Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2009 | 9:01 a.m.
On Monday night, the cast and crew of the female impersonator show "Evening at La Cage" at the Riviera were notified by owner Norbert Aleman that he regrettably was being forced to shut down the long-running production.
Headliner Frank Marino and his fellow female impersonators received the news as the show ended at 9 p.m.
There were weeklong negotiations with Riviera executives and the show’s producers, but because of falling ticket sales and no sign of an immediate recovery for hotel bookings, it was decided to close the show.
Frank, who played the show’s colorful Mistress of Ceremonies as Joan Rivers, held the title of Las Vegas’ longest-running headliner. He was presented with a key to the city on “Frank Marino Day” on Feb. 1, 2006.
The pink slips came nine days after the third anniversary of that presentation by Mayor Oscar Goodman. Additionally, Frank has a star on the Strip’s Walk of Stars and Frank Marino Drive in honor of him.
The show began as a three-month run in 1985 when it started at the Riviera but ran more than 20 years with female impersonators duplicating Cher, Britney Spears, Madonna, Bette Midler and even Michael Jackson.
Frank, who appeared in "Miss Congeniality 2," which was filmed here, authored the book "His Majesty the Queen."
Norbert, who also produces the sexy topless adult cabaret revue "Crazy Girls" at the Riviera, says that revue will continue.
Frank said he was expecting the closure because of falling audience numbers. After a monthlong vacation, Frank says he’ll start work on his “ultimate drag show” he’s been working on for several months.
"Crazy Girls" has been on extended hiatus since Christmas, and that lineup of eight topless beauties will reopen Wednesday.
Also let go last night were actors Lane Lassiter, who played Michael Jackson; Steven Wayne, who played Cher and was at the superstar singer’s premiere last year at the Caesars Palace Colosseum at her invitation; Ryan Zink, who performed as Reba McEntire; Brent Allen as Bette Midler; and Crystal Woods as Diana Ross, along with Frank’s understudy James Henderson.
News of "La Cage" closing follows the announcement that "Folies Bergere," the topless revue at the Tropicana, will close in March after a 49-year run.