February 6, 2010

One Man’s Reflections on Rick Faugno’s One-Man Show

February 6th, 2010

“Songs My Idols Sang (And Danced)” Starring Rick Faugno at the South Point Casino, January 24, 2010 (Photos Courtesy of Linda Soo Hoo, Stubbleyou, & JBB Tech Half)

By Stubbleyou

…overheard from a sixtyish-year-old man with an Australian accent, to his friend, enthusiastically, while entering the Showroom at South Point Hotel and Casino in anticipation of Rick Faugno’s one man show: “…the best show I have ever seen in Las Vegas!” My ears perked up and I set them to eavesdrop mode. Probably talking about Jersey Boys, I thought. But no – it became clear he had seen Rick’s show on one of its two earlier dates, and it was this show, not JB, Phantom, or anything by Cirque, Cher, or Streisand, about which this gentleman waxed poetic. A good start, I thought…

Rick sets the parameters from the get-go: This is not Jersey Boys, there will be no Four Seasons songs, and he will be playing himself, not Frankie Valli. Nevertheless, I must steal a line straight out of Jersey Boys to sum up my reaction to this show:

HOLY SH*T!!!!!!!!

Okay, we already knew the man can sing. But sing he did, and in style and feel beyond what he shows in JB. In keeping with the name of the show, “Songs My Idols Sang (and Danced),” he worked his way back through a catalog of standards ranging from ballad to big band to bluesy and jazzy. The idols, performers such as Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire, Tony Bennett, and Sammy Davis, Jr., presented Rick with a rich palette of material from which to choose. Rick’s versatility was there for all to hear and appreciate, in his comfort and competence across the board. A few songs ended with beautifully sustained vocal notes, drawn out for several seconds, which he polished off with perfect wavering of pitch. I know there’s a term for this, but I don’t know what it is (you say tremolo, I say vibrato?) but it sounded great.

Rick really connected with his audience when he spoke to us. After each musical number (some song, some dance, some both – how he never sounded out of breath is beyond me!) he told a personal anecdote about his life. Some were about his relationships with people instrumental in the evolution of his life, theatrical and personal, over the years – mother, father, grandmother, mentor, teacher, director, and present-day sweetheart and soulmate, actor-singer-dancer Joyce Chittick. Many of these reminiscences were accompanied by a slide show of photos that spanned several decades, looking as if they came from a family photo album. This added to the intimacy of Rick’s recollections. One could easily feel as if Rick was talking to you across a coffee table, sofa to sofa, rather than in a Vegas showroom. (The room, by the way, is a great venue in that every seat is a good one, it is on the small side, and it is in the style that some call “old Vegas” – some long tables radiating out from the stage as well as a few tiers of round booths. Very comfortable). Rick’s other comments were about the songs in the show and their original performers – how he felt when he was first exposed to them, how they influenced him, etc. This too made the show a personal experience. It’s like what they say about modern art – each person sees something different in it, based on whatever they themselves bring to it. For me, Rick’s reminiscences brought up some of my own: My mother singing Broadway show tunes in the kitchen when I was quite young, leading me to know songs I don’t even know that I know, and to still know the words to “On The Street Where You Live” from My Fair Lady and Oklahoma’s “Surrey With the Fringe on Top.” Or watching the Million Dollar Movie on TV with my older sister on rainy weekend afternoons, when we’d see Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers’ Big Three (Swing Time, Top Hat, and The Gay Divorcee) over and over. I would bet that everyone in the room was conjuring up their own private nostalgia – in a good, warm way.

Which brings us to the third prong of the proverbial triple threat: The dance. WOW!! Rick’s dancing was nothing short of exhilarating. Smooth, suave, and stylish where called for, Rick performed with aplomb and an appropriately minimalist handful of accessories: Cane, broom, top hat, tux with tails, and of course, tap shoes.

And it was the tap that truly astounded. When Rick let loose with kicks, spins, and twirls, the excitement level in the room was palpable. Technically perfect, his moves made me feel as if I were watching an Olympic gymnastics competition rather than a song-and-dance review. If anyone had any question that a good dancer must also be a good athlete, Rick’s effortless performance removed all doubt. A highlight was a rousing back-and-forth anything-you-can-do-I-can-do better type of interplay with his drummer which was fun, captivating, and exciting all at the same time. (Special mention must go to drummer Don Meoli, the Tom Cruise look-alike percussionist who is on stage during much of Jersey Boys, and to Keith Thompson, pianist and musical director also from Jersey Boys, who led the outstanding seven-piece band — Don and Keith were complemented by a three-piece horn section, an electric guitar, and a stand-up bass –backing Rick for the whole show.)

The audience loved it all. The demographic was probably a bit higher in age than in the average Vegas show – I compared notes with a woman at my table when we discovered we attended neighboring high schools in L.A.; she trumped my tale of recently attending my 40th high school reunion by saying she and her classmates just celebrated their 50th. But this didn’t get in her way, or anybody else’s, of rising to give Rick an enthusiastic full-house standing ovation as the band hit its final notes of the afternoon. Mom would have loved this show.

Afterwards, Rick greeted throngs of his new fans for autographs and photos as he and Joyce sold copies of his CD, which contains the songs performed in the show. It has an arty retro style cover and a label cleverly designed to look like a 45 rpm single. Rick was “mobbed up” for probably an hour until the crowd thinned. The only complaint heard was that there wasn’t a DVD available with video of Rick’s dancing.

It seems as though the type of movie that featured the talents of Rick’s idols has fallen out of favor with the powers-that-be in Hollywood. But if — when — the pendulum swings back, it will be apparent that those idols have left some pretty big shoes to fill. And I know just the guy to fill them.


  1. This was a great trip through Rick’s performance, Stubbleyou–one great talent memorializing another great talent for posterity. Stubbleyou, have you given any thought to becoming Rick’s opening act…his Stewie Stone? I see a “Jersey Contract” in someone’s future.

    Those wonderful pictures also show how appreciative Rick is of his many fans. That’s a great picture of you and Rick, Stubbs. My question is why I keep getting older in pictures while you keep looking younger? I don’t think I buy that “moisturizer” explanation any more.

    Finally, Stubbs, we need to get shoe trees to keep those “pretty big shoes” intact for our man to fill, which I think he’ll do sooner than we think!

    Thanks for a marvelous summary for all of us to experience as if we were right there, Stubbs.

    Comment by Howard — February 6, 2010 @ 10:48 pm

  2. Terrific summary of Rick’s show. It was amazing. I’m so glad to have the CD as a reminder of the show. His stories were so heart warming. And he backed it up with great singing and dancing.

    His next show is March 21st and tickets go on sale tomorrow (Mon, Feb 8th).

    Comment by Linda/Tiggerbelle — February 7, 2010 @ 12:04 pm

  3. Memories, memories! Oh what wonderful memories I have – seeing these great photos. Miss all of you. Great article, Stubbs. Linda, thank you for sending me Rick’s CD! Thanks for the memories – IE with love

    Comment by irene eizen — February 7, 2010 @ 12:13 pm

  4. What coverage, what loyalty, what devotion! What a classic entertainer. Ahh…if only wishing made it so, I would’ve been right there next to you, stubbs, soaking up all that dexterity, storytelling and singing.

    Thanks so much for the great coverage. It was the closest thing TO being there…that and the coveted CD Linda got autographed for me. (thanks to all involved.) The back and forth interplay between Rick and his drummer conjured up images of Miss Frankie Nolan.

    And about you being the next Stewie Stone, stubbs. This time Howard’s telling it straight. I’ve always thought – sitcom writing, but you could be a stand-up guy.

    When I heard about Rick’s first show with this content, I knew it was the supreme fit for his combination of talents. The amazing photos taken by Joyce http://tinyurl.com/RickFaugnoPics
    captured how perfect he is for classic reflections. All I can say is…bingo!

    March 21st the magic happens again. We know we can count on Rick; what about you, stubbs?

    Comment by Audrey — February 7, 2010 @ 1:07 pm

  5. Steve, what a terrific review. It’s no exaggeration to say the crowd goes wild for this young man’s performance. He truly defies gravity!! As Steve points out, Rick’s memories of his idols are close to our own as we grew up listening to our parents’ music and watching those old movies and gained an appreciation for the outstanding artists they were. Rick takes it one step (or several steps) further and brings those memories to life in a way that conjures up those feelings we relate to. Can’t wait to see him again next month.

    Comment by Linda — February 7, 2010 @ 1:13 pm

  6. Steve, you can add me to the list of folks who are currently singing your praises. I, too, am impressed with your writing talents. You sure have a great way to recapture an event and it makes us feel as if we were right there with you. Congratulations on such a fantastic job!

    Comment by Gary — February 7, 2010 @ 1:53 pm

  7. Kudos Stubbs!

    Comment by NewJerseyLasagna — February 7, 2010 @ 5:27 pm

  8. Stubbs,

    What a fabulous write up of a fabulous show. I felt like I was right there front and center. In fact, I WISHED I was right there front and center! Rick is an amazing performer, and you, my friend, are an amazing writer. Cant wait to hear Rick’s CD.


    Comment by Pamela — February 7, 2010 @ 5:31 pm

  9. An absolutely wonderful review Steve! You truly captured the essence of Rick’s show and the talented team that made it happen. And yes, the CD and the photos are really super cool. We plan to see his show in March – hope to see you there! Fantastic article Steve – well done!

    Comment by Angel — February 8, 2010 @ 4:24 pm

  10. Bravo Stubbs! Bravissimo!

    Comment by Chiara — February 8, 2010 @ 9:32 pm

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