|March 25, 2005 ||Hollywood Reporter||"Concert Review: Barry Manilow" by Deborah Wilker|
|Barry Manilow is the latest star to join the Las Vegas "sit-down" derby -- the escalating race among casino empires to one-up each other with permanently installed Broadway and West End musicals, as well as pop stars with sturdy Top 40 catalogs, among them Celine Dion, Elton John and Gladys Knight. Now the Las Vegas Hilton is in the game with Manilow's "Music and Passion," a surprisingly entertaining 90 minutes that reveals itself to be a very smart deal.|
Although Manilow was indeed a polarizing pop icon early on -- loved or loathed for schmaltz like "Mandy" and those infectious jingles for McDonald's, State Farm, Dr Pepper and Band-Aids -- today he's a survivor with a packed catalog that in all but a few instances really does resonate. And ever since he stopped caring about whether his Juilliard training and personal preference for jazz over pop was widely recognized, Manilow has -- perhaps unwittingly -- become more and more just the kind of relaxed, likable headliner perfectly suited to this kind of tourist-driven economy.
He laughs at himself, he tells jokes, he dances. He'll casually restart a song again if it's not to his liking. In fact, he appears to welcome such small mistakes, leaving his mix deliberately bare in places as if to stress that it's all him up there -- not a computer, as has become commonplace among some younger acts.
Few who have written as much gold and platinum are still putting it over 30 years later with as much verve. While he gives rightful treatment to hits such as "Even Now," "Can't Smile Without You," "Mandy" and others, it's during the uptempo stuff such as "It's a Miracle" and "Bandstand Boogie" that his show really sparks. "New York City Rhythm" in particular is a showstopper, featuring an extended jazzy midsection during which Manilow and three band members stage a musical-chairs-style keyboard competition. There's also a colorful reworking of "Copacabana" (lately enjoying yet another life in clubs as a dance mix).
Musical director Ron Walters Jr. leads the inventive 10-piece band, while four terrific singer-dancers also raise the bar. Carefully doled-out video effects and motorized set pieces provide the wow factor that tourists expect. Manilow's aim wasn't to compete with the artsy spectacles produced by Dion and John over at Caesars, but his show is an equally satisfying evening -- one that might even convert a nonbeliever.
|March 2005 ||Vegas.com||"Review: Looks like he made it" by Deana Waddell|
|Barry Manilow is making Las Vegas his home away from home, turning the Hilton Theatre into a musical playground even Lola would fall in love with. Manilow was in the middle of his farewell tour, so the offer to headline a steady gig in Vegas was not something he expected. Unlike Cher, Manilow was exhausted from touring and truly was saying goodbye. But after watching the news and seeing the state of the world, Manilow thought to himself, "They need you out there." What they needed, he said, was an uplifting experience. And Manilow: Music and Passion delivers just that.|
Manilow's voice and his extensive song catalog are certainly the stars of the show. The show features a bit of dancing on Manilow's part, a musical-chairs scenario where the pianists, including Manilow, rotate pianos and pick up where the other left off, and a duet with an audience member on the sunshiny "Can't Smile Without You."
With aesthetic visuals projected on a background screen, Manilow takes the audience through the years and across the country. From a nod to the performers of Vegas in his newest song, "Here's to Las Vegas," to memories of the East Coast heard on "Weekend in New England," Manilow shares his songs while sitting at the piano, dancing across the stage or performing in makeshift scenarios from his past.
A highlight of the night begins with a younger Manilow performing one of his earlier hits, "Mandy," on the television show "Midnight Special," which is projected on a screen. As the screen disappears, Manilow sits at the piano completing the song, his voice as pristine as it was 30 years ago. From roaring renditions of "Daybreak," "Bandstand Boogie," "I Write the Songs," "It's a Miracle" and "Somewhere Down the Road," it's clear that Manilow fits Las Vegas as he fits his lounge-lizard jackets: just perfectly.
The Brooklyn-born entertainer stands in lighted silhouette at the conclusion of his show singing "One Voice" a capella. He beautifully belts out "Just one voice singing in the darkness. All it takes is one voice...and everyone will sing." And everyone does sing as Manilow's voice, showcased throughout the evening, is accompanied by the audience on "Copacabana" toward the end of his show. Proving, indeed, that music and passion always are in fashion at the Las Vegas Hilton.
|March 13, 2005 ||Orange County Register||"Sin City shows get hot again: Barry Manilow is the latest performer to leave the rigors of the road for the lucrative life of 'stationary touring' in Las Vegas" by Ben Wener|
|It's nearing 10 p.m. in the one crazy town where time doesn't exist. Inside the Las Vegas Hilton's spruced-up showroom, the confetti- strewn scene is straight out of the rousing finale of "Mamma Mia," the crowd on its feet, clapping to a familiar Latin disco beat. A giant scrim that earlier displayed the title "Manilow: Music and Passion" has come back down, bringing with it a massive catwalk extending above the first 20 rows, its tip nearly reaching the balcony. Barry Manilow re-emerges for his encore in a crushed red velvet jacket, backing vocalists flanking him as they shimmy up the contraption's steps.|
Cue the Fanilows - and, as ever, they nail the chorus at full volume: "At the Copa Copacabana the hottest spot north of Havana." That's a lie, of course: The hottest spot anywhere north of Havana has long been Vegas, a destination most Orange County fun-seekers consider a backyard playground. What's surprising, though, is that Manilow is even here. This is, after all, the supposedly semiretired entertainer who gave up touring life after a farewell outing last year. Yet beloved Barry has just begun an extended, exclusive engagement at the Hilton, performing nearly 100 shows in 24 weeks over the next 12 months.
In doing so, he joins Celine Dion and Elton John in the sure-to-swell ranks of performers who are finding such Vegas stands highly appealing and profitable. Says Michael Coldwell, executive director of entertainment at Caesars Palace - which hosts both Celine's mammoth Cirque du Soleil-tinged show, "A New Day ," and Elton's more modest, inflatables-filled concert, "The Red Piano" - "Las Vegas used to be the place where old stars came to die. Now, it's the place where hot stars come to thrive"...
In many ways it harks back to the gin-and-glamour days when Elvis made Vegas his home base, touring the country only sporadically, as Elton does now (he's contractually limited in how often he can perform elsewhere). It even restores a bit of Vegas' initial luster, when members of the Rat Pack rotated from showroom to showroom...
Manilow considers Vegas when he began and Vegas today to be worlds apart. "It used to make me nervous because, back then, it was still about the Liberaces and Bobby Darins. They were great, but they were another generation from me, and I didn't want to be considered that. I was still in my 30s; I was still trying to break the rules in my own way. At this point, I feel very comfortable there, maybe because I'm an old fart or maybe because this town has turned young again. It's a combination of South Beach and New York now. These new shows aren't the old '50s cheese, nor does this look like Disneyland anymore. Now it just feels hip, exciting, on the edge."
Yet, more so than a case of the eternally cool tourist trap becoming hipper, it's the relaxed pace that is drawing bigger names to Sin City. "Honestly, when I said farewell, I wasn't kidding," Manilow says. "I would have done Radio City once, certainly made albums and done a few shows. But touring? I was over that. Thirty years of being on the road just got to me, and I wanted my life back."
Dion had similar motives for signing up for three years of shows in a theater specially designed for her at Caesars: She wanted to enjoy a stable home life while raising her infant son. So she relocated to the desert oasis. With his artistic residency at the Hilton, Manilow has it both ways: After e-mailing the set list to his band, he takes a private jet in at about 4 p.m., does a quick sound check, maybe has a bite, does his show (two on Saturdays) then flies home to L.A. Which means he's home all day to work on a new album, producing Bette Midler and preparing his musical "Harmony" for Broadway, all of which he might not have had time to squeeze in while touring. "It's a dream gig, the perfect compromise."
Hilton's Manilow endeavor is an attempt to revitalize the north end of the Strip (where the Stratosphere and the Sahara are located) and draw some tourists away from the packed, plusher south end, where Mandalay Bay, Bellagio and the MGM Grand rule. Whether it will or not remains to be seen... Others believe this trend is just beginning to take off. "Elton and I were talking," Manilow says, "and we said we wouldn't be surprised if Rod Stewart found his place here, or maybe even Bette." Neil Diamond and Cher (if her farewell isn't for real) are also natural fits. And it's not hard to imagine Kiss, Aerosmith or Jimmy Buffett sticking around for extended engagements � la Elton. Considering showroom space, that may become the norm.
Regardless of the potential for huge profits, Manilow believes this wave of entertainment ultimately will succeed because it brings a particular brand of fun back to Vegas. "I've never seen a bunch of people - young people - happier than in Vegas right now. This is not like coming to your grandparents' society luncheon. It works because we're not taking this seriously and we're all doing it for the same reason - a big smile."
|March 4, 2005 ||Las Vegas Sun||"Manilow mixes classics, Vegas tribute for superb show" by Jerry Fink|
|When Barry Manilow announced a 24-week gig at the Hilton last year he promised fans something old and something new. He delivered on that promise at his premiere last week, leaving a packed house enthralled by a lively performance that included such classics as "Copacabana" and "Mandy," as well as a new song, "Here's to Las Vegas."|
Manilow (backed by an 11-piece band and four dynamic vocalists) was much more than a vocalist picking titles from his hefty catalog of hits; he was an entertainer who wooed his fans with an engaging personality and an enthusiasm for his craft. He opened the show with Frank Sinatra's "Luck be a Lady," a nod to Vegas' glorious past when entertainers dominated the marquees instead of production shows and steak dinners.
Most of the 1,700 or so fans who attended his debut performance were as enthusiastic about his being there as he was about performing for them -- they gave him several standing ovations. If their reaction is any indication of the future, Manilow should have a long and happy stay at the Hilton.
Manilow told the audience he was in the middle of his farewell tour when his friend, comedian David Brenner, called him and told him the Hilton was looking for a headliner. "I was in the middle of my farewell tour," he said during one of his many asides to the audience, "but unlike Cher, I really meant it. But I went home, watched CNN, looked at all the headlines in the news, saw the state of the world and said to myself, 'Manilow, they need you out there! They need an uplifting experience!' -- so I called the guys and said, 'I'm in.'" A deal was quickly put together and Manilow now has a short commute to his home in Palm Springs, Calif.
Brenner was among the guests at the premiere. Others included Elton John and Steve Wynn. A number of celebrities who were scheduled to attend the event live in Southern California and could not make it because of the rain and mudslides. Those who said they wanted to be there for the Manilow debut included producer/songwriter David Foster.
There were many highlights of the evening -- Manilow singing a duet with a nurse who, surprisingly, sang on key; a number in which he and four of his band members played musical chairs with keyboards -- each rotating to a different keyboard until they ended up at their original starting point. Manilow mugged for his fans, played the accordion, exhibited a self-effacing sense of humor, told stories about his career and his life, and demonstrated that his voice is as fine as ever.
A fascinating visual was that of Manilow singing "Mandy." On a video screen upstage we see him performing the song 30 years ago, and then it segues to his live performance of the song -- and he ends up singing a duet with himself. "I'm so proud of this music," he said. "Have you been in the elevator at the Hilton? It's me, 24 hours a day -- I like it!" And so do the fans.
Who: Barry Manilow in "Manilow: Music and Passion." Where: Las Vegas Hilton Theatre. Rating (out of five stars): *****
|March 3, 2005 ||Las Vegas Mercury||"Barry Manilow: Music and Passion -- Always in fashion: Laugh all you want. Manilow rocks!" by Jessica Kruse|
|Go ahead and make fun of Barry Manilow. Crack jokes about the man who "writes the songs." Mention the strange fate that his music frequently meets as poorly produced elevator fodder. It's nothing new. Manilow has heard it already. In fact, he likes to joke about it himself when he's onstage. All jokes aside, though, he must be doing something right, since he signed a yearlong contract with the Las Vegas Hilton for a new show that promises to be a hit with tourists and locals alike.|
Even if you've never been a huge fan of Manilow, Music and Passion is a top-notch show that spotlights some great musicians and performers. What's more important is that Manilow's voice is still unbeatable, and his energy, charm and love of performing are evident as he sings all the old favorites along with some newer fare, including a tribute to Las Vegas and its performers.
One of the highlights of the show is a duet of sorts, with Manilow performing "Mandy" while behind him a screen projects a much younger Manilow performing the same song years ago on the television show "Midnight Special." There's also a bit that has Manilow and three of his musicians playing a game of "musical pianos" as they trade positions while keeping in time with the music...
Manilow vowed to retire after his tour last year, and unless he's trying to top Cher's record for highest number of "last" tours, this year might be one of the last opportunities to see this musical legend perform. He may not be making the young girls cry anymore, but he's still writing the songs. Barry Manilow: Music and Passion; Wed.-Fri., 9 p.m., Sat. 7:30 and 10 p.m.; $85-$225; Las Vegas Hilton; 732-5755.
|February 15-28, 2005 ||What's On - The Las Vegas Guide||"Manilow: Music and Passion are always the fashion at the Las Vegas Hilton" by Charles Tatum|
|Pop superstar Barry Manilow, who starts a lengthy run at the Las Vegas Hilton Feb. 23, knows that Vegas audiences expect a little more. That's why he's put his piano on wheels. "The piano rolls," Manilow revealed in a candid interview with What's On conducted just before the debut of his new show. "Well, it's Las Vegas, for God's sake. You don't just have a piano sitting there. It moves!"|
Manilow will play five shows a week at the Hilton throughout 2005 and into 2006, joining Celine Dion and Elton John as superstars with permanent or semi-permanent gigs in Las Vegas. Dion is the main headliner at Caesars Palace and John usually fills in with his own lavish production when Dion goes on vacation.
Manilow describes his new production, "Music and Passion," as one big thank you note to all the people -- the famous and non-so-famous -- who toiled through the years to make Las Vegas the Entertainment Capital of the World. "I'm so grateful to the Las Vegas Hilton for this opportunity. That was the word that kept coming up in my mind when I was putting this together: the word was 'gratitude,'" Manilow said. "And I didn't want to just do my show that I do all over the country and just take it to the Hilton. So I had to figure out, what do I want to say for 90 minutes to these people who come to see me? And the word 'gratitude' just kept coming up. Gratitude toward the audiences that are still there after all these years. And gratitude towards all the people who came before me in Las Vegas, from all those people who were on the marquees when I was a kid that we all saw on TV, to all the people who continue to play in the lounges, to the girls who work in all those big production shows, to the guys who play until five o'clock in the morning in those bands that are always so great while people are standing there smoking and talking -- and, of course, the audience," he said.
Manilow, one of the best-selling recording artists in the world since the mid-Seventies, is so excited about being in Vegas that he wrote a new song for the show titled "Here's To Las Vegas." He played it for Las Vegas Hilton executives and "they flipped out over it," Manilow said. The opening verse to the song is as follows: "Here's to Las Vegas / It's one of a kind / Here's to the smiles all around / Neons are flashin' 'bout Music and Passion / All over town."
As for his many hits -- too numerous to list here -- Manilow said he will alter the songlist every night to keep the show fresh. "I've got 30 years of material and my band knows all of them," said the singer, who burst onto the pop scene in 1974 crooning "Mandy." "I didn't want to be stuck with 90 minutes of the same songs every night, and so I've invented little sections of this production where I can switch songs around every night."
Manilow promised that "Music and Passion" will be "a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful production" -- although it will be very different, he said, from the Cirque du Soleil-inspired "A New Day..." production that Caesars Palace built around Dion. Manilow added that he doesn't see his entry into the Las Vegas entertainment market as triggering any head-to-head competition with Dion or anyone else. "I actually flew in just to see her opening night (two years ago), as a matter of fact. She's a friend and so is Elton. I think there's room for all of us," Manilow said.
One of the best things about setting up shop permanently in Las Vegas, Manilow noted, is getting to stay in one place for awhile. The Brooklyn-born star, who played piano for Bette Midler early in his career, recently completed a grueling 22-city tour in which he performed for a quarter-million fans. "It saves me from packing every night and going to Boise, Idaho, and then being late on the plane and then having bad room service in a hotel," he quipped.
The notion of the Las Vegas Hilton signing Manilow to a long-term deal was first proposed by comedian David Brenner, a longtime friend of Manilow who performs nightly in the Hilton's Shimmer Cabaret. It was Brenner who suggested to Hilton execs that Manilow might bring to the hotel's main showroom a level of excitement that hasn't been seen there since Elvis Presley worked that room from 1969 through 1976. "He's fantastic," Manilow said of Brenner. "He was the one who got this whole thing started. I'm very grateful for him. He made the phone call.... I put all the business guys in touch with each other."
Concerning the ghost of Elvis in the Hilton Theater, Manilow knows all about it, having worked many times in that showroom in the Eighties. Back then, Manilow closed performances with his own arrangement of the inspiring Elvis song "If I Can Dream" -- something he might do again in "Music and Passion." Manilow said he won't be singing the Elvis classic "Viva Las Vegas" in his new show ("That's not really me"), but he will perform a few special Vegas-y numbers, including "Luck Be A Lady" from the Broadway show "Guys and Dolls."
As for the title of Mr. Las Vegas, Manilow said he's prepared to let Wayne Newton hold it a while longer. "I don't think I'm really Mr. Las Vegas, honestly," he said. "I have an opportunity to make music and not have to be on the road. I would never consider myself Mr. Las Vegas. I just hope people like the show."
This one's for you, Las Vegas! Don't miss the chance to see Barry Manilow up close and personal. Show Time: Debuting Feb. 23, Wed.-Fri. at 9 p.m., Sat. at 7:30 & 10 p.m.; Showroom: Hilton Theater at Las Vegas Hilton; Show Price: $85, $115, $145 & $225, 702-732-5755.
|February 27 - March 5, 2005 ||Showbiz Magazine||"Vegas' Newest Music Man: Barry Manilow Brings His Piano and Pop to the Hilton" by Molly Brown|
|Ask almost anyone their feelings about Las Vegas, and you'll get a strong reaction. Either they love it or hate it. Ask almost anyone about Barry Manilow, and you'll get the same. "For every person who says they like me, there's another that's like, 'eew, him?'" said Manilow in Newsweek magazine.|
It was only a matter of time until Vegas, the town of neon, glitz and huge entertainment productions, and Manilow, the man behind big ballads and sing-along hits, finally connected for Manilow: Music and Passion. And they connected in a big, big way. In December, Manilow and the Las Vegas Hilton announced a 24-week engagement. Having started on Feb. 23, and running well into 2006, Manilow is headlining the Hilton's famous 1,700-seat showroom where Elvis once reigned.
The fusing of mega casino and mega talent seemed inevitable. Manilow, who began his professional career playing piano for Bette Midler in New York City's bathhouses, has become one of the most revered and massively popular songwriters and performers in America. From his breakout hit in the '70s, "Mandy," to his most recent success, a No. 1 hit on the dance-club play charts, the re-mixed "Copacabana," Manilow is still in high demand. So much so, his 2004 farewell tour sold more than 250,000 tickets in 22 cities. "On the last tour, I would joke with the audience that maybe they could just come over to my house," said Manilow in a Las Vegas press conference. "And from now on, they can."
A veteran of more than 50 albums, Manilow was looking for a permanent home. After performing and traveling for more than three decades, he was ready to settle in one theater so his fans could come to him. Vegas, already a home to superstar singers like Celine Dion and Elton John, was the perfect match.
What can fans expect from Manilow: Music and Passion? Well, Manilow's already mentioned penning a theme song for Vegas that he hopes will become Sin City's "New York, New York." But his show definitely has more of a low-key, sultry, smoky nightclub feel. "This show is more about storytelling," he said in Newsweek. "I played piano bars for years, so for one number, I take the audience to my old piano bar."
Audiences won't see Cirque du Soleil-like feats, either, though there are dancers and a backing band. Music and Passion focuses on Manilow's strength -- the music. While there is a healthy dose of hits, like "Mandy" and "This One's for You," Manilow mixes it up with new songs every night, too. And if audiences are really lucky, they'll get a double dose of a song that begs to be performed in Vegas -- even if it is set in another locale. "Copacabana" now has two versions -- the original and the new dance track featured on Manilow's 2004 album, "Scores." "It rocks the house," said Manilow in Palm Springs' Desert Sun. "It's the last thing you would think of at a Barry Manilow concert, but every night it just rocks the house."
Barry Manilow; Where: Las Vegas Hilton; When: 9 p.m. Wed., Thurs. and Fri., 7:30 and 10 p.m. Sat.; Cost: $85.00, $115.00, $145.00; Info: (702) 732-5755.
|February 26, 2005 ||Las Vegas Review-Journal||"Manilow basks in the limelight" by Norm Clarke|
|Barry Manilow's VIP gala opening at the Las Vegas Hilton was a far cry from his debut here almost 30 years ago. "I opened for Helen Reddy" at the MGM Grand in 1976, recalled Manilow, who was coming off his No. 1 "Mandy" and high-flyers "Could It be Magic" and "It's a Miracle."|
A galaxy of stars turned out Thursday for Manilow, whose last lengthy engagement here was 1988. Elton John's surprise arrival had the paparazzi in a tizzy. During the after-party that attracted about 1,000 people, Manilow said he was deeply grateful that John, the Caesars Palace headliner, braved the red-carpet scrum, one of the few public appearances John has made since starting his Las Vegas engagement a year ago. "Elton John is the Shakespeare of pop music of my generation," Manilow told me during his tour of the after-party event.
Manilow had the crowd on its feet for most of the half hour. The big finish saw a metal platform with glass sideboards and two sets of stairs lowered from the ceiling, allowing Manilow and his backup singers to perform "Copacabana" above the capacity crowd of 1,700.
VIP attendees included: Steve and Elaine Wynn with Steve Guttenberg of "Police Academy" fame; David Brenner and Tai Babilonia (just back from the 25th anniversary of the Lake Placid Winter Olympics); Robert Goulet; Clint Holmes; Larry Ruvo; Gordie Brown; Lance Burton; Bernie Yuman; Frank Marino; Mimi Hines (who replaced Barbra Streisand in "Funny Girl" on Broadway); Kimberly Locke and the Maynard triplets of "American Idol" fame; Matt Dusk; David Foster; Robin Leach; country singer Shelby Lynne; Jeff Beacher; Grammy-nominated singer Monica Mancini (daughter of iconic composer Henry Mancini); Adrian Zmed; Ron Dante, who produced many of Manilow's albums, including the "Mandy" and "Copacabana" hits; Desmond Childs, who wrote for KISS; Bon Jovi; Aerosmith; Cher; Ricky Martin; and songwriting hall of fame composer Marty Panzer, who collaborated on "Even Now" with Manilow.
|February 26, 2005 ||ABC News||Manilow Opens Las Vegas Show to Full House: Barry Manilow Opens His Show at the Las Vegas Hilton, With Elton John Among the Sold-Out Crowd|
|(The Associated Press) LAS VEGAS Feb 26, 2005 � Barry Manilow has opened his new Las Vegas Hilton show to the public, crooning favorites such as "Mandy," "Copacabana" and "It's a Miracle." Elton John and Steve Wynn were among those in the full-house audience of 1,700 Thursday as Manilow belted out familiar tunes and a new offering, called "Here's to Las Vegas." "Manilow: Music and Passion" is booked for 24 weeks. Including breaks, it is due to run into 2006.|
|February 25, 2005 ||Las Vegas Review-Journal||"'Here's to Las Vegas': 'I've never had a bad time here, ever,' Barry Manilow says as he launches a new show at the Hilton" by Mike Weatherford|
|Barry Manilow has been called a lot of things, not all of them nice. But he ventures to say that "oldies act" isn't one of them. "Nobody's ever said that about what I do. And yet, I'm doing material that was created many years ago," the 58-year-old entertainer notes. "I don't think I've ever been referred to as an oldies act, and frankly, they should."|
Some might chalk that up to the stamina of his hits. Others might credit the showmanship that continues to sell his grandiose ballads to more than one generation of ticket-buyers. Either bodes well for "Manilow: Music and Passion," an exclusive run at the Las Vegas Hilton that will have the pop icon's fans doing the traveling if they want to see him in the next 12 months.
In keeping with the new, not fully defined hybrid of theater and concert in Celine Dion and Elton John's Las Vegas shows, Manilow will offer "the biggest production I've ever had" for a new window into his old hits. People who haven't kept up with either Las Vegas or Manilow might assume this is business as usual; a longtime Las Vegas performer phoning in a greatest-hits album.
Those who follow him more closely know better. "I think I would have stopped years ago if I had to do that," the singer said last week during a break in rehearsals for the show that debuted Wednesday. And he was ready to stop touring after the tiresome travel and heavy production costs of summer's "One Night Live! One Last Time!" tour wore him down. "It was the road that had gotten to me," he says. "After 30 years of living out of suitcases, I just wanted my life back."
The tour was barely over when he got a call from comedian David Brenner, a longtime friend who became new Hilton owner Colony Capital's first entertainment commitment in the fall. "David, I just unpacked," Manilow remembers saying. But he also recalled seeing Dion's "A New Day ..." opus at Caesars Palace, and thinking, "Wouldn't it be nice if I could continue to make music and entertain audiences but didn't have to go on the road?"
Now he figures to have both an easy puddle-jump to his home in Palm Springs, Calif., and the ability to delve back into the theatricality that's long interested him. The new show harkens back to the "Swing Street" tour Manilow brought to the same Hilton stage in 1988. That show included scenery, rear-screen projections and costumed actors illustrating scenes from the singer's childhood and early career.
The Hilton is his favorite Las Vegas stage, "because (it) is the size of a football field. You can throw anything that you want on it. And yet the house is not enormous," he says of the 1,600-seat theater. "That's my favorite kind of house to perform to."
The set includes a sprawling bandstand and side stages to represent a piano bar and comedy club. "I feel that the songs land more if I can bring them into my experiences or their experiences instead of saying, 'Here's another one of my favorites.' I've never been able to do that," he says. "I've always kind of jumped off a cliff and been intimate with these strangers out there. And they seem to like it. This offers me the opportunity of actually getting literal now and again."
The new show is not so singly autobiographical. Manilow describes it as more of a shout-out to Las Vegas entertainers, both the legends and the unsung heroes of the lounges. "What I wanted to do was say 'thank you' to those talents who came before me, that got Vegas where it is," he says. "These talents that I have seen in Vegas, from lounge acts to piano bar players to showgirls, and all these people (who do) eight shows a night, killing themselves while people are playing the slot machines."
The premise came to him quickly, he says, like all of his good ideas. "If I don't get the whole idea in 15 minutes, whether it's the melody for a song or an idea for a show, I know I'm gonna have problems," he says. "When this opportunity happened, I woke up one morning with the entire show written." The structure isn't so formal that he expects all audiences to pick up on it. At least not until he gets to a new song called "Here's to Las Vegas," which he self-financed to record with a 50-piece orchestra. "It kind of snowballed into this tip of the hat to everybody that kills themselves here in the music business."
Manilow himself didn't play Las Vegas until he had made it out of the piano bars. He was three albums into a solo career -- spun from his work as musical director for Bette Midler -- when he first played Las Vegas as Helen Reddy's MGM Grand opening act in January 1976. "I've never had a bad time here, ever. I've never had a bad show," he says. "I've always been warned that the audiences here would be cold, that they would be out-of-towners who just came to check out the names on the marquee (and) not as excited as the usual audiences. "But I have never, even since the Helen Reddy days, never felt that. They have always been very enthusiastic, very generous, very kind."
Manilow doesn't want his new show to be so produced that it doesn't leave room to switch out songs from night to night. And he wants it to go beyond "the handful of songs people have come to see" to include more recent works from a 2001 concept album, "Here At the Mayflower," and jazz collaborations with Diane Schuur. And he says he is always updating the arrangements, using the knack he always had to make the songs he didn't write ("I Write the Songs," "Mandy") fit the signature sound of those he did ("It's A Miracle," "This One's For You"). "They call me the king of recycling," he says. "I've figured out a way to continue to keep making these songs fresh for myself without hurting the integrity of it for the audience. That's the trick ... I just won't let it get stale."
Manilow wonders if some of the "young beautiful people" he's spotting in his audiences are responding to the lost art of songcraft. "I'm guilty of it myself, now and again, because I know how to work those computers," he says. "I go to the computer and open up the sequence and come up with a groove and some chords and I maybe even come up with a melody. "And then I go to the piano and try to play it. And it's not a song. It's a great groove and could be a great-sounding record, but try to play those things on your guitar... That kind of thing can't last."
But by all signs, the man at the piano for 24 weeks at the Hilton sure can.
|February 25, 2005 ||The Miami Herald||Manilow opens show at Las Vegas Hilton|
|LAS VEGAS - Barry Manilow has opened his new Las Vegas Hilton show to the public, crooning favorites like "Mandy," "Copacabana" and "It's a Miracle." Pop music legend Elton John and casino mogul Steve Wynn were among those in the full-house audience of 1,700 on Thursday as the singer-songwriter belted out familiar tunes and a new offering, called "Here's to Las Vegas." "Manilow: Music and Passion" is booked for 24 weeks. Including breaks, it is due to run into 2006. The 58-year-old entertainer has a desert home a short distance away in Palm Springs, Calif. His Las Vegas show follows those of Elvis Presley, who once performed at the Hilton, and other headliners including Celine Dion, Gladys Knight and Sir Elton.|
|February 24, 2005 ||Extra!||The Maynard Triplets: Could it be Magic?|
|Barry Manilow is joining the likes of Elton John and Celine Dion, preparing for his huge opening night at the Las Vegas Hilton, and he gave "Extra's" Terri Seymour a backstage tour. "I really didn't know it was going to be one of the most anticipated shows in Vegas," the modest Manilow admitted. "It's an honor to be on the same street as Elton and Celine and have my own room at the Hilton." Barry's final dress rehearsal was in front of a packed house that included none other than Diane Sawyer, who actually joined Barry on stage for a surprise duet.|
And Diane wasn't the only surprise for Mr. Manilow -- we introduced him to the Maynard triplets, the adorable "American Idol" sisters that "Extra" adopted, brought to Hollywood and began grooming for stardom after Simon Cowell called them "overweight Jessica Simpsons" on "Idol." But Simon's comments are a distant memory for the sisters, who were thrilled to meet their idol. "I don't think we'd be singing today if not for you," the sisters told Barry. "You inspired us." "And I'm so glad I've had a positive impact on your life," Manilow told them.
But Barry had more than just an impact on the Maynard sisters. In fact, two of the sisters were named after Manilow tunes. They also showed the legendary singer a snapshot of their mother singing with Manilow 20 years ago, and then they serenaded Barry with one of his own songs. And that's when the unthinkable happened: a knocked-out Barry asked the girls, "Would you just come back and just do that for this crowd? You will blow them away." That's right, the sisters were invited to be Barry's opening act for a night! Needless to say, the girls were almost lost for words. "I'm still in shock," one admitted. "I tried as hard as I could not to cry, but we all cried," another said.
|February 24, 2005 ||First Coast News||Barry Manilow Has Hit the Vegas Strip!|
|Attention all "Fanilows!" Barry Manilow has hit Las Vegas. The man who has sold more than 65 million albums and given more than 3,000 performances is the newest headliner in Vegas. Manilow says, "I think Vegas is the hippest, youngest, most exciting city in the country. And I think that picking me is exactly the right person, since I am the hippest man on the planet now. I'm the perfect fit." The show is called "Manilow: Music and Passion." It can be seen at the Las Vegas Hilton.|
|February 18, 2005 ||Las Vegas Sun||"To The Hilt" by Jerry Fink|
|Fans of pop sensation Barry Manilow can exhale Wednesday. Their idol will step into the spotlight on the Las Vegas Hilton Theatre stage at 9 p.m., and one of the world's most famous performers will become a member of the Las Vegas entertainment family. Manilow will perform five times a week for 24 weeks, with the weeks spread throughout this year and into 2006, for a total of 120 shows ... Although Manilow says he has retired from concert tours, he is far from retired from show business. In addition to his Hilton gig he continues to write and produce records. He and Bruce Sussman have co-authored the musical "Harmony," which is expected to make its Broadway debut this year. The story is based on the lives of the Comedian Harmonists, a specialty singing group popular in Germany until the Nazis rose to power in the 1920s and '30s. Manilow recently took time out from his busy schedule to talk to the Sun about his upcoming gig.|
Las Vegas Sun: So what's it going to be like being stuck in Las Vegas after touring for so many years?Barry Manilow: This is a dream gig. I wouldn't consider it "stuck." It's an honor to be here in Vegas, on the same Strip with Celine (Dion) and Elton (John). It's an easier gig than being on the road -- I get to go back home.
Sun: What can your fans expect? Will it be anything like the concerts you performed on the road?
BM: It will be a different premise. I have geared it to this gig, the Las Vegas Hilton. What I also have geared it toward is that I will be performing in the same place and so a lot of audiences, fans, will come back to see the show again. I can change songs around every night -- you won't see the same exact show every night. I have 30 years of songs that I would love to be able to do.
Sun: Will the show be anything like Celine's, with pianos floating in the air?
BM: We have quite a production -- beautiful and extravagant, but nowhere near Celine's.
Sun: Why did you decide to quit touring? I heard it was because you have some health issues.
BM: It really had nothing to do with health issues. It was 30 years of being on the road. All of us are feeling it -- Phil Collins has given that interview; so has Gloria (Estefan). After a while you lose your life. I wanted my life back for a while -- you're never home, you can't develop a relationship with your family, your dog. You're always on your way to the next city. After a while I just said, "I'm done with this." And after I said it I got the offer from the Las Vegas Hilton to settle down.
Sun: How did the offer come about? Did your people contact them, or did they contact you?
BM: David Brenner called me and said he had gotten wind of the Las Vegas Hilton looking for a name they could build a show around. I had just come off my final farewell tour ... I said, "David, I just unpacked." But I put my manager in touch with the Hilton and we got together.
Sun: The show has been the talk of the town. You have a lot of fans out there.
BM: I just hope somebody comes to see me.
Sun: Is everything moving smoothly?
BM: The Hilton is giving me everything we want. It's becoming more and more beautiful.
Sun: When you listen to music, what do you listen to?
BM: I have never been able to get into pop. Sometimes something jumps out, but I have no patience to wade through all the crap. I have discovered Groove Armada and the Scissor Sisters. They seem to be breaking the rules.
Sun: What's your opinion of today's music?
BM: I'm still looking for a good lyric. They seem to be abandoning the craft of songwriting.
Sun: Which of your own songs are your favorites?
BM: My favorites change every day, every week. Today it's "One Voice," which seems to say what I need to say. But next it might be "Could it be Magic."
Sun: Besides this show, what projects are you involved with?
BM: I have a Broadway show going this year. And I may be producing Bette Midler's next album.
Sun: Who has had the most influence on your music?
BM: The people who influenced me the most were people like Nelson Riddle and David Rose, great arrangers and composers of the '50s and '60s. Jonathan Tunick, Jerry Mulligan, Dave Brubeck.
Sun: How did you get into pop music?
BM: My pop music career was a big surprise. I never in a million years would have been attached with Clive Davis (president of Arista Records). But his commercial ears and my own little style catapulted me onto the radio.
Sun: If not for that, what would you be doing today?
BM: I would be in some lounge playing piano. But his commercial ears and my own little style catapulted me onto the radio."
Who: Barry Manilow in "Manilow: Music and Passion." When: 9 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays; 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. Saturdays. Where: Hilton Theatre at the Las Vegas Hilton. Tickets: $85 to $145. Information: 732-5755.
|February 2005 ||LasVegas.com||Manilow: Music and Passion|
|The man who makes the whole world sing has found a new home. Legendary performer Barry Manilow brings his incomparable legacy to Las Vegas for an exclusive engagement at the Hilton Theater, where he'll perform his show, "Manilow: Music and Passion," through 2005 and beyond. Book your tickets online here at LasVegas.com using the convenient booking tool at the left of your screen.|
Manilow's golden touch as a singer, arranger, composer, and producer has made him one of the world's premier artists�one of the few to have received a nomination for every major entertainment award: Oscar, Grammy, Tony, and Emmy. The entertainer has released more than 50 albums as a performer and given us favorites like "Mandy" and "I Write the Songs." His signature hit, "Copacabana," turned into a musical that enjoyed a successful 18-month run on London's prestigious West End, toured the U.S., and hatched international productions that continue to pack 'em in.
Just how good is he? In 2002 alone, Manilow's collection "Ultimate Manilow" debuted at number three on Billboard's Top 200, Radio & Records magazine named him the "Number One Adult Contemporary Artist of All Time," and he received one of the industry's highest honors when he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. All told, Manilow has sold 65 million albums, performed more than 3,000 concerts, and rung up a whopping 28 platinum records. To top it all off, every album he's produced for another artist has been nominated for a Grammy.
His specially-conceived production, "Manilow: Music and Passion," is true to its name, containing both music and passion. The show features the favorites we've all come to know and love, performed with the heartfelt touch of a true musical master. Price: $93.50, $126.50, $159.50; Date: Ongoing; Time: Wed. - Fri. 9 PM; Sat. 7:30 PM, 10:00 PM; Dark Sun. - Tue.; Venue: Hilton Theater; Address: Las Vegas Hilton; 3000 Paradise Rd.; Las Vegas, NV 89109.
|February 2005 ||Las Vegas Leisure Guide||Barry Manilow - Las Vegas: Music and Passion|
|Barry Manilow is a pop star extraordinaire. His career has ranged from performing on Broadway, to composing, arranging and singing incredible hit songs. Known the world over as the "man who writes the songs" Manilow has triumphed in every medium of entertainment. He has received a Grammy, an Emmy and a Tony Award. He was also nominated for an Academy Award.|
Famous for his unending talent, his musical "Copacabana," inspired by his hit single, saw packed theaters on London's West End. "Harmony," his second musical had a successful run at the La Jolla Playhouse and is headed for greatness. Barry Manilow's television appearances have also facilitated in his gaining worldwide superstar appeal.
Manilow's music delights audiences of all ages and spans the generations. He was named "Number One Adult Contemporary Artist of All Time" by Radio & Records Magazine. His diverse collection of 43 albums cover Top 40 Hits, Big Bands, Jazz, Show tunes, and Christmas music. His complilation album, "Ultimate Manilow," went double platinum.
This new venue for Barry Manilow is a labor of love. Entitled: "Manilow: Music and Passion" it will recapture the glory of great songs through one of the most popular singers of our times. Tickets go fast to hear this multi-talented musician who "writes the songs the whole world sings".
|February 5, 2005 ||MSNBC News||"Barry Hot: At long last, Manilow plays Vegas. Isn't it time we gave the man some respect?" by Lorraine Ali, Newsweek|
|Feb. 14 issue - The first time Barry Manilow played Carnegie Hall was in 1972, as pianist for the burgeoning cabaret star Bette Midler. It was quite a step up from the gay bathhouses they'd been playing to pay the rent. "I remember standing behind the curtain and hearing the audience roar," recalls Manilow, sitting in a bistro near his home in Palm Springs, Calif. "Bette and I just looked at each other, like, 'What is that?' It was so..." He stops, and laughs. "Wait a minute. Here I am telling you the story of my life, like anybody gives a s---. If they do, I'm amazed. Really, I am. I shouldn't be talking to NEWSWEEK right now, I should be playing a Chuck E. Cheese in Covina."|
You'd have trouble finding an American over the age of 20 who hasn't cracked a Barry Manilow joke�and that includes Barry Manilow. The operatic pop ballads. The questionable hairdos. The flouncy-sleeved jumpsuit. Manilow was the '70s. But he still sells 1.5 million records a year, just had a No. 1 single on the dance-club play charts (a remix of his 1978 "Copacabana") and is now preparing for one of the most anticipated openings in the history of Las Vegas: "Music and Passion," which kicks off at the Hilton on Feb. 23 and will run into 2006. Though Barry and Vegas seems like a long-overdue marriage, he had his doubts. "Believe me, I had to stop and think," says Manilow, now 58. "You see, I've always walked this fine line between having respect and being cheese. I worried that playing Vegas could push me over into the vat of cheese. But I will not allow it, I promise you that."
It's his reputation as a master entertainer that's kept Manilow viable ever since the hits dropped off in the '80s and he started making noncommercial jazz albums. Last year his supposed farewell tour sold out stadiums across the country. "It must have been another generation that discovered me," Manilow says. "Or maybe they were brainwashed by their parents and wanted to see me before I died. 'Look, he's still breathing. Buy the ticket!'"
Manilow has been performing ever since he was a kid himself. He was raised in Brooklyn by his mother, the daughter of Russian immigrants�his father, a truck-driver for a beer company, left shortly after Barry was born�and "a billion" cousins. Music figured prominently in the household. "If it had been another time and place, my mom could have been Ethel Merman," says Manilow, in his still-strong Brooklyn accent. "But she couldn't, so I did it." He went to Juilliard out of high school, got a job in the CBS mailroom and was married by 22. Four years later he'd left the day job � and the marriage � to jam in Manhattan's jazz clubs and cabarets.
He started writing commercial jingles, landed a record deal in 1972 and hit the road on his first headliner tour. "I had no idea what to play," Manilow says, "so I put together a medley of my jingles. They didn't care what else I did � it was all about the Kentucky Fried Chicken/Dr. Pepper/Trident medley. Oh, and the big crowd pleaser: 'You deserve a break today.' I had the bad taste to do it, and they loved it."
Manilow's 1973 debut was a jazzy record that didn't sell well. For his second LP, Arista Records president Clive Davis urged him to do more pop-friendly material. Manilow resisted, but finally Davis brought him a song and politely demanded he do it � and "Mandy" went to No. 1. "It was the first time I actually turned pop radio on and listened," says Manilow. "What I heard was 'Boogie, Oogie, Oogie' and 'Kung Fu Fighting' � and then there was 'Mandy.' I said, 'Oh, my God! These people need me!'"
Whether Manilow saved the decade or destroyed it is still up for debate ("For every person who says they like me, there's another that's, like, 'Eew, him?'"). But one thing's for sure: when you walk into a public space with the man, everyone knows who he is. Manilow tries to keep a low profile; he wears prefaded jeans and a plain black sweater, and prefers to stand in the corner of the hotel lobby. He speaks in hushed tones, though he laughs a bit louder than normal when he cracks jokes about himself � which happens about every 10 minutes. He insists he's happiest when he's behind the scenes. "I just backed into this beautiful career of a singing performer," he says, "but my heart is as a musician, arranger, producer and composer. Putting on makeup and an outfit and being charming to an audience is really hard work for me. If I never had to stand onstage again, I'm not sure how much I'd really miss it."
Whether you take him at his word or not, performing has been his life, and in the Vegas show, he'll be tucking his old pop classics into a sort of musical storybook (In fact, he's composed two musicals, "Copacabana" and "Harmony"; songs from both appear on his 2004 CD "Scores"). But Manilow promises there'll be no Cirque du Soleil characters onstage miming to "Mandy." "This show is more about storytelling," he says. "I played piano bars for years, so for one number, I take the audience to my old piano bar. I say, 'This could have been me, so go to one of those bars and put a $5 bill in their jar and tell 'em thanks from Barry'." He's got it backward, of course: piano men should thank Barry for writing all those songs that make their tip jars sing. But isn't it just like him?