New retro-lounge act ‘Icons of Entertainment’ is all about keeping it old school

From Aretha to Ol’ Blue Eyes, the new tribute show at the Aruba seeks to bring back the intimacy of the lounge

Frank Sinatra impersonator Rick Valient of Vancouver poses on the stairs during the Celebrity Impersonator Convention at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012.
Photo: Leila Navidi

Don’t call ’em impersonators -- the performers of the “Icons of Entertainment Tribute Show” at the Aruba are all about the art of the homage. The retro-flavored show, which bowed at the downtown venue March 11, keeps it old school by immersing the audience in the intimate feel of the performers’ original element: the lounge.

“You can dance, eat, drink and not feel as locked down as when you are in a theater watching a tribute show. The room is dark with candles and has a lot of character,” says producer and tribute artist Jim Dunton, who is presenting the show as an off-shoot of his own act, “Jimmy D’s Elvis Is in the Building Tribute.”

The 1 1/2-hour weekly show features a rotating cast of four to five performers from the '50s through the present, including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Nicks, and, of course, Elvis. An Ed Sullivan tribute act serves as MC.

“Icons” is just one of a number of new opportunities emerging for local entertainers to showcase their talents and try out new acts. Tony Felicetta, who plays Ringo in the Saxe Theater’s "BeatleShow!," makes his debut as Dean Martin at the Aruba this Sunday. Dunton says the show revives classic entertainment in a town that he feels is “nothing but DJs.” It also fills a need in the local tribute artist community for a regular, centralized space to perform.

“I do a lot of private events here in Vegas, but many people would ask me where they could see me perform. Up until now, I had nowhere to tell them,” Dunton says. “If you enjoy performing and want to work, sometimes you just can’t wait around for someone else to hire you.”

With the show still in its nascent stages, Dunton is keeping flexible and says he’s always on the lookout for acts to add. He hopes “Icons” also will serve as a chance “to meet quality people” and open up other opportunities. “We’ll see where it takes us,” he says.

“Icons of Entertainment” runs regularly on Sundays at 5p.m. at the Aruba’s Thunderbird Lounge. Tickets are available in advance through Paypal for $7 and at the door for $10.

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