The Divas show is an upbeat song, dance, and comedy review featuring very talented female impersonators who pay tribute (and have some fun) portraying current pop stars and living legends alike. The famous divas include Cher, Madonna, Dolly Parton, Diana Ross, Britney Spears, Celine, Liza, and Beyonce. Add to that a dance line of six handsome and hunky men who perform (wearing nice and skimpy costumes) in acts with the faux stars, and you have my kind of Las Vegas, baby! In fact, the REAL stars like Cher and Madonna have visited this show to see themselves being portrayed…that’s how good these talented guys are (and at a fraction of the admission price).
The Imperial Palace has the good fortune of being in a nice neighborhood, with Caesars Palace and the Mirage just across the street. It was a good thing for us, because earlier that afternoon we discovered that someone had backed up into the front of our rental car in the Mirage parking lot. The damage wasn’t major but a headlight was broken and the bumper was cracked. Yuk. Not getting an answer if we should call the police to fill out an accident report, leave the car in the parking lot, or drive it back to them, after talking to 3 people on the phone who either couldn’t/wouldn’t help, it involved us having to take a taxi to the car rental center and demanding to see a manager before they agreed to make everything right. They didn’t readily have a replacement car, but would call us when they had another one available in a few hours, we were assured. Somehow neither of us were feeling very assured of anything with them at that point.
Leaving the Mirage to go to the show, we patiently waited for the pedestrian “walk” signal in the 110 degree heat along with about 20 other people and watched as a family in a hurry dogged cars crossing the street with a green light for cars. Were they afraid the buffet was going to run out of chicken nuggets or something? A boy standing next to me suggested to his dad that they jaywalk too, and the dad told him not to act stupid just because others do it. Fun! Once inside, finding my way around the Imperial Palace wasn’t so easy…this Asian-themed joint has more twists and turns than a three-pronged dragon’s dick in heat. Somehow I wound up leading us into a sports booking section. Then I went too-far into the back caverns of this place. The theatre is actually an easy escalator ride one floor up from the casino level, but who knew?
“You won’t believe what we have going on back stage," says Frank. "We have Madonna, Cher and Bette Midler getting ready, and they’re all shaving in the same mirror.” He jokes to the audience that “This damn dress is made like a cheap hotel, there’s no ballroom,” and everybody in the audience eats it up. Mr. Marino now belongs to a very select club of famous female impersonator stars who have enjoyed solo success on the Strip over the decades, including Charles Pierce, Jim Bailey, and Kenny Kerr. But in fact, none of these other performers ever achieved the level of long-term success that Frank has.
During the Dolly Parton performance I glanced over and saw the husband (who’s wife said she couldn’t get over that she’d dragged him to this drag show) standing on his feet clapping in time with the music (as was almost everyone else in the room) as “Dolly” left the stage and came down to ham it up with the crowd. Everyone in the theatre was having a good time, and I know that’s not by accident…the more fun and easy something looks is often the result of a lot of hard work and dedicated talent.
The Divas show moves so fast and is such fun that time went all-too quickly. It closed with a very poignant version of Charles Aznavour's song "What Makes a Man a Man?” which was performed on stage in reverse-drag by talented Kenneth Blake. He gradually removes his makeup and female clothing to reveal himself as a proud gay man while lip-syncing the song. The performance reminded the audience to laugh with, and not laugh at, the expense of others who may be different than themselves. I suddenly suspected that Mr. Marino included the number because something like my experience with the lady and her husband in line probably happens with every performance (please see the video clip below that confirms this). I hope this message wasn't lost on that big black haired wife. Somehow I think even if it was, it resonated with her husband and most of the other straight people in the audience. The number deserved the standing ovation it received.
Mr. Marino was kind enough to have offered to meet us after the performance to give us some press information/materials for this blog, but sadly I didn’t get the communications right so we didn’t get to shake his hand and say hello. Honestly, it's a HUGE compliment to the show that while I was worried about the car for those 75 minutes I was still laughing and having so much fun. The car rental company still had not called like they promised they would. When we returned to our room, I saw that they had left a message there. We drove the damaged car back to them and left with another one. The luckiest thing I did while in Las Vegas was take out insurance on the car so there were no financial worries with the whole mess. Instead of a wild night out on the Strip we both went to bed.
We saw several shows while in Las Vegas, including Phantom of the Opera at the swanky Venetian. Phantom was great! But in terms of an all-around good time and Vegas-style fun, none of them compared to Diva’s. If you’re ever in Vegas, screw the Liberace Museum and go see this show...The only things still in the closet here are the gowns! VGMH gives this show a “Don’t Miss it” four thumbs up!
Below: Video of Frank Marino backstage and behind the scenes, courtesy of http://www.vegas.com/ posted on YouTube