May 17, 2014 | 8:00 PMThe Bezemes Family Theater
A lot has come and gone since Wayne Newton first set the entertainment world on fire as a precocious, big-voiced 6-year-old. When Elvis Presley was still driving a truck, Newton, almost 10 years his junior, had already sung before a president, toured with a Grand Ole Opry road show, and released his first record.
While the Beatles were still scrambling for their early Liverpool gigs, Newton, who was two years younger than John Lennon, was playing Las Vegas and appearing on the Jackie Gleason and Lucille Ball television shows. In a business that is, at best, volatile, and success sometimes short-lived, Newton has performed live, at last count, to more than 40 million people and on television and record to many times that number. He has epitomized the talent, glamour, and energy that is Las Vegas—the entertainment capital of the world—for so long that he is called “Mr. Las Vegas.” And these days, having established himself both on television and in movies as a fine actor, he’s getting more attention than ever.
He does it with the incredible talent and showmanship he was born with and the approach he developed as a child entertainer in Virginia. He simply works harder and digs deeper than anyone out there, sizing up audiences as he goes, tailoring shows to fit their moods until he’s given them their money’s worth. The songs change and the show gets re-worked, but Newton’s basic approach is the same as it has been since his beginning, and it’s something that goes to the core of who he is.
“I’m still doing the kind of shows I’ve always done,” Newton says, “and I can tell you one thing—people may leave one of my shows disliking Wayne Newton, but they’ll never walk out saying, ‘He didn’t work hard for us.’"
“As a showman, Newton held his audiences in thrall with a voice that was high, pure, and clear, an instrumental prowess that was impressive, and a ribald sense of humor that left the concept of political correctness at the back door.”
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