Monday, Feb. 26, 2018 | 2 a.m.
The longest running show on the Las Vegas Strip is doing something it’s never done before. Now in its 35th season, the iconic musical tribute “Legends in Concert”—a fixture on the Boulevard since 1983—began offering a fresh set of legends in early February, including Elvis, Aretha Franklin, Sting and Michael Jackson. The first-time event is who’s playing the King of Pop and how he’s playing it.
Sixteen-year-old sensation Nathanial Cullors started singing Jackson’s songs professionally at age 12 in the Broadway and touring productions of “Motown: The Musical.” That gig scored him some bonus exposure in the form of a TV spot on “Little Big Shots” with Steve Harvey, where he blew audiences away with his rendition of “Who’s Lovin’ You” and got the attention of the producers of “Legends,” who had been searching for a teen MJ to add to the show for years.
“’Who’s Lovin’ You’ is my favorite song but I think ‘Dancing Machine’ is my favorite to perform,” says Cullors. “Most of the tribute artists are flat-footed singers. They’re not dancing around as much. Elvis moves around but he’s not constantly dancing, and me, I’m literally dancing the whole time, even moving in a certain way during the ballad. So at the end I can get really tired and I have to close it out with this power ballad and it’s kind of hard. But ‘Who’s Lovin’ You’ is such a good song and everybody knows it, so you don’t want to mess it up.”
Cullors sings a medley of early Jackson hits before that grand finale, from “I Want You Back” to “ABC” to “The Love You Save” to “I’ll Be There” to “Shake Your Body.” He was born in Japan and moved all over the states due to his father being in the military and he lives in San Antonio now, but the articulate teen with the magnetic stage presence says he’s always been an entertainer.
“I always wanted to perform or entertain people in some type of way, just making them laugh or singing, which I’ve been doing since I could talk,” he says. “But I was a good kid in school. It was good to be smart and also make people laugh.”
He’s only been in Las Vegas for a few short weeks—and his “Legends” run has been extended from mid-May through the end of June—but Cullors is feeling comfortable on the Flamingo showroom stage and is hoping to spend a lot more time on the Strip.
“It’s my first time and I love it. I’m definitely planning on moving here later on down the line. It’s a lot more convenient and cheaper to live than other places but still has that city feel,” he says. “I don’t think the whole scale or scope of it has hit me yet as much as it should. Being 16 playing on the Strip is amazing, but to also be in the longest running show and playing Michael Jackson is so much more.”
“Legends in Concert” plays at various times Saturday through Thursday in the Donny and Marie Showroom at the Flamingo (3555 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702-777-2782) and more info can be found at legendsinconcert.com.