Nat King Cole tribute slated for Starbright Theatre

Audiences don’t have to close their eyes to imagine Nat King Cole singing to them.

When Donny Ray Evins takes the stage, both his voice and looks bear an uncanny resemblance to the famous singer. It prompts a lot of "Do you know who you look like?" questions.

"I’ve been hearing that since I was a 10-year-old," he said.

Evins’ tribute to Nat King Cole, "Unforgettable," is planned for 7 p.m. Saturday at the Starbright Theatre, 2215 Thomas W. Ryan Blvd.

Expect to hear Cole’s hits — "Mona Lisa," "Rambling Rose," "When I Fall in Love" and "Unforgettable."

Evins has a long career when it comes to singing. He has opened shows for Merv Griffin’s Resorts International, did multiple performances with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra in New Zealand and was a headline artist at casinos, night clubs, corporate events and cruise lines.

In Las Vegas, he was in "Legends in Concert" at the Imperial Palace, seducing audiences as the famous crooner. He also was a headline artist for "Legends in Concert’s Broadway Tour."

Ben Durr, who sings with The Drifters, has known Evins for more than 20 years. He said audience members should get ready for "an all-around quality class act … Donny enjoys making people happy" and it shows in his act.

Barry Ball is Evins’ cruise ship agent. He said it’s not difficult to book a tribute show despite the sluggish economy.

"A lot of cruise ships are cutting back on the number of acts they book," he said. "But for Donny, his show is so unique, so widely appreciated, all I have to do is mention his name, and everyone … wants to book him."

Before Evins found success, he was singing at open-mic venues and private parties. At one, a waiter brought over a business card. It read, "Five Platters, Inc."

"I was thinking it was a plate company," he recalled.

But it was a representative for The Buck Ram Platters, and Evins ended up becoming the master of ceremonies and bass singer for the show.

It was after being on the road for two years as a Platter that he decided to become a tribute artist. He holed up indoors for more than a month to study Cole’s voice.

"I listened to his songs 24 hours a day … he has a nice edge of fogginess," Evins said.

At the audition for "Legends in Concert" at the Imperial Palace, he was backstage warming up.

"They gave me a mic, but I didn’t know it was live," he said. "I heard all this applause, and they introduced me. They’d played a trick on me."

The 120-minute show includes a bonus — a lucky ticket drawn for $100 cash.

Tickets to the show are $15 for Sun City Summerlin residents and $18 for nonresidents. Tickets are available at the following community centers: Mountain Shadows, 9107 Del Webb Blvd.; Desert Vista, 10360 Sun City Blvd.; and Pinnacle, which houses the theater.

The box office phone number is 240-1301.

Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at jhogan@viewnews.com or 387-2949.

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