by Tony Schillaci & Don Church, Critics On The Aisle™
It’s one thing to contribute to a worthy cause, but it’s quite another to be immediately rewarded
with a big dazzling Las Vegas/Atlantic City-style stage show.
The benefit for the Alliance for Living, southeastern Connecticut’s HIV/AIDS organization, brought back, by popular demand, the hit Resorts Casino and Hotel show, “Divas in a Man’s World,” from Atlantic City.
The troupe generously took the grueling drive from New Jersey on their night off to the Mohegan Sun’s Cabaret Theater and gave a dazzling performance for the Alliance for Living, September 20. That’s how unselfish show folks are for a good cause! The show was created and is produced by Steven Andrade, who also impersonates Cher. He has
been involved with the stunning and authentic costume designs, makeup, wigs, shoes, directing, choreography and all the other essentials that go into staging a spectacular show. The result is a breath-taking effect that has us believing we’re actually watching all the great divas, including Steve’s Cher in what was a dazzling performance.
Steve also picked the four back-up dancers – two males, two females, and choreographer Frank Moore who also stars as the show’s one divo, Prince. The charismatic dancers are all incredibly fluid performers who are always in the moment of whatever song is being performed by the Divas.
This glamorous evening opened with a surprise guest, Nancy Sinatra (Phil Craig), in a well-staged and performed “These Boots Were Made for Walking.” It quickly established the exuberant mood and perfect pacing for the evening.
Joan Rivers was the mistress of ceremonies for the entire evening and still we couldn’t get enough of Gary Dees’ spot-on impression of the bawdy funny lady, especially her slice-and-dice heckling of the audience. For instance, she accused a man with looking up her skirt and said, “What you will find there is Pee Wee’s big adventure.” She also claimed that “There are Monica Lewinsky slots on the casino floor. They say insert Bill here.” And what sparkling red-carpet costumes, jewelry, shoes and well-coiffed, bullet-proof blonde wigs she wore.
Phil Craig’s Liza Minnelli “owned” the stage when she did “Cabaret” and “New York, New York” – we’ve seen Liza in person, and the Divas Liza was as close to the real star as anyone could get. Every nuanced hand movement mimicked Miss Minnelli to perfection.
Prince (Frank Moore) showed his sultry, seductive and sexy appeal and his eyes, physique and movements matched “the artist formerly known as” better than a true identical twin could have done.
Cher (Steven Andrade) is remarkable in as much as he truly “channels” Cher. His range of costumes, from
the black see-through sex goddess outfit, to the Native American feathered chief, to the gorgeous white and gold coat made all of us “Believe.”
Jason CoZmo as Dolly Parton could have just walked out off stage at Dollywood! Not only was the hair, body type and movement astonishingly like Dolly’s, but also that face! Even meeting Jason still in character after the show up close, we had to suspend disbelief and talk to “Dolly” and not her impersonator.
After the performance, the divas and divo went into the audience for a meet and greet, including a photo opportunity. Even after working with precision for two hours of five-star professionalism, Stephen, Frank, Jason, Phil and Gary all exuded sweetness, charm, poise and friendliness in greeting their new-found “fans”. These Divas undoubtedly have worked for years to perfect their impressions, and onstage at the Mohegan Sun Cabaret all of their hard work paid off beautifully for them and for the audience.
Don’t’ miss all the special year-round events at the Alliance for Living: allianceforliving.org, and a world at play: www.mohegansun.com