When my friend Kim said that we had to go see her good friend in the Donna Moore Show on Victory Casino Cruise last week, I jumped at the chance. With rave reviews about her one-woman show impersonating sixteen celebrities, I wanted to check her out for myself, and what better way than on the water for the day?
Donna Moore performs as multiple singing celebrities in her 90-minute show. With her world-class vocals and Vegas-styled costumes, added with hysterically funny audience interaction, this show is a fun for all ages. Donna has performed for years at Trump Plaza, Norwegian and Victory Cruise Lines. She is the opening act for The Judds, Crystal Gayle, Ronnie Milsap, The Commodores, and the late, Danny Gans. Her voice can be heard on T.V. and radio commercials for numerous well-known companies.
I have been to Vegas too many times to count, I can say that one of my favorite shows to see are impersonators. Years ago, I had the honor of seeing the late Danny Gans and he was fascinating to watch. To be able to have the gift of impersonation like he had, I feel truly lucky to have experienced his show. When sitting down to chat with Donna after seeing her show, not only did she quickly become a new friend, she also was able to share her story, including what advice Danny Gans gave her that changed her career.
Donna Moore Show on Victory Casino Cruise
Donna, Kim and I sat on the deck of the Victory Casino Cruise after seeing the first half of the Donna Moore Show on a very chilly day. But the sun was shining and the company was perfect. I asked Donna how she started.
My mother was a music teacher and an accomplished artist in Boone, North Carolina where I grew up. And my dad worked for Lowes, so back in the 60’s and 70’s, it was booming.
So, my mom was a music teacher at several middle and elementary schools. She would go home she will sculpt and paint, she had a lot of art galleries. Because of her love for the theater, she wanted her daughters to be in shows at school and push us.
She just really just always expected us to be in the shows. The schools were just always known for their great talent shows because she got such an eye for what looked and sounded appealing. So oddly enough I’m doing it at my age still. When it’s your job, obviously you should have fun with what you do. I love it, and it’s the labor of love. Absolutely. It’s all I know how to do. It’s all I have ever done.
So was it the opportunities that brought you to Florida?
Well, I was singing it at Trump Plaza. There was a band I fronted back in the 80’s. I knew that I just didn’t want to keep traveling having done that for a long time. My guess it maybe was like 91-92.
I had a lot of friends who lived in Orlando, and they were making a good living entertain full time. I just thought, “I’m ready to put some roots down,” and my mom was really sick at the time. You know, I didn’t want to be in New York or California, so I thought maybe Orlando would be a better fit. The 1st time I flew here, it was like palm trees and blue sky in February, so I knew it was a fit.
What was your 1st gig in Orlando?
Well, there was a band that was playing at church street station at the time, it was a big entertainment complex in downtown in 1991. This band was a good fit for me because they like insisted that I not only front and sing at Church Street Station but for all the corporate events. I could run out and be Marilyn Monroe or Dolly Parton. Basically, I could do whatever the audience wanted. That was my job. I would create it with a wig and a costume and learn the songs, and so I did that for 14 years until the area started to die.
By then my 2nd child was born, and I knew then that I was starting to be too much. I couldn’t keep traveling and sing as I was. It was time to learn how to get music on the computer and maybe see if I can start my dream. I think having children for me, it was empowering and made me fearless like I thought I could do anything.
If I can get through that, I can do anything. That’s how being a mom made me feel. I told myself, ‘I’m not going to be afraid or let anybody tell me I can’t. I’m going to start booking shows, and need to figure out how to do this.’
I just took baby steps and got my 1st contract, and it started growing. Now 12 years later, I do something that I’m passionate about, love, and just can’t wait to see what the next years are going to bring.
Where do you want to see yourself in the next decade?
Honestly, my apex has always been, if I could be the main stage show on cruise lines. I’m currently talking with a cruise line, and we will know Monday if it’s going to come to fruition. I could fly out and perform my show on the main stage and fly out the following day. I only have to be gone for two nights which is a great accomplishment. This is what I have set out to do being a female singing impressionist. We have a lot of men in that department, but no women, so in my mind, that is the top.
It’s a no brainier for clients who are looking for entertainers, but they don’t want to deal with a big production. I can come with suitcases and laptop, USB drive and make things happen.
I’m going to try to keep it a one-woman show as long as possible and if the budget permits I have a band version of my act.
Acts like yours are hard to find. Even in Las Vegas, you don’t hear about women having their own show as men do. It seems that women are always partnered with a man or are in a group, but not on their own. I remember years ago seeing Danny Gans out there. He was amazing…
Danny was the best there is, and I am lucky to have called him my friend. He is the one that told me that I should be doing this 15 years ago. I did a gig with him at the Marriott World Center in Orlando. I was his opening act with a band. He asked me backstage if I write my material?
I said gosh no. I just sang Cher and Patsy Cline tributes as contributes. He told me to start writing funny lyrics, coming up with stuff and medley it all together. “Then you have your show for this is what you need to be doing.”
So when I got motivated to get it together, he asked my husband and me to come to the Mirage (where he performed in Vegas), and he wanted to talk to me backstage. He gave us tickets for the front row. All of this had happened about a month before he passed away.
So we were backstage talking, and he said,”So did you do what I have suggested? Did you start writing?” I said I did for I started to change lyrics to be funny like you and add the comedy thing.
So you say that your daughter is kind off in the same route?
I just want her to follow her bliss. That’s what my mom would say to me, and that’s just what I say to her. You have to love what you do because you are going to do it for a long time. I knew from a very early age that this is what I just wanted to do. She will figure it all out.
So what is next for Donna Moore?
*Donna invited me to see her show on Victory Casino Cruise (and boy am I glad she did!). All opinions are my own.