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November 22, 2006

Retro People

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards:

Broadway, thy name is Revival.

And Las Vegas, thy name is Retro People.

Show biz people. Dead ones, in many cases.

Okay, I probably should have used the word "impressionist" or the word "impersonator" because it's that genre. Or perhaps not: it's not just some guy who's part of the evening's bill doing a minute of Jimmy Stewart and then a snippet of some other personality.

Here in Vegas, they have whole shows built around impersonators sticking with one character.

For example, two years ago I saw a Rat Pack show where guys did an hour and twenty minutes of Frank Sinatra, Joey Bishop, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis. (The Sinatra impersonator was pretty close, as was the guy doing Sammy -- though he was Hispanic, not Black.) That show is still playing.

Skimming a Vegas entertainment magazine on my table I see the following other impersonation-based ("Tribute") shows: Neil Diamond (yes, he's still alive), a Frank Sinatra-Barbra Streisand concert (half alive), the Beatles (another halfie), Bobby Darin - Garth Brooks - Sting - Britney Spears - The Temptations - Elvis (more alive than dead), Liberace (defunct) plus the aforesaid Rat Pack.

I'm not normally one to draw sweeping sociocultural conclusions from stuff like this. It might simply be targeting older audiences. Possibly it has to do with shallowness of current show business. Or maybe it's because such shows are easy to set up -- no new material to develop.



posted by Donald at November 22, 2006


It might simply be targeting older audiences. Possibly it has to do with shallowness of current show business. Or maybe it's because such shows are easy to set up -- no new material to develop.

Probably a combination of all these factors.

Posted by: Peter on November 22, 2006 1:09 PM

It's the end of our present pop culture. It has been doing mainly revivals and feel-good impersonations for a while now. Not a good sign of a healthy civilization. Ford motor company is a good parallel. I knew they were in trouble when they started trying to revive interest in the Mustang and Thunderbird.

Posted by: Bob Grier on November 22, 2006 2:47 PM

I'd say the strongest of these is the tendency to cater to the baby-boomers, some of whom are loaded with accumulated money (though I personally don't know any)and want naturally to hold onto the things they enjoyed as youngsters. What other generation has had radio stations dedicated to the music they grew up with?

Now is the time to make money on their need for frivolities and hard-earned dreams.

Tomorrow, we'll invest in the pharmaceuticals and walkers.

Posted by: susan on November 22, 2006 3:06 PM

I'd enjoy a tribute show to Armstrong and Beiderbecke. And Fats, and Jelly and Pee Wee and Bud. And half a hundred more.

Posted by: dearieme on November 22, 2006 3:08 PM

Well, doesn't it fit with the local architecture - which isn't Revival Style so much as Pastiche?

Posted by: Michael Tinkler on November 23, 2006 10:34 PM

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