Music Legend Wayne Newton Bringing Vegas Style to Robins Theatre
WARREN, Ohio — Wayne Newton is known as Mr. Las Vegas, and normally that’s where you have to go to catch him in concert.
But not always.
Every now and then the music legend likes to get out of the desert resort and play some shows in the rest of the country. That’ll be the case Dec. 11 when Newton and his band perform at the Robins Theatre in Warren.
It’s not only a rare opportunity for fans, but a welcome change of pace for Newton.
“I do it deliberately, because my core musicians who travel with me, about six of them, get a little spoiled from working places like Vegas,” Newton said in a phone interview.
It’s also something of a breather.
“It’s good to get out of [Las Vegas] because every audience is different every night here,” he said. “When you play a Youngstown, a Warren or a Cleveland, you basically get people who like the same kind of things because they’re from the same area, whereas the people [in a Las Vegas audience] are from all different parts of the country and the world. You are constantly challenged with what you decide to do on stage. It’s good to get away from that for a second.”
The Warren concert will mark the end of the singer’s pandemic-driven hiatus. It came about after Sunrise Entertainment of Warren contacted Newton’s management team about bringing him to the Robins. A tentative date was set but the pandemic dragged on and it kept getting pushed back. Even after it was the concert was finally announced in June, the pandemic’s effect on ticket sales remained a factor. Newton was originally scheduled for two shows, but that was later pared down to one.
“It was supposed to be a bus tour kind of thing,” Newton said, with fans coming in from throughout the region.
The artist had another reason for agreeing to play Warren.
“I have a great love for Ohio,” Newton said. “My wife is from Cleveland, and I lived there in Newark for about a year [as a child]… I’m looking forward to it.”
Newton said he and his wife will visit her family in the Cleveland area while they’re here.
Coincidentally, Newton’s wife and the ex-wife of the late Cleveland rock legend Michael Stanley are sisters.
Newton is currently finalizing his return to the Vegas scene, with a lengthy run at The Flamingo Hotel-Casino starting early next year.
Titled “Wayne Newton: Up Close and Personal,” the new Vegas show will see the artist sharing stories about his career and the evolution of Vegas. The Warren show will be something of a preview of it.
Newton has given more than 25,000 performances in Sin City, starting in 1958 at the Fremont Hotel and Casino, downtown, when he was still a teenager.
His run at the Flamingo, which is on The Strip, will be a return to the place where his landmark career really took flight.
“It’s the first place I headlined in Vegas,” Newton said. “For the five years prior, I was doing six shows a night, seven nights a week, 40 minutes on and 40 minutes off, at The Fremont. After [his first hit song] ‘Danke Schoen’ hit, I contacted the Flamingo to see if I could headline there. They booked me in 1963.
“In those days, you could shoot a cannon down The Strip. There were no big gatherings there. They depended on local people [at that time of the year] and luckily the locals who saw me at The Fremont turned out. That’s how I became a headliner. And I’m going back to where it all stated.”
Another project that is still in the talking phase is a career retrospective.
“I’ve been contacted about doing that,” Newton said. “It could be a Broadway type of production with the entire story of Wayne Newton, if you will. It interests me and we’re talking about it now.”
The singer said he could never tell his whole story in a one-hour television special. “It would take more than one special because I started so young,” he said.
Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.