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 October 05, 2007
You can find the current column HERE

Las Vegas - October 5, 2007

Bobby Darin Max Clever Katalin

Look for a production called Dream Lover - A Musical Tribute to Bobby Darin to play the Judy Bayley Theatre at UNLV on the afternoon (1 p.m.) of Saturday, October 13th. The tribute will feature vocalists Bobby Black (a member of the Las Vegas Tenors), Carmine Mandia (from Shades of Sinatra), Frankie Moreno (not to be confused with female impersonator, Frank Marino), Denise Clemente and Dennis Bono. In a case of life imitating art, Bobby Rozario will lead the Bob Rozario Ensemble. Rozario, a longtime Las Vegan, was Darin's musical director for a number of years. Radio personality Scott O'Neil will serve as MC for the tribute. Tickets are $25, with proceeds going to the Nevada Conservatory Theatre at UNLV and the American Heart Association. Darin, who suffered from heart-related health problems for most of his too brief life, died in 1973 following open-heart surgery. He was only 37. For reservations, call (702) 895-2787.

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On Tuesday, September 25th, approximately 165 people showed up to experience the Composers Showcase. Some of those people were singing original works or presenting their original music to an audience of, mostly, their peers. Others were there to see some of the talented people in this city do their thing. These monthly events are currently being held in the performance space of the Liberace Museum. The museum closes at 5 p.m. The showcases take place at 10:30 p.m. It doesn't take a genius or math wiz to figure out that employees either have to come back to reopen the museum for the late show, or they have to stay at the place for the equivalent of another shift (the evening's activities usually last until at least 11:30, and then there's the cleanup, etc.). There is a cash bar and hors d'oeuvres are available. For the first time in its 17 months of existence, a minimum $5 per person donation was suggested for the attendees. Apparently, a "suggestion" didn't do it. There was less than $75 in the "hat" at the end of the night. Shame. Shame. Even if guests didn't partake of the food (and most of them probably did), $5 is an awfully small price to pay for what you get. Don't carry cash? Checks made out to the Liberace Foundation will be gladly accepted. The performers don't get paid. The employees don't get paid. There is absolutely no reason why the museum, whose primary purpose is to raise funds for music scholarships, should go into the red every month to host this event and supply the nibbles. If you want the program to continue, and Cousin Claire sure does, then be prepared to cough up five bucks (hell, that's only $1.25 a week to save for a big night out!). Otherwise, stay home and leave your seat available for someone who feels that this is the best musical bargain in the city (it is) and is more than willing to pay for it.

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Nice things are happening for Dick Feeney (that's with three...oh, you know) and his business partner, Sandy Hackett. Dick's Viva Las Vegas, "The Longest running, most successful afternoon show in Vegas history PERIOD!," opened at the downtown Plaza Hotel Showroom on Monday. This is the 17th year for Viva (with long runs at both the Sands and the Stratosphere). The musical/comedy revue is produced and directed by Feeney, and choreographed by Missy Cochran. David Schulman is the lighting designer and costumes are by Laurie Palmer. Cast members include dancers Darlene Ryan (line captain and company manager), Michelline Conrad, Cym Honeycutt, Debra Kaufman and Bonnie Skilton. Max Clever (Animal Specialty Act, featured last season on TV's Queer Eye for the Straight Guy) serves as Master of Ceremonies. Comedian and BBQ Man Extraordinaire, Bruce "Big John" Mickelson (who Feeney describes as "The funniest man in Las Vegas"), is featured along with the lovely and talented vocalist, Laurie Caceres, and Hungarian magician, Katalin (she is married to magic man, Joseph Gabriel). Dick Feeney's Viva Las Vegas plays at 2 and 4 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays.

A very excited Feeney has just signed a major representation contract with Steven Schnepp of Broadway Booking Office (BBO) in New York. Schnepp, who currently represents the touring companies of Jersey Boys, My Fair Lady and Xanadu among others, has signed the World's Great Magic Show and The Rat Pack is Back. Schnepp will be putting together touring companies for the two shows (based in Las Vegas at the Greek Isles) to play major theaters around the country next season. The World's Greatest Magic Show has already been booked for eight shows at the 2000-seat Fisher Theater in Detroit during the week of October 22nd. The lineup of magicians for that engagement will include the above-mentioned Joseph Gabriel, along with Dave Thomas, Ardan James, Jeff Hobson, Roy Shank, Katalin, Losander, Jason Baney and Derek Roberts. Stay tuned.

Jeff Hobson Suzanne Buhrer Gerald Gordon

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If you missed the Philip Fortenberry concert at the Clark County Flamingo Library last Sunday, or if you saw the presentation and would like to see and hear him again, you will have that chance. Fortenberry, the associate musical director for Mamma Mia! at Mandalay Bay, will work with a cast of 32 singers and 10 musicians when God Lives in Glass is presented at the same facility (located at 1401 East Flamingo Road (just East of Maryland Parkway), this Sunday (October 7th). God Lives In Glass is a new musical revue based on a book of the same name. Children from around the world show us God in ways that we may have forgotten! What does God do? How do we let God in? If you met God, what would you say? The author asked these questions to young spiritual thinkers from around the world, children representing more than twenty different religious traditions. In sharing how they see God through drawings and stories and a poetic language of images all their own, these children re-awaken us to the mysteries and wonders of the universe. Book and lyrics are by Robert J. Landy (Ph.D., Chairman of Drama Therapy at New York University) and Keith Thompson (musical director for The Producers). Thompson also wrote the music.

In addition to Fortenberry, the talented group of professionals taking part in this concert reading, includes, from Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular (at The Venetian), Jay Alger, Elena Jeanne Batman, Courtney Combs, Marcia Cope-Hart, Bruce Ewing, Jason Forbach, Kristen Hertzenberg, Amanda Huddleston, Luke Lazzaro, Brianne Morgan, Nicole Pryor, Ryan Silverman, Joan Sobel, Rebecca Spencer, Deana Villei, Jessica Walker and Scott Watanabe. Representing The Producers (Paris Las Vegas) are Jim Ambler, Gail Bennett, Bill Nolte, Jessica Sheridan and Annette Simmonds. Also lending their talents are Bryan Lefeber and Carmen Yurich from Spamalot (Wynn Las Vegas), and Jennifer Cantorna and Nadine Roden from Mamma Mia! (Mandalay Bay). Special guests include Aaron De Jesus, Lisa Fairweather, Haleyann Hart, Jimmy Lockett, Elle McLemore, Paige Pardy and Tina Walsh. In addition to pianist Fortenberry, the musicians include, from The Producers, Moonlight Tran on cello, Jim Belk on drums, Gil Kaupp on trumpet and Daniel Philippus on tenor sax. From Phantom comes D Gause on clarinet, Yvonne Betron on oboe and Jennifer Kuk on flute. Spamalot's Rebecca Ramsey is on violin, and Danny Miranda from Mamma Mia! is on bass. Flautist, Tina Hadley, a special guest from the Las Vegas Philharmonic, is also an integral part of this, the final, performance. The show is at 3 p.m. and a minimum donation of $35 per person is requested. All proceeds benefit the programs of Las Vegas Teen Crisis. To make reservations, call (702) 597-7469 or (702) 597-1588, or purchase online at

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Dave Swan is ailing. The Welshman has been a longtime staple on Las Vegas stages for at least three decades. He has had principal parts in shows at the Imperial Palace, Stratosphere and Excalibur, just to name a few. When a member of the entertainment community is in trouble, there is usually a group of fellow performers who will get together to put on a show and raise some money to help out. That is what will happen from 2 to 4 p.m., on Saturday, October 20th, in the Imperial Palace Theatre. At this point, Peter Anthony, Pete Barbutti, Babe Pier and Cork Proctor are scheduled to perform. We know that, as the date grows closer, others will join the line-up to help a friend and fellow entertainer. We will provide additional information as we get it.

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Okay, folks. What in the hell is going on at Dancing with the Stars? Is this some kind of sick joke? Wayne Newton's performance on this week's show was nothing less than a disaster. He was AWFUL! Even if you are a diehard Wayniac, you would have to agree with Cousin Claire on this subject. His performance on Monday was even worse than week No. 1, if that's possible (and, apparently it is). This appears to be more of a popularity contest than anything else. Those mass e-mails sent out asking for Newton votes, must be working because the former Mr. Las Vegas gets another week on the show...this in spite of the fact he got the lowest score from the judges. We think it would be a kindness to him (and us) to send the Midnight Idle back to his Casa Shenandoah home in Las Vegas for a rest. We suspect that the voting may be tabulated in Florida (remember the "hanging chad" problems?).

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Happy birthday to show biz connected Libras Sergio Alberti, Peter Anthony, Robert Beal, Suzanne Buhrer, John Elizondo, Gerald Gordon, Roy Horn, Joey Lomello, Johnny Mathis, Donna Taylor and Lindsay Fitzpatrick Warkmeister. Also, anniversary greetings to Gary and Chrissi White Waddell on their 12th year as Mr. and Mrs., and to Robert and Vera Goulet who are celebrating 25 years of wedded bliss.

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Roy Horn Skye Dee Miles Paul Xavier Campanella

Last Sunday, Cousin Claire was busy, busy. In the afternoon, it was Songs of Broadway at the Charleston Heights Arts Center. In the evening, it was Skye Dee Miles in the spotlight at the Bootlegger. Here's what we have to say about our Sunday. The Songs of Broadway was a disappointment. The Charleston Heights facility, and Linda Leos who is primarily responsible for the bookings of the 364-seat theater, rarely if ever presents something that is less than wonderful. As a matter of fact, in the Las Vegas Review-Journal's last Friday (September 28th) Neon section, theater critic Anthony Del Valle applauded the operation of the Charleston Heights Arts Center in his Theater Chat column. In praising Let's Dance: A Romantic Musical Comedy (starring relative unknowns, Michael Kessler and Melinda Jackson, plus a chorus of 11), Del Valle goes on to say, "It was unusual to find such top-notch entertainment for a mere 10 bucks. How does the city manage to find these talents? And why can't other venues book New York talent with equal skill and economy?" We have wondered the same thing...but we digress. Unfortunately, the Songs of Broadway was the first misstep we have witnessed in our years of attending CHAC events. The words that come to mind when describing Songs of Broadway is "Uneven" and "Inconsistent." It was actually rather strange. The star of the revue, one Barbara C. Willingham, had a vibrato that was very distracting during too many of her numbers. Sometimes she sang on key, sometimes she didn't. However good or bad she sang, it was done with great confidence on her part. The three gentlemen who joined Ms. Willingham - Patrick Pearson, David Scism and Richard Zendarski - had the same problems she did...good and bad, hot and cold. We would have liked to see a little something on the stage, i.e. a piano, a potted palm, anything. On the other hand, we could have done without the very large logo touting the show's name. We know what we were there to see. We didn't need to have the name displayed on the back wall of the stage throughout most of the revue. Ms. Willingham must have brought everything in her closet, as she changed gowns and outfits very frequently. (Eat your heart out, Frank Marino, and are you listening, Linda Eder?). The fashion show wasn't enough to make up for a very mediocre (at best) show. With such a great track record, this little "ooops" won't keep the regulars away. They have seen such wonderful shows, carefully chosen by Linda Leos, one speed bump in the road won't slow down ticket sales at all. The masses anxiously look forward to each presentation, whether new to the facility or a returning act brought back by popular demand (Mark Nadler and KT Sullivan are back on March 2nd, bringing a brand new show for Las Vegas). See you at the box office.

Our evening at the Bootlegger started off badly. Terrible service (or lack of service) by the young (maybe too young) woman at the front desk (we understand her name is Katie). When you encounter someone whose job it is to deal with customers, and they have no clue how to do it politely and efficiently, you have a problem. The Bootlegger has a problem. We watched the chaos that took place in the "holding area" and it wasn't pretty. People were made to wait an unreasonably long time...even if they had reservations. For the Sunday night presentations, show goers are asked to be there at 7 for "dinner seating." Showtime is scheduled for 8. One would hope to be finished, or nearly finished, with dinner by the time the entertainment starts. Although we were at the Bootlegger a little before 7, we were not seated until about 7:40. We don't know if they were short on servers, but the wait for everything - menus, a beverage, order taking, and the delivery of the meal - was way too long. At least, the waiter was friendly. Sorry we can't say the same for clueless Katie. At the end of the evening, Louie Merlino (who also entertains at the bistro on occasion) tried his best to make amends, as did the very personable Sean Grady who acts as host at the South Strip establishment. We appreciated that, but the problems still exist and should be addressed. Incidentally, this is not an isolated incident. We have heard similar complaints from former customers of the Bootlegger. A word to the wise...

The evening ended better than it started. We enjoyed Skye Miles' showcase. One of the stars of Menopause the Musical at the Hilton, Skye is a bubbly, talented performer (personally, we would have liked to hear a few more ballads) who knows how to work a room and an audience. In addition to her presentation, the lady generously shared her stage with a number of other fine entertainers, among them Sandra Benton (Skye's fellow Menopause cast member), Las Vegas Tenor Bobby Black, newly engaged Kelly Clinton (we hear the wedding will take place on November 11th), Gayle Steele (Ms. Clinton's future sister-in-law), and Dolly Parton look-alike, Lori Legacy. Michael Clark, who has played for Earl Turner, The Indigos and Denise Clemente among others, was at the piano. Shame on us for not getting the names of the other players.

There were a number of entertainers in the audience for Skye's performance, among them Cherie Price, a new Menopause the Musical cast member; Jeanne Brei, who will be producing a month's worth of Wednesday shows at Fitzgeralds during November; and Rich Affannato, who plays Carmen Ghia (and occasionally Leo Bloom, when Larry Raben is away) in The Producers. A couple of Rich's family members showed that talent is least in that bunch. Affannato's grandmother, Vivian Arnold, charmed the full house with her version of Billy Joel's New York State of Mind, while his aunt, Fawn Arnold, did a great job Knockin' On Heaven's Door (a Bob Dylan tune). In our opinion, Rich and Lee Roy Reams, who portrays Roger DeBris in the Mel Brooks musical, are the best musical comedy team since Steve (Lawrence) and Eydie (Gorme)...and we love Steve and Eydie.

Look for Skye Miles to do her one-woman show at the Suncoast on Thursday, December 6th, at 2 p.m. We will let you know more about this at the end of November.

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From the clever and amusing (heck, he's a show business veteran) Nelson Sardelli, we pass on this news. In his recent e-mail, and in own words (more or less), Sardelli shares information about F.I.O.R.E. (Fun Italians Organizing Ridiculous Events), his non-club club. Nelson writes, TO ALL THE PRESIDENTS, THE PRESIDENTS' MEN AND THEIR FRIENDS. Illustrious non-member members of the non-club club F.I.O.R.E. Our next non meeting will take place on Tuesday, October 9th (please note the Tuesday change), at the Take One restaurant on the S.E. corner of Fremont and Seventh St. right in the heart of "Goodmanland." Doors will open at 11:30 a.m. Bring a friend. Let us make him a president. (President) Paul Xavier Campanella, a very talented performer (and an alleged wonderful human being) will be our guest speaker. He has a most entertaining presentation lined up for youse guys. He will touch on many subjects...the blues, his career, E=MC2... It will be another great meeting. For a great fun luncheon, all you have to do is be there (and pay for your #&%@$ lunch of course). If the world were a logical place, men would be the ones who ride horses sidesaddle. "Courtesy is contagious...let's start an epidemic." For additional information, check out Thank you for the commercial interruption, Nelson.

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Sun City Summerlin will hold their Fall Arts & Crafts Fair at the Desert Vista Community Center, 10360 Sun City Blvd., on Saturday, October 6th from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Arts & Crafts Fair offers a good and creative opportunity to get a jumpstart on your holiday shopping. There will be lots of great gift ideas for home and office. The unique items you will find at the fair are all handcrafted by the talented residents of Sun City Summerlin. Go and shop early. Free Admission. For more information, call (702) 363-3581.

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NBC's popular Last Comic Standing brings its first official tour to the Orleans Arena on Saturday, October 13th, at 8 p.m. This season's winner, Jon Reep, will be joined by finalists Lavell Crawford, Ralph Harris, Amy Schumer and Matt Kirshen, for an evening of great stand-up comedy. Tickets are on sale at the Orleans Arena Box Office and range from $30 to $40, including tax and facility fee. For more information, call (702) 284-7777 or visit

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Claire Voyant's portrait by Charlie Frye