107°F
weather icon Clear

Sidelined star Terry Fator: ‘I just want to play Las Vegas’

Updated May 19, 2020 - 4:12 pm

His lips moving or not, it’s been a minute since we’ve heard Terry Fator’s voice. I caught up with the ventriloquial star Sunday afternoon, asking about his time with the late Fred Willard and his future on the Strip.

Fator says he is in good repair, all things considered. He recalled his time with Willard, the comedy great who died Saturday at 86. Willard portrayed the unnamed owner of The Mirage in a series of clips Fator played during his Christmas show last November and December.

Willard continually suggested that Fator rename his show “Celine Dion in Concert,” because, “it’s a surefire hit!”

Willard also performed a sock-puppet routine with Fator at the Las Vegas Hilton in 2008. In the bit, Willard poured a glass of water into an actual sock, drenching the item and creating a pool onstage.

Willard walked off stage showing he was wearing a single sock.

“He was really wonderful, and we had a great time doing the Christmas video,” Fator says. “It was probably one of the last things he did. He was very frail, not his old self, but just great to work with.”

Fator, who has been staying at home with his wife, Angie Fator, stepped through his often-rocky past few months. He’d been very ill in February, so much so that he disclosed he was tested for COVID-19. The 54-year-old entertainer tested negative but remains positive he’ll find a new room with MGM Resorts International when venues reopen.

“We have been talking for several months about what to do with my show,” Fator said. “I’m under contract with MGM Resorts until late September, early October 2022. I love them, and they love the show. It’s just a matter of finding the right room for me now.”

Fator announced in early March he was hauling out of the theater named for him, where he’d headlined since March 2009. The ventriloquist says he anticipated the change since the fall, as the hotel was planning to expand its “Aces of Comedy” series.

Now named simply The Mirage Theater, the room is also continuing with Shin Lim’s resident magic production. After 11 years, there simply was no longer enough demand for Fator’s show to make the numbers work.

Fator could conceivably move just down the hall to the former 1 Oak Nightclub, which recently has been the focus of several show concepts. Currently, Matt Goss is the room’s Sunday headliner (though Gossy had scouted Caesars Palace and the Hard Rock/Virgin Hotels Las Vegas before the shutdown).

Fator says he can roll along with specialty act Ben Harris (the animated, dancing DJ who opens the show) and sidemen Bill Zappia on keys and Jim Buck on guitars.

Of course, Fator maintains his familiar lineup of figures, led by Winston the Impersonating Turtle, Maynard T. Thompkins and Duggie Scott Walker. The puppets have been presented regularly on Fator’s social media platforms. Over the weekend, he posted a clip of his figures appearing to be passed out after a night of partying, “I think my puppets have had enough of the quarantine. Anyone have the number for Puppets Anonymous?”

Winston, Maynard and Duggie are all clearly identified. So much for anonymity.

The vignettes are funny, but Fator is ready to perform in front of humans again.

“I can play to 10,000 people, or 50 people,” says Fator, who has hosted occasional post-show hangs at Parlour lounge at The Mirage. “I’m easy. Just get me back onstage. I just want to play Las Vegas.”

Scinta-lating return

If nothing else, COVID-19 has led to a wonderful family reunion online.

Chrissie Scinta, an original member of “The Scintas” family variety act, sang with her brother Frankie for the first time in 11 years on Saturday night. The moment arrived a little more than an hour into Frankie’s weekly performances on his Facebook page, which start at 6 p.m. Saturdays and run until Frankie runs dry.

Chrissie was the female lead in the show that debuted in 2000 at Shimmer Cabaret at the Las Vegas Hilton (now Westgate Cabaret at Westgate Las Vegas).

Chrissie and Frankie dueted on “Somewhere Out There,” “The Prayer” and “I Will Always Love You.” It was the brother and sister’s first public performance of any type since Chrissie was forced to leave the act in 2013 because of vocal cord problems.

Chrissie appeared in audio only, with Frankie on video. The siblings sang great, they wept, and it was beautiful. I hope they plan for this to be a regular thing. As Frankie said to his sister, “We have the rest of our lives.”

Passing the audition

The long-running Beatles tribute band The Fab took its act to the streets Friday night. The crew built a stage in frontman Pat Woodward’s driveway and performed the unannounced “Beatles Driveway Show.”

The event was punctuated by a song-by-song performance of the rooftop concert from the 1969 documentary “Let It Be,” along with the closing suite from “Abbey Road.” Highlights are on The Fab Facebook page.

As the show stretched into darkness, Woodward’s neighbors popped out of their houses to see what the heck was happening. As booking agent/band member John Menniti says, the onlookers — and the musicians — kept a safe distance.

The Fab returns to action 6 p.m. Friday with a livestream event raising money for World Central Kitchen, José Andrés’ disaster relief initiative. That event is on The Rockabilly Hall of Fame Facebook page, a virtual driveway of rock classics.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats! podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
Las Vegas performers adapt to pandemic restrictions - Video
The coronavirus pandemic has forced creative people in Las Vegas, a city that thrives on live performance, to adapt to new or changed ways to entertain. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas woman brings Blue Angel to life - Video
When Las Vegas shut down during the coronavirus pandemic, Victoria Hogan created the Blue Angel costume and performance, emulating the statue locals know and love in order to connect with others in a time when connection isn’t as possible. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
‘Hamilton’ postponed as Smith Center remains dark indefinitely - VIDEO
The hit musical 'Hamilton' was supposed to run from September through October at The Smith Center’s Reynolds Hall has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
ZZ Top frontman Billy Gibbons rides a bicycle on the Strip with Kats
Las Vegas resident and ZZ Top frontman Billy Gibbons rides down the Strip with his wife Gilligan Stillwater GIbbons and Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist John Katsilometes Wednesday, May 20, 2020. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
ZZ Top frontman Billy Gibbons rides a bicycle on the Las Vegas Strip with Kats - Video
Las Vegas resident and ZZ Top frontman Billy Gibbons rides down the Strip with his wife, Gilligan Stillwater Gibbons, and Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist John Katsilometes on Wednesday, May 20, 2020. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Ex-WWE star Shad Gaspard found dead on beach - Video
Shad Gaspard, 39, the former WWE wrestler, was found dead Wednesday morning on the shoreline of Venice Beach in California. Gaspard went missing over the weekend. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Buffets won’t reopen soon, but they may return eventually - VIDEO
In a Tuesday earnings call, Frank Fertitta III, CEO of Station Casinos parent company Red Rock Resorts, said buffets won’t be among the amenities included in the early stages of the resorts’ reopenings. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
'Hamilton' to debut on Disney+ in July - Video
The film version of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s popular musical was originally set for theatrical release in October. The musical’s director, Tommy Kail, shot three live performances featuring the original Broadway cast. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Little Richard dead at 87 - VIDEO
Little Richard, the pioneer and rock 'n' roll originator, died on Saturday, May 9. His son, Danny Penniman, confirmed the news but the cause of death is unknown. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jerry Stiller, actor and comedian, dies at 92 - VIDEO
Jerry Stiller's son, actor and director Ben Stiller, announced his father's death via Twitter. Jerry Stiller became widely known with a recurring role on "Seinfeld" as Frank Costanza, George's hot-headed father. He also starred on "King of Queens." (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Wolfgang Puck's Players Locker opens in Downtown Summerlin along with others - VIDEO
Under the governor's orders a few restaurants were able to open their dining rooms in Downtown Summerlin Saturday, May 9. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nicolas Cage to portray Joe Exotic in ‘Tiger King’ TV adaption - VIDEO
Nicolas Cage is headed to television to take on the role of Joe Exotic, the iconic character from the Netflix docuseries "Tiger King." (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Quarantined! 'The Ghost Adventures' miniseries by Zak Bagans - VIDEO
The four-part miniseries “Ghost Adventures: Quarantine” by Zak Bagans will debut in June on the Travel Channel. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
10 facts about Cinco de Mayo - VIDEO
The holiday celebrates the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Mexico began the holiday in 1862, but does not recognize it nationally anymore. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kristin Cavallari has already filed for divorce - VIDEO
Kristin Cavallari, the "Very Cavallari" star, announced she and her husband, former NFL quarterback Jay Cutler, have separated after seven years of marriage and 10 years together. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Brad Pitt portrays Dr. Anthony Fauci on ‘Saturday Night Live’ - VIDEO
"Saturday Night Live’ aired their second socially distanced episode of the COVID-19 pandemic on April 25. The episode’s cold open featured actor Brad Pitt portraying Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Brian Dennehy, 'Tommy Boy' and 'First Blood' star, dies at 81 - VIDEO
Actor Brian Dennehy died Wednesday in New Haven, Connecticut. Dennehy's acting career spanned more than four decades, working in television, film and theater. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bishop Gorman 'Guys and Dolls' virtual performance
Bishop Gorman's virtual opening of "Guys and Dolls." (Bishop Gorman High School)
John Prine, country-folk singer, dies at 73 - VIDEO
John Prine died due to complications caused by COVID-19 at Vanderbilt University Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee on April 7. The singer-songwriter is counted as one the favorite artists by the likes of Bob Dylan and Kris Kristofferson. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caesars furloughing about 90% of US workers
The furloughs come amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has prompted all U.S. commercial casinos to temporarily shut their doors.
Bill Withers, soul legend and 'Lean on Me' singer, dead at 81 - VIDEO
Bill Withers' family said he died of heart complications on Monday in Los Angeles. Withers was a three-time Grammy winner. His other major hits include “Ain’t No Sunshine" and “Lovely Day.” (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas KatsWalk: From the Mandalay Bay to Excalibur - VIDEO
Review-Journal columnist John Katsilometes walks and talks along the Las Vegas Strip, from Mandalay Bay to Excalibur. (John Katsilometes and Kevin Cannon / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Make Ivan Grant's Quarantini - VIDEO
Ivan Grant, a flair bartender at Long Bar at The D Las Vegas, makes his Quarantini. (Ivan Grant)
Fountains of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger dies from coronavirus - VIDEO
According to Variety, 52-year-old frontman and songwriter Adam Schlesinger has died, following a short battle with the respiratory illness, coronavirus. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
KATS WALK: A walking tour on south Las Vegas Strip – VIDEO
RJ columnist John Katsiometes takes a walking tour of the south end of the Las Vegas Strip. (John Katsiometes and Kevin Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tiger King character has Las Vegas connection - VIDEO
Entertainment reporter John Katsilometes talks about the popular "Tiger King" and Jeff Lowe, a central figure in the Netflix documentary phenomenon who wanted to do business with the last Las Vegas Strip entertainer to use wild tigers in his act. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Coranavirus victim Howard Berman playing the harmonica in April 2014 - VIDEO
Howard Berman, 66, playing the harmonica at a jam session in April 2014. Berman, who was active in the Las Vegas music community, died on March 24, 2020, from COVID-19. (Diana Andriola)
Boarded-up businesses in the Arts District add some color - VIDEO
Businesses in the Arts District have commissioned local artists to paint murals on the boards covering their doors and windows. When the boards are removed, they will be auctioned off to raise money for those affected by the coronavirus shutdowns. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Sold-out Electric Daisy Carnival still scheduled for May - VIDEO
In a post on his social media platforms, festival founder Pasquale Rotella confirmed that EDC remains scheduled for May 15-17 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway despite coronavirus concerns that have sideline scads of other live music events. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
City of Las Vegas responds to calls to allow restaurants offering curbside pickup
Alcohol is now allowed in curbside meal pickups in Las Vegas. The city of Las Vegas has responded to calls to allow restaurants offering curbside pickup service to include alcohol in those meals. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST