Claire Voyant's Las Vegas Gossip Column

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.  

Claire Voyant  

Note: This is a past column from March 30, 2007
You can find the current column HERE

Las Vegas - March 30, 2007

Liza Minnelli Tony Sacca KT Sullivan & Mark Nadler

It's hard to believe that the old lady on the south end of the famed Las Vegas Strip has been around for a half-century. She hardly looks a day over 35. No, no. We're not referring to Liza Minnelli who is singing for her supper at the Luxor this weekend (besides, Ms. Minnelli is much older - she turned 61 on March 12th), but the hotel/casino on the southeast corner of Tropicana and Las Vegas Blvd. A gala party (sorry, invited guests only) will be held at the Tropicana tomorrow, March 31st, to celebrate the hotel's 50th anniversary/birthday. Current and former Folies Bergere cast members, as well as a number of well-known celebrities, are expected to participate in the fun. We will report on the festivities next Friday.

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You have heard of the Battle of the Bands, the Battle of the Sexes, the Battle of the Late Night Talk Show Hosts (of the network variety), blah, blah, blah… These nights, Las Vegas may be introducing the battle of all of these things combined. Maybe we can call this one the Battle of the Onetime Friends. This battle involves the concept of cabaret entertainment combined with dinner. In one corner we have Jeanne Bavaro, personal manager/producer/writer/director/promoter. Jeanne has been managing talent for almost 20 years. Her primary client is her husband, singer/vocal impressionist, Bill Acosta. Jeanne also guides the career of tap dancer Jay Fagan and works with Rasheda Ali - the daughter of The Champ, Muhammad Ali, and half-sister of this season‘s Dancing With the Stars competitor, Laila Ali (we have our money on this professional female boxer to win the big prize). In the other corner, we have radio and TV talk show host and major self-promoter, Tony Sacca. Since we call them as we see (and hear) them, we classify Tony as a mediocre (at best) singer and a very average interviewer. So, how has his TV show managed to stay on the air for so long? The time for his talk/variety show, along with his relatively new radio show, is bought and paid for, making the productions more like Infomercials. As a result, some of the stations even offer the usual pre-broadcast disclaimer, "The opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of...," well you know the drill. We have to give credit where credit is due. What Mr. Sacca lacks in talent he more than makes up for with stamina. Much like the Energizer Bunny, this guy doesn't give up...he just keeps going and going and going. Now we can add another thing he has going for (or against) him... "chutzpa" (that means "balls‘ to those that are not familiar with the word). We understand that Mr. Sacca, who currently holds the title of president in a local organization known as The CAST Inc., suggested Ms. Bavaro pay membership dues to said CAST so she (being a paid up member) could promote her three-month-old cabaret/dinner theater project to other members. (We will TRY to explain the CAST organization next week.) Ms. Bavaro did just that, only to find that Mr. Sacca is now also promoting HIS copycat version of a "new" cabaret dinner show. Bavaro feels this move "isn't kosher" (that means "it's a lousy thing to do to a friend" for those not familiar with the expression). We would have to agree. There is a lot of not-kosher "ham" (ego) on Mr. Sacca's plate, which may explain this move on his part. (This is a man, by the way, who was very upset not to have a sandwich named after him when Happy Harry‘s, a West Flamingo eatery, opened a few years back. If La Cage star, Frank Marino, and local TV news personalities had menu items bearing their names, why not a Tony Sacca beignet?) But we digress. Here's the cabaret show timeline. Jeanne started her series the last Friday in January, presenting Lisa Donovan at Josette's Bistro. The following month, it was comedienne Janice Hart doing her act, also at Josette's. (Did Cousin Claire misspell Ms. Hart's first name in an earlier column? We certainly hope not!) This month, on Friday the 23rd, seeking a larger venue, Bavaro presented vocalist Jeneane Marie at Fellini's Italian Dining establishment. Surprise. Surprise. Mr. Sacca is now going to try his hand at a too-similar-for-comfort, surprise, Josette's! The fact that he and the bistro's owner, Josette, have a very, very close relationship has made it very easy for Tony to slip into Josette‘s (take that any way you want to).

And the plot thickens. Not only are Bavaro and Sacca going head-to-head with cabaret-type shows at Westside restaurants, they will also be adding the Starbright Theatre in Sun City Summerlin as a location to showcase talent. The big difference here is, that while Bavaro will be presenting others (Lisa Donovan, Janis Hart, Jeneane Marie and Denise Clemente among them), Sacca, no surprise, will, once again, be presenting and promoting himself. Hey, it's a dirty job but somebody has to do it.

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April 15th is right around the corner and you know what THAT means. No, we're not referring to that obligation you probably have to communicate with Uncle Sam, we're talking about the long awaited Las Vegas return of Mark Nadler and KT Sullivan. The talented twosome performed their Sweet and Lowdown: An Afternoon of Pure Gershwin at the Charleston Heights Arts Center in January of 2005. They were a smash, earning a well-deserved "A" from the Review-Journal's tough theater critic, Anthony Del Valle, as well as the tremendous response from the audience. This time, it's Always: The Love Story of Irving Berlin that will unfold on the stage at Charleston Heights. Nadler and Sullivan don't just sing the story of Irving Berlin, they TELL the story, using dance and humor along with the music. Currently performing their Betty Comden and Adolph Green tribute, Make Someone Happy, in the Oak Room at the Algonquin Hotel in New York, KT and Mark won't have any time to rest on their laurels after their four week run ends. The show closes April 14th so they will probably have to nap on the plane as they wind their way to Las Vegas. With the spectacular reviews from the New York Times' Stephen Holden, the Oak Room show probably could have played longer, but these two wouldn't dream of disappointing their Southern Nevada fans. If you haven't made your reservations already, it may be too late to see them this time, but go ahead and give it a try. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door (yes, you read that right). Call (702) 229-6383...NOW (unless it's midnight and then wait until normal business hours).

If you happen to be reading this while you are in New York, or are planning a trip there in the near future, here's a little tip from Mark Nadler who is doing something he claims he NEVER does...he is recommending a favorite restaurant. He tells Cousin Claire that, "One of the best things about living in New York is that there are very special little jewels and when you know about them, you feel like a REAL New Yorker! One of those is a place to have High Tea at a low tariff. (They also have delicious breakfast and lunch.) The place is charming, has a really pleasant staff and the best scones I've ever had - not to mention any kind of tea you can imagine and many that you could never have imagined! It's really a unique and fun place and I hope I'll see you often at Alice's Tea Cup on 64th Street, just east of Lexington Avenue in Manhattan." Just don't expect to see him there on April 15th!

David Kancsar Larry Atello Christine Ebersole

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Although Forever Plaid will close up shop in Las Vegas (for right now, anyway) after Sunday night's performance at the Gold Coast, the cast will stay busy. In mid-April, the singing Plaids will be performing in the 500-seat Showcase Theatre at the Sycuan Resort & Casino located in El Cajon outside San Diego. As they have been for more than six years, the four vocalists will be accompanied by David Kancsar, the show's musical director/pianist. David, the "unsung" hero of Forever Plaid, will then travel to Oklahoma where he will work with a 100-voice youth choir. Long term, he will be involved with The Venetian's Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular, The Producers at Paris Las Vegas, Mandalay Bay's Mamma Mia! and Spamalot, just opened at Wynn Las Vegas, where he subs on various keyboard chairs for all four shows. The accomplished Las Vegas-based musician began his studies at the age of three, graduating to formal classical training with world-class pianists and pedagogues. Mr. Kancsar received a piano performance degree from the University of Southern California School of Music in Los Angeles while studying under Daniel Pollack. During his college years, collaborative efforts in chamber music led him into musical theater, which resulted in a five-year run as music director of the Flamingo Las Vegas' production of Forever Plaid. He has served in the capacity of music director and/or pianist for Mandalay Bay's productions of Chicago and Mamma Mia!, the holiday hit Plaid Tidings, and the Flamingo's Second City. You can hear Mr. Kancsar, along with the amazing vocals of the Plaids, on the 15th anniversary cast recording released on DRG records in 2005. Mr. Kancsar maintains a private teaching studio and can also be heard each Sunday morning at Community Lutheran Church in Las Vegas, where he works with the traditional choir as well as the contemporary worship band. Whenever a lull in his musical activities presents itself (which isn‘t very often), David Kancsar prefers to be found underwater, scuba diving, or with his feet strapped to a snowboard.

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Larry Atello, who Cousin Claire met at Ruth Brown's memorial service in December, is still playing wedding singer Donny Dulce in Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding at The Rio. A review of the interactive dinner-show in the March 4th issue of Las Vegas Magazine stated, "Each player brings his own charming perspective to the show, especially Larry Atello as wedding singer Donny Dulce, whose Bon Jovi-like vocals put a whole new spin on reception standards and cheesy dance classics." Tony ‘n' Tina's Wedding plays seven days a week at 7:00 p.m. (Atello is in the show Tuesdays through Saturdays). When he isn't portraying Donny at the Rio, Larry Atello can be seen and heard fronting his Bon Jovi tribute band, Have a Nice Day. Atello happily informs that his two CDs, The Big Payoff and Welcome To The Wrecking Ball, are now on iTunes and available for downloading. Happy listening!

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We have a little scoop regarding UNLV's 2007-2008 popular New York Stage & Beyond series. Look for Tony Award-winner (Best Leading Actress in a Musical for her role as Dorothy Brock in the 2001 revival of 42nd Street) Christine Ebersole in February. Last year, Ebersole took on the demanding, dual role of "Little Edie" Beale and her mother, Edith Bouvier Beale, in Gray Gardens, a new musical based on the Maysles Brothers documentary film of the same name. After a sold-out off-Broadway run, Ebersole remained with the show when it moved to the Walter Kerr Theatre on Broadway. She has received rave reviews as well as the Obie, Drama Desk and Drama League Awards for her stunning performance. The Chicago-born singer/actress, her husband of 19 years, Bill Moloney, and their three adopted children, make their home in Maplewood, New Jersey. A bit of trivia...Christine Ebersole was once married to Peter Bergman who has played Jack Abbott on the daytime soap, The Young and the Restless, since 1989. You can bet we will have more about Christine, and the rest of the as-yet-to-be-announced performers, as it gets closer to the date.

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Cousin Claire had the opportunity to meet personable Nassau-born King Errisson a few weeks ago. Errisson, who has a home in Las Vegas, has been Neil Diamond's conga player/percussionist for about 30 years. When he isn‘t traveling with Neil, or spending time at his Pestell Beach Resort on the Bahamas' Acklins Island, he can sometimes be found sitting (or standing) in with Diamond tribute artist Jay White, who, as you have read here many times before, performs in the Riviera‘s Le Bistro Theatre. Errisson, who has also played behind the Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross, has a new CD, titled Nice, on the market. The gentleman kindly gave us a copy. Seven of the 13 songs are either written or co-written by Mr. Errisson. There are also tunes by Carole Bayer Sager and Burt Bacharach, Barry White and Ashford and Simpson. Joining Errisson on vocals are Liza Rey Butler, Sherrill Atwood, Dani McCormick and Lisa Nobumoto. This compilation, produced by King Errisson is Nice. Very Nice.

King Errisson Bobby Berosini

And speaking of Jay White, If you are a hockey fan, and plan to attend the 2007 National Hockey League's Alumni & Celebrity All-Star Classic at the Orleans Arena tomorrow afternoon (March 31st), you might be surprised to see Neil Diamond in the goalie position. Okay, so it isn't exactly Neil Diamond but it sure looks and sounds like Neil Diamond. We know why. It's Jay White, the Neil Diamond tribute artist out there on the ice. Whether holding a hockey stick or a guitar, Jay is at the top of his game. Presented in conjunction with the Diabetic Life Foundation, fans can watch as the alumni and celebrities take to the ice to "Beat Diabetes with a Stick." In addition to White, you will see stars such as Ian Turnbull, Steve Larmer, Rod Buskas, Pokey Reddick and Alan Thicke, among others. Tickets are available at the Orleans Box Office. Group tickets in blocks of 50 or 100 are available from Diabetic Life by calling (702) 614-0041. You can catch Jay White, off the ice, at the Riviera's Le Bistro Theatre, Sundays through Thursdays at 7:00 p.m. Call (702) 794-9433 for reservations.

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Bad Boy Bobby Berosini is back in the news again. The Monkey Man has lost another round in his 17-year court battle with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, more commonly known as (PETA). In 1989, the former Las Vegas headliner was video taped backstage as he repeatedly punched, shook, struck and slapped the forcibly restrained orangutans he used in his Stardust Lido de Paris act. Berosini and his performing orangutans starred at the Stardust through the late 1980s. In 1990, he brought a $3.1 million suit against PETA, claiming that the organization had defamed him and invaded his privacy. Berosini claimed the video tapes, taken by Lido cast members, had been doctored to show him in a bad light. In 1995, the Supreme Court of Nevada ruled that Berosini's lawsuit was without merit and ordered him to pay PETA's court costs. Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco upheld a lower court ruling that required Berosini to pay more than $250,000 to three law firms representing Jeanne Roush, former executive director of the animal rights group, PETA. The costs were incurred by attorneys in their efforts to locate assets that Bobby Berosini and his wife, Joan Berosini, had hidden after they were ordered to pay court costs to PETA. Berosini has already paid PETA more than $400,000 for those costs. On February 6th, the court said that Berosini failed to present evidence that the amounts requested were unreasonable, redundant or excessive. The real victory is for the animals. Berosini no longer owns the orangutans. "There's a lesson here for any entertainers who still feel that beating animals is acceptable," says PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk. "Berosini kept intelligent apes locked up in steel boxes for years, and he can never pay back the animals for the nightly beatings they endured."

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Claire Voyant's portrait by Charlie Frye