Casino File: ‘Legends in Concert’ back in Atlantic City at Tropicana; Bally’s set to ‘Dog’ it; Jaws goes Live!
At this point, it’s difficult to remember a time when Legends in Concert wasn’t a part of summer in Atlantic City.
Over the course of some 30 years (with the exception of COVID-ruined 2020), the celebrity-impersonation musical revue has proven a reliable source of gambling-den entertainment. And this year’s edition, which runs through Labor Day at Tropicana Atlantic City, continues the tradition.
While much has changed in the world, the Legends format has remained the same as it’s been through stops at various Atlantic City gaming halls: Four performers who look and sound like musical superstars of various generations do 15-minute sets generally consisting of their subjects’ signature tunes. The fifth (show-closing) turn belongs to an Elvis Presley impersonator who gets about 25 minutes to do his rhinestone-jumpsuited thing. It’s worked for almost four decades (the Legends in Concert concept was created in Las Vegas in 1983) and it works at the Trop, as the five cast members and their supporting musicians, singers and dancers combine talents to conjure a typically entertaining program.
Jason Jarrett gets things started with his solid reproduction of the early-‘80s version of Michel Jackson. Jarrett pretty much checks all the boxes as he offers up such tunes as “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,” “Thriller,” which is given a delightful visual thrust by the zombie drag affected by the shows four female dancers and two female backup singers, and “Billie Jean,” during which Jarrett ably recreates Jackson’s iconic “moonwalk.”
Next up is Erica Moul as Lady Gaga. Her set is likewise enhanced by some sharp costuming and animated choreography. While such Gaga smashes as “Born This Way” and “Bad Romance” hit the mark, it’s her duet with musical director/guitarist Dan Jost on “Shallow” from the A Star Is Born soundtrack, that delivers the set’s knockout punch.
In terms of physical likeness, the production’s champ is arguably Scott Keo, who portrays Canadian pop crooner Michael Buble. From our vantage point, at least, Keo looked remarkably like his subject. He does an excellent vocal job as well on tunes including “I’ve Got the World on A String” “Sway” and a popified version of Queen’s neo-rockabilly hit, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.”
As Whitney Houston, Trina Johnson Finn maintains the high standards set by her cast mates as she displays a powerful set of pipes on two medleys. One blends “Saving All My Love For You,” “The Greatest Love of All” and “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” while the other covers “So Emotional,” “I’m Every Woman” and “Queen Of the Night.” Of course, Finn caps her turn with an appropriately dramatic and note-sustaining “I Will Always Love You.”
This year’s Elvis, Bill Cherry, comes pretty close to Keo in the lookalike sweepstakes, and his voice is remarkably faithful to that of The King as well. Perhaps the best part of Cherry’s set is that he delves surprisingly deep into the Presley catalog, serving up a pair of somewhat obscure numbers, the vintage-1956 rockabilly number, “Love Me (Treat Me Like A Fool)” and “Stop, Look and Listen” from the 1966 film, Spinout.
Well-supported by the dance troupe, backup singers and a remarkably tight and versatile four piece band, the five vocalists combine for another top-notch demonstration of musical mimicry at its finest.
For tickets, click here.
Water Dog opening set
The first spin-off of the popular Ventnor, N.J. eatery, the 8,000-square-foot dining room will be open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
‘Jaws’ joins Live! team
Jaworski, who led the Birds to their first Super Bowl appearance in 1980, will serve as the gaming hall’s commercial spokesperson and be featured at a series of on-site events. He’ll also be part of the casino’s philanthropic activities.