Wayne Newton talks about music, mustaches and coming to St. Charles

  • Wayne Newton leaves Vegas behind this weekend to perform at the Arcada in St. Charles.

    Wayne Newton leaves Vegas behind this weekend to perform at the Arcada in St. Charles.

  • Best known for his Vegas gigs, Wayne Newton performs in St. Charles this weekend.

    Best known for his Vegas gigs, Wayne Newton performs in St. Charles this weekend.

Published6/9/2009 12:01 AM

He lost the mustache a while back, but not his enthusiasm for entertaining.

At 64, Wayne Newton has done just about everything there is to do in show business - from performing more than 30,000 solo shows in Las Vegas to mesmerizing reality TV audiences on the 2007 season of "Dancing with the Stars."


He also, of course, is known for a unique, celebrity-style hobby - Arabian horse breeding - and has appeared in dozens of television shows and movies.

On Sunday, June 14, the iconic performer known best for hits such as "Danke Schoen" and "Daddy Don't You Walk So Fast" brings his charm and voice to the suburbs for a rare appearance at the historic, 1,000-seat Arcada Theatre in St. Charles.

Newton, also known as Mr. Las Vegas, took some time out of his schedule recently to discuss life, love and fake mustaches with the Daily Herald.

Q. What are your travel arrangements like when playing smaller, tucked-away venues such as the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles? Do you spend much time in the towns you visit?

A. If my schedule permits, I try to spend some time in the city I'm performing in. Unfortunately, a lot of the time, I have to rush off to the next city. When I travel, I bring the majority of my Las Vegas orchestra. In addition, I will add some local musicians. No matter the size of the venue, I want to give the people the best show I am capable of giving.

Q. Ever catch yourself humming "Danke Schoen" when you're not on stage or rehearsing?

A. No, but it is strange, a lot of people I know have made "Danke Schoen" their ringtone on their cell phones, so I hear it a lot.

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Q. A Google search for "Wayne Newton Impersonator" turned up more than 7,500 hits, including a page on "How to Become a Wayne Newton Impersonator." What do you think about that?

A. Of course I find it flattering, but it gets a little crazy when people are going around Vegas trying to say that they are really me. A quick note to the impersonators: I haven't had the mustache in a long time.

Q. I understand "Dancing with the Stars" is a huge time and energy commitment. Was there any fun to be had along the way?

A. It was a lot of fun. It was very hard work, but I was lucky to have such a great partner in Cheryl Burke, and I made some lifelong friends doing it.

Q. Are your cameo appearances in TV and movies as fun as you make them look on screen? Do shorter appearances feel much like acting, or just poking your head in to say hello?


A. They are a lot of fun, but I prefer to play characters rather than myself. When I portray myself, I have to make sure I'm not doing something that "Wayne Newton" wouldn't do. It's strange because "Wayne Newton" almost becomes a separate entity in those situations, like a third party.

Q. Despite your hectic schedule, fame and popularity among, well, women, you've been married 15 years. Is there a secret or do you think it all boils down to something like astrology?

A. My wife and I are both Aries, which would mean we should butt heads a lot, so I don't think it's astrology. Truthfully, I think it all boils down to the fact that my wife (attorney Kathleen McCrone) is also my best friend. Plus I learned very quickly to say, "Yes, Dear!"

Q. What was the last concert you attended, purely as a spectator? How was it?

A. It was probably Chris Isaak. He's a good friend of mine and has gone on many USO Tours overseas with me. He had a show here in Vegas on a night that I didn't have a show, so I went over and watched him. He is such a talented guy and even sang "Danke Schoen."

Q. How has performing less often in Vegas in recent years affected your life as a performer? Do you get a different vibe from audiences elsewhere?

A. To me, every show is different. The only real difference is that in Vegas, the audience is from all over the world, so I have to use the first couple of songs to gauge what kind of music I should choose for a crowd. On the road, the audience is primarily from the same area, so I can play to what they want to hear. For example, in New York and Atlantic City, I will probably put more big band music in the show, whereas in the South, I may put in more country music.

I am very lucky to have such talented musicians that travel with me because I give them the first song and, from then on out, it's "hang loose" because they never know what I'm going to call next.

Q. Does fame get in the way of living a normal life much? This is silly, but do you ever wear disguises?

A. I have been performing here in Vegas since I was 15 years old, so this is the only life I know. To me, it's normal. At 64, it is a little difficult for me to be in a disguise so, no, I never wear disguises. Of course, I could always put on a fake mustache and go as a Wayne Newton impersonator.

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