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Theater Review: Frank Marino’s Divas Las Vegas

This is a show featuring about ten cast members, all male impersonators or female singers, or drag queens, as I believe they are commonly known. Many of the performers impersonate more than one singer, so the audience cannot possibly get bored; if you are not a fan of one act, the next one will be along soon enough. The show is on at the newly-named Quad, which was still in a state of messy transition when we got there. Much of it is closed or very shabby.

I saw this show on a Saturday night and it was incredibly well-attended. I have been to several shows or this type, non-premium musical entertainment that plays several times a week and has been running for a long time. Never have I seen one as full as this. So, they must be doing something right.

Frank Marino himself is a very fast-talking, crude, rude, bitchy and funny guy, making many references to pop culture that went over my head. He manages to fit so many jokes into such a short time that you are bound to like as least a few of them. He does around 20 costume changes through the show. He has amazing legs and looks very good for his age (which I can only guess at by adding the 28 years the show has been running to a reasonable guess at the age that he must have been when he started the show). He is Las Vegas’ longest running headline act, which is quite an achievement, especially when you see he crowds the show draws, and the overwhelmingly positive response it seems to get.

I know I will miss some acts if I try to list all the performers and those they impersonate, but here is an attempt to give an idea of range: Dolly Parton (even bigger boobs than the original), Beyonce (charmingly hilarious), Madonna (much less butch than the original), Bette Midler (the best dancer), Cher (almost can’t tell the difference from the real thing) and Adele (to prove that they can keep up with the times). It was all good fun.

The song preceding the finale is thought-provoking and quite wonderful. A drag queen mimes to Charles Aznavour’s song “What Makes a Man” while taking off his costume and makeup, then puts on a shirt and trousers and takes a bow dressed as a man.

But here’s the thing about drag queens; they mime. That’s how it works. I enjoyed the show, and I took my parents, and they enjoyed it. In fact, this had the most diverse audience age range of any show I’ve seen and everyone seems to be enjoying it. Personally, I would prefer to go to a live music show. There are so very many of those to choose from in Las Vegas. And, if I’m brutally honest, the dance troupe was not the best I have seen in Vegas, either. So, in summary: it wins hugely on mass appeal, but I am a fussy so-and-so so it didn’t blow my mind.

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