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Veteran Las Vegas ventriloquist takes on a rock classic in stage return

Updated June 19, 2024 - 7:30 pm

A show that starts on the cusp of the afternoon has re-opened on the edge of the Strip.

“Terry Fator: One Man, a Hundred Voices, a Thousand Laughs!” is the ventriloquial star’s latest production effort. The 5 p.m. show premiered Tuesday night at The Strat Showroom, Fator’s fourth Las Vegas venue. His resort homes have ranged from the Las Vegas Hilton Theater (today’s International at Westgate Las Vegas), Mirage Theater and New York-New York’s Liberty Loft.

We hit the pre-party to catch up with Fator, and will see this show as soon as we can work a date with Winston the Impersonating Turtle. That’s the figure who started it all when Fator won Season 2 of “America’s Got Talent” in 2007.

Though Fator toted the familiar Winston to the party (he alternates four of the furry turtles in his performances), he has loaded his show with new acts. I’ve been fascinated with one in particular, his take on the Queen anthem “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Fator sings as Freddie Mercury, with a Mercury-fashioned figure, with his mouth closed of course. Even expert rock bands are challenged to perform the epic, six-minute piece. And they sing with mouths open.

“It took me months, months to learn it,” Fator said just after accepting the Key to the City of Las Vegas from Mayor Carolyn Goodman (a first for Fator, who has performed in Vegas for 17 years). “First, I had to learn it. Then, I had to learn it without moving my lips.”

Fator’s voice is on all the backing harmonies tracked into the live show. Fans expecting a fun little puppet show will likely be impressed by the effort. Fator’s business partners are already pleased with the results.

“It’s very rare to have a single-name headliner in Las Vegas, and we wanted to take advantage of that,” said Adam Steck, whose SPI Entertainment company co-produces Fator’s show. “It’s a good flag for the room, and a good flag for the property.”

Steck and Fator’s management made a fast deal at The Strat so he could vacate Liberty Loft, with talks starting about six months ago. It was no secret Fator was eager to finish his run at the third-floor theater.

Available only via two elevators, Liberty Loft served its post-pandemic purpose to provide Fator a stage. The reconfigured, after-market convention space was too small to realize his extended plans for Las Vegas.

“I needed more room to grow,” Fator said. “Now I’m pushing myself artistically like I’ve never pushed myself before.”

Crowded house

Planet Hollywood headliner Criss Angel, comic great Jimmie “JJ” Walker, drag icon Frank Marino, singing great Jasmine Trias (of “American Idol”) with veteran entertainer Ben Stone, BMX champ Ricardo Laguna and famed ventriloquist Willie Tyler and Lester turned out for Fator’s opening.

Meanwhile at Myron’s …

As Fator kicked off his new show, musicians from his former production at the Mirage were on stage Tuesday night at Myron’s, backing the terrific Christine Shebeck.

Keyboardist/music director Bill Zappia and guitarist/vocalist Jimmy Tripi joined Keith Nelson on bass, Bill Richardson on keys, Andrew “The Fury” Friedlander on sax, Isaac Tubb on trumpet and Don Meoli on drums.

Shebeck blazed through a film-themed show, highlights including her medley of all three versions of “A Star Is Born” and her tenacity in nailing Eminem’s “8 Mile.” It took a couple of takes to organize that rap, but Shebeck made the whole thing fun. She also previewed her Sisters in Song trio, with Naomi Mauro and Serena Henry, which premieres at Myron’s on June 18, 2025.

Shebeck’s next show at Myron’s, “Soul Serenade,” is Oct. 19. Get there.

Guetta dates

I’m expecting David Guetta to open his residency at LIV Nightclub and LIV Beach at Fontainebleau next April.

What Works in Vegas

The Cocktail Cabaret, which has sold out The Composers Room at Historic Commercial Center on Thursday night. Original members Niki Scalera and Maren Wade perform with Doug Carpenter and Tony Arias. A cast of great range, backed by keyboard master Philip Fortenberry’s four-piece band: Josh Jones on bass, Dave Stambaugh on sax and Meoli back on drums. Damian Costa’s vintage-Vegas showroom is humming along.

Cool Hang Alert

The man is Reckless, uppercase and lowercase. And Michael Shapiro is back with a Reckless in Vegas unplugged show at 8 p.m. Saturday at Notoriety Live. Elyzabeth Diaga of “Queens of Rock” returns to the Vegas stage, with Arias as a special guest. Shapiro samples Rat Pack, Elvis, Bobby Darin, Neil Diamond, Sonny & Cher and the Everly Brothers. Dig the concept, and the vibe. Go to notorietylive.com for intel.

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 X, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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