Blending charm, nostalgia, good humor and a tune or 10—as long as none begin with “come and knock on our door”—is a solidly entertaining formula for a Vegas cabaret show.
And Suzanne Somers is a solid entertainer in Suzanne Sizzles, her new, intimate residency at Westgate Las Vegas.
Relying solely on singing would’ve been a misfire—she’s sweetly melodic, but no stylist. Yet as she’s proven over decades as a performer, author and businesswoman, Somers is savvy at branding herself in ways that intersect—and here too, she succeeds by refusing to play the one-trick pony. Playful patter, a video travelogue through her career and an innate ability to connect with a crowd serve her well.
In the cozy Westgate (ex-Shimmer) Cabaret, Somers, who performed here in the ’80s when it was the Las Vegas Hilton, keeps it fairly simple. Supported by a small ensemble of piano, bass, drums, sax and synthesizer, she kicks off with “Let’s Fall in Love,” then establishes a rapport with naughty one-liners (“You know how to make a hormone? Don’t pay her.”) and a self-deprecating retrospective aided by three mounted video monitors.
Although Step by Step and She’s the Sheriff merit only passing mentions, her Dancing With the Stars stint earns a multi-clip review, followed by her blink-length cameo as American Graffiti’s blond dream babe, her days as mistress of the ThighMaster and her adorable initial appearance with a flirtatious Johnny Carson. Everything is woven into Somers’ retelling of her life from small-town kid with star-dust hopes to a surprisingly enduring career. While such an extended personal indulgence could play as egocentric by some performers, Somers pulls it off like a friend sharing home movies and giggling along.
Narrating a Three’s Company montage from when she portrayed goofy-sexy Chrissy Snow, Somers is at her good-sport best, poking fun at her own coltish sensuality with a series of “Chrissy jumping” clips, her bouncing, braless breasts christening what became known as “jiggle TV.”
All of this is interspersed with numerous costume switch-outs (onstage, behind a platform, as she talks us up); a knack for reactive comedy (as her mic stand suddenly slipped down, she quipped: “That reminds me of an old boyfriend”); and a refreshingly eclectic set list.
Classics such as “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing),” “Ain’t Misbehavin” and “The One I Love Belongs to Somebody Else” are familiar stops on the Great American Songbook tour. More intriguing, though, are detours from the tried-and-true tracks. In a tribute to her friend, the late Eydie Gorme, she goes all torch-song chanteuse on the gorgeous (and little-performed) lament, “Guess Who I Saw Today?” Other offbeat treats include purring Jimmy Van Heusen’s luscious “But Beautiful” and unearthing a musical theater pearl, “A Cockeyed Optimist,” from South Pacific.
Perhaps Suzanne Sizzles isn’t the right title for this enjoyably easygoing evening. More accurately, it’s like a warm hug from an old friend.
As Somers told the crowd: “I belong here. This is me.”
Yes she does. Yes it is.
Got an entertainment tip? Email Steve.Bornfeld@VegasSeven.com.