With their Vegas-by-way-of-the-Catskills act, the Scintas are back for their new residency at The D Hotel after previous stints at the Rio and Las Vegas Hilton (now LVH). Vegas staples over the past decade, the Scintas—brothers Frankie and Joe, plus drummer/“adopted brother” Pete O’Donnell—toured the past two years alongside sister Chrissi, who has since suffered a throat hemorrhage and has been at least temporarily replaced by Janien Valentine.
You won’t find better retro shtick—a treat for baby boomers to the AARP degree. Everyone else? Hope you dig Tom Jones and Neil Diamond impersonations, shout-outs to Engelbert Humperdinck and Steve Lawrence, and a sing-along to “American Pie.” If not, say bye-bye.
Inexhaustibly enthusiastic, wearing a grin that threatens to shatter his face, Frankie pretty much conducts this crash course in old-school variety entertaining, onstage nearly all 75 minutes. Backed by O’Donnell and a six-piece band, he (deep breath here):
Tickles the ivories; joshes with patrons; croons “You Make Me Feel So Young”; riffs on the family name (“Holy Scintas!” “Full of Scintas”); tells childhood tales from back home in good ol’ Buffalo, New York (“families ate dinner together at the kitchen table”); stands up for America (“remember when you could put out a flag and nobody got pissed off?”); and does a decent Dino (complete with a drink and an un-PC cigarette).
While hurricane Frankie could out-Jolson Jolson, he also plays straight man to bro Joe, who, in addition to plucking bass guitar and singing, handles goofy but funny impressions. Even younger baby boomers likely don’t recall Dino and Jerry Lewis in their partnership heyday, but Joe’s bucktoothed Jer playing off his sibling’s Dino is a spot-on blast. Toss in Joe’s Neil Diamond, Mick Jagger and Joe Cocker, along with Frankie’s Lou Rawls, Kermit, Tom Jones and Ray Charles, and it conjures up memories of that ’70s TV troupe, the Kopycats (Rich Little, Frank Gorshin, Fred Travalena, Charlie Callas).
Though Valentine disrupts the family through-line Chrissi Scinta represented, she shares the hometown-Buffalo connection and is a powerhouse stand-in, with a set of pipes that rattle the intimate showroom walls. Kibbitzing with the sibs, belting out a repertoire ranging from Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel” to Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing,” and teaming with the brothers for a few tunes, she slides into the act’s female slot seamlessly.
Climaxing the set is a grab bag of baby-boomer nostalgia hits, including “Saturday in the Park,” “Piano Man,” the theme to Love Story and “American Pie” as Frankie cajoles the crowd to join in.
Make any jokes you want—The ’60s called, they want their era back. … The Borscht Belt is suing for copyright infringement. … The Scintas at The D: Free with an AARP membership!—but good entertainment is indestructible.
So, it seems, are the Scintas.
STRIP POSTSCRIPT: Doing the off-Strip Shuffle, comedian Louie Anderson, late of Palace Station, is relocating to the Plaza starting July 10. Given that Anderson’s fresh off his stint on the ABC diving competition Splash, we recommend installing a high-diving board onstage.
Then offer free drinks but charge for the slickers and goggles.
Got an entertainment tip? Tell us in the comments or email Steve.Bornfeld@VegasSeven.com.