First family of ‘Fantasy’
Stephanie Sanchez is a true Vegas original. She’s a born-and-raised native who made her mark in many of the Strip’s most iconic shows, as a dancer and singer in Legends in Concert, Enter the Night and lastly, Fantasy at Luxor. She has performed in many other productions that have come and gone, some at resorts that no longer exist, but she’s always captivated her audience and is still spending time on Vegas stages, now fronting her own band and creating her own music.
Growing up in Las Vegas meant there weren’t a lot of surprises as she worked her way up in the entertainment world. But she never thought her daughter Shelby would also fall in love with dancing and pursue her own career in Las Vegas, and certainly not in the same show. But in December, Shelby snagged a role in Fantasy, the sexy, 19-year-old production where Stephanie sang for almost a decade until 2009.
“We sat down when she was about to go to college and she said, ‘Mom, I’m about to save you a lot of money,’” jokes Stephanie. “The people she’s with now are my best friends and I could not wish for a better life or for her to be in better hands. They’ve known Shelby since she was young and would come backstage, but I told her they wouldn’t do her any favors. She was the only one they kept from the audition.”
Shelby, who also dances in MJ Live at the Stratosphere, admits she tried to “sneak in” to her Fantasy audition and was hoping she wouldn’t get recognized. “I’m a lot older now and I thought maybe they wouldn’t recognize me, but as soon as I walked in, it was ‘Shelby!’” she says with a smile. “They caught me, and then my nerves were coming. It’s such a hard show to get and there are limited spots. Everyone wants to be in that show and I didn’t expect to get it. I’m used to auditioning, so I don’t usually have nerves, but that was like doing it all over again.”
It didn’t help that Stephanie’s photos are still all over the Luxor’s Atrium Showroom and that her voice rings out in the song that introduces the show and plays during the finale. “She’s pretty hard to shake,” Shelby says. “It feels very special to be there.”
Shelby also grew up in Las Vegas, of course, and attended the Las Vegas Academy for the Performing Arts, where she discovered she wanted to get serious about dancing. Unlike her mother, who decided to focus on a musical path involving a microphone, Shelby is planning to keep dancing and pursue choreography later in her career.
“I’ve been so lucky to get into these shows within a year,” she says. “I’m going to try to veer off a little and make my dance career last, and I want to be a choreographer and help create shows. In the long term, I want to help push the entertainment in Las Vegas. There are so many opportunities.”
Her mom can attest to that, after spending her career on so many stages and watching the show landscape evolve through the years.
“With Vegas being a lot more mainstream than the old Sin City idea, it has changed a lot. Being a dancer is just a job like anybody else. You have insurance and you pay the bills and you buy a house, and you’re not waiting between each gig now,” Stephanie says. “There are so many dancing jobs here and there always have been.”