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 April 20, 2007
You can find the current column HERE

Las Vegas - April 20, 2007

Martin Nievera Rita Rudner Sammy Shore

In the Philippines, where he was born, Martin Nievera is known as "The Concert King." In Cousin Claire’s opinion, this international singing star should become known in Las Vegas as "The Showroom King." If things go the way they should for Mr. Nievera, that will happen. This entertainer deserves his own permanent room in this city. With the recent departure of Clint Holmes’ from the Strip after six years at Harrah’s, this city is wide open for a performer of Nievera’s talents. He could very well become Vegas’ Next Big Thing, following in the footsteps (and into the footlights) of Lance Burton, Danny Gans, Mac King, Gordie Brown, Amazing Johnathan, and a handful of others whose careers were either launched or expanded here. Of course, Martin has already developed a monumental reputation and following, but in his homeland, even co-hosting the television variety show Penthouse Live! Now it’s time for him to achieve the same kind of success in the U.S., and what better place for that to happen than in the Entertainment Capital of the World. Martin Nievera’s name could and should become synonymous with Las Vegas, much like what occurred with the Rat Pack, Wayne Newton and Siegfried and Roy. With 28 top-selling, award-winning albums (Martin’s first album, Martin...Take One, went platinum five months after its release in 1982) to his credit, and record-breaking concert crowds (he has been selling out venues all over the world for almost 25 years), this man is a natural for our city. Martin’s loyal fans can’t get enough of his personable approach and have kept him popular since the '80s. The 1997 hit You Are My Song earned him several Asian music awards, while his song, Forever, became the second-best selling record ever in the Philippines. Forever was followed up by two sequels, Forever Forever and Return to Forever, both released in 1999. My Souvenirs and More Souvenirs followed in 2001, and When Love is Gone was released in 2005. Nievera has the kind of voice that effortlessly moves from up-tempo songs to beautiful ballads that can cause goose-bumps. We have a theory about Filipinos. Many of them study and develop their craft in the Philippines and then come to the United States to work. Medicine and music seem to be popular career choices - we think it might be something in their water, when it comes to Filipino musicians). In the case of Mr. Nievera, he has managed to conquer both music and medicine. Musically, he is a singer/entertainer of the highest caliber. Medically, watching this man on stage can almost certainly cure what ails you. Martin is backed by a live orchestra, and makes good use of Korean-born Las Vegan Jenevi Bakch who sings harmony and joins him on a couple of duets. With comedy, audience interaction (there is no barrier between the performer and the ticket buyers), and plenty of music, Nievera presents a thoroughly entertaining, well-rounded show. If you would like to see, hear and judge for yourself, for the next couple of weeks (he may possibly be there longer, but don‘t take that chance), he can be found on the stage of the 500-seat theater within the Steve Wyrick Entertainment Complex, inside the Miracle Mile Shops (formerly called the Desert Passage) at Planet Hollywood (previously known, until earlier this week, as the Aladdin). Ticket prices start at $39.95. Show times are at 5 p.m., dark on Wednesdays. For reservations, call (702) 777-7794. Don’t miss this one.

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As Petula Clark sings, "When you’re alone, and life is making you lonely, you can always go...DOWNTOWN," especially when you’re in Las Vegas. Even though a recent contestant on TV’s Millionaire failed to know that the answer to the question about what city had a downtown tourist attraction called the Fremont Street Experience (and, no, it isn’t Boston), us locals know all about Fremont Street. Where else can you find a little joint that serves really good 99 cent shrimp cocktails and 99 cent margaritas and be entertained by a jazz pianist at a black lacquered Baby Grand playing tunes such as Take Five, Green Dolphin Street, Hit the Road Jack and That‘s All? (We would have loved to give you the name of the talented lady, but she would not reveal it. In the Witness Protection Program, maybe? Hiding from the IRS, perhaps? We have no idea.) The answer to where you can find this kind of scenario, of course, is downtown Las Vegas - specifically at the Golden Gate Casino at Main Street and Fremont. With an overhead electric canopy that plays "movies" on the hour, the five blocks of the Fremont Street Experience offers shops, 10 hotel/casinos, more than 60 restaurants, 10,000 slot machines, live concerts (including country star Gretchen Wilson May 12th and 13th), artists, kiosks selling all kinds of interesting gift-type items, Neonopolis, a multiplex movie theater and more. The only disappointment last Friday was the "commercial" for the Plaza’s show, Shag With a Twist. If you have never seen the dance revue, none of the overhead projection would have made much sense. Most of the time, at the completion of one of the "Over the Top" shows - 90-feet of state-of-the-art sound and visuals - the crowds applaud. That didn’t happen with this ad. Bring back the patriotic American Freedom, Lucky Vegas, Above & Beyond and some of the less commercial subjects. By the way, the show in the sky and the outdoor entertainment are free. The main purpose of our trip downtown, though, was to see recording artist Steve Tyrell at the Golden Nugget. Tyrell, a popular cabaret and concert act around the country but a newcomer on the Vegas entertainment scene, put on a terrific show, singing songs from the great American songbook. Backed by a wonderful seven-piece ensemble, and displaying a warm personality, Steve Tyrell should become a regular Vegas visitor. And speaking of Petula (and we were), her representative, Selwyn Miller, was in the crowd checking out Tyrell. Also spotted in the beautiful new 600-seat Nugget theater was comic Rita Rudner (currently headlining at Harrah’s in Las Vegas) and her producer husband, Martin Bergman; singer/actress Maggie Peterson Mancuso (remember her as Charlene Darling in The Andy Griffith Show?); Las Vegas pioneer, Carole Hassell; Marvin Lashever and his lady Linda Glynn, with client, funnyman Sammy Shore, Ben Bernstein of the famed William Morris Agency and a Tony Bennett look-alike. We wish people were required to wear nametags. It would aid us in identifying those that should be mentioned.

In our opinion, the previous proprietors of the Golden Nugget, aka "The Tim and Tom Regime," turned the place into a joke. Did anyone, beside Cousin Claire (who studies all things Vegas), watch The Casino, FOX’s misrepresented "reality" series? Claiming to want to bring class and elegance to their newly acquired property, these two smart men did everything but that by agreeing to do this TV show. On the other hand, the new owners of the Golden Nugget (the folks behind the Landry’s restaurants) have done a magnificent job of updating what was already a premiere property. We doubt that anyone would argue the fact that the Nugget, originally opened for business in 1946, has been the nicest of the downtown hotel/casinos for years. There have been many changes in its 60 years of life. Steve Wynn turned the place into a property to rival anything on the Strip...but that was then. Although the Nugget has been the diamond of downtown for years, today it is the Krupp diamond! The new owners aren’t finished with the redo and expansion just yet. A new tower is in the works. We recommend a trip downtown, even if it’s just to check out this spectacular hotel/casino.

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Look for the above mentioned Petula Clark to perform in The Club at The Cannery on September 15th. Opening for Ms. Clark, for Las Vegas radio station the KJUL’s Listener Appreciation Party, will be comedian Sammy Shore (also mentioned above). For you young readers, Sammy Shore is the founder of the world famous Comedy Store (lost to his former wife, Mitzi Shore, during their long ago divorce) and the father of comic/actor Pauly Shore. For you more mature readers, you may remember Sammy as opening act for Elvis Presley from 1969 to 1972. These days, Shore is the regular opener for singer Tony "Knock Three Times" Orlando. Is Sammy funny? He damn well should be. He has had about 75 years to perfect and polish his act!

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Rumor has it that, due to her good crowd counts, Roseanne Barr’s engagement at New York-New York will be extended. Originally scheduled to perform from mid-March to the end of April, she will now be sharing her wisdom and very funny philosophies with the masses, at least through mid-June. From April 26th through the 30th, Roseanne will present five of the semi-finalists from her Nick at Night show, Funniest Mom In America 3. The 428-seat Cabaret Theatre at NY-NY (where Rita Rudner held court for a number of years) is a great room for comedy, offering an up-close-and-personal connection to the performer. Show times for Roseanne’s All You Can Eat Comedy, are at 8 p.m., dark on Wednesdays. Beginning May 2nd, dark nights will probably be Wednesdays and Thursdays (we will keep you posted on those details). Tickets are $49.95. Call (866) 606-7111 for reservations.

Roseanne Barr Brian Haner Robert Allen

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And speaking of funny (and we were), Bobby Slayton was slaying them in the new 300-seat Night Owl Showroom at Hooters on Wednesday evening. If you are looking for "politically correct," Bobby may not be your man. If you are looking for funny, and possibly becoming part of his act, head for Hooters. An enthusiastic crowd of media-types and invited guests welcomed Bobby Slayton, billed as The Pitbull of Comedy, and his two stage-sharing pals, Brian Haner and Brad Trackman. A clever filmed introduction features fellow comedians, including Lewis Black, Rita Rudner, Jon Lovitz and Carrot Top, welcoming Slayton to Las Vegas. Haner adeptly combines his skill as a musician (he played guitar with Frank Zappa, Tower of Power, Rose Royce, the Temptations and Avenged Sevenfold, whose lead guitarist/backup singer just happens to be his son, Brian Haner, Jr., better known to his fans as Synyster Gates) with comedy, creating a dandy opening for Slayton. Trackman, a comedy writer as well as performer, is a regular on the club circuit, playing venues such as Caroline’s on Broadway, the Laugh Factory and the Improv. He has also done concerts with Joan Rivers and Weird Al Yankovic. Haner and Trackman will share the stage with Slayton through May 6th. The official opening for the trio is tonight (April 20th). This should be a very good marketing tactic by Hooters. We assume that a lot of women, unless they look really, really good in orange and white (Hooters’ colors) short, shorts and T-tank tops, would find little reason to go to Hooters. After all, it does have a reputation as a "boys club." Comedy, much of it based on relationships between the sexes, could very well bring in the ladies...with or without their male escorts. Show times are at 8 and 10 p.m., Wednesdays through Sundays. Tickets are $36.95. Call (702) 739-9000 for reservations.

Those above mentioned infamous media-types were working overtime this past week. In addition to Bobby Slayton’s by-invitation-only party, there was also a large gathering at an old/new hotel/casino about half-a-mile north of Hooters. It’s official. The former Aladdin is now Planet Hollywood. The newly redone property went all out to introduce Stomp Out Loud to the masses and VIPs. We know that both Bruce Willis and Carmen Electra were there among the celebrities but we never saw them. A gala soiree followed the clever Stomp Out Loud. Among those that we saw mixing and mingling at one or both events, one of Johnny Carson’s favorite guests, the unique Monti Rock III; Las Vegas Sun’s columnists, Jerry Fink and John Katsilometes, and John’s lady, journalist Kate Silver; Dr. Adele Zorn; Barbara Nosek; the above mentioned Bobby Slayton and Brian Haner from Hooters; entertainers Clint Holmes and Kelly Clinton; producer Bill Moore, Rene DeHaven, the Review-Journal‘s Norm! Clark; Kid Cary, Mike Cardella, Jr. (son of comic Pudgy!), and Adam Pero, from the Las Vegas-based punk rock band, Infested;

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Entrepreneurial Robert Allen, the brains behind the Haunted Vegas and Vegas Mob Tours, along with annual magic and paranormal conventions (we will have more information on those as the dates of the events grow closer), reports that everything is going great with his latest project, the Haunted Laughlin Tours. What? You didn’t know there were ghosties and ghoulies around the Laughlin/Bullhead City area? Well, there are. Allen’s attempts to expand into Laughlin was not without many obstacles. He persevered and the results have been well worth the trouble. Haunted Laughlin is a hit! At this time, they are turning away business every week. They will soon be adding bigger busses and possibly even more tours. Robert is a hard worker and a nice man. He deserves his success.

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David Hasselhoff, who has been playing the outrageously flamboyant character Roger DeBris in The Producers at Paris Las Vegas, will depart the role on May 6th, making way for Lee Roy Reams to step into the campy role. Hasselhoff’s theatrical career began with his sold-out Broadway debut in Jekyll and Hyde. That was followed by his performances as Billy Flynn in the John Kander and Fred Ebb smash Chicago, The Musical. No matter what other roles he may play, Hasselhoff will always be Snapper Foster, of The Young and the Restless fame, to Cousin Claire. You say you have never heard of Mr. Reams? Well, he probably has never heard of you either. Fear not, this fellow is no slouch when it comes to musical comedy. He was one of the scene-stealers when stars of the theater, including Bea Arthur (who did a concert show at the 50-year-old Tropicana a couple of years back), Carol Channing (who showed up at the MGM Grand to present then-EFX star Tommy Tune with a birthday cake), Michael Feinstein (who performed with Linda Eder at Lake Las Vegas last summer) , Davis Gaines (who played the lead in Scrooge at the Starbright Theater in Sun City Summerlin a few years ago), Lorna Luft (who has performed her Songs My Mother Taught Me and opened for Don Rickles here a number of times), Karen Morrow (at UNLV last October as part of the Jerry Herman tribute), Angela Lansbury and Rita Moreno, gathered to pay tribute to Broadway composer (Mame, Hello, Dolly!, Mack & Mabel) Herman at a Hollywood Bowl concert in 1993. It was Lee Roy Reams who, wearing a red feather boa (see accompanying photo), brought down the house with his version of the title song from Herman’s La Cage Aux Folles in that star-studded tribute. We predict reviews for Reams will be strong and he will step comfortably into Hasselhoff’s large size Manolo Blahnik heels. The Mel Brooks-Thomas Meehan musical comedy opened on Broadway exactly six years and one day ago (April 19th, 2001). The Producers received unanimous rave reviews and earned the most Tony Awards of any show in Broadway history (an even dozen, including that for Best Musical). The original production ends its Broadway run this Sunday (April 22nd) at the St. James Theatre. The 90-minute local version of The Producers opened for previews on January 31st, with its gala premiere taking place at Paris Las Vegas on February 9th. It is scheduled for an unlimited run. For tickets and information, call (877) 374-7469.

Lee Roy Reams Mary Wilson

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Happy April 20th birthday to Las Vegas Sun entertainment columnist and nice guy, Jerry Fink, and the same wishes on the 24th to entertainers Babe Pier and Lucy (Lucille) Shropshire. Comic/impressionist Babe just closed at the Suncoast, where he shared the stage with Frankie Avalon, and vocalist Lucy appears tonight and tomorrow night (April 20th and 21st) with former Supreme Mary Wilson in that upgraded and expanded Golden Nugget showroom that we mentioned earlier in this column. For reservations to see Mary Wilson, call (702) 386-8100 or (866) 946-5336.

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Comic George Wallace known for having, "the best 10pm show in Las Vegas," is back at the Flamingo after a brief hiatus. Wallace, who is beginning his fourth year as the hotel’s headliner, has found a formula that is obviously working. He keeps people laughing by using fresh material and interacting one-on-one with his audience. This man can find humor in just about anything, and has the ability to connect to everyone, no matter what their age or where they come from. He avoids the typical opening lines ("where ya’ from" and "are you winning"?), choosing instead to make a statement. "I be thinkin’..." are the words Wallace starts with before sharing his observations and insight with the audience. His "Yo’ mama," jokes are often used throughout his fast-paced show. Be prepared to be part of the entertainment and, perhaps, even picked on, as that is among George’s favorite things to do. In addition to the humor, there is another thing that makes Wallace’s show unique - the acts that share the stage with him. George has used a number of comedians to open for him and, a couple of weeks ago, he even presented rock and roll legends, Sly and the Family Stone, to the Flamingo audience. Most often, unless they are cruising and performing for Royal Caribbean (they are the line’s No. 1 act), Wallace’s special guests are Mosaic, an a cappella group made up of six fine vocalists. Even though the ensemble is made up of young men, the fellows want it known that they are NOT a boy band. Billed as "Sixty fingers, twelve legs, six mouths and one voice," Mosaic has performed for numerous Grammy functions and worked with acts such as Prince, Il Divo, The Pussy Cat Dolls, Chris Rock, Jay Leno and Mark Broussard. Formed in Orlando, Florida, about three years ago, Mosaic is made up of Josh Husleg, Sean Gerrity, Troy Dolendo, John Gibson, Andrew "Kin" Wright and Corwyn Hodge. To quote one reviewer, "You won’t believe what comes out of (their) mouths!" Mosaic is currently putting together a new CD. George Wallace performs Tuesdays through Saturdays at, surprise, 10 p.m. If you specifically want to see and hear Mosaic, we suggest you call ahead for their schedule, just to make sure they are not off sailing on Royal Caribbean. Phone number is (702) 733-3333.


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