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Legends in Concert celebrates three decades in Atlantic City
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The legacy of ‘Legends’

Legends in Concert celebrates three decades in Atlantic City

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It seems these days you can’t swing a dead cat by the tail without hitting a tribute band in Atlantic City. It might seem like it’s always been that way, but the tribute scene is a fairly recent development in the city’s musical history.

For years, you had lounge acts, revues and a mix of headliners offering live entertainment, but if you wanted to see Vegas-level impersonators, there was only one game in town: Legends in Concert.

Legends debuted in Atlantic City in 1988, with its first run taking place at Bally’s. Since then, it has appeared in both long and short runs and in a wide variety of venues throughout the city’s casinos.

This year, Legends in Concert celebrates its 30th anniversary in Atlantic City through Monday, Sept. 6, at Tropicana Atlantic City featuring Erika Moul as Lady Gaga, Scott Keo as Michael Buble, Jason Jarrett as Michael Jackson, Trina Johnson Finn as Whitney Houston, and Bill Cherry as the king of rock ’n’ roll himself: Elvis Presley.

Hmmm … the math doesn’t quite add up there, does it? Yeah, we know, but there were three sporadic years where Legends did not perform here, so subtract that and voila! We’ve got 30 years to celebrate! And celebrate we will.

The Legend of LegendsFor anyone who has not had the pleasure of seeing a Legends in Concert performance, in a nutshell it’s an evening of live performers doing visual and vocal impersonations of some of the top superstars – both living and deceased from classic artists to modern chart-toppers.

Everyone from Little Richard to Marilyn Monroe to Bette Midler, Justin Timberlake and many more have been honored since the show began as a six-week engagement in Las Vegas back in 1983.

“Legends has withstood the test of time,” says Legends General Manager of Limited Engagements Mark Kogan. “What makes Legends stand out is that we really provide a variety of the best of the best tribute artists in the world in one show with a live band and some incredible dancers.”

The costumes, the hairstyles, the personas, the dance moves and, most importantly, the voices that are being mimicked are all stunningly accurate. Watching Legends in Concert is like watching an out-of-body experience, where performers become intermediaries between the audience and the legends themselves.

Oh, and about that live band — it’s the same musicians for the entire show. Whereas most tribute bands are only faced with the task of producing the sound of one specific act, the band members that perform in Legends in Concert have to be able to meticulously recreate the sounds of a variety of artists from different genres all in one night.

“We have some unbelievable musicians working for us,” says Legends Vice President Gina Capecci. “It’s really tricky to be able to play rock one minute and switch to R&B the next. You really have to be able to move into those other grooves easily, and it does take a certain type of musician to be able to go from one to the other seamlessly.”

It doesn’t take a genius to see that the current run in Atlantic City is obviously loaded with some incredible legends – Houston, Buble, Jackson, Gaga and Elvis – but with so many entertainment options and rival tribute shows taking place, it’s clear from its longevity that Legends has tapped into something special.

“At the end of the day, I think it’s about the music,” Capecci says. “Music is the soundtrack to your life. And I think that is what makes this show so popular not only in Atlantic City, but around the world. There is always something for everybody. We’re paying tribute to iconic entertainers with some of the best music on the planet. And I think that is what keeps people coming back.”

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