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April 16, 2014

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Photos: Behind the scenes of Boyz II Men’s debut at The Mirage — leg injury, roses and reunion

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Denise Truscello/WireImage/DeniseTruscello.net

Mark Nelson performs with Nate Morris, Wanya Morris and Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men perform during opening night of Boyz II Men’s residency at The Mirage on Friday, March 1, 2013.

Boyz II Men Opening Night at The Mirage

Wanya Morris, Shawn Stockman and Nate Morris of Boyz II Men perform on opening night of Boyz II Men's residency at The Mirage on Friday, March 1, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Boyz II Men’s premiere Friday night at The Mirage turned into a wild party and concert as ladies by the dozens rushed the stage to grab the group’s signature roses and get up close to the three stars. And nobody knew that earlier in the week during final rehearsals, Nathan Morris had ripped his calf muscles.

Nathan was determined that the show must go on. He wasn’t about to disappoint on opening night unable to dance and make those signature Motown moves. Nathan confirmed the injury when I met them backstage post-premiere. His leg was tightly wrapped up, and he was limping in obvious pain.

“He had to endure great pain. We were going to make an announcement, and he was like, ‘I got to do it.’ I cannot believe he did the show. I swear to God this guy is a legend, “ Marc Nelson, one of the group’s original members who was a surprise onstage guest performer, told me.

Shawn Stockman added: “Did you see him? We have been rehearsing for this for a few weeks now. Sometimes, it’s going to happen. Casualties are going to happen, but we were taught a long time ago that the show must go on no matter the situation.

“We can all tell stories about how I have had no voice and I would go out onstage anyway and try to whisper as many notes as I could because the people want to see us. If they see that we are at least trying, despite some of the mishaps or faux pas, they enjoy it even more. It is more endearing.”

Said Nathan: “I just had to wrap it up. It is Vegas. The show must go on; you gotta do it. We had rehearsals here all week, and I did it in rehearsals about two days ago. I have been kind of trying to take it easy. I tried to limp all week, so I could save as much as I had, just tried to give it all I have. I’m going to be using a lot of ice through the night!”

The concert was such a hit, Boyz II Men had a second problem; they exhausted their first-night supply of long-stemmed red roses for ladies who mobbed the stage faster than they anticipated. Wanya Morris, Shawn and Nathan started with two-dozen roses each, but within minutes they were gone.

Shawn told me: “We’re going to have to stock up on more roses. We didn’t have enough. We ran out pretty quickly, 72 roses just gone instantly. We are going to have to double up the roses -- everybody gets four dozen, or even more! The song is long enough to give them out, so it should be OK.

“We’ve done shows in Vegas before, regular shows, but this felt really good. I don’t think in 21 years we’ve had a party like this one. Tonight is unbelievable. We started when we were young, and we didn’t really understand what was going on. So now that we do have more of a concept, it is more fulfilling. We appreciate it a lot more. When we party, we know how to now.

“It was a great reaction. It was a shock to see them all running, rushing the stage. I didn’t think that was going to happen. We saw the one girl, and then it was three, five, seven, 10. Then half the house, and then at the end they just came onstage and danced along with us for the last song! It was a great reaction, and we had a good time. We were so pleased, absolutely pleased.

Boyz II Men Announce Mirage Residency

Nathan Morris, Wanya Morris and Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men announce an extended residency at the Mirage on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013.
Launch slideshow »

“Everybody was excited onstage and in the audience. It was a great party and concert. Hopefully, we can do it every weekend -- 78 parties coming up this year. The crowd was on fire. They sang all the lyrics. They gave us everything they had, and we tried to give it back.

“Our fans have supported us for 21 years. Trends changed, but we never changed, and what we sang at the beginning stayed with us and held us together. We’ve never taken our fans for granted since that 1991 debut. There was something missing, though, and a residency in Vegas was that piece we always wanted.”

The show was a hot, nonstop, incredibly energetic hit parade from start to finish. No wonder they sing “Music Is My Everything” with such conviction. The voices are still superb. The dance moves are still mesmerizing. Young and old alike, the females in the audience screamed, sang along and waved their arms as the three Boyz sang and performed with eight backup musicians.

When the Boyz went into the audience for “End of the Road,” the fans got even wilder. Nathan and Shawn made a speech about how their music was real and they’d kept it that way for two decades. My interview with the threesome was posted Jan. 10 before they arrived in Las Vegas to start their residency.

If the rose giveaway wasn’t the highlight of the night, then the surprise appearance of founding member Marc certainly was. Backstage, Nathan and he told me that they started the group together. “That was back in 1985,” Nathan said. “Before anybody else was in the group.

“Over the course of the years, different people went different ways. He wound up leaving the group, and we wound up putting a bass guy in, and that is kind of how it went. We don’t know if three becomes four again -- it depends on what the audience thinks. If they like it, it’s cool. Anything is possible at this point. We’ll see!”

Shawn chimed in, “As far as we’re concerned, we’re all very much family together or apart. He never left. He’s always been here, even though it’s his first time back with us professionally onstage since 1989. This has always been what we call the frat; even Mike McCary, the guy who was bass who isn’t here. We are all family at the end of the day.

Marc told me: “This was a phenomenal show. You’ll have to ask them if it was better than the old days, but if they said it was the best show in 21 years, it’s because they are so seasoned and awesome.”

Among those attending the sold-out show: Austin “Chumlee” Russell and Richard “The Old Man” Harrison of “Pawn Stars,” R&B legend Johnny Gill, pop prince Joey Fatone with acclaimed Michael Jackson music director Kevin Antunes, Sheree Fletcher from VH1’s “Hollywood Exes,” NFL legend Gayle Sayers and cast members from Las Vegas shows “Divas” with Frank Marino, Thunder From Down Under, Chippendales and The Australian Bee Gees.

Boyz II Men perform most weekends at Terry Fator Theater in The Mirage through the end of the year. Our thanks to Denise Truscello of WireImage for her photo gallery of opening night.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow VDLX Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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