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Hurray America

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The Robbie Howard-produced affair -- now in its sixth year with rotating lead talents such as Marty Allen and spouse Karon Kate Blackwell --currently stars the impressionist trio The Walkers.

Brothers Greg and Bill Walker accent the central talents of their sister, Kathy, and the trio has played as featured acts in larger production shows and as cruise-ship headliners.

If the veteran trio is unlikely to ever land a weekly TV show or hit the big screen, finding work should never become a problem. Serving up often amusing if admittedly uneven sendups of stars ranging from Rod Stewart and Elvis Presley to Barbra Streisand and Cher, The Walkers dominate this edition of "Hurray America" in overall good fashion, especially when consumer cost comes into play. A modern-day bonus is a fine goof on "Siegfried & Roy" that finds band member Pat Marlin playing a big-wigged Siegfried opposite Bill Walker's Roy.

Still, don't expect anything fancy beyond talented Kathy Walker's sequined costumes and her brothers' varied get-ups. The small stage on the second floor of the Westward Ho, 2900 Las Vegas Blvd. South, leaves little room for more than the impressionists and a tidy, live backup trio featuring Marlin on keyboards and saxes, Bruce Miller on percussion and backup vocals, and Allen Applegate adding extra reed and keyboard riffs.

Staging, such as it is, consists of red, white and blue bunting hanging above the stage in a spacious, flat-floored show space that seats 700. The no-smoking, woodsy Americana setting was fairly full with mostly senior citizens on a (generally dead) Monday night. Howard's cheerleading and well-worn gaming jokes helped loosen them up for The Walkers.

"I'm not talking about Danny Gans (contemporary material)," announced Howard. "I'm talking about the great old shows and stars from back in 1962."

Actually 1958, with The Walkers taking center stage with a cute take on the "Chipmunk Song" replete with helium-high harmonizing and a closing Woody Woodpecker cartoon cackle from Kathy Walker.
Her tremulous, well-controlled vibrato is tailor-made for the likes of Audrey Hepburn, minus a good script, or a nasal-challenged Lily Tomlin in a good reprise of Tomlin's irritated phone operator.
Brothers Bill and Greg wear bright red sports jackets, with Greg turning into a tie-pulling Rodney Dangerfield and getting strong laughs by tossing off a few of Dangerfield's classic one-liners. Ditto for Kathy as a pink-tutu-clad Joan Rivers, using some of the comedy maven's material with a slightly slackened delivery to let the jokes catch hold.

"Ah, that Monica Lewinsky ... she's seen more ceilings than Michelangelo," cracked Kathy in what was probably the most provocative line of the night.

Greg Walker's energetic and slightly irreverent Elvis proved a winner and set the stage for a trio of audience volunteers to take a crash course in lip curls, karate chops and the proper mumbling style for Presley's soft-spoken "Thank ya very much" salutations.

Liberace, the real spiritual grandfather of modern Las Vegas, is given short shrift and missing punch lines before returning to heaven, just as a George Burns-Gracie Allen reunion comes up short for the same reasons. Other weaker moments include a stilted Elton John singing the terminally maudlin "Candle in the Wind," a round of bad and obvious John Wayne Bobbitt cutup gags and a smarmy Sammy Davis Jr., performed in degrading white-face no less.

Still, the good thing about impression shows is that there's always something familiar on the way, and Kathy Walker really shines as both Streisand and Cher, matching the latter bleat-for-bleat on her revival hit, "Believe."

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