Carol Lane Patterson



September 2006
Stage Review of:

"Society of Seven & Lani Misalucha"




Society of Seven & Lani Misalucha
Every Show on the Strip. On One Stage.

Flamingo Hilton Main Showroom
3:00 PM Wednesday through Sunday
Tickets $49.95 including tax: 702.733.3333
Press 1 after the announcement—it does not call out their show, so just press 0 and ask for Society of Seven—they are there, trust me.
Producers: Rosy Cheeks Entertainment Group Inc.: Mendrei L. Leelin, President; Yul Session, Marketing

YOU MUST SEE this show…take a long lunch…or no lunch and leave early…whatever it takes…just get there by 3:00 to catch this surprise stunner of an afternoon show!!! Their tagline implies that an afternoon with them will not only be filled with great entertainment, remarkable impersonations, outstanding Broadway numbers, grandly elegant opera, funny-silly skits—it will also give you a sampling of every show on the Strip. As impersonators extraordinaire, this is not necessarily bragging. By the end of their show, you know it's no brag, just fact.

Society of Seven has been together for some 25+ years. They have a huge following in Asia, especially Hawaii, and have had gigs here in Vegas, off and on over the years, most recently at the Stardust, and Ballys. Now they are at the Flamingo Hilton, in the main showroom. Successful as a vaudevillian-style variety show all over the world, they sing, dance and play several instruments each. They, as a group, perform a broad range of songs, as well as do impersonations and skits. The group's program includes a lively cross-section of music, many of them performed in the 'style' or theme of the song, or are outright impersonations of the singers associated with them. Their humor is bawdy, but never questionable or indiscreet. You can thoroughly enjoy the whole show—and if you have your great-aunt with you, all will be comfortably tickled. On their own, the Society of Seven have their show in full swing when Lani Misalucha joins them onstage. From there, the group's energy and array of selections ramps up to a full scale roar, and a rousing set of finales…hence the new name of the show: Society Of Seven with Lani.

Theirs is an afternoon show, yes…however, with the panache and caliber of entertainment expected of an evening show. Quite clever—really, for entertainers—they literally are working day jobs, with their evenings free to enjoy. More and more performers on the Strip have clued onto this reasonable schedule, disregarding the stigma of an afternoon show timeslot. Tourists are here to party, be entertained and go 'round the clock—afternoon, evening, nighttime, no matter to them, they go 'til they drop, gamble 'til their budget limit is reached and still look for more to do—they'll sleep when they get home. They are restless, nearly insatiable and looking for as much of the Vegas experience as they can take in. Society of Seven & Lani Misalucha packs their showroom every afternoon—and they are home in time for supper. Brilliant.

As a group, their impersonations are eerily on the mark, perfected and wonderfully executed, especially given they are of primarily Hawaiian extraction. Doing the Rat Pack is one thing, but Pavarotti is a large man, and yet…there you are. Impersonation is about signature voices, facial expressions, personal style and mannerisms, fashion and staging. The Society of Seven impersonation techniques allowed them their success. They conveyed the essence of the performers to which their homage is aimed, and usually with their own brand of humor adding to the flavor of their interpretations. Tony Ruvivar, host and the group's creative force plays guitar, Bert Sagum is the comedic leader, Hoku Low plays the bass and horns, Vince Mendoza is the drummer, Roy Guerzo, keyboards, Marc Escueta, and Wayne Wakai round out a group of singers that perform all the choreographed numbers, participate in skits, play the instruments and double out as 'back up singers' for Lani. These men hail from diverse ethnic backgrounds, are proud of it and of being Americans—Hawaiian Americans. Their rousing 'America The Beautiful' medley is superb. If you haven't heard of them, you will, as their goal is to 'go mainstream.' It is a given their single-minded approach to that end will bring them exactly that level of visibility.

For the all-male group, affiliating with a female was a careful choice, based on their compatibility. They felt she brought the same caliber of impersonations to their act. All in all, not a bad idea. They have a ringer who may insure that 'mainstream' dream comes true. So now, she is adding comedy to her achievements. Reminiscent of Red Skelton and the many who have followed him, Lani literally rolls out a rack of wigs and accessories, which she dons and discards on stage, in the shadow of the lights, while the guys continue to do their own impressions and song and dance numbers, all orchestrated to fill the amount of time she needs to assume the next persona…quite a feat to watch, really…team playing at its finest. Her comedic participation in the show amuses—especially her rather irreverent impersonation of Britney Spears. Her Celine Dion kicks, her Beyoncé seduces, and as Whitney Houston or Barbra Streisand, her voice soars or soothes, her Shania Twain struts…well, it appears she can nearly replicate anyone…incredible.

Ms. Misalucha also delivers a walloping shocker when she appears in a formal gown for her operatic number. Fortune smiled on me that day, for the show I saw, she had chosen Puccini's 'Nessun Dorma,' admittedly one of the most famous of challenging operatic songs ever written for a female singer…she slipped through the song effortlessly, with an astonishingly flawless delivery of the completion. Genetically pre-disposed to such a full range voice, as her parents were operatic singers, Lani's dynamic contribution to the dramatic numbers was stirring. She is an incredibly versatile singer with a full 5 octave, richly, throaty voice, fluent in a broad range of genre musical styles.

She has a flair for comedy and impersonations. Her delivery of so many styles would seem to blur, and yet when she sings the blues, her voice hugs your soul. Her rock 'n' roll gets your feet stomping. Your fingers snap to her Broadway numbers. Every one of her 'characters' is differentiated. Magazine and newspaper headlines have called her the "Siren of the Strip," the "New Diva of Las Vegas" and "Asia's Nightingale" who "Brings A Woman's Touch" to the Society of Seven…noting "And Then There Were Eight." It seems everyone who sees her perform is left with positive feelings. She is a recording artist in her native Philippines, commanding audience turnouts for her concerts of twenty thousand. She has accumulated numerous nominations and wins at Asian Music and Song Festivals and Awards shows. She has promise—here's hoping she makes it 'mainstream.'

The Society of Seven & Lani Misalucha are, to me, the best variety show on the Strip, specifically because they not only do what other groups do, and then some—they can also deliver opera, Broadway and literally a quick rendition of 'every entertainer' on the Strip. SOS is a truly full spectrum group of live musicians with unmistakable prowess on many different instruments…which becomes evident early on as you watch them switch instruments as needed, especially as they transition from one impression to another…whoever isn't doing the impression(s) plays the instruments needed for backup. Something to watch!

Afternoon show or not, SOS & LM are there for you. Go, enjoy, partyyyyy…and be there for them. Nothing beats live performances.

As the press packet included a video with segments of their shows, it was a pleasure to have her completion of 'Nessun Dorma' on it, to play over, and over. As she raised her arms at the end, each time, I was again filled with admiration. Earlier this year, I had the honor of hearing that number performed live, here in Las Vegas, by an opera singer, a diva of international renown. Lani Misalucha shares that high a capability for operatic delivery. Few others could.
The very next visiting relative or friend will be treated to this show, and then I will get their CD's, especially hers with 'Nessun Dorma' on it. If you are a plastic buff like me, remember to take cash, as they have a small supply of some of their CD's and tapes on hand, after the show, for purchase—take cash, or a check, as they don't do plastic.  

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