15 years later, Siegfried & Roy star says, ‘the show never ends’

Updated October 4, 2018 - 4:10 pm

Someone long ago commented prophetically, “The show must go on.”

So it is for Siegfried & Roy.

“When I am out, I am always performing,” Roy Horn said Wednesday night at Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden at the Mirage. “The show never ends.”

It certainly didn’t Wednesday, as a a dance troupe, VIP guests — and the attraction’s dolphins — danced it up to celebrate Horn’s 74th birthday. An expected thunderstorm was kept at bay, a relief to S&R’s confidant and former “Evil Queen” onstage Lynette Chappell, who had arranged a contingency plan to haul the event inside.

The night was glorious but bittersweet, too, as the evening coincided with the 15th anniversary night Roy was dragged offstage at the Mirage by the big cat Mantecore. Horn was badly injured from a punctured artery from his neck, and the legendary S&R stage show was closed immediately.

S&R have consistently contended that Mantecore’s actions were protective and not aggressive. (Siegfried once told me the difference between such an act and an actual attack: “When a tiger attacks you, you are finished.”)

Nonetheless, Roy remains limited in his movement, able to walk short distances when not confined to a scooter. His speech is often halting, but he verbalizes his thoughts forcefully — and seems to be speaking with greater strength over the past couple of years.

Doubtlessly, Roy sill relishes being in the spotlight. About 120 invited guests rose in a standing ovation for the entertainment legend as he made his Grand Entrance amid flashing cameras, just like the old days.

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman praised the performers for their lasting impact on the entertainment scene. “Siegfried and Roy have shown us what being ‘Vegas Strong’ means,” she said while carrying a proclamation marking Oct. 3 as Roy Horn Day in the city. “You have brought this city fame, passion and excitement.”

Goodman also remarked that Roy had planned a birthday party at the Secret Garden last October, but the event was properly postponed after the Oct. 1 shootings.

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Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health founder Larry Ruvo, for decades a friend and confidant of the duo, was among the speakers Ruvo recalled the night at the Bellagio in 2008 when Siegfried & Roy reunited with the cat that nearly killed Roy, their final performance ever (Mantecore died of natural causes in March 2014 at age 17). That moment, which Ruvo referred to as, “the final bow,” highlighted the annual Keep Memory Alive Power of Love gala.

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The duo’s longtime manager Bernie Yuman, who signed the act to its famed “lifetime contract” at the Mirage, also reunited with his friends. Mirage resident headliner Terry Fator recalled seeing the duo perform when he was a kid “and here, many, many years later, together here tonight — it is surreal and wonderful.”

Near the end of the night, Roy said he tries to visit the Secret Garden every week. He remains active in a four-day-per-week workout routine he says is “like a boot camp,” and remains diligent and disciplined in his speech-therapy rehabilitation.

The performers continue to work on their in-development, yet untitled, biopic. Siegfried says the script is about 85-percent approved and to await further word about the movie in a bout a month.

Announced in December 2016, the film is being directed by Philipp Stolzl (who also) directed “The Physician”). Screenwriter Jan Berger continues to draft the script, with the performers’ contributions. The German studio UFA Fiction and chief executive officer Nico Hofmann are producing; S&R are the credited executive producers. No release date is set for the film.

On the scene in Vegas, their hometown for more than 50 years, Siegfried & Roy attended “On Your Feet,” the Gloria and Emilio Estefan story, last month at the Smith Center (Yuman is a co-producer of the musical). Roy is eager to see Lady Gaga’s upcoming stage production “Enigma” at The Park Theater.

“We will be there to see her on New Year’s Eve,” he said. “I also want to see her new movie (“A Star is Born”) very soon. She is great.”

After performing an impromptu salsa with one one of the guest dancers, Siegfried was asked if he missed being onstage.

“Actually, when I come to this garden, I am onstage,” he said, remarking that he stops into the attraction daily. “And, I don’t have the stress. The people here at the hotel wanted to advertise me being here, but I said, ‘No, no, it is up to me when to be here, and when I am here people are surprised.’ ”

Siegfried is recognized by those who remember seeing the S&R show 20, 30 years ago.“It is incredible that this still happens,” he said, then he smiled and looked out toward the Secret Garden’s dolphins.

“This is a wonderful thing,” Siegfried said. “I am not retired. I am blessed.”

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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