Duets have always been a risky proposition, and most pairings drift into musical obscurity. But when they hit, they have a tendency to hit big. Often, the more unlikely the teaming, the bigger chance for success. McCartney and Jackson? Streisand and Diamond? Bennett and Gaga?
When singers release entire albums of duets with other singers, the results of individual tracks are inevitably mixed. Such is the case with Engelbert Humperdinck’s latest, “Engelbert Calling,” which has an impressive list of co-stars – Elton John, Willie Nelson, Gene Simmons, Neil Sedaka, Johnny Mathis, Il Divo, Cliff Richard and others. It’s an eclectic roster, but Humperdinck has always been more than just a passionate crooner. In his career, he’s dabbled in every musical genre short of hip-hop, and acts as disparate as Jimi Hendrix and the Carpenters found themselves opening his shows.
Still, all partners on this 2014 album are relatively safe choices for his core older audience. Lulu even pops up. Evidently when Humperdinck’s “Please Release Me” first came out, she was on a British show called “Jukebox Jury” and was the only judge to score it a hit. Humperdinck has not forgotten.
In his sixth decade as an entertainer, Humperdinck recently expanded into the jewelry business, releasing his own line with Zalemark, items such as a treble clef embracing a garnet. He designed all the pieces and they debuted on Valentine’s Day.
He arrives a week late for Valentine’s Day, but the pop balladeer will doubtless have the romance cranked to 11. He’s set to perform at Cache Creek Feb. 21-22. Be prepared to laugh as well because he loves to make fun of himself, and there are few entertainers with such a long history who are still as sharp as he is. (8 p.m.; $59, $69, $79; cachecreek.com)
Reno visitors have an opportunity to see some flawless magic in a beautifully choreographed and costumed show. “Madame Houdini,” at the Eldorado, features a lovely lady named Hellevi who manages a parade of classical sleights (18 in all) – a woman crawling through man’s chest, metamorphosis, levitation – that still surprise and captivate. The show is produced by magicians Kevin and Caruso and choreographed by the legendary Mistinguett.
Kevin and Caruso carry on one of their best traditions here – speed. Illusion after illusion is staged without all the banter and slow setups that cause so many yawns during other magic shows. (7 p.m. Sundays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays; 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturdays through April 19; $24.95, $29.95, $34.95; eldoradoreno.com)
Grand Theater remodel
The legendary Grand Theater at the Grand Sierra, which opened in 1978 at the MGM Grand in Reno as the Ziegfeld Room and hosted the iconic stage show “Hello, Hollywood, Hello” for 13 years, closed two weeks ago for a major overhaul including new theater-style seating. The tables, installed ages ago for the long-gone dinner service, are no more, making for much easier sight lines. The increased seating will allow for nearly 3,000 patrons, and signals that some major acts likely will appear there once it reopens.