Friday, July 08, 2011

New version of "Legends" show at Foxwoods

Photos by Bob Hocking/Foxwoods

Spirited, colorful and suitably garish, "Legends in Concert" is back for a new season at Foxwoods Resort Casino, with seven performances of the Las Vegas-style show slated weekly through Labor Day.
The current batch of performers is led by 21-year-old Tyler Hunter of Lincoln, Neb., who does a serviceable young Elvis Presley.
In a pre-show chat, Hunter said he wasn't trained as a performer and didn't aspire to be one as a young teen until he began doing an Elvis impersonation with a Halloween costume at garage sales and nursing homes to raise money for charity. Six years later, after coming in second at an "Ultimate Elvis" contest and working small theaters in Nebraska, he's opening and closing a franchise show that has drawn 200,000 fans to Foxwoods in the past two years (not to mention other venues such as Las Vegas, Branson and Myrtle Beach).
The one downer in the five-performer, $30 ticket show is Britney Spears, and that's not necessarily the fault of Katie Murdock, who at least looks like the pop singer. It's Britney's music: It's horrible, not very catchy for nonfans and evidence that the real Spears shouldn't be considered a "legend" of anything but getting publicity and exploiting her sexuality.
Veteran Kelly Smith scores a solid Cher, which makes sense; she told us she's been impersonating her in private since she was a little girl and in public revues for several years. Smith said she lives near one of the other "Legends" venues, Branson, Mo.
Daryl Wagner has been doing Liberace for 25 years and has toured all over the country and Canada with "Legends." In the show, he dons an outrageous cloak and costume, flies in (literally), makes gay-themed jokes and then puts his classical piano training to use in a blistering and entertaining short set of Liberace favorites. He told us he was originally in Chicago musical theater.
The current show, which gives way to a mixed-bag but also quite promising edition in August with Celine Dion, Carrie Underwood, Donna Summer, Frank Sinatra and the Beatles, is capped by a riveting performance by Damian Brantley as Michael Jackson.
I've never been a Michael Jackson fan, but Brantley's amazing set of top hits, moonwalking including, is worth the price of admission itself.
As usual, the show brings with it some fine dancers and musicians to dole out a compact (a little over an hour) but top-notch show. When they're careful about the "Legends" tag, that is.

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