Cowell to be a judge on Cowell's new show "America's Got Talent," and rejecting an offer from Aaron Spelling to star in an autobiographical TV series, Gans is focused "110 percent" on his Mirage show.

Gans is built to last. He works out six times per week (lately he looks like he's using the same Nautilus equipment settings as Carrot Top, and it's clear that he expects to smile down on the Strip from that giant marquee for years to come.

NoteMart

Hit and Miss: The latest from the Miss America beat is that Las Vegas might still host the 2007 event, but other cities have joined us on the runway of possible pageant hosts.

One thought is that four venues would be used for the preliminary competitions (one site each for the swimsuit, evening gown, talent and interview segments) for the seven-hour "Finding Miss America" reality series to be filmed in August. The Aladdin Theatre for the Performing Arts could be one of those venues, and could still be the site of the live finals in January as negotiations between Las Vegas Events and the Miss America Organization are ongoing ...

Hitting a double: On Monday the Las Vegas Hilton is announcing a multiyear engagement for country duo Brooks & Dunn. The dates will start during the NFR in November ...

The Whole scoop: R&B vocalist, new Flamingo Las Vegas headliner and mother of two Toni Braxton said she plans to live a normal life while in Las Vegas when she arrives this summer (her stint at the Flamingo is scheduled to run from August through March). "I do regular things. I go to Whole Foods - I was there yesterday - and salmon is $29 a pound, worth every penny," she said Friday after a news conference announcing her dates at the Flamingo. "I wear a big hat and sunglasses when I'm shopping ..."

Trouble in this joint: The scheduled performances by Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme have been canceled. According to a news release, Gorme has suffered a torn meniscus in her left knee and has been ordered to stay off the stage for 45 days ...

"Companion" piece: CineVegas, billed as "The World's Most Dangerous Film Festival," held a VIP party and open-to-the-public screening of the Robert Altman film "Prairie Home Companion," staring (natch) Garrison Keillor, at Montelago Village at Lake Las Vegas on Saturday night. The festival runs from June 9 to June 17; for information call 992-7979 or go to www.cinevegas.com ...

Story for "Ages": During an offstage moment at Saturday's performance of "Rock of Ages" at Flamingo Las Vegas, a cast member told Jack Blades that he was certain Jon Bon Jovi was in the audience. Blades, a lead character in the "Ages" production and also frontman for Night Ranger, knows Bon Jovi and doubted he was in attendance. So he quickly fired a text message to Bon Jovi, who responded that he was not in Las Vegas but was on tour with the band in Dublin, Ireland ...

Don't fluttery by: A reader who couldn't catch the make of the car checks in with the plate ABTRFLY. The car did have a butterfly emblem stuck to the rear window.

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