Intimacy has its rewards (not that kind, though that has its rewards, too).
Memories can be magic on a large scale—say, Motown memories by Human Nature in their slick Strip production—but they radiate a different charm when fit to scale, as they are at the Riviera’s Le Bistro lounge in Forever Doo Wop and Forever Motor City.
Think of it this way: Watching Human Nature is like remembering seeing the great groups of the past on TV, an experience shared with the rest of the world. Watching the Forever shows is like remembering how you sang along to their hits on the car radio, an experience specific to you.
Some of the Strip’s hardest-working performers toil in these twin 70-minute shows, amounting to seven singers splitting around 50 songs every night of the week. (And they don’t lip-synch a note.) Show up at 7 p.m. for a doo-wop crop including “Under the Boardwalk,” “He’s So Fine,” “Why Do Fools Fall in Love,” “Get a Job,” “Love Potion No. 9” and “I Only Have Eyes for You.” Stick around for the 9 p.m. show if your taste runs toward “Standing in the Shadows of Love,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch),” “My Guy,” “I’ll Be There,” “My Girl” and “Just My Imagination.”
Performing against background tracks, the four-man, three-woman cast includes several with ties to the groups of the eras—or their endless permutations—including Early Clover, formerly of the Cornell Gunter Coasters; Jerome Jackson, once a member of the Drifters and The Main Ingredient; and Terrence Forsythe of the Buck Ram Platters. Willie Green contributes his rich bass vocals, and the women—Serena Henry, Tonja Foster and Gwendolyn Moore Forsythe—trade off the hits of female icons including Mary Wells, Darlene Love and the Supremes.
Don’t fret about the repertoires—they’re exhaustive. Nary a doo-wop or Motown tune exists that doesn’t make it onstage, either fully or within medleys. What separates the shows beyond the music is the modest imagination applied to segments of Doo Wop—an onstage DJ, a doo-wop hits countdown, even offbeat moments such as harmonizing an ancient Ajax commercial—that elevates it beyond the straightforward Motor City, which lapses into a rote, if still entertaining hit parade. Several segues are awkward as performers file on and offstage through the curtains as if rotating through a checkout line, the musical bridges that accompany the segment changeovers not always in sync.
Yet these singers have a welcome talent for not merely re-creating these classics, but interpreting them with individual style. Under their care, the songs don’t so much recall the recorded hits themselves as they do how you might sing them to yourself, had you been gifted with their pipes.
So comfy-cozy do these performers make you feel that you could even imagine crooning these timeless tunes with them in the shower … in which case, maybe we actually are talking about that other type of intimacy.
That could inspire yet another edition: Forever Barry White.
Got an entertainment tip? Email Steve.Bornfeld@VegasSeven.com.