December 03, 1999
'Viva Las Vegas' gives plenty of bang for the
By Joe Delaney
LAS VEGAS SUN
Dick Feeney's production of "Viva Las Vegas," 2
and 4 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays, in the Stratosphere's
Broadway Showroom, is by far Las Vegas' best low-budget,
high-quality entertainment buy. The show is in its ninth consecutive
year. Ticket prices are $11. If you're a slot player, you can secure
a coupon that admits one for the price of a drink at the bar just
outside the entrance. What you get is one hour-plus of nonstop
Comedian Dave Swan, a Welsh transplant, is a
never-miss, whatever the audience's demographics.
Ventriloquist-comic Michael Ziegfeld is a comparatively new
addition, replacing Bruce Mickelson. The shock of the show is the
Elvis take-off by the venerable Golden Joe Baker. Natalie Carson is
a dynamic song stylist, a winner whatever the lyrical requirements.
The dancers are attractive, shapely and very
capable. Shannon Bradford, Lynne Thomas, Jean Marie Duran, Jan
Calvert, Kimberly Cartright, Cheryl Slader-Souza, Mindy Harris and
Connie Crawford have a set rotation with the usual onstage
complement at five. It is a family show with no nudity although fans
who admire callipygian accomplishments should be in their element.
"Viva Las Vegas" was the show opener with the
comely quintet attired in Latin costumes. The beat is hot, and
Carson makes the most of the lyrics, getting the show off in high
gear and setting up the audience for Swan's first appearance.
Swan is the thorough comedic professional,
wearing a tux, engaging the audience in a dialogue that effectively
established his identity, getting their confidence to the point that
every joke, each punch line, hit home. To top things off, he paid
tribute to fellow Welshman Tom Jones, singing "Just Help Yourself"
in a voice that substantiated his claim that both grew up in the
same Welsh village.
Carson had her solo moment with a heartfelt
rendition of the theme from the film, "Titanic," "My Heart Will Go
On," made even more effective by Feeney's staging and lighting.
Ventro-comic Ziegfeld started easily, doing a
brief standup before introducing his first dummy, Nadia, a
91-year-old, the world's oldest lady gymnast who was joined by a
talking tongue sandwich -- strong stuff -- which led to a topper
segment with three members of the audience.
Carson and the dancers went country with Natalie
singing "Why Haven't I Heard from You" to a male brought up from the
Swan appeared again for a "Metamorphosis" gag,
where he disappeared and re-appeared as Golden Joe Baker with his
comparatively brief but hilarious Elvis spoof, worth whatever it
cost you to get in. This is a classic bit.
"Viva Las Vegas" served as a reprise, the finale,
and for introductions of the cast. The capacity crowd departed in
good humor and ready for more Las Vegas fun.