WHEN IN ROME DO AS COMPANY MANAGER MIKE ROME DOES AT LANCE BURTON SHOW
Mike Rome has been the company manager of Lance Burton's dancers since the "Master Magician's" days at the Hacienda but he does more than just manage the cast of the magic show.
In an interview at the Monte Carlo Resort & Casino he said, "I supervise the cast, take care of Lance's personal pre-sets and play the part of `The Phantom' in the show, constantly trying to foil Lance who plays the hero." He continued, "I've been with the show since it's inception at the Hacienda and Lance's last two years at the Tropicana. I worked to break in different parts of the big show working on one number at a time. I was recommended by `The Phantom' before me, Roy Kieffer because I was reliable. It's a sword-fighting number where there is a tremendous surprise at the end. The audience is amazed."
Michael Rome is a native of Chicago. He received a bachelor's of science degree in communications with an emphasis on radio/TV/film from Northern Illinois University. Rome studied jazz, ballet, voice and acting for 10 to 15 years. He jokingly said, "I went into Las Vegas shows because I wanted to be near the showgirls. My first professional job in show business was at a cabaret dinner theater in Rockford, Illinois in `Mame,' `Funnygirl' and `The Wizard of Oz.' I was 16 years old when I began to gain experience in theater. I had gotten the show business bug."
He reminisced about beginning in the business saying, "I did summer stock in San Diego in 1982 right out of college. I joined `Moulin Rouge' at the Las Vegas Hilton in 1983 and moved over to `Les Folies Bergere' on and off for eight years at the Tropicana Hotel. I left in 1987 and 1988 briefly to join the Royal Viking Cruise Lines and when I returned I worked in Lance's act at the Tropicana before going with him to the Hacienda to open the new magic show in Las Vegas and eventually moving to the Monte Carlo."
Rome said, "My dad liked to sing a lot. He was a professional gambler and insurance salesman and manager. Unfortunately, both mom and dad are deceased. They weren't all that excited about my show business aspirations. I think they would be proud now though. Everybody who sees the show loves it. People are usually impressed that I work with Lance Burton. There's a lot of camaraderie backstage."
In his spare time Michael Rome likes to read, play golf and watch movies. He said, "Most people don't know that Lance's cast and crew play a couple of golf tournaments a year. They're serious golfers."
What intrigues Rome the most about magic? He replied, "It looks so easy but is very difficult to do correctly. I used to make up my own tricks and put on magic shows at age 10 with my cousins."
When asked why do you think "Lance Burton: Master Magician" has become such an overwhelming success in Las Vegas? He said, "Its simplicity is the main ingredient. Lance's personality is great too. Women like him, men want him to be their friends and kids just love him. Also, the show holds the audience's attention because it has a very quick pace. I just always wanted to be in a magic show ever since I can remember. I've lived in Las Vegas for 15 years because it's where the long running shows are. Real estate is affordable. It was a small town when I arrived but its not anymore. Traffic is real bad now. My favorite part of the show is the first three minutes. Lance's first act shows his close-up sleight-of-hand. I also love `The Monster' and `The Swordfight'because I'm in it. At the Hacienda, I played the lawyer in the audience who almost gets killed by Lance. It was very believable that I wasn't a plant in the audience."
What were you most memorable or embarrassing moment during a performance? Mike Rome recalled, "It was embarrassing when I had fallen down on my butt during the swordfight. The audience roared with laughter." What makes his show the best in Las Vegas? According to Rome, "Lance's warm personality comes across to the audience. He has a good team of support staff and crew. Lance is the nicest guy in the world to work for." For the future, Rome said, "I would like to produce my own shows. All facets of show business interest me." What was the biggest influence to stay with entertainment? He said, "I always liked entertaining - telling jokes, acting and performing to evoke a response. Performing to evoke a response was always rewarding to me. There's something that gets in your blood in showbiz."
Michael Rome is right but Lance's side when he does his dangerous escapes. He said, "You might say I conspired to kill him five times. I dug the whole for the `Buried Alive' escape trick. I was right by his side with an axe during `The Water Torture Death Tank' for his special that aired on NBC called `The Encounter.' I traveled to Bakersfield and helped with `The Car Crusher' escape. He was shredded in a police car and had to escape from the car grinder. The `Upside Down Straitjacket Escape was mild in comparison to the others. `The Roller Coaster Escape' was the latest and it aired on `Top Secret' on Feb.24 on NBC. I've been with Lance longer than anyone else in the company has. Lance Burton literally trusts me with his life. It's my job along with Gregory Auston to watch out for anything that can happen when he's doing these Houdini-like escape tricks. The escape artistry tricks are very dangerous and he could be seriously injured or killed if anything goes wrong. We have to make sure nothing can go wrong. We've done about one a year over the past five years and will continue doing this side of magic for audiences."