‘Hee Haw’ was long ago, but shows go on for Rowe

We may find it unlikely to see former “Hee Haw Honey” Misty Rowe directing a doo-wop show at the Riviera.

But it’s just the latest in what Rowe, now 63, calls “my very strange and absurd career.”

Rowe was brought in to launch “Forever Doo Wop” in the Riviera’s Le Bistro Lounge. It’s an eight-person cabaret revue fronted by Early Clover, who was part of Cornell Gunter’s Coasters, and an oldies package that played the Sahara and Rio for most of this young century.

“We needed an extra set of eyes,” Clover says of the new show that opened Tuesday and will play alongside (with some overlapping performers) the already road-tested “Forever Motor City,” directed by Gary Kupper. “Doo Wop” runs at 7 p.m., followed by “Motor City” at 9.

Clover has known Rowe for years, performing in shows affiliated with her producer husband, Barry Singer (this one, however, is produced by the new Red Mercury Entertainment, which has contracted most of the Riviera’s entertainment).

The rest of us lost track of Rowe sometime after the ’70s. But she has rolled up a lot of experience in this niche, directing 20 live shows in the past 14 years, including a relevant one called “The Ultimate Doo Wop Christmas Show.”

For years, Rowe played Houston housewife Louise in various stagings of the two-character musical “Always … Patsy Cline.” She made the jump to directing that show and others in Atlantic City.

“I love choreographing for singers,” she says, and “I’m used to blocking a show.”

Perhaps one day Las Vegas will see Rowe perform her autobiographical “Blondes Still Have More Fun!” Based on the stories she can tell in a half-hour or so, it sounds like the Riviera should make room for it as well.

Just to drop a few names, Rowe says she played a carhop in the “Happy Days” episode that marked Ron Howard’s directorial debut. And that she hired future “Game of Thrones” star Peter Dinklage in 2000 for her Atlantic City revue “A Misty Christmas.”

Ah, but it’s “Hee Haw,” and maybe a Playboy pictorial, that most of us remember.

“I think I went to ‘Hee Haw’ with $28 in my pocket I was so young,” Rowe says of the show she spent 19 years with starting in 1972. The cash didn’t last until the first per diem payment, so she asked to borrow $5 in lunch money from one of her co-workers.

Marianne Gordon (later the fourth wife of Kenny Rogers) “took $20 out and said, ‘Here honey.’ She thought, ‘This girl’s a ditz, I’ll never see this again.’ She likes to tell the story that not only did I pay her back, but the following year I bought my first house.”

Rowe’s friendship with Hugh Hefner’s gal pal Barbi Benton led to a Playboy spread more seen than most, because it ran in the same 1976 issue as the Jimmy Carter “adultery in my heart” interview. The presidential candidate generated so much press there were runs on newsstand copies the day the magazine came out.

“I asked for a female photographer, complete approval of the pictures and twice as much as the Playmates got — which I bought another house with, by the way.” …

Hey, what happened to the rest of The Scintas?

Last Saturday, the D’s headliner show changed its collective name to solo bill its frontman, “Frankie Scinta.”

Brother Joe Scinta is “still my comedic relief,” Frankie says. “He still does his impressions and that is Joe. That funny, silly, interrupting brother.” And the brothers didn’t take the sides you might expect when the D’s marketing department suggested the change to simplify billboards and ads.

“Immediately I said, ‘What are you, crazy?’” he recalls. “My brother Joe was the first one that said, ‘That’s really a good idea.’ ”

The changes run deeper than the billing. The act that appealed more to retirees and aging baby boomers is now covering pop hits by Bruno Mars, Avicii and Coldplay.

“They love the way we entertain (but) wanted us to appeal to a younger crowd,” Frankie explains. “We’ve really updated the music and the feel of the show.”

But he’s not going to forget where he came from either.

“I want a kid who is 19 or 20 to know who Dean Martin was. … This is what built this town, that kind of music.”

Also at the D, resident afternoon magician Adam London finds Thursday, April 10 of the fourth month of the year, a fine date to celebrate 410 shows of his “Laughternoon” there. …

Criss Angel’s show is off line this week, as he readies “Believe” to return Tuesday. Sunday brought the end of an interim effort called “Magicjam,” in which he enlisted the aid of fellow magicians while waiting for his arm and shoulder to heal from surgery in January.

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.

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