steve marcus / LAs Vegas Sun File
Thursday, Oct. 2, 2008 | 2 a.m.
If You Go
- Who: Susan Anton
- When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday, Sunday
- Where: Suncoast Showroom
- Tickets: $19.95 to $39.95; 636-7075
Beyond the Sun
The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies plays to sold-out audiences each year at the Plaza Theatre in the California desert town.
The revue features dancers, singers and comedians who are 55 or older. Some of the showgirls are in their 80s; the late Frankie Laine was one of the headliners in his 90s.
Las Vegan Susan Anton makes her debut Jan. 7 as the featured star.
“I get to be the young one,” Anton says. “They’ve been asking me to come for a long time but I always said I’m not old enough. Then I realized I am old enough.”
Anton, who turns 58 on Oct. 12, remains as beautiful and full of energy as when she was starring in the “Great Radio City Music Hall Spectacular” from 1994 to 2000 at the Flamingo.
But you don’t have to travel to Palm Springs to enjoy the enthusiastic performer who seems to be doing something even when she’s idle. She will perform Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Suncoast.
“I like every show to be different, to give the audiences something new every time they come to my show,” Anton says.
This time around it will be a bit of nostalgia.
“My band has been with me almost 30 years, some of the musicians even longer,” Anton says. “Many of us have traveled the world together. We’ve traveled through many of life’s journeys together — marriages, children, divorces, loss of parents and so forth. So I’ve asked each band member to send me a list of some of the songs they’ve enjoyed doing the most over those years. That gives us the opportunity to go back and do things from the ’80s and do songs with special meaning to us, and we can tell the audience a little bit about our journey.”
Perhaps one of those memories will be her co-starring role in “Hairspray,” which had a brief run at the Luxor in 2006.
“As you know, musicals in Las Vegas are still kind of experimental,” she says.
“Hairspray” was an experiment that exploded in the lab — lasting only 15 weeks when many observers thought it had a shot at challenging “Mamma Mia!” for longevity.
Immediately after the show closed, Anton and her husband, actor/producer/director Jeff Lester, headed for New York City, where he was directing a commercial. They dropped in on an old friend, Richard Martini — who produced the “Radio City” show at the Flamingo and “Forever Plaid” at the Flamingo and the Gold Coast.
He offered Anton a job in the touring musical “All Shook Up,” combining the music of Elvis Presley and the plot of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.”
“It’s a terrific musical set in the ’60s,” Anton says. “The songs are about finding love and losing love, but it also deals with segregation and sexism and other topics current today, but used with Elvis music.”
While she was touring she figured out why “Hairspray” failed, she says.
“I realized that all these terrific shows like ‘Hairspray’ go on tour, at least they used to before the economy became impossible,” Anton says. “If I live in Appleton, Wis., and I have a great performing arts center and I know these shows are going to come to my own back yard, then when I come to Las Vegas, is that really what I want to go see? I’m going to want to see something I can only see in Las Vegas.”
She would jump at the chance to be part of another musical in Vegas.
“I’d do it in a heartbeat,” she said. “It was one of the best experiences I ever had.”
Since her tour ended she has had a few gigs with her band, acted in independent films and worked on TV projects.
When she isn’t onstage or in front of a camera, Anton stays busy with her new home in Summerlin.
“We bought it just before I went on tour and until this summer I hadn’t been able to spend any time there,” Anton says. “So I’ve just been enjoying putting the house together, putting our touch to it.”