Saturday, Feb. 7, 2009 | 10:34 a.m.
Danny Gans has wide appeal, all right. Seated at the end of my row at his opening performance at Encore Theater last night was corpulent comic Louie Anderson.
Ba-du-bum. No exclamation mark for that one.
But the wideness of appeal was evident as Gans trotted out, by my count, 60 impressions in about two hours. He’s taken on quite a few more contemporary artists as John Mayer, Five For Fighting and Jason Mraz join the ghosts of the Sammy, Dean-O, Sinatra and George Burns in the ’09 model of Gans stage show. It all played out for an adoring audience (three standing ovations) during a performance benefiting Greater Las Vegas After-School All-Stars and Communities in Schools of Southern Nevada. Walking out of the theater side-by-side but not really together were Anderson and former Gov. Bob Miller. Syndicated talk-show host Bonnie Hunt was there, as was “The Mentalist” Gerry McCambridge, powerhouse attorney Bucky Buchanan and his 6-foot-2-in-heels wife, Gianna; Flamingo President Don Marrandino, and, crossing party lines on local TV, Channel 3’s Alicia Jacobs with Channel 5’s Jason Feinberg. A canine was also in the audience: Jacobs has been toting the nine-week-old Cavalier King Charles puppy purchased for her a couple of weeks ago by “So You Think You Can Dance” judge and “American Idol” executive producer Nigel Lythgoe at the Nevada Ballet Theater’s Black & White gala. The dog cost 10 grand, which is about the price of a used Mazda 6, and Jacobs carries the Twinkie-sized pooch around in her purse, occasionally opening it for display and oxygen.
Missing from the hullabaloo were Steve and Elaine Wynn. I guess they are having some sort of marital upheaval or something, but Gans did express how very fortunate he felt to be reunited with Steve Wynn, who lured him from the Rio 10 years ago to give him a choice billing at The Mirage. Gans was that hotel’s ace until Cirque and The Beatles showed up for “Love,” and today Terry Fator and his puppet cult are preparing to take over the old Gans theater. Oh, Gans has a puppet, too, the famed Kermit the Frog Muppet with whom he sings, “The Rainbow Connection,” a number familiar to longtime Gans fans and for any “Kermit Heads” out there.
Gans was obviously having a good time. He’s a strong stage presence. He’s backed by a powerful eight-piece band. He’s well-compensated: Here’s an educated estimate of his annual income in his new gig: $6 million on the low side, maybe $10 million, maybe even higher.
“I feel like I got the golden ticket,” Gans said, beaming from the stage while dressed in his favorite black suit, black-and-white wing tips and crimson socks. “Steve Wynn is Willie Wonka, and this is a chocolate factory.” I guess that would make “Monty Python’s Spamalot” the Augustus Gloop in this interpretation, and “Avenue Q” is the luckless Violet Beaugarde.
But there is Gans, still floating above the sky as if somehow propelled by magic, living large with an act that has become the Strip’s Everlasting Gobstopper.
Kats’ stray notes: Buchanan has been interviewed by producers of “48 Hours” for an upcoming piece the show is working on centering on the Binion trial. … Monti Rock III was seated behind me (yet another memorable person seated behind me at a Vegas show, joining the dorks at “Love” the other night), and his face took on a wistful look as Gans’ dipped into his Carson impression. Full Monti was a Carson guest 68 times, or 84 times or somewhere between, depending on the source. … Caesars Palace VP of Entertainment Scott Schecter topped my whiny story about the rowdy fans behind me at “Love” by telling me that once at a Blue Man Group performance, a guy sitting behind him barfed. ... Lighted sparklers were jammed into a giant cake from Society Cafe at Encore for Gans' post-show party. At 14 pounds, the cake far outweighed Jacobs' puppy.
Editing note: The original version of this blog inaccurately listed Bonnie Hunt as an Academy Award winner. That's Linda Hunt, not Bonnie Hunt.