Vegas Knights Review


 

Vegas Knights is a musical tribute in two acts to the greatest crooners of 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s Las Vegas.  Delivered with charm, wit and a modern sensibility by charismatic singer, Derek Marshall, and backed by a core of live musicians, Vegas Knights hearkens to an era bound by Rat Pack sophistication and 1970’s superstars, and has drawn capacity crowds since 2005 throughout Canada and Internationally at performances including gala evenings and events to box office-best two week theatre engagements.

Linda Geary posted this review in The Branford Expositor, which truly captures the essence of Vegas Knights:

Vegas Knights, honouring the Rat-Pack era of big Las Vegas musical shows, opened at Lighthouse Festival Theatre as a definite crowd-pleaser.   Translating casino-land musical sophistication to make it fit the intimate Port Dover stage, versatile actor Derek Marshall brought polish and energy into his one-man tribute to eight of the biggest names in American show-biz history.

Pitched against the backdrop of a slide-show of historic Las Vegas photographs, Marshall’s Dean Martin imitation was an immediate delight.  His Dino act was simply bursting with Latino wit and super-smooth charm, perhaps his best effort of the evening at carving out an exact impersonation.

On the other hand, it was Marshall’s raw energy in full-bodied re-creations of Louis Prima and Sammy Davis  Jr., with a bucket of sweat dripping from his face, which really hit home far better than mere impersonation.  I Ain’t Got Nobody/Just A Gigolo and That Old Black Magic were hot work, but worth every drop pf sweat he expended on them.

At the same time, Marshall mercifully refrained from overworking his impersonations at the expense of the music or the choreography.  Director Chris McHarge’s choice in giving pride of place to the music and choreography rather than to the cult of personality was definitely the right choice for this production.

Leading up to the intermission, powerhouse drumming by Don Reid and deft guitar work by John Kenny allowed Marshall to easily convert Kurt Weill’s steamy old chestnut, Mack the Knife, into one glorious Bobby Darin showstopper.

Throughout the rest of the evening, Marshall easily swept from Frank Sinatra’s jazz moodiness into Tom Jones swiveling lust-fits, from Tony Bennett’s wailing lounge lizardry into Sammy Davis Jr.’s incomparably touching Mr. Bojangles, and finally on into Elvis Presley’s heartland of Suspicious Minds.  

Aiding and abetting the delicate balance between personality and music, a five-piece band led my musical director, Colin Stewart, teased, underlined, and punctuated Marshall’s every move, much to the delight of the audience.

At one point, Stewart stepped out from behind the band shell with his electric bass to provide a beautifully sweet falsetto harmony for the Dean Martin version of the well known Roger Miller classic, King of the Road.  At another point, jazz sax riffs played by Chris Robinson and poignant piano work by Chris Dahmer helped Marshall melt hearts with that old Sinatra classic One For My Baby (And One More For The Road). 

Obviously, with the likes of Luck Be A Lady, The Lady Is A Tramp, Delilah, That’s Amore, Dream Lover, and I Left My Heart in San Francisco filling the bill, the contents of the show needed little introduction to those familiar with the list of American Song Book classics.  Good pacing and eloquent contrast between these well-arranged renditions kept the audience thoroughly engaged.  Vegas Knights is a keeper, well worth catching before it heads out on world tour.

 

Derek Marshall – Vegas Knights in Concert

Features 12 outstanding songs recorded live 

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