Society of Seven (SOS)

by Niki Domingo
Los Angeles, California

Last April, we visited the Center Stage Showroom of the Aladdin Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas to celebrate my birthday and my daughter's homecoming for spring break. There we watched the "Society of Seven" band for a period of at least one hour and a half.

It is of great pride to see and feel how successful this show band really is, considering five of them are originally from the Philippines who migrated to Hawaii, where they have appeared as headliners in the main showroom at the Outriggers Reef Hotel in Waikiki for the past 32 years. I was able to chat with Gary Bautista, Roy Guerzo and Randy Abellar after the show and we reminisced the times in Manila, when they were visiting here in LA as well as when I was visiting Waikiki a few years ago. They do encouraged all of our kababayan specially those Pinoy rock and rollers to watch them at the Aladdin Hotel and Casino.

As the creative leader of the group, Tony Ruivivar is the lead person responsible for most of what you see and hear. He writes comedy skits, plays the guitar and can also do a host of vocal impressions. Bert Sagum (Little Richard) is the comic lead. He's also a talented dancer, so he handles most of the choreography. Society of Seven is rounded out by Roy Guerzo (Sammy Davis, Jr.), a master keyboardist, who can play up to three synthesizers at once, and Wayne Wakai, who plays the guitar, keyboard and saxophone. Hoku Low is the romantic balladeer with his high falsetto voice and Gary Bautista chips in as a crooner with his dynamic vocals where he can perform anything from Sinatra to Broadway. Randy Abellar is the newest member, an accomplished drummer and percussionist as well as the heartthrob of the group.

For this nightly engagement, the group designed a lineup of songs and impressions honoring Las Vegas entertainers through the years. You'll see the Rat Pack (composed of Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr, etc.), Sonny and Cher, Elvis, Tony Bennett, Wayne Newton and a so-called showgirl. Other impressions include Phantom of the Opera, Little Richard, and Chuck Berry, along with a creative Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole performed la Victor/Victoria. There's a Michael Jackson medley, capped off with "Thriller" and backed by some uniquely choreographed creatures grabbing their crotches and break dancing. Kenny G is a contemporary additions to the show. And two other highlights of the evening include the traditional "Hawaiian Song" and the "Elvis impersonation training class" participated by the audience who gets a certificate of completion as a bonafide "Elvis Impersonator" (that's a warning to those sitting close to the stage). The show concludes with a touching mix of patriotic American classics, "Proud to be an American" and "America the Beautiful", which was dedicated in support to our troops now fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Due to their popularity and demand, Society of Seven has recently doubled their numbers. Now instead of seven, the group actually adds up to 14. Tony Ruivivar selected another cast of multi-talented performers to make up "the New Generation". Almost like a franchise, the new guys (Freddy Von Paraz, Johnny Fernandez, Jonathan Kaina, Jan Luna, Glenn Miyashiro, Richard Natto and John Salvatera) do the same show with their own special set of impressions.

At some point during this ongoing engagement, the second company will switch places with the original troupe, who will return to Hawaii. Regardless of which seven you see, you are guaranteed a steady stream of movements, music and a humorous, uplifting show. It was a show to remember, "hindi sila nag-babago". I just want to share with you the experience in watching these guys, "our own KABABAYAN". According to Tony they will be performing in Vegas for a "long while". So head now to Las Vegas, you won't regret to see these talented, wild and rowdy bunch of Pinoy impersonators, who were once rock and rollers like us. Myself and my family really had a great time!!

About the author: Niki Domingo is currently a member of the Bits N Pieces based in Southern California.

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