“Viva Las Vegas!” That’s the tune you’ll be singing after you’ve seen Legends in Concert, playing right now at the Gateway Playhouse in Bellport. Straight off the Las Vegas strip, you will see icons Neil Diamond, Liza Minnelli, Stevie Wonder, Barbara Streisand, Tina Turner and the king of rock himself, Elvis—all on one stage, just a short drive from home!
Neil Diamond, played by Barrie Cunningham, opened the show, and his stirring renditions of “Sweet Caroline” and “America” were unbelievable! As you’re watching the live performance, there are screens flanking the stage flashing scenes of the real Diamond. You can’t help but to compare. The consensus: Cunningham played the crooner to perfection.
Next up, racy cabaret from Liza Minnelli, impersonated by Suzanne Goulet. Goulet was able to capture Minnelli’s eccentricities to almost comical precision, and as she was singing, “I Love a Piano” from a director’s chair, you really could not distinguish the “fake” Liza from the real Liza! Her rendition of “New York, New York” was a wonderfully fun number, and I was doing the kickline in my seat along with her dancing troupe!
The Eighth Wonder of the World himself, Stevie Wonder came up next, and the resemblance was pretty good, but the vocals and energy were even better. You’ll find yourself singing and clapping along to some of your favorite numbers like “Superstition” and “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” as Stevie, played by Terry Forsythe, rocks out on his electric keyboard, glasses on, long hair flipping back and forth to his beat.
One of my favorite singers of all time was up next—the great Barbra Streisand, who has amazing and unique vocals, so I was curious how Sharon Owens could possibly embody Streisand. I was blown away. Not only did Owens’ singing voice sound like Streisand, when she was interacting with the band, or the audience, she sounded like her, walked like her and even had her decidedly snarky accent. Owens had me wide-eyed, jaw open—it’s the closest to the real Barbra I’ll probably ever get, and it was a treat! As the strands of “The Way We Were” started playing and Owens began to sing, I could feel the emotion coming through and it gave me goose bumps. When Neil Diamond came out to sing “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” I did cry just a little bit.
Tina Turner just about blasted onto the stage with “Disco Inferno,” and Cookie Watson definitely brought the energy and love for life that Turner embodied in her performances. She held nothing back, singing as vivaciously as the real thing, in her tight black leather dress, lips bright red and hair messy as ever.
Last to take the stage, the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, impersonated by Billy Cherry who has devoted most of his life to emulating his idol. It was kind of surreal to see Elvis on stage, because he really looked like a young, handsome, virile Presley. The white sequined jumpsuit, the hair, the eyes, the pelvic thrusts—oh, baby! I was fascinated by the way he spoke to the audience between each song, sounding just like the real thing. All soft-spoken southern gentlemen, making many of the ladies, especially me, nearly swoon with the sensual energy that emanated from him. The uncanny resemblance from head-to-toe was breathtaking.
A rousing rock star finale will get you out of your seat to dance along, and when all six superstar impersonators come out together to sing, prepare to be awestruck once again—what a sight to behold!
Legends in Concert plays at the Gateway through July 30, and this is one you don’t want to miss so get your tickets now at pacsc.org. Next up for Gateway Playhouse is Singing in the Rain at the Patchogue Theatre July 24–Aug. 10, Ballroom with a Twist Aug. 13–18, and the Buddy Holly Story Aug. 28–Sept. 14.