Celebrating Nevada with Vegas star power

Home means Nevada, which means cowboy poet Waddie Mitchell describing a state “turning prudence upside down.”

Home means Nevada, which means comic magician Penn Jillette declaring “Eighty percent of the state’s population lives in Las Vegas, and we know how to party.”

However you frame it, a concert celebrating 150 years of Nevada history was bound to be fun and wide-reaching.

Monday’s Nevada Sesquicentennial All-Star Concert at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts included both a Mark Twain and Elvis Presley impersonator (McAvoy Layne and Justin Shandor, respectively). The real Wayne Newton and those Cirque du Soleil courtesans in the red frocks and powder wigs who are as synonymous with the new Las Vegas as Newton was to the ’70s.

The real Jerry Lewis drew a standing ovation when he walked out onstage with a cane, which he said came with his 89th birthday. When a fan yelled something from the audience, Lewis replied, “What are you, in heat?”

The sold-out Monday concert was a swift-moving affair packed with performance and short on speechifying, though it did make time for Gov. Brian Sandoval and Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, who declared “We are still Nevada proud.”

Newton said he “can remember one-third of the 150 years” and said he “owed so much to this state and the people who live in it.”

Highlights included Stratosphere headliner Frankie Moreno singing “Home Means Nevada” surrounded by youngsters from the Gilbert Magnet School for Communication and Creative Arts and a salute to the golden-age of Las Vegas lounges by veterans including Sonny Charles, Earl Turner, Dennis Bono and Lorraine Hunt-Bono, joined by Dean Martin’s daughter Deana.

The all-star night included performances from the Australian vocal group Human Nature, singers Susan Anton, Bob Anderson (in full makeup as Frank Sinatra) and the casts of “Jersey Boys” and “Jubilee.”

History was noted with Sandoval discussing the state’s “battle born” origins and Abraham Lincoln “wanting us for our votes,” and actor Antonio Fargas and singer Clint Holmes reminiscing about the integrated Moulin Rouge and explaining how Rat Pack-era entertainers such as Sammy Davis Jr. helped desegregate the Strip.

But the segment turned into Holmes using his vocal percussion skills to illustrate Davis’ tap-dancing.

Yes, it was a sing it, not say it kind of night.

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.

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