impersonations, live music and the impish yet droll humor of a bygone
era...all in one show, literally all from one guy. Tom Dane is Danish.
His name is Tom Eje (sounds like eeeya) and he is a big-time celebrity
in Denmark, indeed a good deal of Scandinavia and northern Europe. They
love him. They eat him up—yum yum. He’s in their movies, on their
television and in their better concert halls. This past Wednesday and
Thursday, Tom Eje/Dane played Vegas, in the Suncoast showroom. Yes, he
speaks English fluently, and Russian, Southern American and who knows
what else, and he brought the audience to their feet in a standing
ovation. Why? Who?
lane down which you would like to go seeking past funny, pleasant
moments, Tom Dane can go with you. You have more than one? No matter,
he’s been down them as well, attentively committing to his memory sights
and sounds, celebrity aristocrats, musicians, actors, politicians and a
smattering of the songs you remember, as well. Add to this encyclopedic
recall, an irreverent sense of humor and apparently unhindered musical
talent and you have a show, an entertaining, sometimes laugh-out-loud
people—most—just can’t help themselves when it comes to the opportune
coincidences that ‘set up’ a punch line. We all hear the pause, the
segue, begging a response, obvious or subtle. Subtle is clever, but
predictable makes us laugh just as hard. That’s why we love comedians,
humorists, and satirists. We have a rich heritage of folk, ethnic,
classical, and now Broadway/Hollywood humor, born in Court jesting, then
Vaudeville houses, during the past few centuries.
Those of us who
have long ago become habituated to our town, somewhat immune to all but
the most noteworthy, forget how enamored of Vegas the rest of the world
is...on how many ‘life lists’ it appears--globally. Such is the case
with Tom Dane, a ‘Dane’ who, as talented as he is, and as highly
regarded ‘back home’ as he is...had Las Vegas on his life list, his
entertainer life list. He has worked hard to get here, to play Vegas.
With admirable focus and remarkable precision, Eje/Dane has begun to
realize that dream—he played Las Vegas for two nights and wants more
Tom Eje adopted
Dane as a manageable last name for American audiences. That sort of
tongue-in-cheek, good old fashioned vaudevillian ‘pa-duh, dum’ delivery
is cherished by him, so much so that everyone after the show was doing
one-liners and puns as if they couldn’t help themselves, caught up in
the web Eje/Dane had spun, the George Burns genre, so to speak.
Make no mistake
though with the humorous overtones, Eje/Dane is one talented
entertainer. Many performers have demonstrated musical acumen on more
than one instrument, and in highly differentiated genres. Some dance,
some sing, some play—some impersonate others. Many master quite a few
personalities. A good deal of them are bilingual...comedians are
everywhere trying out their shticks.
all of the above with him to the stage, and tap dances to boot. He
opened his show in old Vegas era showroom pomp and glitz,
charismatically engaging the audience immediately in his recollections,
using his singing and instruments to elaborate on whatever ambience he
was building. Fine. After he’s picked up and played several different
wind instruments, guitars, fiddles, violins, and a banjo to supplement
his ‘stories’ you realize you have lost track of how many he has
played—and played well.
When you realize
he is setting up a Victor Borge routine, you fear for his Vegas career.
No worries. His recreation befits the stature and love due his old
friend and mentor, Borge, a fellow Dane. Eje/Dane heads for the side of
the stage where a baby grand sits waiting in a bleary spotlight. The
house lights went down as he left center stage, and as Borge’s voice
echoed in the dimness, he kept asking for more light--$13.04 he’d
offered for some more light on stage. The effect was mint. The mood set,
Eje/Dane obviously an accomplished pianist, plays flawless classical
strains so lovely, so Borge...and like Borge, little time-outs were
taken for silliness. Eje/Dane’s Borge punctuated his brilliant
selections with The Birthday Song—Eje/Dane just can’t help himself. If
he hears a funny opportunity, he goes for it every time.
instruments sit about, ready to hand as his rapid-fire skits
necessitated. He played live, the true test of a musician. What better
setting for this virtuosity than a live backup band. Seven of them,
locals mind you and talented, all sitting elevated behind Eje/Dane, in
lavish, big-band-era individual boxes. Vaudeville needs props. Eje/Dane
had them. Pretty girls, yup. Eje/Dane brought every proven bit, gag,
improvisation, joke and song—everything he holds dear—to this show, his
Las Vegas show, his dream realized.
If you loved Mr.
Smooth—Sinatra, you’ll love Eje/Dane’s Sinatra. He fires up images of
the throaty Ray Charles, the lilt of Nat King Cole and the melodrama of
Placido Domingo. His irreverence intact, he sets his own lyrics to songs
for Tom Jones, Michael Jackson, Tina Turner, doing Turner in shiny
patent leather, 6” stiletto healed pumps supplied by one of his ‘pretty
stage girls’. (Though I would mention to him that, although our luscious
diva, Tina is indeed an ‘old lady’, she can prance about on those heels
and sing without being all breathless afterwards!) Brunhilda appears
when he plays a table full of china cups and saucers, which he made into
an hilarious salad of shards. The grim reaper lurks during his bassoon
solo (an instrument I’ve never seen played solo!)
In 1959, two years
after he was born, Eje was showing signs of being a child prodigy. He
had his own rock band as a teenager, and then began his classical
training in 1974 at the Danish Academy of Music, spending four years
mastering musicology and every instrument he could, including the piano
and bassoon. His incredible list of gigs includes royal concerts,
television, film and Disney voice-overs. Oh, he’s been Disney’s Donald
Duck since 1992. Eje/Dane doesn’t use the word resume on his program,
but the academic vitae. Although obviously appropriate, I mean, the guy
doesn’t pass on anything comedic!
A person of
refinement, classical education and stylish genius (yes that word
applies in Eje/Dane’s case), up on stage in a Las Vegas showroom...is a
surprisingly welcome breeze wafting in from the 60’s Vegas. An evening
with Tom Dane is refreshing, indeed.