Luxe Life Blog
Photo Gallery: Mr. Las Vegas’ Once Before I Go at Tropicana
Superstar entertainer Wayne Newton candidly confessed yesterday that the title of his new Tropicana show is probably apropos -- and true. When his new run there wraps next spring, he will have completed a 50-year showbiz run -- and he’s getting ready to call it quits on a full-time basis.
Wayne told me in a one-on-one sit-down interview: “It’s been an extraordinary half-century, and I’d like to share all those memories once before I go! It’s time for me to take care of the kids,” in particular referencing his 7-year-old daughter Lauren.
Wayne will move into the Tiffany Theater at the Tropicana starting next Tuesday for rehearsals, and the first night of previews will be Oct. 14. “We’ll probably do the star-studded red carpet official opening gala 10 days later once we’ve got it all tweaked and under our belt,” he said. The contract runs through next May.
“Then I have a lot of decisions to make, but I think it’s safe to say this is the precursor to me saying the real goodbye. I’ll still do all of my USO duties and the occasional guest performances around the country. We already have some invitations to do this farewell production in other cities,” Wayne added.
His probable grand finale and swan song is a decade after his last long contract run on the Strip ended at the Stardust, which has since been imploded. “I was invited to go watch the implosions of various hotels as they were blown up and changed over with new buildings. I wouldn’t go. I wouldn’t even watch on television because too many wonderful memories were going up in smoke.
“So I sent somebody to cut me a little piece of the stage floor from each of them that I keep as a souvenir. I have them from the International before it became the Hilton, the Stardust, the Sands, the Desert Inn, the Aladdin and the Fremont downtown.
“I’m not being egotistical, but I’m just proud that I can say working as a headline entertainer in Vegas since my debut on May 16, 1959, nobody achieved what I did here for 50 consecutive years. That never happened before, and I bet it won’t ever happen again. Nobody else has seen 50 years from center stage in our ever-changing city.”
He revealed that his new show at the Tropicana will contain state-of-the-art, cutting-edge theatrical and technical elements that he could never have worked with before. A new sound and lighting system have been installed with video screens and mechanics. “We’ll have a full orchestra, lots of surprises, plus videos and photos through the years,” said Wayne, who lives here at his Shenandoah ranch.
“Yes, we’ll make sure the Arabian horses get their shot in the spotlight, and maybe even some of the cast from my reality show will drop by. I’m not planning any special guests, but they will always be welcome on the stage if they drop by. I think it will be a rare opportunity to experience an extraordinary career through my own eyes. ”
Onex Corp. recently acquired the Tropicana, built in 1957. Onex is led by Tropicana Chairman and CEO Alex Yemenidjian, who introduced Wayne at the media gathering in the Tiffany Theater, which is where the long-running Folies Bergere closed last fall a year short of its own 50th anniversary!
Over the half decade Wayne has performed to more than 40 million, now secrets and revelations from that unique life story involving Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, The Rat Pack and Howard Hughes are about to come to light.
“Being the new kid on the block back in 1959, it is both exciting and artistically challenging that in 2009, I am able to do the kind of show I’ve always wanted to do here in my hometown that I love,” Wayne said. “It is the icing on the cake to bring this show to Tropicana at the request of my dear friend Alex Yemenidjian.”
“We are thrilled that the one and only Mr. Las Vegas, Wayne Newton, has chosen Tropicana Las Vegas as the venue for the most important celebration of his career,” Alex said.
Wayne told me that he will change Once Before I Go during the holidays with his own Christmas spectacle, and then he let me in on two secrets he’ll reveal in the show that even I never knew.
“I worked for Howard Hughes for 14 years but only met him twice. I have vivid memories from the meetings where he told me he’d had a camera at the Frontier feeding him my show every night across the Strip so he could watch and count audience numbers! I never knew until he told me,” laughed Wayne.
One of the most famous songs in Wayne’s catalog of super hits is “Danke Schoen.” In fact, it was played when he walked onstage yesterday, and he ordered it turned off because, as he joked, “I’m so sick of that by now.” He told me that the song was originally written for Bobby Darin as the follow-up to his big hit “Mack the Knife.” “He didn’t want it. He didn’t like it,” Wayne said. “He looked at me and said, ‘Here, kid, here’s something for you to do.’ Two days later, I recorded it, and, as they say, the rest is history.”
And nobody can tell those 50 years of incredible stories any better. Fans and audiences are going to eat it up as he plans his farewell Strip shows. Totally remarkable!
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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