In 2015, Rogers announced that his 2016 tour would be his farewell tour. And that he'd finish the tour in Westbury on December 23. He labeled the tour "The Gambler's Last Deal".
Well, Drew is a huge Kenny Rogers fan. So you know where we were Friday night.
A word about Westbury. It's theater-in-the round. A round stage, in the center of the room, a revolving stage so that the performers will face every audience member at one point or another. Performers enter the theater from the back of the house, and walk down an aisle through the audience to take the stage. The aisles are very steep, I avoid wearing heels when we see a show at Westbury.
When we saw Jerry Lewis at Westbury a few years ago, they put up a portable wall, blocking off a portion of the seating so as to convert the theater-in-the -round to a thrust theater, so that Lewis didn't have to walk down an aisle, but could take the stage from a backstage area. Easier on the performer, of course, but you lose entire sections of seating. And in a small venue like Westbury, that can be significant.
So when you remember that Rogers has had a knee replacement and still has considerable difficulty standing and walking, it's remarkable that he chose to stage his show as theater-in-the-round. But he clearly loves being on the stage and interacting with the audience. He was in 7th heaven when the audience sang along.
He chatted with the audience, reminisced about his career, his days with the First Edition, then his solo career. He sang most of his big hits, as quite a few Christmas songs as well.
Joining Kenny on stage was Linda Davis, a country singer who has had a few chart hits, who also performed with Reba MacIntyre, and whose daughter is Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum fame. During the Christmas segment they were joined by the chorus from a local high school.
My pictures didn't come out great -- the lighting in the theater wasn't helpful -- but I thought I'd share the best of them:
Funny moment of the evening. No sooner did I "check in" to the theater on Facebook than my phone started to ring. A friend of mine was also in the theater, she took her mom to the show. She had no idea Drew and I would be there, and we didn't know she was going.
It was a great evening, and a great show.
But it's obvious Rogers is retiring because he has to, not because he wants to. Sad...