This is a summer when most local entertainers could use a break. Gordie Brown got a big one.
One door closed at The Venetian/Palazzo for the singing impressionist, but another opened when Celine Dion — a superstar he has never met — called him up to be the opening act on her five-month U.S. tour.
“Maybe all of this stuff was all meant to be,” Brown says of his up-and-down year.
In February, Brown surrendered the 740-seat Venetian theater built for him in 2006 to Wayne Brady. A new Palazzo room was to be built for him within nine months, but it wasn’t clear why Brown couldn’t remain as Brady’s roommate until it was ready.
Ultimately it didn’t matter; the room still isn’t ready. Brown says management decided four shows within the connected hotels were enough for current economic times. He’s no longer holding out for a return.
While he waited for the room that never materialized, Brown took a 10 p.m. slot in buddy David Saxe’s V Theater at the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood. He sang to recorded tracks to keep costs down and to “become funnier and concentrate more on the comedy than on the music.”
One day Saxe was telling him, “You need more national exposure.” Four days later came the call offering him Dion’s “Taking Chances” tour. Brown’s name was one of several submitted by his talent agency.
Though Dion and Brown performed more or less across the street from each other, neither the singer nor husband-manager Rene Angelil ever caught his show. Still, they were aware of him, and when his name came up, they “naturally had a keen interest,” says a Dion management contact.
It’s a Canada thing too. After the deal was struck, they found out Brown is from Laval, Quebec, where Angelil lived for a long time.
The Angelils also have a soft spot for impressionists. They used another one, Andre-Philippe Gagnon, on tour in 1998 and bankrolled his Venetian run in 2000.
Brown closes here Saturday and opens the “Taking Chances” tour in Boston three days later. Though arena-sized audiences will greet him, his future after the tour isn’t certain. After all, whatever happened to Gagnon? A variety act’s goal isn’t to sell albums or T-shirts, but tickets.
“It’s definitely exposure, but it’s not the same as television,” Brown says. “But you never know. This may make it a lot easier to get on the late-night talk shows, (and both) give you more credibility.
“I think more doors will open by taking a chance and going out on the road again,” he says.
It’s not like there’s a lot to keep him here.
Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0288.