Las Vegas Hilton
Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009 | 4:36 p.m.
Award-winning singer-songwriter Barry Manilow says the past five years of playing in Las Vegas at the Hilton were the best of his career. He didn’t want to leave town when his contract expired, and he’d always had a dream to play on the Strip. Both wishes come true when he opens at the Paris in March with a new extended deal.
Said 66-year-old Barry: “I am so excited to take my brand new show to Paris Las Vegas. This is the first time I have ever been on the Strip, and we’re putting together a brand new beautiful show. I thought the Paris Las Vegas, what’s more romantic than that, so we are putting together the most beautiful show I can imagine. I will be singing as many of the hits, of course, as I can and loads of new songs. I hope everyone can make it there, because I think it’s going to be really great.”
He’s working with Madonna and Paul McCartney’s director/choreographer Jeff Hornaday, who staged their world tours and High School Musical. The 1,500-seat Theatre des Arts will undergo changes for Barry’s shows. He’s bringing his singers from the Hilton and plans to expand his band in the new location.
“It was time for a change, and moving to the Strip is like being in Times Square,” Barry added. “I’ve checked out the theater already, and I love the room.” Barry is the first artist contracted for a show run there since the Mel Brooks musical The Producers closed there in February last year.
The mega-best-selling entertainer is already underway with rehearsals for the new production at the same time he is finishing his new album Greatest Love Songs of All Time set for release Jan. 26. It comes right on the heels of his just-released Christmas album -- his third -- In the Swing of Christmas. Recording magic in the studio enabled his voice to be duplicated many times over to become a 21-piece choir!
Some of the “greatest love songs’ will be the backbone of his new show. “It’s going to be romantic,” Barry said. “Paris is a romantic city, so the Paris hotel has to reflect the love. I want this to be the most beautiful production of my career.”
His shows at the Paris will be less than 250 yards from the Caesars Palace Colosseum, where Bette Midler is ending her contract run next month. Barry was her pianist and music arranger when she first found stardom at the Continental Baths in Manhattan several decades ago. I’ve known Barry since then, when he taught piano for extra money to supplement his early beginnings as a jingles and TV commercials writer.
I interviewed Barry back in May, when he first discussed staying in Las Vegas at the end of his Hilton contract run. Not only that, but he won’t be commuting back and forth from his Palm Springs, Calif., estate while he’s in Las Vegas. He’s decided to stay put at the Paris while performing there.
Barry has included his own renditions of “The Look of Love” by Burt Bacharach, “We’ve Only Just Begun” by The Carpenters and “12th of Never” by Johnny Mathis on the album, which features jazz and American standards. “As Time Goes By” from the classic Casablanca and the theme from Love Story also are among the 15 fantastic love songs.
It’s still difficult for me to believe that Barry debuted back in 1974 with his first No. 1 single “Mandy” and went onto an extraordinary career of Grammy, Tony and Emmy wins. He’s racked up worldwide record sales approaching 100 million, with 25 consecutive Top 40 hits as the top Adult Contemporary artist of all time.
Arista Records mogul Clive Davis, Barry’s longtime collaborator, commented: “Barry and I have a mission to bring a new generation the great songs that are the soundtrack of our lives. This album does just that, and Barry is sounding better than ever.”
You’ll get a taste of the new album and a glimpse at his new show tonight when Barry joins Jay Leno for an appearance on Jay’s NBC primetime show.
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