Wednesday, March 1, 2017 | 2 a.m.
Pop quiz time: What’s the longest running show on the Las Vegas Strip? Now that Jubilee! is gone, the answer is less obvious. The new champion is Legends in Concert, the celebrity impersonation revue that began in 1983 as a limited engagement at the Imperial Palace, the hotel-casino now known as the Linq.
“People are a little surprised to find that out,” says the show’s vice president, Gina Adams. “It is a major accomplishment but sometimes it can be a bit of a double-edged sword. We’ve been around so long that sometimes people can feel like the show is old, even if the audience always has a great time and when they come in and we almost always exceed their expectations.”
Legends, which moved to the 700-capacity Donny and Marie Showroom at the Flamingo three years ago, has exceeded those expectations by switching things up and rotating different stars into the show. But for its 34th season, which launched February 11, a more strategic approach was necessary. Vegas audiences may not need to see a performer looking and sounding like Cher or Rod Stewart or Britney Spears when they can buy a different ticket down the Strip and see the real thing.
“We had that conversation last year, that so many of these icons have residencies here now,” Adams says. “So what if we go back to the way this company was founded, with legends people can’t see anymore?”
Legends In Concert Debuts New Lineup
New tribute artists debut in the Legends in Concert show at the Flamingo in Las Vegas Monday, Feb. 27, 2017. The new cast, Stacey Whitton as Marilyn Monroe, Damian Brantley as Michael Jackson, Kevin Mills as Elvis Presley and Michelle Rohl as Janis Joplin, will perform through May 11.
That’s exactly what she and her cast and crew have done with the new “Legends Never Die” edition of the classic production. There are no living legends in this show. Michelle Rohl kicks things off as Janis Joplin, bringing the grit and the passion through “Me and Bobby McGee,” “Piece of My Heart” and more. Then the King of Pop takes over, portrayed by Damian Brantley, who boasts considerable MJ-esque moves. The squad of six dancers get some zombie-time to shine during “Thriller.” Next up is Stacey Whitton Summers as Marilyn Monroe, who takes her time interacting with the audience before re-emerging for the sizzling “Heat Wave,” performed by the real Marilyn in 1954’s There’s No Business Like Show Business. Finally, Elvis shuts it down, powerfully portrayed by Kevin Mills.
Legends has several productions running across the country with performers mimicking anybody and everybody from Adele to Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion to Dolly Parton, Elton John to Frank Sinatra … the alphabet run could continue. But the Vegas version is going to focus on lost icons for now, perhaps incorporating Whitney Houston or Prince sometime soon.
Another new addition is an original opening number designed by Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance choreographer Lacey Schwimmer, who dropped by during Monday night’s show. “We’ve never done an ensemble opening number in Legends history before and it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for quite some time,” Adams says. “Lacey did a great job in bringing it to life.”
Legends in Concert is dark Fridays at the Flamingo and runs steady into May. Find tickets by calling 702-777-2782 or at ticketmaster.com.