In recent years Diana Ross has returned to the Las Vegas Strip for highly successful concert runs at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, at the Venetian Theater and late last year, at her current home at Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas. She’s set for five more shows there (wrapping up Feb. 24) and when she launched this latest series on Feb. 7, she took some time at the end of the show to answer questions from an enchanted audience that couldn’t help but dance along to “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Upside Down” and a first encore of Gloria Gaynor’s disco epic “I Will Survive.”
“How I got started? Oh, that’s a really long story,” she shouted back to one fan who would have loved nothing more than to keep Ross onstage all night. “I grew up in the Brewster projects in Detroit and I think I was 16 when we first auditioned for Berry Gordy, and he told us to go back to school. He didn’t have any time for us whatsoever.”
She did, of course, go back to school, but she went back to the legendary Motown founder’s offices, too. The rest is music history. “Our first tour was the Motown Revue and after that it was the Dick Clark Caravan of Stars. But we were not the stars. Smokey Robinson was the star.”
It’s hard to believe anyone could outshine Ross, who at age 73 remains the glamorous, girlish, smiling star who sang her way into our musical minds and memories through several different eras. After coming out to “I’m Coming Out” and cooing her way through Spiral Starecase’s “More Today Than Yesterday” during that opening night show last week, a green-sequined Ross dove into Motown favorites recorded with the Supremes, including “Come See About Me,” “Baby Love” and “Stop! In the Name of Love.” Her ageless voice was strong from the start, but she went above and beyond for “Touch Me in the Morning” and later on “Love Hangover,” once she had re-emerged in an even more brilliant and shimmering purple gown. “I haven’t worn this dress in 10 years,” she humble-bragged between songs. (By the way, she looks amazing.)
Hits of her own (“Do You Know Where You’re Going To” from “Mahogany”) and from others (“The Look of Love”) kept on coming — as did white and black outfits — until the quick Q&A gave way to “Reach Out and Touch,” and then Ross slowly made her way off the stage, against the pleading of her fans. She invited us all to come back and see again, which is a pretty great idea.
“Diana Ross: Endless Memories” continues at 8 p.m. Feb. 16, 17, 21, 23 and 24 at Wynn’s Encore Theater (3131 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702-770-9966). More info can be found at wynnlasvegas.com.