Piano man Rich Wyman heading to Las Vegas
Park City piano man Rich Wyman is going to call Las Vegas his home this summer.
The 10-time ASCAP Award winner, music producer and film composer will be the focus of a three-piano variety show that will run at the Venetian starting on Monday, May 27, and running through Sunday, Sept. 8, as part of the hotel’s 115 days of Carnevale.
Wyman will lead two other pianists — Van Walraven and Bonnie Mizell — in performances that will run Thursday through Sunday, he told The Park Record.
"We’re the A-Team," Wyman said. "The B-Team (Frank Salerno, Cristina Walraven and Conrad Hawthorne) will be the musicians who will perform Mondays through Wednesdays."
The show will also feature Steph Carse, an opera singer from Canada, and Las Vegas-based violinist Thien-nga Palmer.
"During the show, we will play our set, which is the heart-and-soul of the show, and then we’ll take a break and an opera singer and violinist will come out to perform," Wyman said. "After they’re done, we’ll come back out, and it will go back and forth like that every 30 minutes."
The night will start with a classical set featuring works by Richard Strauss and Mozart, before slipping into an original Wyman’s piece called "Weird Man’s March."
"From there it taps into a contemporary vein and then we’ll finish with a big medley of rock songs," Wyman said. "I’m looking forward to it."
For Wyman the gig couldn’t have come at a better time in his career.
"At the end of last year, I was standing on one of those career plateaus where I was wondering what I was going to do next," Wyman confessed. "I have been dueling pianos on Keys on Main and at the Tavernacle in Salt Lake for the past four years, and I was thinking about how those things could go on forever and I would wake up when I’m 70 and go, ‘Oh, wow.’"
So, the musician made a conscious decision to focus on performing around the United States.
"I’ve been going back and forth to Europe for the past 15 years and that’s been great, but I have fans all over the country who have seen me play and they always ask when I’m going to play for them," Wyman said. "I decided to shut everything down and focus on the U.S., including Chicago and the Pacific Northwest."
Then Wyman decided to roll the dice and call an agency in Las Vegas.
"I have been talking to agents in Vegas for the last 20 years and have always gotten that ‘no vacancy’ sign," he said. "They tell me they have more musicians than they know what to do with, which is a typical agent’s reply."
But this time things changed.
"At the beginning of January, I called up this agency in Las Vegas, and I was referred to someone who referred me to someone else, who worked at the No. 1 booking agency in Las Vegas," Wyman said. "Talk about making the right call at the right time on the right day, but I was told that one of their people had canceled and they needed someone to fill in for a weekend."
It was a dueling pianos show, something Wyman was very familiar with.
"I drove down and played, and a representative from the agency saw me and liked what he saw," Wyman said. "That started up a relationship with the agency, which books all the dueling-piano shows in that town."
Since that night, Wyman has been driving to Las Vegas once a month to play a show.
"I played at New York-New York and the Monte Carlo and Harrah’s in February," he said.
During the February run, the booking agency’s representatives told Wyman about a show they were pitching to the Venetian.
"They said it would feature three white grand pianos set up face to face to face like a clover leaf on the Venetian stage by the waterfall and that I’d be perfect for it," Wyman said. "The Venetian is massive. A friend of mine described it as being ‘bombastic plus one.’ It’s all marble with pillars and gondolas, and I giggled so hard when I saw where we would play because it was absolutely gorgeous."
Following protocol, Wyman auditioned for the show last month in front of the Venetian’s talent scouts.
"I had sent in (a digital recording) of one of my compositions called ‘Weird Man’s March’ and they thought it would be perfect in the show," he said. "I also pitched them a medley I sing that features Peter Gabriel’s ‘Solsbury Hill’ running into Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ and they flipped.
"They told me that the show requires a pianist that plays everything from rock to classical, everything," Wyman said.
After the audition, the Venetian scouts asked Wyman to open his day planner and tell them what days he wanted to do the show.
"I told them I preferred four nights a week, Thursday through Sunday," he said.
The show will run from 6 p.m. until around 9 p.m. The agency will book Wyman throughout Las Vegas for late-night shows.
"There are three white grand pianos, and I just got fitted for my white tuxedo tails and white, high-top Converse sneakers," he said.
Wyman is the only pianist in the show who doesn’t have a permanent residence in Las Vegas, but that wasn’t an issue.
"I have a place to live down there this summer," he said. "Since the show for me runs for four days, I will be able to come back to Park City and my family can come visit me, so we’ll get some quality face time."
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