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September 17, 2014

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Tom Dane looks for a break in Las Vegas

Who: Tom Dane

When: 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday

Where: Suncoast Showroom

Tickets: $19.95 to $29.95; 636-7075, tomdaneshow.com

Growing up in Denmark, Tom Dane's hero was Danish pianist-comedian Victor Borge, a familiar performer in Las Vegas over the decades.

"I knew Victor," said Dane, whose actual name is Thomas Eje (roughly pronounced 'i-uh'). "I actually appeared 10 minutes onstage with him once when I was performing with the Royal Danish Philharmonic."

Borge died in 2000, a month short of his 92nd birthday.

The last time he gave one of his slapstick concerts locally was at UNLV in 1998. He received rave reviews, even at age 89.

Dane - like Borge, a former child prodigy on the piano who added comedy to his act - decided a couple of years ago to follow in the footsteps of his countryman and come to the United States.

He chose Vegas as his destination because, well, it's Las Vegas

"This is the place, as far as I know, that has the most venues," Dane said. "It has kind of a glory about it. It's the World Capital of Entertainment."

Although he arrived in Vegas two years ago from Denmark, he has yet to perform here. "I've been preparing, networking," Dane said. "I came here all blank, not knowing anybody. I started from scratch."

His premier locally will be Wednesday and Thursday at the Suncoast, two showcases that he hopes will generate enough interest to find him a venue where he can demonstrate his broad range of talent.

The range includes classical piano and comedy, a la Borge; impressions, a la Danny Gans and Gordie Brown; and playing 10 more musical instruments, everything from the bassoon to the guitar.

"The music is the center of the show," Dane says. "And around the music comes the comedy. I'm a very humorous person. I especially love musical jokes, like Victor Borge did."

He says his impression act is different from Brown and Gans.

"A little bit different style," Dane said. "They are very fast; very energetic. I give it a little more time; my impersonations are a little bit longer, not like a machine gun.

"I do a lot of voice impersonations they don't do, and I impersonate instrumentalists, like catching the sound of Stan Getz (on tenor sax) or Tommy Dorsey (trombone) or Gary Moore (blues guitar) or George Benson (jazz guitarist)."

Dane has been performing since about 1980, mostly in Danish concert halls and corporate events. He saw Las Vegas for the first time in 1990.

It took him awhile to decide to tackle Las Vegas. But when he did decide, he sold everything and made the move.

"I thought the time was right," he said. "I reached a ceiling in Denmark, which only has 5 million people, and I needed some new challenges. At the same time, this is a dream I've had since 1990.

"For years I've been building up my skills. I enjoyed the status I had in Denmark. I was working a lot. But mostly, it's the dream to perform in Las Vegas. It's been haunting my head since I came here the first time."

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