Wayne Newton: Up Close & Personal
At a Glance
What is it?
A life in review conversation with laughter, stories, music, and lots of Wayne Newton charm.
Where is it?
In the Windows Showroom at Bally’s Las Vegas on the Center Strip.
Is it worth the cost?
Without a doubt.
Why should I see this show?
Because you are a fan of good storytelling.
What else do I need to know?
This is not a concert, per se, so don’t expect a lot of singing.
What’s the bottom line?
This is pure Las Vegas entertainment.
Entertainer Wayne Newton has been a fixture in Las Vegas since he was 15 years old, when he started his career playing in the lounge at Downtown’s Fremont Hotel. He has headlined at many of the Strip major showrooms including years at The Frontier, The Stardust, and The Tropicana just to name a few. It’s no wonder that they call him Mr. Las Vegas. Can you imagine the stories he has to tell about the city, his career, and his famous friends?
That’s the idea behind Up Close and Personal, the triumphant, career-topping show now playing at Bally’s Las Vegas. Instead of a retrospective of his songs, it’s a retrospective of his life with Newton playing genial host to what almost feels like a dinner party with friends in his living room.
Most of the evening is spent with Newton telling the tales, answering questions from the audience, and showing photos and video clips from his life. We hear how he got that first gig in Vegas back in the 1950s when he was so young that he wasn’t technically even allowed to be in the casino where he was performing. He talks about meeting Elvis on a plane and having dinner at Frank Sinatra’s house. We hear of his headline making Fourth of July concert on The National Mall back in the 1980s that sparked a political controversy. The story of one of his biggest hits, Danke Shoen, and its tie to Bobby Darin is given loving detail. We see clips of him on the Jack Benny Show, the Dean Martin Show, and the Sammy Davis Jr. Show.
Newton is a natural story-teller – a raconteur with perfect comic timing and a mastery of the double take. He’s friendly, personable, and downright charming to boot.
I don’t want to ruin the punchlines by giving away too much, but here’s one fun story he told. For awhile he was performing in the lounge at Harrah’s Tahoe but he wanted to take a shot at the main showroom. He was told by the entertainment director that he should forget it – he was a lounge singer and always would be. Newton quit and wound up performing in a nightclub in Australia where a chance meeting with Jack Benny turned into an offer to open for him for some upcoming concerts… at Harrah’s Tahoe.
He does sing a few songs including “Danke Schoen” and “Viva Las Vegas” and although his voice is not what it used to be, he has established such a rapport with his audience that nobody cared. He more than acquits himself when showing off his masterful skills on the guitar and the violin, two of the thirteen instruments he plays.
This is the show that Newton should have been doing for the last twenty years and I’m hoping he continues to do it for twenty more.