Mr. Las Vegas Wayne Newton in Concert at CHMH; Ronald K. Brown / Byham Hosts EVIDENCE Dance Company (Sat., 3/2/24)

1) With the Super Bowl having just been played in Las Vegas, both old and new Las Vegas icons are back in the spotlight. One performer who bridges both old and new Vegas is Mr. Las Vegas, Wayne Newton. A talent scout discovered Wayne Newton while he was playing with his brother Jerry and signed them to come play a two week stint in Vegas. That two week gig turned into a lifetime of entertaining people. Wayne Newton started to open for many top acts including Jack Benny and appeared on “The Jackie Gleason Show” many times. He even had a TV part for a while when he acted and sang as Andy, the young Ponderosa ranch hand on the classic western series, “Bonanza.” Newton asked for and received his own headliner in residence contract at the Flamingo Hotel in Vegas. One of the first of its kind. He scored a big hit in 1963 with “Danke Schoen” which hit No. 3 on the U.S. adult contemporary chart and No. 13 overall.  The song was even used in the classic 1986 film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, which was lip synced by Bueller.

There’s always been a little bit of mystery surrounding Newton and possible mafia ties, which Newton has always denied. Another curious happening in Newton’s life was when in ’92 his Elvis inspired song “The Letter” went to No. 1 on the Cashbox pop and country song charts, but failed to register on the Billboard Hot 100. The first and only time this ever happened. Newton has done numerous charitable works and succeeded Bob Hope in ’02 as the chairman of the USO Celebrity Circle. He is currently touring his Wayne Newton Up Close and Personal show where he sings, plays the 13 instruments he has mastered, tells stories, and takes questions from the audience. This is a great opportunity to see a legendary Vegas entertainer. 8 p.m. Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall, 510 E. 10th Ave., Munhall. (R.H.)

Ronald K. Brown / EVIDENCE (dance/ballet) on tour, presented by the Pittsburgh Dance Council at the Byham Theater, March 2.

2) For more than thirty years, Ronald K. Brown’s dance company from Brooklyn, EVIDENCE, has been highly acclaimed for its artistic focus on traditional African dance expressed through contemporary choreography and the spoken word. It’s a meaningful mixture the New York Times critic, Brian Seibert, succinctly outlined. “There are certain givens in a dance by Ronald K. Brown. Deep, spiritual seriousness. A sophisticated mastery of stage space. [And] music that makes you want to move.”  EVIDENCE will present three distinct pieces in its visit to Pittsburgh. Brown’s new work, “The Equality of Night and Day,” is an exploration of present-day conflict faced by women, people of color, and a younger rising generation. “Open Door” will celebrate Afro Cuban dance forms with the music of Arturo O’Farrill’s Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble. And, in homage to Pittsburgh photographer Charles “Teenie” Harris, Brown’s company will present an excerpt of its larger work, “One Shot,” entitled “Palo Y Machete.” Byham Theater, 101 Sixth St., Cultural District. (C.P.O.)

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Rick Handler

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