Posted: Thursday, March 30, 2017 – 6:28 PM
By Matt Lopez
At Wayne Newton’s “Up Close And Personal” live show, nothing is off limits.
Take for example, a question posed by an audience member at one of Newton’s recent performances.
Short and to the point, the woman said: “Tell us about the mob.”
“If I told you, I’d have to kill you,” Newton recalls saying jokingly, in a phone interview with the Courier. “The truth is, I don’t know much about the mob. It’s just not something I was a party to, despite all the old Vegas folklore, but that’s the great thing about the show—ask anything you want.”
Newton hopes guests come armed with questions of their own when he brings his unique “Up Close And Personal” tour to the Saban Theatre on Saturday, April 8.
The show is part musical performance—Newton sings and plays some of his 13 self-taught instruments—part Q&A session, and part story time with the man known as “Mr. Las Vegas” who has been entertaining audiences in Sin City and across the country for nearly 60 years.
Interspersed with the show will be clips from Newton’s vast music and film career.
Newton had a vacation from performing to relax and convert his 40-acre Casa de Shenandoah ranch into a museum, when he was approached with the idea of returning to the stage.
“Bally’s called me about a year ago and told me about the new theater they were opening, an intimate little setup reminiscent of old Vegas, and they said they wanted me to open it,” Newton said. “Now I usually perform with a 28-piece band, but there’s not room for that here, so I stripped it down and wrote a special, intimate show that is really retro Vegas.”
Newton’s Saban performance will be his first headlining act in Beverly Hills, a city he says he “adores.”
“Oh, I’ve got so many friends in Beverly Hills, I’m out there often and I just love it,” Newton said. “It will be my first headliner, but I’ve performed many shows in the area at places like Cocoanut Grove and up and down the Sunset Strip, opening for Cher and Jack Benny.”
Newton is perhaps the pioneer of the Las Vegas “residency,” which pop stars like Mariah Carey, Britney Spears and Celine Dion have all began doing in recent years.
“It’s nice to come back with an intimate show because everything in Vegas has become so big,” Newton said. “The metamorphosis in terms of entertainment has been interesting, you had the headliners like Dean (Martin), Frank (Sinatra) and Sammy [Davis Jr.], then it was the magicians with Siegfried and Roy for the next decade, on to Danny Gans and all the impressionists, and then we have been in the Cirque syndrome for about the past 10 year, and then all of the sudden, here come the residencies. But it really is a great thing for Vegas and I’m proud to have been a part of it.”
Newton has “been a part of it” practically since childhood. He got his start at 15 when a Las Vegas booking agent saw him on a local television show, Lew King Rangers.
He’ll perform all the classic hits at The Saban, including Danke Schoen, Red Roses For A Blue Lady, Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast, and many more.
At 74, Newton is staying busy. In addition to the “Up Close And Personal” tour, he’s working with famed Nirvana producer Butch Vig to record his first new material in decades in music that will accompany the upcoming film Puppy Love, which Newton also has an acting part in.
Newton has had notable silver screen roles in the past, including James Bond’s nemesis Prof. Joe Butcher in License To Kill, and a fictionalized, ego-centric version of himself in National Lampoon’s comedy Vegas Vacation.
“When I appeared on Roseanne, my first scene was with her in a showroom and she was drunk, and they have me say ‘throw that broad out of here’ and I said, guys, I can’t say that.” Newton said, laughing. “I love acting and I’d love to do it more in the future, but what I really love is roles where I’m not myself, because they always want me to play myself, but the writers will inevitably write something for Wayne Newton that I wouldn’t really say. I guess that’s part of the fun of it all.”
For ticket information, visit: http://sabanconcerts.com/