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DIVAS Starring FRANK MARINO and a Cast of Celebrity FEMALE IMPERSONATORS

DIVAS
Starring FRANK MARINO
and a Cast of Celebrity FEMALE IMPERSONATORS
by Todd Todd

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When I got the call to review Frank Marino’s show, Divas, I had no idea I was going to see the longest running show on the Las Vegas Strip. That’s right – not Celine Dion, not the Blue Man Group, not any of the Cirque du Soleil shows, The Guinness Book of World Tecords titleholder for longest running show with over 25 years in production, 20 thousand performances, 350 thousand costume changes, and over 10 million people entertained is: Mr. – or is it Miss Las Vegas? Frank Marino. Then it dawned on me... I grew up in Los Angeles and had been visiting Vegas my entire life and since before I could gamble I can remember seeing Frank Marino’s photo. You don’t even realize it ‘til you stop and think. The billboard with the good-looking younger guy on one side of the billboard and a hot woman that you know somehow was that same guy on the other had been in the cab, on the cab, in the airport, on numerous billboards as you leave the airport. Wow! I had seen his face for at least a decade and didn’t stop to think: ‘Wow, that show has been here forever! Must be great.’

What is Divas all about? First off, it’s about having a good time and being superbly entertained. The show opens with Frank Marino coming out onto the stage and doing a bit of a stand-up comedy act. Oh, but not as Frank. He comes out as Joan Rivers in full drag. If you have been living under a rock, and you don’t know what the show Divas is all about, I am here to help. Divas is a drag queen celebrity female impersonator lip-sync show, with a Thunder Down Under feel at times, with the all-male backup dancers who are usually shirtless, wiggling and strutting around the stage. The backup dancers, I believe, originally were meant to add support to the lip-sync act, but something happened, something good, as the Divas dancers could hold their own audience captivated as an entire separate show.

I love the fact that after 25 years of doing the same show and with only minimal changes to the show, not only has Frank Marino managed to keep it current and fresh, but the comedy that came in the form of little, mini standup comedy sets that were delivered in-between the lip-sync acts, were edgy and original – and the jokes got more laughs than 80% of all the comedy clubs I have ever been to. Not only were the jokes keeping the audience in tears, the way they were delivered and sheer comedic value of the performance was surely the glue that has held this show together for more than 25 years.

After Frank has the audience warmed up and in the mood to be entertained, the first lip sync act is announced, and here she comes… Beyonce. I was really happy that the show doesn’t take itself too seriously, and although some of the impersonators do look and move like the female celebrity vocalist they are impersonating, none of them are so spot-on that your jaw drops. So, making the show lighthearted with a little bit of a comedic flair helps the show tremendously. The stage was glamorous for a small venue and you could see the hours of dedication to rehearsal time, as not only the impersonators, but the Divas dancers, too, effortlessly performed each number without ever missing a beat. They all looked like they were having the time of their lives – and that energy was infectious as it flowed through the audience.

Back to Beyonce… I was a tad bit worried after this performance, because although very comical, the linebacker-looking gentleman impersonating Beyonce really looked nothing like her at all, and the costume and stage performance held little, if any, production value. But, then Frank walked back on stage with a brand new dazzling outfit, and the delivery of his material quickly had you back with a smile on your face and tears in your eyes. The lip-sync performances went on throughout the night, and to my surprise, kept getting better and better. The performances that made me nudge the girl I came with and whisper, “Wow, it looks a lot like her!” and “That one was really good!” had to be (and not in this order) Bette Midler performing “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”. The energy and enthusiasm this performer had, grasped the audience’s full attention, as they clapped their hands to the beat.

Liza Minnelli also had the crowd’s attention as the performer lip-synced “New York, New York” in her shiny metallic outfit. Britney Spears was also a crowd favorite, as she cracked her whip, mouthing the words to “Circus”. 

I will say my favorite performance was easy to pick out from all the others. The gentleman that impersonated Celine Dion was spot-on – from the outfit to the body gestures – this was easily the best performance of the evening.

I was not expecting to have a blast at a drag queen show, but I was. The crowd’s energy was great and people were laughing and having fun. Then, the last performance of the night was introduced by Frank Marino – in yet another amazing outfit. The song to this performance was slow and told the story of a female impersonator’s life and long hours spent at the nightclub he worked at. This was the first and only slow and non-uplifting number of the entire night. The impersonator performed this particular song alone, as he walked onto the stage and sat in front of the mirror of his backstage dressing room. Instead of looking into a real mirror, this prop was an open circle – so as he was looking into his reflection, he was actually looking straight into the audience as he continued on about the lonely life of a performer. Then he started taking his entire outfit off – from the wig to the dress, never exposing more than his bare chest – as he sat behind his dressing room makeup table which blocked the audience from seeing any more. The performer then wiped off his full face of theatrical makeup, slipped on a pair of slacks and a button-up shirt… and there standing before you was a man… no longer what looked like a woman. Although the performance was amazing, well-executed, and I can see what they were trying to accomplish, it seemed to drain the energy from the crowd. Not only was it an energy drainer, it left me feeling awkward, as if I was a child at Disneyland and just saw the performer in the Mickey Mouse costume remove his head, revealing what I already knew, but never wanted to see.

Just as I thought it was over, another female impersonator came on to the stage lip-syncing “It’s Raining Men”, as she re-introduced all the performers of the evening’s show. Now, between the transformation number and “It’s Raining Men” performance, for the first time, I felt as if I had accidentally walked into a gay bar and was awkwardly needing to get out of there. With that being said, this show is definitely not for those men who are not 100% secure with their masculinity. But, for all you guys that are secure, all you women that love your gay best friend, and anyone else who just wants to see a very entertaining show, head over to The Quad and catch Frank Marino’s Divas.

Frank Marino’s Divas Las Vegas
The Quad Resort and Casino
702-777-2782 • 855-234-7469
www.TheQuadLV.com/shows.html

 

 

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