Thanks to the marvels of live theater and hero-worship, you can see 1962 Marilyn, 1968 Dusty, 1972 Elvis, and 1985 Michael, all in one night.
The longest-running tribute revue in Vegas has something for everyone – or an imitation of it.
What makes a legend? After 1983, hundreds of wannabes practiced until they could do a flawless Moonwalk. Every one of Michael Jackson‘s moves could be imitated perfectly with the right physique and a backbreaking amount of training. Why, then, did so few of the imitators end up moving 100 million records and selling out stadiums?
There was the voice, the songwriting talent, the relentless showbiz upbringing. What if someone showed up with those same qualities, plus an uncanny resemblance to the late King of Pop, and started Moonwalking to the beat of “Billie Jean,” copying Michael’s one-of-a-kind vocal inflections? It would be a great show … but it still wouldn’t be Michael. Why? What “it” factor is missing?
“Legends in Concert” at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino offers no easy answers to this question, but it definitely inspires meditation of the most entertaining sort as it serves up a revolving door of impersonations, including Cher, Madonna, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Celine Dion, and more to delighted full houses at Donny and Marie Showroom. The costumes are perfect, the performers look like the real stars, they have the voices and the moves. Synchronized backup dancers and a live band flesh out a revue free from lip-syncing – these performers go for broke on authenticity and the immediacy of live music.
The acts rotate. Right now you can catch a Fake Dusty Springfield and Fake Marilyn Monroe … but Michael is always in the mix. These performers aren’t the real thing, but many of them nail the details with eerie accuracy. You could almost believe …
If the performers don’t fool you, they still invite comparison by proportion. So it’s not the real Michael or the real Marilyn … but how do Fake Michael and Fake Marilyn stack up against each other? For which ticket would you have paid more? Whose overall style delivered the most bang for the buck?
Innuendo notwithstanding, it’s Michael. No contest. While the other performances range from competent to outstanding and will satisfy die-hard fans, Fake Michael blows them all away, just the way Real Michael would have done if this fictional bill had ever materialized in real life. (What Save-The-Children benefit could have accomplished that?) Watching what Fake Michael does in comparison to the other acts conveys a sense of the enormity of what the real Michael did compared to his contemporaries. How could one human being have such moves? The impersonator has the same moves … but he didn’t invent them, and he sure didn’t write the “Thriller” album.
Tickets start at around $70, and there is not a bad seat in the house. The show is family-friendly and spans generations of time-tested music, making this show a good choice for visitors with kids or parents in tow.
Even if some PBS Telethon concert could serve up a real bill of the source musical performers that make up “Legends in Concert,” some of them would be past their prime. Many are unavailable for booking on account of untimely death. Thanks to the marvels of live theater and hero-worship, you can see 1962 Marilyn Monroe, 1968 Dusty Springfield, 1972 Elvis Presley, and 1985 Michael Jackson, all in one night.
Verdict: Vegas is famous for impersonation revues (among many other things), but “Legends in Concert” at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino is the longest-running of its kind for good reason. If you can only catch one, or need to satisfy diverse musical tastes and generational gaps, this show is a great choice. Is any Vegas experience complete without seeing Elvis at least once?