Whether you’re a fan of Barry Manilow or not, you gotta love the “Ultimate Manilow” show at the Las Vegas Hilton. It has all the glitz and glamour of any Vegas show with the talent of a great pop singer/composer. How can you listen to “ Copacabana” and not get up and dance? Impossible.
Manilow has been at the Hilton for five years, in the very same room where Elvis appeared decades ago. It’s a large theatre with traditional seating in front of the stage and some special seating on the sides with cocktail tables where you can enjoy a drink while you watch the show.
As you enter the auditorium you’re presented with the obligatory glow sticks, which I thought I’d never use, but, believe me, when everyone’s waving them side to side high above their heads as Manilow croons “ Mandy,” yeah, you fall in with the crowd.
The show is a virtual multi media event with a video screen in the background displaying stills and video of Manilow past, getting started on “ American Bandstand” and with his grandfather, the man he says inspired his musical career, dragging him weekly to Times Square to sing “Happy Birthday” on a record you could cut for 25 cents. What a story!
There’s also footage of him singing “ Mandy” on the “ Midnight Special” in 1975, and when the video screen lifts, we seen Manilow live at the piano. Great staging!
His band is top notch, and he keeps them in the loop. During “ City Lights,” one of his disco hits, he has three of his keyboard artists take turns at the piano improvising a riff. They do it one after another, following Manilow at the piano. The four backup singers are also impressive and have a chance to solo during some of the numbers, although Manilow is rarely off the stage. If he has a wardrobe change, it’s always right in front of the audience.
I don’t think he missed singing any of his hits from his opening medley which includes “ Somewhere in the Night” and “ This One’s For You,” to the final production number “ Cobacabana” where a massive catwalk comes down from the ceiling and allows him and his backup singers to walk out into the audience to get up close and personal. This, along with a dazzling light show and finally a shower of silver streamers. Be careful, you can get quite tangled up in the process.
About the only number Manilow didn’t perform was “ I Write the Songs,” although the band plays it at curtain call. Well, maybe in his next show.
And if seeing Barry Manilow on stage isn’t enough, as you exit the theatre you’ll pass the Barry Manilow shop that has everything from T-shirts to mugs to, well, you name it!
Barry Manilow is ranked as the top Adult Contemporary chart artist of all time, according to Radio & Records and Billboard magazines. Rolling Stone crowned him “a giant among entertainers... the showman of our generation,” and Frank Sinatra summed up Manilow best when Ol’ Blue Eyes told the British press, “He’s next.”
Tickets for “Ultimate Manilow: The Hits” range from $95 to $225 per seat.
You can call the Las Vegas Hilton Box Office 24 hours a day at 800-222-5361 for tickets or book online at lvhilton.com.