Celebrating his ninth year at The Mirage in Las Vegas, ventriloquist, celebrity impressionist and master puppet creator Terry Fator introduced two new characters, “Michael Jackson” and “Paul McCartney,” during his March 12 anniversary performance.
Of course, creating new characters and tweaking the show’s format have become standard for Fator, who likes to regularly refresh his show for audiences and himself. And, after all, what better way to kick off another year as a Las Vegas Strip headliner than with an entirely new show annually?
During last year’s anniversary show, Sir Elton John made his debut onstage with Fator. The year before, it was Fernando V. Francisco; in 2015, Rusty the Robot.
Early on in his show at The Mirage, Wrex the crash dummy hit the stage in 2010 for Fator’s one-year anniversary; the following year, Berry Fabulous debuted; and Monte Carlo made his first appearance in 2012.
The acclaimed ventriloquist-celebrity impressionist displayed his ambidextrous puppeteering skills in front of a packed house during the anniversary show, simultaneously maneuvering both of the new cast members to create a duet onstage. Each also sings solo in the show.
While Fator’s popular puppets — Winston the Impersonating Turtle, country artist Walter T. Airedale, Duggie Scott Walker, Emma Taylor, Vicki the Cougar and Julius the soul singer — remain in this version of the show, the situations and material are all original.
“I’ve been wanting to add more real-life celebrities to the show, as my audiences are coming from all over the world, and music truly is that universal language. Especially when the audience sees Michael Jackson or a Beatle,” said Fator, who possesses the very rare ability to do ventriloquism while emulating the vocals of world-renowned singers.
“I also have a lot of requests to perform overseas, and I wanted to create characters that everyone knows that would transcend the language barrier.
“It took me almost a year to get the new routines written for this new show,” he added. “I wanted to be part of the creation of the puppets and had two different companies making the two of them.
“While I have fun with Michael’s plastic surgery — since everyone knows he had it — I wrote the routine with the thought in mind that if he was still with us, he would have loved it.
“It’s fun and lighthearted. I’m not a mean comedian; I’m for uplifting. My show is almost like ‘Legends in Concert’ with puppets. I have fun with the bigness of the character and with the situation. I like my puppets to have a life outside of the stage.”
While Fator is the main writer for his show and originates the ideas for it, he works with comedy writer Jon Macks, who worked on the 2018 Academy Awards presentation and has written for Billy Crystal, Jay Leno, Martin Short and Chris Rock.
The other member of the writing team is musician Pete Mitchell, a friend of Fators who helps write many of the original songs that Fator performs in his own voice.
Fator says he also is very dedicated to recognizing military service members. He grew up around the culture of military life and had a close friend who was a prisoner of war in the same North Vietnamese internment camp as Sen. John McCain.
Being very aware of the sacrifices soldiers have made for the United States, Fator says he donates all the proceeds from the sales of his merchandise to veterans’ foundations, such as Snowball Express and the AirPower Foundation.
In honor of his efforts, Fator won the 2017 Medal of Honor Society Bob Hope Award for excellence in entertainment in support of the U.S. military.