By John Laycock Star Entertainment Writer
Vaudeville rises from the dead in Casino Windsor's new show -- make that "shew." It's a mighty lively corpse, too, led by the cadaverous ghost of Ed Sullivan.
A Really Big Shew at the casino's Showtime Lounge opens with The Amazing Villams, two plate-spinning jugglers who had actually appeared on the Ed Sullivan TV show. Imagine maintaining a vigourous grin while shattering crockery for more than a half-century.
Careers in vaudeville could be built on gimmicks and its dying days fed the newborn medium of television, nowhere more so than Sullivan's Sunday night broadcast.
Sullivan knew the fundamental rule of vaudeville: Keep the acts short and get them off fast. Jay Leno and David Letterman's late-night musical guests still take that advice.
Jerry Hoban's Really Big Shew follows that rule. Nobody outstays the welcome, especially not Hoban himself.
He has Sullivan's football head, puckered lower lip and strangled syntax and also understands that the real Ed exuded less charisma than the average garden gnome. Hands on hips, Hoban makes his Sullivan-style introductions short and his jokes mercifully brief.
Sample: "Here's a production note: The Invisible Man won't be seen tonight."
This stuff is as old as vaudeville. In fact, a couple of the poker-faced veterans in the house band were spotted actually laughing out loud at Tuesday's opening. Musicians appreciate tradition.
"Ed" waves on Gailyn Addis to do a shapely Marilyn Monroe, whispering through Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend while embarrassing a male target from the audience. A flip of the wig and lingerie and she emerges as Liza Minnelli to belt out the Cabaret theme.
Topo Gigio the hand puppet looks like he's been dining on the same diet as the Michelin Man and swaps a few pudgy jokes with "Ed."
Pete Michaels surprises the place with his ventriloquist routine. The comedy lines matter more than the lips and Michaels keeps the jokes snappy. His wooden-head Buddy plays out a Jackie Chan movie, where Buddy rightly points out that his lips don't have to keep time when the film is dubbed.
Michaels hits an operatic highlight when he brings out a Pavarotti puppet and sings a surprisingly accurate Nessun Dorma closed-mouthed. It earned a Big-O from the crowd.
Kathy and James Taylor's surprising slapstick dance routine has changed my image of that lounge-lizard anthem Besame Mucho forever.
Younger crowds, if any, know Jerry Hoban from the movie Pulp Fiction. They're in for a surprise. He has put together a revue that's as simple as it is fun. Nothing like this gets on TV any more.
Atlantic City Review
All Content, Materials, Images, Photos & Original Characters Copyright: Pete Michaels