• 79°

What happened in Vegas comes to Albert Lea via variety show

In addition to bringing Las Vegas to the Albert Lea area, a Geneva resident will be taking the Albert Lea area to Las Vegas.

“Fabulous Vegas Guys,” coming to the Marion Ross Performing Arts Center Friday, is a part of musician and performer Jonny Bird’s farewell to Minnesota. In under two weeks, he is moving to Vegas to headline his own show.

“I’m not going there as Elton John or Britney Spears or Celine Dion,” Bird said. “There’s no name recognition with me in Las Vegas, and within a month, I’ll be headlining a show that I wrote,” Bird said.

He referred to the chance as a door that doesn’t usually open for performers.

But that’s the Vegas of the future. For the Fabulous Vegas Guys, the focus is a little further back.

“It pays homage to the vintage Vegas shows of the past,” Bird said.

The show will feature music from Frank Sinatra, the Rat Pack, Elvis Presley and Neil Diamond, as well as impressions and comedy.

“It is a true Las Vegas variety show,” Bird said.

Bird traditionally performs the show with Donny Tersigni, but due to health issues, substitute Mario Rosales will play in Tersigni’s place. Rosales, a singer, comedian and impressionist, performs in Vegas, Branson and other places.

“I’m primarily a singer that’s funny,” Bird said. “He’s primarily a comedian that sings.”

Bird and Rosales will do some bits together and some separately.

“It moves very quickly from bit to bit,” Bird said. “You never know what’s coming next. It’s kind of a rapid-fire frenzy, fun, free-for-all.”

Rosales said the pair has good chemistry. They met while both were performing — separately — in Texas, he said.

“There’s something for everybody in that show, and people always walk away pleased,” he said.

Audience participation, Bird said, is unavoidable.

The singer and performer got into music after a dare his freshman year at high school in International Falls. The dare? Try out for the school’s swing choir.

Although he remembers his first performance as a huge embarrassment — he burped into the microphone just a few words into the song — it was also what got him thinking.

“I wanted to make people cry with a song and I wanted to make people laugh with a song, and if I did it right, I knew I could do that and I could hold an entire audience in the palm of my hand,” Bird said.

Bird has been behind the microphone for 31 years, but he said during his time writing music, he has written for radio.

“Now, I’m writing music for the people in front of me, and it’s so different and it’s so exciting because every song I write has to create a reaction,” he said. “If it doesn’t create a reaction, I’ve failed with that song.”

For the show in Albert Lea, most of the music is pre-produced, accompanied by one or two instruments. In Las Vegas, Bird will have a live band. Still, the audience may get a taste of what his show will be like. His variety show and his headline show aren’t fundamentally different creatures, he said.

“They’ll get a little bit of a taste, but it won’t be night and day,” Bird said. “It will be afternoon and evening.”

Although Bird was born in Canada, he said he is Minnesotan through and through, and he is excited to share his music with the people he’s grown to know and love in Minnesota and to bring them along for the ride as he takes the next step in his career: “Local kid makes it big — or at least, has a chance,” he said.

But for now, Bird is still performing locally.

“They say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” Bird said. “In this case, what happens in Vegas is coming to Albert Lea.”

Tickets, please

Who: Fabulous Vegas Guys

What: Music, comedy and impressions

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Marion Ross Performing Arts Center, 147 N. Broadway Ave.

How much: Tickets are $15. Tickets may be purchased over the phone by calling 1-877-730-3144 (toll-free), online at actonbroadway.com or at the box office.

About Sarah Kocher

Sarah covers education and arts and culture for the Tribune.

email author More by Sarah