Wednesday, April 25, 2018 | 2 a.m.
Anyone who’s seen Frank Marino’s “Divas Las Vegas” show has his or her favorite acts. It could be Larry Edwards’ now legendary performance as Tina Turner, unless you prefer Edwards as Patti LaBelle, which is equally electric and involves flying footwear. Or maybe you love Steven Wayne, who does dual divas and current Strip headliners Celine Dion and Cher. Both are likely the best impersonations you’ve seen of these stars.
If you were Marino, meaning you’ve been a Las Vegas headliner for nearly 35 years and have more than earned the right to call your own shots in your own show, you’d be able to pick which divas perform which all-star impersonations every night. Incredibly, Marino is passing that responsibly on to you, his faithful audience members, as “Divas” has recently transformed into what is likely the first interactive show of its kind on the Strip.
Before each performance at the Linq’s showroom, Marino goes live on Facebook to collect votes from the audience on which stars they want to see onstage that night, from Madonna to Beyoncé, Lady Gaga to Dolly Parton. There are some tough choices: Whitney Houston or Dionne Warwick? Too close to call. Whitney won out during my visit Saturday night and Chris Woods’ rendition did not disappoint.
Getting the audience involved in this way is no easy feat considering the show’s extensive costume collection and the precise makeup and styling that goes into each celebrity impersonation. But everything steams along smoothly, bolstered by the overall talent of the cast including Marino’s backup Andrew Ryan, who delivers a bubbly Katy Perry as well as an emotional, disarming performance to Charles Aznavour’s “What Makes A Man” that closes the show.
Of course, the endless energy of the show’s star and host is constantly moving things along, whether Marino is doing his iconic Joan Rivers routine or reappearing to introduce the next act in one of an infinite series of fabulous gowns. After so many years on the Strip competing with bigger budgets and the biggest names in the business, Marino’s fighting spirit is intact and his show is naughty as ever. It’s hard to believe anyone can still get laughs with Lorena Bobbitt jokes, but that’s why he’s the Queen of Las Vegas, one of a kind.
“Divas Las Vegas” is performed daily at 4 or 9:30 p.m. at the Mat Franco Theater at The Linq (3535 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702-777-2782) and more information can be found at the linq.com.