“Legends in Concert” sure landed in the right place at the right time in 1983.
(Lady Gaga, often represented in the lineup, was born three years later.)
I scrolled through microfilm to see what the celebrity impersonator revue – the only other show besides “Jubilee!” to be here then and now – was up against when it debuted at the Imperial Palace.
There were 13 other shows that weren’t visiting Broadway musicals or headliners. Only seven of them outspent “Legends,” which touted lasers, 16mm film projections and a “computerized light wall” to augment its tributes to Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, etc.
Most of those seven were squarely in the dated burlesque or Parisian showgirl model of “Jubilee!” Hard to imagine, but “Legends” was something of a new concept at the time.
Cut to now, when the good news is that “Legends” will move into the Flamingo in February, and the maybe-good news is that it will become a 4 p.m. show (with the ability to move into evenings when its roommates are off).
Afternoon shows are currently at low ebb. “We’re going to be basically the only large-scale, music-based production show at 4 in the afternoon,” says “Legends” producer Brian Brigner.
It seems a smart move. It’s easy to come up with a dozen titles that outspend “Legends.” And when those big shows start discounting?
“It certainly puts the crunch on the middle-market shows,” Brigner says. “We’re all getting e-blasts every day of the top-line shows doing two-for-ones or $59 tickets.”
Over the years, “Legends” has tottered on the brink of irrelevance, if not ridiculousness. Bobby Darin, Toby Keith and Donna Summer harmonizing on a Christmas song? Really?
But now the enemy is success. “Impersonators” are now “tributes.” They are legit and they are everywhere. If you love the Beatles, you can see a whole show of them.
Still, “Legends” has a secret weapon: “The ability to change our lineup,” says Brigner.
Changes are costly for other shows, whether it’s Donny Osmond reviving “Yo-Yo” or Blue Man Group’s cool new assembly line robots. But “Legends” has a modular “plug and play” format that allows it to rotate its tributes at least three times a year.
“We see so many repeat guests and players’ club guests,” Brigner says. The revue “can almost be a chameleon to the properties we’re at,” and plans to skew younger at the Flamingo.
With a “30-year history of committed guests and fans,” as Brigner says, I wouldn’t look for “Legends” to disappear anytime before Lady Gaga.
Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0288.