Displaying keen perception and great insight.
She's a little bit naughty. She’s a little bit nice.
She calls ‘em like she sees (and hears) ‘em.
Note: This is a past column from February 26, 2011
You can find the current column HERE
Las Vegas - February 26, 2011
What a nightmare! You have heard of Sleepless in
Seattle? Well, since February 9th, we have been Computerless
in Las Vegas (a much more serious issue than being Sleepless in
Seattle). As a result of this catastrophe, we lost many of our documents
and photos, as well as missed being able to write about a number of important
(to us) things we had seen as well as things we wanted our readers to see (or,
at least, know about). Some of the "upcoming things" may have already happened,
as we don't know what time we will get this up on the Internet. For that, we
apologize to the performers as well as the public who missed some great
* * * * * * * *
Among the things we wanted you to know about were (operative
word, WERE, as in, it's too late to see...this time)...
After a four month "hiatus," The Composers Showcase, presented in conjunction
with PK Music and Creative Studios LV, returned to the delight of fans of the
popular series. The once monthly offering, had come to a screeching halt when
the Liberace Museum closed last October. Last week's February 24th
showcase, featuring the original works of Vegas residents, sung and played by
the most talented show folk anywhere, was held at Creative Studios LV, within
the confines of the LoftWorks at 6415 S. Tenaya Way, Suite 140, featured the
songs of The Apple Sisters (Kimmy Gatewood, Rebekka Johnson
and Sarah Lowe), Michael Brennan, Wayne Green, Susan
Haller, Richard Oberacker, Keith Thompson and others,
performed by Travis Cloer, Kristen Hertzenberg, Christine
Hudman, Greg Kata, Brandon Singleton, Joan Sobel,
Rebecca Spencer, Nikka Wahl and Tina Walsh. The amazing
musicians for the evening included Joel Ferguson, Philip
Fortenberry, Don Meoli, Keith Nelson, Rebecca
Ramsey, Joey Singer, Eric Tewalt and Moonlight Tran.
About 150 music lovers found their way to Creative Studios, located in the
southwest part of the city, near Rainbow and Sunset. Among those that we
spotted in the audience were JoAnn Toranto, Jeanne Bavaro,
Marcus Weiss, Carole Hassell, Larry Frost, Evan and
Sandi Davis, Laura Blackburn, and Maythinee Washington.
Will Adamson, president of Creative Studios, did a fine job as host for
the late evening/early morning soiree.
And speaking of Richard Oberacker (he's the musical
director for KA at the MGM Grand), his show, The Parenting Project (the
new title of what was formerly called Don't Make Me Pull This Show Over),
was a hit at the Flamingo Library Theater on Saturday and Sunday, February
19th and 20th. A number of songwriter Oberacker's
creations from The Parenting Project had been performed at the above
mentioned Composers Showcase in previous months. What was nice about this
recent concert (benefiting Family Promise of Las Vegas) was the opportunity to
try out four new songs in the show, added since the musical debuted at the
Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati a year and a half ago. Songs that had been
performed at the showcase were "I Don't Have The Right" (a mother's response to
finding pot in her daughter's room), "E-Mails From China" (about a couple
traveling to China to meet their newly adopted daughter for the first time -
based on the real life e-mails of Tracy Lynn Thomas who was in the Las
Vegas company of Mamma Mia!, "Against the Glass" (about a young single
mother taking her child to the zoo and contemplating the ease at which a mother
chimp tends to her baby), and "I Need Sleep" (which is pretty self-explanatory
as it comes near the top of the show when parents are dealing with a new
infant). Other titles include "The Talk" which concerns how one might approach
the birds and the bees discussion, "Make It From Scratch" which comically
depicts a young mother having a near breakdown over baking the perfect Toll
House cookie, and "Reversal" which explores the delicate and graceful shift at
the end of the parenting cycle when a grown child must become a parent to their
own elderly parent. Richard stated that he was extremely excited about this
benefit and the chance to hear this music performed by these singers. The show
was originally conceived to be played by only five actors. For last weekends
event, they had about 26 of the most talented performers in the city, including
Bruce Ewing, Tina Walsh, Kristen Hertzenberg, Rochelle
Collins, Christine Hudman, Corwyn Hodge, Kissy Simmons,
Niles Rivers, Patrick Leveque, Randal Keith, Sarah
Elizabeth Combs, Greg Kata, Damian Baldet, Robbie
Swift, Thom Sesma, Sarah Lowe, and Vita Corimbi. "That
means that I'll be able to hear some of the ensemble numbers with a much larger
sound than I've ever heard," said Oberacker. He went on to say, "That should be
thrilling! And with all the solo numbers distributed among many different
singers of varying ages, it should be a very moving journey through the
chronological cycle of parenting. I think the piece as a whole will have a much
deeper and richer complexity to it when presented this way. I also think it will
be funnier and more uplifting than it has ever been, given some of the new songs
and the comedic talents of some of these singers, like Corimbi and Lowe."
Richard had a right to be excited about this venture. What made the afternoons
even more special was the fact that his proud mother, Phyllis Oberacker,
visiting from Cleveland, was in the audience to share the experience.
* * * * * * * *
Christopher Peterson as Marilyn
There was a good turnout for the February 20th
tribute to Breck Wall at the South Point. Wall, of Bottoms Up
fame, passed away on November 15th at the age of 75. Wall had
suffered from Alzheimer's Disease during the last couple of years of his life.
Among those participating in the tribute, organized by Carrie Proffitt,
Ken Owens and Jimmy Emerson, were Tony Arias, Senate
Majority Leader Harry Reid, Kenny Kerr, Las Vegas Mayor Oscar
Goodman and wife Carolyn, poet Billie Duncan, Ken
Prescott, Martin Nievera (on tape), and Wes Winters, who did a
beautiful job on his moving original composition, "Send Down An Angel." A
highlight of the afternoon program was a tribute to the late
choreographer/costume designer, Michael Darrin. Michael was an integral
part of Bottoms Up and other Breck Wall and Patrick Maes
productions. We were delighted to see some familiar faces in the crowd,
among them, Suzanne Buhrer (in from San Antonio), B.J. Doolan
(also traveling from Texas), Tim Dunn, Robert Beal, Christopher
Peterson, Sue Motsinger, David Harris, Betty Bunch,
Lee Plotkin, Robert Smith, Jerry Ritholz Jarvis,
Grant Philipo, Mary Dee Mantle, Paul Hansell, Mary
Schwartz, Kellie Wright and the Golden Nugget's Ron O'Neal.
* * * * * * * *
We went to The Onyx Theatre to see the multi-talented
Christopher Peterson in his tour de force show called Eyecons.
Although this Canadian-born entertainer has been compared to the legendary
female impersonator, Jim Bailey, whereas Bailey performs as one celebrity
(Miss Peggy Lee, Barbra Streisand, Phyllis Diller, or
Judy Garland) during his show, Mr. Peterson does many. While never
leaving the stage, or the audiences sight, he changes costumes and wigs behind a
screen, transforming himself into Marilyn Monroe, Carol Channing,
Bette Midler, Lucille Ball, Tina Turner, Judy
Garland, Bette Davis, Liza Minnelli, Julie Andrews, and
Joan Rivers, all the while sharing the story of how he became a female
impersonator. Tonight is the last performance for this particular engagement.
Showtime is at 8 p.m.
And speaking of female impersonators, Brian Keith is,
once again, filling in for Frank Marino while the star of Divas Las Vegas
is spending some time in Australia. Brian, who makes his home in the City By
the Bay, where he works as an emergency room nurse, has stepped into his Monolo
Blahniks and donned makeup and wigs to take over for Frank on previous
occasions. Up until just a few months ago, Brian's hospital co-workers had no
idea that his earlier career saw him doing drag at the world famous Finocchio's
in San Francisco. Since they learned of his past life, Brian has become the hit
of the hospital. A number of the staff members have traveled to Las Vegas to
see Brian working in gowns instead of scrubs. His father, who had never seen
his handsome son transform himself into a glamorous showgal, traveled from
Cleveland for this engagement. Frank Marino's Divas Las Vegas plays at
the Imperial Palace, with show times at 10 p.m. For tickets, priced at $39, $69
and $79, plus taxes and fees, call (888) 777-7664. You can catch Brian Keith in
Divas, through Monday, March 1st.
* * * * * * * *
Tomorrow (Sunday, February 27th) at 2 p.m., the
Performing Arts Society of Nevada Brown Bag Concert will present the magical
husband and wife team of Joseph Gabriel and Katalin. The award-
winning Joseph Gabriel will perform some of the highlights from his Broadway
show. Katalin, one of Europe's premiere female magicians, will also display her
talent, both as an individual and assisting Joseph. Also performing will
be pianist/singer/entertainer, Wes Winters, and the amazing Nino
Frediani, billed as "The World's Fastest Juggler." This variety show will
take place at the Clark County Flamingo Library, 1401 E. Flamingo. Tickets are
only $15, and may be purchased at the library box office an hour before show
time. For additional information, call (702) 658-0741. The Performing Arts
Society, now in its 21st year, is a 501 C3 not for profit
* * * * * * * *
We will have information about the F.I.O.R.E.'s most recent event (and maybe
a photo or two) in Friday's column.
* * * * * * * *
Joseph Gabriel & Katalin
Last Saturday, vocalist, Lucy Shropshire,
performed at the popular Triad club in the Big Apple. A former Las Vegan,
the lady with the "unusual name, unforgettable voice" was a principal in the
Stardust's production, Enter the Night. When she isn't entertaining in a
cabaret setting, Lucy tours with the Supreme Mary Wilson as one of her
backup singers. The Triad show, directed by another onetime Las Vegan, Jim
Semmelman, featured David Shenton on piano. Hope you New Yorkers had
a chance to see this talented lady at work.
* * * * * * * *
At Southern California's Norris Center for the Performing
Arts, Larry Raben and Nick Santa Maria, who were both in the Las
Vegas production of Mel Brooks' The Producers, co-starred
in Neil Simon's The Odd Couple, from January
28th through February 13th. One of the most famous stage
comedies in American history, The Odd Couple tells the story of Felix
Ungar, a neurotic, neat freak news writer who is thrown out by his wife, and
moves in with his friend Oscar Madison, a slovenly sportswriter, with disastrous
and hilarious results. These unforgettable characters have become cultural
icons, and the play has spawned both popular film and television productions.
Neil Simon has written 28 plays, and has had more hits in the theater than any
other American playwright. Simon has won four Tony Awards, two Emmys, numerous
Screen Writers Guild Awards and the Pulitzer Prize for drama. He has been
showered with more Academy and Tony Award nominations than any other writer, and
is the only playwright to have four Broadway productions running simultaneously.
Some of Simon's best-known plays include, Plaza Suite, The Out of
Towners, Rumors, Lost in Yonkers and The Goodbye Girl.
This production of The Odd Couple, directed and produced by James
Gruessing, stars equity actors Raben as Felix Ungar and Santa Maria as Oscar
Madison. Larry Raben returned to the Norris after previously appearing as Bryce
in The Big Bang. He played the role of Leo Bloom in The Producers
on Broadway and in the entire run in Las Vegas (with co-star Nick Santa Maria).
Larry, a Los Angeles and regional favorite, also appeared as Lt. Frank Cioffi in
Curtains (Music Theatre of Wichita), Patrick in The Andrews
Brothers (LA Ovation Award-Musical Theatre West/Cabrillo Music Theatre),
Forbidden Broadway (Ovation nomination-MTW) Hysterium in ...Forum
(Reprise!), Ross in Bright Ideas (Laguna Playhouse), I Love You,
You're Perfect, Now Change (Off Broadway and LA Canon Theatre), Jerry/Daphne
in Sugar (Gateway Playhouse), Ensign Pulver in Mr. Roberts (Old
Globe Theatre), Cornelius Hackl in Hello, Dolly! (Pittsburgh CLO), Finch
in How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Josh in
Big. Off-Broadway, he was in the original company of Forever Plaid
and can be seen as Sparky in Forever Plaid – The Movie which is scheduled
to be released on DVD in the spring. Nick Santa Maria was recently seen in
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee as Mr. Panch (3-D
Theatricals), Mr. Bromhead in No Sex Please, We're British, and as
Pseudolus in, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at the
Norris Theatre. Television: The Buffalo Bill Show, B.J. Stryker,
and two Disney Christmas Specials. Off Broadway he was writer/composer/performer
on Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know (Soundtrack on RCA Victor).
Broadway: Vince Fontaine in Tommy Tune's production of Grease!. He
also appeared in every domestic company of Mel Brooks' The Producers,
understudying everyone from Nathan Lane and Jason Alexander, to
Tony Danza, David Hasselhoff and Lee Roy Reams. He was the
original Genie in Disney's Aladdin: a Musical Spectacular (soundtrack on
Disney Records). The Odd Couple cast also included Sara J. Stuckey
(Gwendolyn Pigeon), Rachel Scott (Cicely Pigeon), David Diestel
(Roy), Jason Hammond (Vinnie), Jason Sluyter (Murray), and
Craig Mitchell (Speed). Needless to say, we had intended to use this
information BEFORE the show ended. Blame the computer.
* * * * * * * *
Nick Santa Maria
Belated birthday greetings to some of our fellow Aquarians
(January 21st through February 19th), including
Wyntergrace Williams, Keith Thompson, Neil Diamond, Jim
Seagrave, Terry Jenkins, Walter Mason, Eve Quillin,
Doug Saleeby, Nino Frediani, Ariann Black, Ashleigh
Hackett, Irving Benson, Jim Semmelman, Ron Andrews,
Nancy Lee Parker Andrews, Joe Krathwohl, John Meren,
Cindy Raft, Martin Nievera, Natalie Cole, Eddie Foy
III, Dacoda Collins, Norm Johnson, Joey Zarzecki,
Phyllis McGuire, Sean Grady, Eddie Van Halen, Ellen
DeGeneres, Adam Lambert, Harold Prince, Phil Collins,
Brett Butler, Carol Channing, Harry Wayne Casey (KC
of the Sunshine Band), Don Everley, Sherman Hemsley,
Lisa Marie Presley, Pauly Shore, Alice Cooper, Oscar De
La Hoya, Natalie Cole, Fabian, Garth Brooks, Robert
Klein, Vince Neil, Carole King, Travis Tritt, Sergio
Mendes, Sheryl Crow, Michael McDonald, Peter Tork (of
The Monkees), Teller (the quiet half of Penn &
Teller), Melissa Manchester, Dame Edna (Barry
Humphries), Ronnie Vannucci (The Killers), and Larry the
Cable Guy. Also, anniversary greetings to Jimmy and Sheri
Hopper, and Harry and Piper Goldson.
And speaking of Vince Neil...Yesterday, the bad boy
rocker was released from jail after serving only 10 days of his 15 day sentence
for a drunk driving incident in Las Vegas last June. Are we the only ones who
find this barely-a-slap-on-the-wrist "punishment" disturbing...especially when
you consider that the Motley Crue member was involved in a DUI fatality
in the '80s? This is shameful! Let's see what kind of sentence poor Lindsay
Lohan gets for her latest of many crimes...this one for shoplifting. No
wonder these pampered celebrities keep repeating their dirty deeds.
* * * * * * * *
Beautiful Brittney Porter just won Spy on Vegas'
Sexiest Server contest. The grand prize is $10,000! Brittney, who has been
figure skating since she was a little girl and has taught for the past nine
years (her parents are ice skating veterans, Sally Porter Coombs and
Richard Porter) represented all the Station Casino's as she works as a
bartender at the Santa Fe's Revolver. She had more than 32,000 votes, while the
second place winner received 18,000. The beautiful brunette received the most
votes, ever, for all the years that the contest has been running.
* * * * * * * *
It appears that Triumph, which was an on again, off
again production in the main showroom at the Las Vegas Hilton, has run out of
steam and closed, permanently, on Wednesday. We hate to see a large show like
this fail, but there is an expensive lesson here. Perhaps the saying about
"biting off more than you can chew" applies in this case. Most of the time, you
only get one chance to make a good first impression.
* * * * * * * *
Our friend Bill Nolte (he played Franz Liebkind in the
Las Vegas production of The Producers), has left the Broadway cast
of La Cage aux Folles to join the cast of The Road to Qatar.
Jeffrey Tambor has also pulled out of Broadway's latest revival of the
Jerry Herman musical, citing complications from recent hip surgery.
Tambor is probably best known for his roles on TV in The Larry Sanders Show
and Arrested Development. On February 15th, the actor
replaced Kelsey Grammer in the lead role of Georges, the owner of a
glitzy drag club on the French Riviera. Yesterday, February 25th,
Grammer married Kayte Walsh in a ceremony held at the Longacre Theater in
New York, where La Cage aux Folles is currently playing.
* * * * * * * *
Former Las Vegas Hilton entertainment maven, Walter
Mason, is the producer and director of Hands Across the Arts: The Music
of Duke Ellington Meets the Music of Count Basie, playing at the Nicholas
Horn Theatre at the College of Southern Nevada, tonight (February
26th) at 7:30 p.m., and tomorrow at 2 p.m. Veteran trombone player,
Jimmy Wilkins, who is a onetime member of the Basie Band, will lead the
17-piece orchestra. Also performing will be tap dancer Lindell Blake,
singers Moronette Stephens and the Soprano Sisters, violinist
Chase Nighter, and Louis Armstrong tribute artist, Anthony
Brady. Tickets are $10 and $15. CSN is located at 3200 E. Cheyenne in
North Las Vegas. For additional information, call (702) 651-5483.
* * * * * * * *
From Kevin Spirtas, who performed his one man show,
Night and Days, in Las Vegas at both the Starbright Theatre and the
Charleston Heights Art Center and also appeared as Corny Collins in the Luxor's
production of the Broadway musical, Hairspray, comes this information.
Kevin is on the producing team of the new Broadway musical: Priscilla - Queen
of the Desert. Two days ago the show released a PSA for the "It Gets Better"
campaign. The campaign focuses on cheering up gay, lesbian, and transgender
teenagers who have been victims of bullying. This is the first show in the
Broadway community to take a stand with this message and support the cause.
Kevin has received dozens of calls, texts and e-mails about it from people who
let him know how proud they are for his and the show's involvement in
this important cause. One writer said, "This is the reason we are in the ARTS!"
Kevin agrees. He also feels that the action the show has taken with this
campaign simply mirrors the very heart and spirit of the story that he so fell
in love with when he read the Priscilla script for the first time.
Attached are links to the New York Times article and the actual PSA! I
highly encourage you to click on them both and see why 'It Gets Better.' 'It
Gets Better,' the Public Service Announcement (NY Times - Article) by Patrick
Healy. Take the PLEDGE and spread the word!
better-the-public-service-announcement/ 'It Gets Better,' (PSA)
marks Spirtas-Mauro Productions' second Broadway collaboration. Kevin Spirtas is
a 25-year veteran actor of Broadway, film and television. He is most recognized
around the world as Dr. Craig Wesley from televisions' Days of Our Lives.
His Broadway acting credits include, A Chorus Line and The Boy from
Oz, where Spirtas served a Hugh Jackman's standby. Kevin made his
debut as a Broadway producer with the critically acclaimed revival of
Finian's Rainbow. Scott Mauro is an award-winning producer of live
events and television specials. A Broadway marketing veteran, his producing
credits include the 40th, 50th, 51st and
52nd annual Tony Awards (CBS), Night of 100 Stars
(NBC), Soap Update Awards (Lifetime), Cher Live at the Mirage,
Rosemary Clooney: An All-Star Tribute (A&E), Palm Springs Film
Festival Awards, Princess Grace Awards, Richard Rodgers
Centennial, Dreamgirls - 20th Anniversary Reunion,
20th Anniversary of Hair, and numerous Broadway tributes.
Previews of Priscilla Queen of the Desert start on Monday, February
28th at New York's Palace Theatre.
* * * * * * * *
Look for our next column on Friday, March 4th
(fingers are crossed).
Have a question about Las Vegas? Want to make a comment (be nice, now)?
If so, drop an e-mail and ask. Click Here
Cousin Claire will do her best to find the answer for you.
You can find Past Columns HERE
Claire Voyant's portrait by Charlie Frye