Monday, Jan. 28, 2019 | 10 a.m.
Tonight’s the night. Wayne Newton’s “Up Close & Personal” show opens in its new home, the classic Cleopatra’s Barge at Caesars Palace, and the legendary Las Vegas entertainer is ready to “Danke Schoen” all over again in his new, old home.
Of course, Mr. Las Vegas has played Caesars before. But not like this.
“It’s really interesting for me because the original showroom I played there, and Frank [Sinatra] and all the other performers used to play, they did away with that one when the built the OmniMax,” Newton says, referring to the sphere-shaped theater that lived at Caesars from 1979 to 2000. That space is now home to the Colosseum and Celine Dion.
“This one now is the Barge, and that was a totally different kind of room also. When they asked me to go look at it, I made some suggestions I thought would benefit our show and its other performers and the folks at Caesars were really nice. Anything we wanted, they were ready to do it, so it really is kind of like being home again. It feels wonderful.”
Newton confirmed one aspect of rumored renovation plans for Cleopatra’s Barge: The water surrounding the barge itself is about to run dry.
“The boat will stay but the water will go,” he says. “We’re thinking about putting seats in those areas. That will make the room larger and more comfortable but also more intimate for people coming to see the show.”
Expect other changes and innovations at the old-school lounge venue in the coming months, including the addition of larger video screens behind the stage.
“Up Close & Personal” is going to get more musical, too. The 76-year-old icon says he learned a lot from the last three years of telling stories and singing songs at the Windows Showroom at Bally’s just across the street, and as always, he’s ready to give the people what they want.
“We’re adding some musicians and some singers. The time at Bally’s was very nice and I enjoyed it and I watched the show really morph into something that was not anticipated when we started,” he says. “That growth and change means we’ll probably be doing more music than we did at Bally’s … and maybe not as much [storytelling]. But we’ll keep a lot of those stories. It’s amazing how many people did not know so much about our city, about the evolution of Las Vegas.”
Who better to share tales of Old Vegas? In May, Newton will be celebrating 60 years of performing in Las Vegas. He’s never relished the role of Vegas ambassador more than he does now, and the current Strip entertainment phenomenon of the headlining residency suits him just fine.
“I think that it’s finally come back to what it was when I first came here,” he says. “Back then you could drive up and down the Strip and there was always a major star at each hotel … and now we’re moving back to that star policy. I’m thrilled about it because it’s really what started this town and what started so many people coming here. There’s this new group of stars coming here and making Las Vegas their home venue and it’s a big plus, and I see it continuing.”
“Wayne Newton: Up Close & Personal” is set for 8 p.m. Mondays-Wednesdays through February at Cleopatra’s Barge at Caesars Palace (3570 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702-777-2782) and will shift to a different schedule with more weekly shows in March.