Q&A: Lorena Peril of ‘Fantasy’
Here’s the reality: Lorena Peril has returned to Fantasy. Blessed with power pipes and a warm, sassy personality, the singer/hostess of the long-running adult revue departed the production in 2013 for performing adventures abroad—touring in Grease in Europe and, later, mounting a cabaret show (the cheekily titled Married and Looking) in Mexico with her husband, guitarist Ray Jon Narbaitz. Recently, Peril spoke with Las Vegas Magazine’s Steve Bornfeld about her Fantasy re-emergence, dialing down her outsized stage style to play demur Sandy in Grease and her career journey from housekeeper to sizzling Vegas performer.
Why did you return to Fantasy?
Just as our six-month contract was over in April in Puerto Vallarta, Jaime (Lynch, the show’s previous host), who was amazing, happened to be leaving to do her own thing, so it was a win-win for both of us. But I never really left. Our home is here. I’ve missed Vegas so much and the show. It feels like home.
What was it like getting back in the saddle at Fantasy?
It’s pretty challenging with the dancing and new numbers. The show is freshened every year. It took a good few weeks in Mexico, studying it on video and online. Once I got back to Las Vegas, I had a few rehearsals and got right back into it.
What prompted you to head to Europe?
It was my dream fantasy job, to do an arena tour, a modern version of Grease. I was offered the lead role of Sandy and my husband was offered the role of Vince Fontaine. We got the chance to tour all over Europe and be in one of the most popular musicals of all time.
Did you grow as an artist?
I learned a lot, both choreography and acting. I’d never taken acting or dancing lesson in my life. And then my husband and I put a show together and we do a lot of comedy and improv. We think of it as “Sonny & Charo.”
You’re known as a song belter, and being gregarious onstage, so what was it like to play quiet, shy Sandy?
In Fantasy I’m not scripted and get to banter with the audience. I’m just this fireball. Doing my first musical, I couldn’t do that, I had to stay in character. I learned a lot about calming down. I had to play this innocent girl, like “Oh Danny!” I couldn’t wait to become Sandy at the end (when she transforms into a leather-clad biker chick). I was exploding inside! At the end, singing, “Ya better shape up!” I’m like, “Waaaaa!” People were like, “Holy crap! Where did THAT come from?’
You have a big bold style when you perform in Vegas. Did that always come naturally?
Yes. I was always entertaining in front of my family, I would stand on a table, 5 years old and belt it out. Then I started listening to Linda Ronstadt, she was a big influence. Then I got a karaoke machine and did everything that came with it—Barbra Streisand, Sheena Easton, Mariah Carey, Celine. I tried to mimic those voices and I was able to be that powerful—and loud. But I do have my sweet side. I can do a very angelic sound as well.
What was your career turning point?
In San Francisco, where I was born and raised, I’d never had a professional singing job. I was a housekeeper for four and a half years. Then I got my first office job and I decided, “Okay, I’m not going to be a singer. I love to sing on the weekends doing karaoke but I won’t pursue L.A. or Vegas.” Then I was on a Carnival Cruise vacation and did a talent show. Everyone stood up after I did “A Natural Woman.” Later I’m at the disco and the cruise director taps me on the shoulder and offers me a six-month contract to work as the principal star. I thought he was pranking me or hitting on me. I thought, “I’m a housekeeper, hire me because I’m good at cleaning toilets.” Then I realized he was serious. It gave me the confidence to say, “Whoa, I might be okay to do this professionally.” I did that for four years. Then I came to Vegas and on my first day I got a job (in Sin City Bad Girls at the former Las Vegas Hilton). That kept building my confidence and I thought, “Wow, what’s next?” But I still kept humble. I made a vow to myself that I would never become that stuck-up diva.
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