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Strip’s first magician celebrated on 100th birthday — PHOTOS

Updated August 25, 2022 - 6:49 pm

Gloria Dea likes hanging with her fellow magicians.

“The more, the better!” she says.

Dea hit the jackpot, magic-wise, at her favorite hotel-casino on Thursday.

Celebrating her 100th birthday, the first magician ever to perform on the Strip welcomed a whole host of illusionists, magicians and dignitaries of all ilk to the Edge Steakhouse. David Copperfield announced Aug. 25 as Gloria Dea Day (the echoing title was good for effect), with Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom presenting the Key to the Las Vegas Strip.

Rudy Coby of “Late Night Magic” at Alexis Park hosted. The magician/hypnosis who started it all, AnnaRose Einarsen, told the story of how she first heard Dea lived in Vegas. The magician and historian Lance Rich told of his path locating Dea, which culminated in her return to the public at the Magic Collectors Expo in Las Vegas in August 2021.

Familiar magicians, side-act performers and comics abounded. Those who dropped in included Teller, Westgate headliner Jen Kramer, “Late Night Magic” staple Bizzaro, veteran comic-magician Fielding West, Doug “Lefty” Leferovich of Murray Sawchcuck’s Laugh Factory Show and emcee of “Late Night Magic,” and former president of the International Brotherhood of Magicians David Sandy.

Of particular note was “Mad Apple” comic Harrison Greenbaum’s stand-up set. There should be some video out there of his brief roast of Dea, not a lot of it fit for a family pub. Just know that Greenbaum turned it loose, again. I’ve mentioned that Cirque seems to have found its answer to The Gazillionaire, except Greenbaum is a real person. No stage is safe with this guy.

Having been roasted, feted and celebrated, Dea can now expect invitations to most any magic show in town. The performers should be honored to have Vegas history in the room. As the 100-year-old icon says, “Vegas makes me happy. I don’t care to live anywhere else.”

She’s still grooving

Periodically I’m asked about Britney Spears and her plans for Vegas. This topic surfaced on my latest appearance on KNPRs “State of Nevada.” As I said, have a theory about Spears, in that she seems to feel she has something to prove as a performer, post-conservatorship. She’s released new music with Elton John, the single “Hold Me Closer.” Similar to John’s 2021 mash with Dua Lipa, “Cold Heart,” the new single provides a new spin to and Elton classic, “Tiny Dancer” in this case.

The temptation is to dub the new tune, “A star is reborn,” which is how The Guardian described it. Maybe it is a rebirth. This is Spears’ first release after 14 years of living under conservatorship. And as long as she is creating music, generating attention on Instagram and visiting Las Vegas, we can’t disqualify interest in another Vegas residency run.

I would love to know how she feels about the city’s headliner landscape, such productions as Silk Sonic, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Usher. Competition among headlining production is more energetic than ever. If Spears feels she can advance the cause, I say it’s game on. Especially if she continues to visit Resorts World. Since the COVID-19 reopening and her marriage to Sam Asghari, that place has been Spears’ Las Vegas headquarters. It has a fantastic theater, fit for a Britney revival.

The ‘VTS’ victory

“Vegas! The Show” is back at Saxe Theater, ending its 2 1/2-year pandemic break. The template of the show remains effective, and unchanged, a calendar-flipping experience dating to the city’s entertainment origins.

“VTS” is the rare (and currently, only) show where you can observe a Liberace tribute artist. Elvis is exhumed for “If I Can Dream,” with the “ELVIS” logo in the background cut off near the bottom. You can’t quite make out the letters. Sneaky. We expect this so the Elvis licensing police won’t crack down on the show.

The Rat Pack, an ode to feather shows, Sonny & Cher, Tina Turner, Tom Jones and (naturally) Wayne Newton are also celebrated.

We still applaud the tribute to Vegas’s weddings history, with several of the city’s chapels’ names splashed across little white gazebos. The show dropped the scooter in the “Viva Las Vegas” scene. Probably a good idea. That prop was always a risk of sending a showgirl spinning out.

We love the return of juggling vet Michael Holly, with his ongoing mastery of bowling balls and M&Ms (or W&W, if you’re from Australia). We met Holly in “Folies Bergere” about 15 years ago. He’s still in top form.

The montage of casino implosions near the close brings a melancholy vibe. The live band is 10 musicians strong, is under the direction of keyboard wiz Joe Spraker (who has toured for years with Sheena Easton). Live musicians are a must in classic-Vegas shows, especially when producer David Saxe’s father, Richard, played sax in relief bands across Vegas during the Rat Pack years.

We are impressed the show pulled it together for a full return. There is no other show where the Liberace character actually asks the crowd, “Who in here has never heard of Liberace! Lemme hear ya!” There was a healthy cheer. But those folks were educated and entertained, all at once.

No sign of change

There are no plans to update Hugh Hefner Drive entering the Palms. The hotel’s business relationship with Playboy ended years ago, but the street name stays. We’ll take suggestions for a new name, anyway.

Thinking out loud …

The Raiders are celebrating 300 alumni Friday when the Patriots come to Allegiant Stadium. You know who could be a great lounge/small-cap headliner? Henry “The Killer” Lawrence, the offensive lineman who played on all three Raiders Super Bowl teams. This man can sing. He showed off his resonant voice while fronting David Perrico and the Raiders House Band for a couple of tunes this month in Canton. The M Resort operates the fabulous AMP’D (formerly Ravello) lounge. The M is also, conveniently, the Raiders’ official team hotel. See where I’m going with this?

Cool Hang Alert

Staying with the M, and a three-pack for Friday: Jackie Wiatrowski is at M Cafe fro 5 p.m.-9 p.m. Ryan Whyte Maloney at M Bar from 8 p.m.-midnight, and Latin Breeze at AMP’D from 9 p.m.-midnight. No cover, as the M has it covered.

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.

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