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Ventriloquist Terry Fator has plenty to talk about

Ventriloquist Terry Fator, former winner of “America’s Got Talent,” takes his Las Vegas act on the road, stopping tonight at the Silver Legacy in Reno.
Ventriloquist Terry Fator, former winner of “America’s Got Talent,” takes his Las Vegas act on the road, stopping tonight at the Silver Legacy in Reno. The Associated Press file, 2008

Ventriloquist Terry Fator has arguably parlayed his “America’s Got Talent” win into a bigger success than anyone else has. He’s now going on eight years in his own theater at the Mirage in Las Vegas and is starting on another five-year contract. Plus, he plays multiple dates away from the Strip every year, including the Friday, Sept. 16, show at the Silver Legacy in Reno.

“I’ve changed my show significantly since I last played the north. ... I can impersonate any singer so there’s always somewhere to go.

“I am very happy with this steady gig. I will do it as long as the Mirage is willing. I want to die here in Las Vegas. I go home every night and sleep in my own bed. I was talking to Bette Midler at the end of her Caesars run and she said she’d never do it again. It was too much work. But she could have made it easier on herself. She didn’t need all that production. I saw Elton John’s “Red Piano,” too, and it was too much. His later show was much better, just him and his piano and an orchestra. You don’t need a lot of spectacle.”

Fator has become as well-known for his creations – like Winston the Turtle and Emma Taylor – as Edgar Bergen was for Charlie McCarthy in the old days. He’s made some changes and additions. Johnny Vegas, the lounge singer, has become Monty Carlo now (“a cooler name”). He now has a Donald Trump (“I don’t do politics, but whether you hate him or love him, it’s funny”). And his Christmas show will feature David Bowie with Bing Crosby (“The show will take place in heaven this year and David Bowie is there”).

Fator spends some time supporting young ventriloquists and has some advice for them and anybody else: “Pick up your hobbies again. I was 42 years old when I won and my dream was dead. Just stay with it.” (8 p.m.; $69.50-$79.50; silverlegacy.com)

Elsewhere this week

Thunder Valley starts off the weekend tonight with a bluegrass and country rock double-header, the Avett Brothers with Brett Dennen (6:30 p.m.; $39.75-$169.75; thundervalleyresort.com); and follows up with great pop, Gavin DeGraw and Andy Grammer, Saturday (6:30 p.m.; $27.75-$159.75).

Al Jarreau goes into a song and lives there, taking his audience with him. He’s at the MontBleu Saturday (8 p.m.; $57.50-$65.50; Ticketmaster)

And Reno’s Peppermill continues a somewhat-revived entertainment policy Saturday with the Grammy-winning siblings The Band Perry (“If I Die Young”). (8 p.m.; $29-$89; peppermillreno.com)

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