As an acclaimed celebrity impressionist, Bob Anderson has mastered the likes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Elvis, Tom Jones, Bobby Darin and others too numerous to mention.
But this weekend, March 23 and 24, at the South Point, Anderson will be doing his most unique portrayal of all – Bob Anderson.
“This is the first time since my engagement performing my Frank Sinatra show at the Palazzo that I’m appearing in Las Vegas,” Anderson exclaims. “I wanted to come back and do just me. I’ll tell some stories about the golden days of the Las Vegas Strip and about all the great stars I got to know. I’ll sing their songs and emulate them. I’m in the game to keep these artists and their music alive. It was too good of a generation to let it slip away. Those stars were one-of-a-kind and the greatest.
“I’ll open the show as myself and close it as myself singing the songs of the writers who gave the music to those wonderful artists,” he continues. “I’ll sing the music of composers such as Sammy Cahn, Johnny Mercer, Johnny Mandel, Michel Legrand, and the Gershwins. In between, I’ll emulate stars including Frank, Sammy, Dean, Tony Bennett, Mel Torme, Elvis, Bobby Darin, and Tom Jones. I’ll be accompanied by a quartet with Dave Loeb at the helm.”
Besides his engagement at the South Point, Anderson has performed his show in England, Florida, and on corporate dates. But his Frank Sinatra show, backed by a 32-piece orchestra and which received rave reviews from critics, is far from being on the back burner. Anderson has all the rights to the production in which he looks, sounds, and moves like the late musical icon for 90 minutes and he has recently shot it for a TV special.
“Todd Fisher, Debbie Reynolds’ son and Carrie Fisher’s brother, shot it for me at the Avalon Theater in Hollywood,” Anderson reveals. “Lee Musiker, who has been with Tony Bennett forever, was the musical director on the TV special and also directed it. I’m pretty sure that it will be going on HBO. I will be going back on tour with the show, too, and already have dates lined up in Canada and Detroit.
“But I really want to take it to Broadway.” he continues. “I have a top producer, Eva Price, who won six Tony Awards last year for ‘Dear Evan Hanson’ who will be the executive producer of my show. I have learned so much from doing the show and watching the videos afterwards. From the beginning, I didn’t want to do a caricature of Sinatra and I was worried that both audiences and reviewers would say. ‘Who is this guy who is going to come on stage and do the most famous singer of the 20th Century?’ But in 268 reviews from the U.S., England, Germany, Australia and other places when I was at the Palazzo, there wasn’t a hint of negativity. Now, I’m right in the pocket with my portrayal.”
Anderson notes that he is changing the Sinatra show to have more of a supper club atmosphere. He also explains that the original musical director of the show, Vinnie Falcone, who had been Sinatra’s musical director/conductor 10 years, had been given Sinatra’s original music by Sinatra himself, wanting Falcone to keep the music alive after he (Sinatra) was gone. When Falcone passed away a couple of years ago, the music went to his sons, Danny and Jeff. They are working with Anderson now.
“They are all the authentic Sinatra charts with Sinatra’s name on them,” Anderson relates. “I do the vocal parts of 50-60 original charts arranged by Nelson Riddle, Billy May, Don Costa, Gordon Jenkins, Johnny Mandel, and Neil Hefti.”
However, Anderson’s first goal is to finish another project with Todd Fisher, which is a documentary about Anderson himself. Being filmed in Las Vegas at Fisher’s sound stage, it tells the story of how Anderson touched the golden era of the famed Las Vegas Strip and how he was the last guy to be around the greats and befriend many of them.
As for his start in show business, it was Merv Griffin who “discovered” Anderson and wrote an act for him after seeing him perform at a party. Anderson also remembers sage words from Milton Berle when the young impressionist first got into the business.
“Milton told me, ‘You’ve got to have an act and it better work everywhere you go,’” Anderson recalls, ‘because one day you’ll be performing at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and the next day at a Holiday Inn in Toledo.’”
Anderson’s success is a good lesson in how to be true to yourself even when you’re not yourself.