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VEGAS COMMUNITY ONLINE – Carol Lane Patterson

 Tom Dane – Like 7Up… Refreshingly Different! Refined, elegant impersonations, live music and the impish yet droll humor of a bygone era…all in one show, literally all from one guy. Tom Dane is Danish. His name is Tom Eje (sounds like eeeya) and he is a big-time celebrity in Denmark. They love him. They eat him up—yum yum. He’s in their movies, on their television and in their better concert halls. This past Wednesday and Thursday, Tom Eje/Dane played Vegas, in the Suncoast showroom. Yes, he speaks English fluently, and Russian, Southern American and who knows what else, and he brought the audience to their feet in a standing ovation. Whatever memory lane down which you would like to go seeking past funny, pleasant moments, Tom Dane can go with you. You have more than one? No matter, he’s been down them as well, attentively committing to his memory sights and sounds, celebrity aristocrats, musicians, actors, politicians and a smattering of the songs you remember, as well.  Add to this encyclopedic recall, an irreverent sense of humor and apparently unhindered musical talent and you have a show, an entertaining, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny gig. Some people—most—just can’t help themselves when it comes to the opportune coincidences that ‘set up’ a punch line. We all hear the pause, the segue, begging a response, obvious or subtle. Subtle is clever, but predictable makes us laugh just as hard. That’s why we love comedians, humorists, and satirists. We have a rich heritage of folk, ethnic, classical, and now Broadway/Hollywood humor, born in Court jesting, then Vaudeville houses, during the past few centuries. Those of us who have long ago become habituated to our town, somewhat immune to all but the most noteworthy, forget how enamored of Vegas the rest of the world is…on how many ‘life lists’ it appears–globally. Such is the case with Tom Dane, a ‘Dane’ who, as talented as he is, and as highly regarded ‘back home’ as he is…had Las Vegas on his life list, his entertainer life list. He has worked hard to get here, to play Vegas. With admirable focus and remarkable precision, Eje/Dane has begun to realize that dream—he played Las Vegas for two nights and wants more gigs. Tom Eje adopted Dane as a manageable last name for American audiences. That sort of tongue-in-cheek, good old fashioned vaudevillian ‘pa-duh, dum’ delivery is cherished by him, so much so that everyone after the show was doing one-liners and puns as if they couldn’t help themselves, caught up in the web Eje/Dane had spun, the George Burns genre, so to speak. Make no mistake though with the humorous overtones, Eje/Dane is one talented entertainer. Many performers have demonstrated musical acumen on more than one instrument, and in highly differentiated genres. Some dance, some sing, some play—some impersonate others. Many master quite a few personalities. A good deal of them are bilingual…comedians are everywhere trying out their shticks. Eje/Dane brings all of the above with him to the stage, and tap dances to boot. He opened his show in old Vegas era showroom pomp and glitz, charismatically engaging the audience immediately in his recollections, using his singing and instruments to elaborate on whatever ambience he was building. Fine. After he’s picked up and played several different wind instruments, guitars, fiddles, violins, and a banjo to supplement his ‘stories’ you realize you have lost track of how many he has played—and played well. When you realize he is setting up a Victor Borge routine, you fear for his Vegas career. No worries. His recreation befits the stature and love due his old friend and mentor, Borge, a fellow Dane. Eje/Dane heads for the side of the stage where a baby grand sits waiting in a bleary spotlight. The house lights went down as he left center stage, and as Borge’s voice echoed in the dimness, he kept asking for more light–$13.04 he’d offered for some more light on stage. The effect was mint. The mood set, Eje/Dane obviously an accomplished pianist, plays flawless classical strains so lovely, so Borge…and like Borge, little time-outs were taken for silliness. Eje/Dane’s Borge punctuated his brilliant selections with The Birthday Song—Eje/Dane just can’t help himself. If he hears a funny opportunity, he goes for it every time. Ten personal instruments sit about, ready to hand as his rapid-fire skits necessitated. He played live, the true test of a musician. What better setting for this virtuosity than a live backup band. Seven of them, locals mind you and talented, all sitting elevated behind Eje/Dane, in lavish, big-band-era individual boxes. Vaudeville needs props. Eje/Dane had them. Pretty girls, yup. Eje/Dane brought every proven bit, gag, improvisation, joke and song—everything he holds dear—to this show, his Las Vegas show, his dream realized. If you loved Mr. Smooth—Sinatra, you’ll love Eje/Dane’s Sinatra. He fires up images of the throaty Ray Charles, the lilt of Nat King Cole and the melodrama of Placido Domingo. His irreverence intact, he sets his own lyrics to songs for Tom Jones, Michael Jackson, Tina Turner, doing Turner in shiny patent leather, 6” stiletto healed pumps supplied by one of his ‘pretty stage girls’. (Though I would mention to him that, although our luscious diva, Tina is indeed an ‘old lady’, she can prance about on those heels and sing without being all breathless afterwards!) Brunhilda appears when he plays a table full of china cups and saucers, which he made into an hilarious salad of shards. The grim reaper lurks during his bassoon solo (an instrument I’ve never seen played solo!) In 1959, two years after he was born, Eje was showing signs of being a child prodigy. He had his own rock band as a teenager, and then began his classical training in 1974 at the Danish Academy of Music, spending four years mastering musicology and every instrument he could, including the piano and bassoon. His incredible list of gigs includes royal concerts, television, film and Disney voice-overs. Oh, he’s been Disney’s Donald Duck since 1992. Eje/Dane doesn’t use the word resume on his program, but the academic vitae. Although obviously appropriate, I mean, the guy doesn’t pass on anything comedic! A person of refinement, classical education and stylish genius (yes that word applies in Eje/Dane’s case), up on stage in a Las Vegas showroom…is a surprisingly welcome breeze wafting in from the 60’s Vegas. An evening with Tom Dane is refreshing, indeed.