ENTERTAINMENT

Impersonators share thrill of pretending to be a superstar

Tribute entertainers are both fans and talented stars in their own right.

Series of concerts across the Lower Mainland features Tina, George and Shania impersonators

Luisa Marshall, Bill Pantazis, Jenni Doyle perform as Tina, George, and Shania (CBC)

Luisa Marshall believes it was her destiny to become a celebrity impersonator.

She always sang and entertained, but one night while performing in Dubai decades ago, she was asked to do a couple of Tina Turner songs. 

She bought a cheap wig and did Proud Mary.

The audience went wild.

Playing Tina Turner has been keeping Luisa Marshall busy for decades. (Luisa Marshall)

Now, Marshall puts on tribute shows featuring other celebrity impersonators from across the musical spectrum.

Marshall's Tina impersonation is so good she's been on Ellen and Oprah.

"I'm just so lucky and grateful," Marshall said. "It was just so simply amazing."

Imitation as a form of flattery

For bus driver Bill Pantazis, his impersonation career started in 1998 when people thought he was George Michael.

The two men share the same hazel eyes and Greek features.

Bill Pantazis plays George Michael from the "Faith" era. (Bill Pantazis)

"Someone asked me to do a performance at their wedding, like a song or two," Pantazis said. "Then I started going to the celebrity impersonators conventions, and it really took off from there".

Playing a hero

For Jenni Doyle, the transformation to celebrity impersonator has been more recent. 

Doyle was playing in a few cover bands in the city when she was approached to do a country tribute last year. She chose to play Shania Twain and Faith Hill. 

Soon, she was urged to get in touch with Marshall. 

She loves how much fun it is to play an icon.

"It's an honour," Doyle said. "I have loved Shania Twain. She was one of the first concerts I saw."

Jenni Doyle plays Shania Twain. (Jenni Doyle)

Pantazis wishes he could have met George Michael. They have so much in common, he said, including their zodiac signs and where their families are from in Greece.

Marshall loves doing tribute shows. She says the fans are so appreciative, it inspires her each time.

"How cool is it for me to emulate the queen of rock?" she said.

There are six concerts in the series:

  • New Westminster: Massey Theatre, Feb. 3
  • Ladner: Genesis Theatre, March 2
  • Chilliwack: HUB International Theatre, March 9
  • North Vancouver: Centennial Theatre, March 16
  • Mission: Clark Theatre, March 23
  • Maple Ridge: The Act Theatre, April 15

For tickets, go to luisamarshall.com.