Wednesday, April 2, 2014 | 4:55 p.m.
It was an arrival ceremony fit for a “Physical” pop princess, although Oscar Goodman’s gift of a burned-out light bulb from the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign was totally unexpected and out-of-the-ordinary.
“I’m not going to read everything my wife, the mayor, wrote on the official proclamation I’m supposed to read marking Olivia Newton-John Day,” the former mayor declared with a Beefeater gin martini, a bright orange jalapeno pepper and a Key to the City for Olivia in hand.
Olivia, adorned in a black blazer, a black-and-white striped shirt and black leather pants, laughed as he said: “I don’t think you’re going to wake up in the middle of the night to read the proclamation word for word, but I’m sure that you’re going to remember the light bulb. Nobody else has it.”
The “Xanadu” superstar singer arrived in style behind the wheel of a 1956 Greased Lightning convertible just like the one in her hit movie musical “Grease” with John Travolta.
“I held on to the umbrella,” Olivia told me. “I thought that I was going to lift off in the wind and have to start singing the theme song from ‘Mary Poppins.’ ”
Olivia was welcomed by Eileen Moore, regional president of the Flamingo, Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins, Las Vegas Host Committee Chairman Oscar Goodman, Chippendales at the Rio hunks and “Jubilee” at Bally’s showgirls and dancers adorned in Pink Lady jackets a la “Grease.”
Hundreds of fans lined the sidewalks of the Linq to grab photographs and autographs from Olivia, who opens her “Summer Nights” residency show at the Flamingo next Tuesday, with an official grand opening Friday, April 11.
It was back in April 2012 that I first reported Olivia was headed to the Flamingo to take over Donny & Marie Osmond’s Showroom during the brother-sister duo’s expanded breaks, but her visit was delayed due to the death of her sister Rona from cancer.
Then we confirmed final engagement dates on Jan. 28. My interview with Olivia about her show was posted March 18. Our thanks to Las Vegas Sun photographer L.E. Baskow and Brian Jones of Las Vegas News Bureau for their photos, and I even managed to grab a couple of shots for my Twitter @robin_leach.
Caesars Entertainment officials told me that advance tickets sales have been great: “Unbelievably and unexpectedly strong. The fans really do love her.”
Today after the ceremony, she joked with me: “We’ll begin our onstage rehearsals tomorrow. I can’t wait to get the show opened. It will be the musical journey of my life, so you’re in for a very long night!
“Seriously, we’ll have as many different styles of songs as possible and as many favorites we can squeeze in. I’ve had such a warm welcome. Today has been all about having fun, and we’ll continue that with the show.
“I’m so excited about doing the show in Las Vegas. I’m happy just being in Las Vegas, and I’m honestly looking forward to a long stay here. Now that I’ve got the key to the Strip, I’m told that I can go open the slot machines any day after 2 p.m. — and I’ll treasure the light bulb forever!”
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.
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