No need to drive six hours up the freeway when you can find Sin City right in your own backyard. Featuring the songs of Frank Sinatra, Liza Minnelli, and many more, "Let's Go Las Vegas" looks to bring an intimate atmosphere to the Ahwatukee Recreation Center on Friday.
"Small lounges have such a personality unto themselves," said Mari Messinger, the show's co-creator and star. "The shows just popped. We really started doing more research and gearing it to what people used to see in Vegas. It's always getting updated."
She and her husband, Bob, first got the idea for the show when clients of their company, Applause Production Entertainment, began requesting Vegas-style performers. They have now been putting on the show for more than 10 years at various corporate events and functions across the state of Arizona.
Bob accompanies Mari on the piano while she sings, but will occasionally duet on tunes such as Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline." Their fast-paced numbers are full of both comedy and audience interaction, and include three professional dancers that help get Mari on her feet.
"They make me look like I can dance," Mari said. "Through them, I have grown immensely because I'm lost in inhibition when it comes to moving. After we've worked together for 10 years, I look like I can dance but it's just that they've given me so much confidence. I'm real good at tricking the audience."
Mari always aspired to be a performer, and has been singing since the early age of 11. Coincidentally, she met her husband at an audition that she still remembers fondly to this day.
"I actually auditioned for him," Mari said. "He lied to me, and we laugh about it now. He told me he auditioned 35 other singers, but five years later, he told me that I was the only one."
Together, the two began Applause Production Entertainment in 1988. The agency features a variety of theme shows they perform in along with a diverse selection of entertainers.
"We not only book ourselves, but all types of entertainment," Mari said. "If you would ask me from stilt-walker to magician to Hawaiian shows to weddings, we're a full-service entertainment agency. We book talent."
A.R.C. Entertainment Director Barbara LeChaix discovered "Let's Go Las Vegas" through Applause, and believes that it will be a night packed with entertainment for the entire family.
‘It's professional, it's fun, it's entertaining," LeChaix said. "They're good and it's a good show."
"Let's Go Las Vegas" will be performed on Feb. 17 at the Ahwatukee Recreation Center, 5001 E. Cheyenne Drive. Tickets are $10, and are available to purchase at the Ahwatukee Recreation Center.
For more information, call (480) 893-2549 or visit www.arcaz.net.
To learn more about Applause Entertainment Productions, check out www.entertainment-arizona.com or call (480) 951-8393.
Patrick Ryan is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. He is a sophomore at Arizona State University.