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 November 02, 2007
You can find the current column HERE

Las Vegas - November 2, 2007

Robert and Vera Goulet Mark Nadler Burt Reynolds

It is with a heavy heart that we report the death of legendary stage, screen, television and recording artist, Robert Goulet. Mr. Goulet passed away at 10:17 a.m. on Tuesday (October 30th) at Los Angeles' Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. His illness and death seemed to come so suddenly. We saw Robert and Vera Goulet at the Hilton on September 8th. Backstage, after the Las Vegas Tenors concert, Mr. Goulet seemed fine. In Syracuse, New York, less than two weeks later, he gave what would be his last performance. Days after his return to Vegas, Goulet was hospitalized in Henderson, not far from his Las Vegas home. He was diagnosed with Interstitial Pulmonary Fibrosis, a rapidly progressive condition that is often fatal. Most treatments are ineffectual, with lung transplants offering the best hope of survival. Since Southern Nevada has no transplant facility, Goulet was moved to the Los Angeles hospital on October 13th. Sadly, he died before organs were available. Goulet first gained fame in 1960 when he starred as Lancelot, alongside of Richard Burton as King Arthur and Julie Andrews as Guenevere, in the Lerner and Loewe Broadway musical, Camelot. While he returned to Broadway only infrequently after Camelot, Goulet did win a Tony award in 1968 for best actor in a musical for his role in The Happy Time. He appeared in Moon Over Buffalo in 1995, and a Camelot revival in 1993 in which he played King Arthur (he played that role in a production of Camelot at the Cashman Theater near downtown Las Vegas). Other stage credits include productions of Carousel, Finian's Rainbow, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, The Pajama Game, Meet Me in St. Louis and South Pacific, among others. In 2005, Goulet returned to Broadway to play Georges in the revival of Jerry Herman's La Cage aux Folles. He also appeared in a number of films, including the animated Gay Purr-ee, Underground, Naked Gun 2 ˝ and Beetlejuice. He played a lounge singer in Louis Malle's acclaimed 1980 film, Atlantic City. Most recently, Goulet made a TV commercial for Emerald Nuts. It was a favorite with Super Bowl fans. On his Tuesday night ABC show, TV host Jimmy Kimmel offered a nice tribute to Robert Goulet. Like Mr. Goulet, both Kimmel and musician Cleto Escobedo have a long Las Vegas history. On Wednesday night, at 8 (EST), in a fitting tribute, theaters along the Great White Way, as well as other leading theatres across the country, dimmed their lights in honor of Robert Goulet. A Southern Nevada resident for more than 30 years, Robert Gerard Goulet was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts, on November 26, 1933, but grew up in Canada. He is survived by his wife of 25 years, Vera Novak Goulet; his two sons with his second wife, singer/actress Carol Lawrence, Michael and Christopher; his daughter by Louise Longmore, Nicolette (Nikki), and two grandchildren Jordan and Solange. Service arrangements will be forthcoming. We will share some of our personal remembrances of Robert Goulet in next Friday's column.

Once again, a columnist in "Nevada's Largest Newspaper," that would be the Las Vegas Review-Journal, has gotten it wrong. (Mis)information on the R-J's page 3A stated, "Goulet had popularized the song (The Impossible Dream) while playing Don Quixote on Broadway." Although he could have, and maybe should have, played the role on Broadway, the baritone with the big voice and beautiful blue eyes never did. He did, in fact, tour in the Dale Wasserman-written musical.

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Cleto Escobedo III, mentioned above, is the leader of the sextet on the Jimmy Kimmel Show. Escobedo plays the alto, tenor, and soprano saxophones on the show, and occasionally sings both on camera and off (for comedy bits and other musical segments). He grew up in Vegas, where he was a neighbor of host Jimmy Kimmel. Cleto briefly attended UNLV before joining the band (now known as Santa Fe and The Fat City Horns). Escobedo got his big break when Paula Abdul invited him to perform with her on tour. Since that time, Escobedo has been based in Los Angeles. He has performed on many commercial jingles, and toured with Marc Anthony and Phillip Bailey of Earth, Wind & Fire.

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Ticket sales at the Prince Music Theater in Philadelphia are going so well for Mark Nadler‘s Tschaikowsky (and Other Russians), the engagement has been extended for an additional week, until November 17th. Following the Philadelphia gig, it‘s off to Palm Beach, Florida, from November 29th through December 8th. A special event in Norman, Oklahoma, will be followed by a February booking in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. For more information on the Prince Music Theater, located at 1412 Chestnut Street, call (215) 569-9700. Shows are Tuesdays through Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Nadler did this show for a month in Scotland. On October 30th, the CD of Tschaikowsky (and Other Russians), recorded at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in June, was launched. It is available on Mark's Web site, Mark, along with KT Sullivan, will be returning to Las Vegas on March 2nd, when the Charleston Heights Arts Center presents Time After Time. This show features the duo performing some of their favorite numbers from their many shows together. There is no theme, except that every song is a classic that they adore performing...time after time! These two performers are always a sell-out, so if you want to see them, act quickly and make your reservations soon. Tickets are $10 and $15 and may be purchased by calling Charleston Heights at (702) 229-6383.

A note about the above item...Cousin Claire, who is practically anal when it comes to spelling, especially proper names, questions Mr. Nadler's spelling of the famed Russian composers' name. According to Google and Wikipedia, Pyotr Ilyich spelled his last name "Tchaikovsky." Far be it from us to argue with the man that songwriter Ervin Drake calls "the most talented man on the planet." We just don't want to take the heat for this one if we get calls from other spellers and grammarians.

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Actor Burt Reynolds will spend a little time in Las Vegas on November 10th and 11th when he premiers the new Smokey and the Bandit inspired Trans Am car. Burt and the vehicle, made famous in the 1977 Hal Needham film (two sequels followed), will be at the Field of Dreams store in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace. Burt will be signing memorabilia created just for him. The car will be generating ooohs and aaahs and memories for car-lovers. Meet Burt on Saturday, the 10th, and again on Sunday, the 11th, from noon to 5 p.m. (he will take a one hour break from 2 to 3 p.m.). See you there.

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Marva Scott Tina Walsh Marty Allen & Karon Kate

Marva Scott is once again lighting up the stage at the Imperial Palace with her tribute to The Supremes and, Ms. Diana Ross, in the hotel casino‘s long running revue, Legends in Concert. Marvelous Marva has logged more hours on a Las Vegas stage than many of her contemporaries...primarily because of her ability to change her persona. Over the years, in addition to Diana Ross, Scott has done uncanny portrayals of Donna Summer, Tina Turner, Gladys Knight and Whoopi Goldberg. Not satisfied to rest on just her natural vocal laurels, Marva enrolled in The Strasberg Institute in New York to further her acting career, and studied voice with Seth Riggs in Los Angeles. "As an actress I like doing Legends and similar shows because they offer a smorgasbord of characters to explore," Marva says. Her one-hour show, An Evening with Diana Ross starring Marva Scott, has received rave reviews from Orlando and New Orleans to Las Vegas. At one time, Marva decided Europe, and especially Paris, would be her next stop. She spent 10 months in Paris as featured singer at the popular nightclub, Aux Trois Malletz. It was there that she caught the eye of an American producer from Atlantic City, and was booked into a revue at Caesars Palace. In the last few years, Marva has been featured in various revues in Reno, Atlantic City and Las Vegas. Scott recently spent four months in the Branson, Missouri-version of Legends in Concert, performing her celebrity tribute to Disco Diva Summer. When she is not working in Las Vegas for Legends, Ms. Scott performs exclusively for Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. You can see Marva Scott (she will guest in the show through December), along with Legends' other tribute artists, twice nightly in the Imperial Palace Theater. Show times are at 7:30 and 10 p.m. The showroom is dark on Sundays. Call (702) 794-3261 for reservations.

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The fact that Defending the Caveman is supposedly a big hit in Germany doesn't mean that a version done in the German language will work well or attract a large audience in Las Vegas. That was proven when the imported Karsten Kaie, one of the stars in a German production of the show (like in the U.S., there are a number of Caveman companies in Germany), came here to perform for a, hoped for, large German audience. Fewer than 50 people showed up at the Golden Nugget for the experience. When the idea was suggested for this one, we think someone should have said, "Nein."

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Rumor has it (and we love rumors) that, come February, Tina Walsh will take over the role of Madame Giry in Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular when Rebecca Spencer departs. Spencer has been with the show since it opened at The Venetian more than a year ago. Tina Walsh has an impressive Las Vegas history. She portrayed Bess Houdini in the EFX production at the MGM Grand, playing opposite three of the show's stars, Michael Crawford, Tommy Tune and Rick Springfield. Walsh then went on to play Donna Sheridan in Mamma Mia! at Mandalay Bay. She was also seen in the Clint Holmes bio-musical, JAM - Just Another Man and in Keith Thompson‘s God Lives In Glass.

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For years, it has been suggested that Las Vegas should have a community calendar to schedule charity fundraisers, big concerts, show openings, show closings, show anniversaries...well, you get the point, so that special events don't wind up occurring on the same day or, as has happened recently, on religious or family-type holidays. With the incredible growth in this city, it would be very difficult NOT to have important things taking place at the same time, on the same day. This Sunday, November 4th, we face such a dilemma. What to do? Toss a coin? In the afternoon, UNLV presents their annual 76 Trombones + 4 concert (at 2 p.m.). Now in its 23rd year, the revenue generated from this concert provides scholarships for the university's Department of Music. More than 100 of the top trombone players in the world will blow the roof off the Artemus Ham Concert Hall. As he has for many years, comic Cork Proctor will MC. While over at The Orleans, unfortunately at the same time, it's Las Vegas Legends, with proceeds going to Golden Rainbow, the city's largest AIDS/HIV fundraising organization. Sponsored by Boyd Gaming and Coast Casinos and presented by VEGASAUDITIONS and VEGASREPORT, the variety revue will feature Marty Allen and Karon Kate, Cherie De Castro of the De Castro Sisters, Bill Fayne and The Las Vegas Tenors, Tempest Storm, Mafalda, Fielding West, Diana Saunders Bellomo, Lillian D'Honau, April Herbert, Sal Angelica, Rich Rizzo, Linda Green and Scott Barnard, Doug Baker, Clem Zeleski, Leonardo, Charlie Charles, Larry Edwards and Emory Hodges, Lesley Bandy and Greg Sumner, The Crazy Gauchos, Ron DeCar, Dana Rogers Martin, Karen Denise, Barbara Bailey, Charlie Vecchi and the Tapping Teachers, plus dancers and showgirls from the heyday of the Las Vegas production show era. Expect many more special surprise guests. Las Vegas Legends is directed by Lesley Bandy. Broadway performers, Michael Kessler and Melinda Jackson will MC. The twosome has also written special material and serves as producers, along with Liz Elliott Lieberman and Bill Moore. Showtime on Sunday is 2 p.m. Doors open at 1:15 p.m. Tickets for 76 Trombones + 4 are $5 and $10 dollars. Call (702) 739-3267. Tickets for Las Vegas Legends are $25 for general admission seating. To purchase tickets online for the Legends show, go to or (702) 365-7075 or call toll free (888) 365-7111. For additional information, please contact Lieberman by phone at (702) 897-6183 or (702) 378-6300, or e-mail her at Libermanor So many things to do. So little time.

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Jay White Jeanne Brei Don Hill

In a business that can be very fickle, entertainer Jay White has staying power. White is now in his 25th year as a (or THE) Neil Diamond tribute artist. Even more impressive is the fact that Jay has spent more than six of those 25 years performing on the same stage - in the Le Bistro Theatre at the Riviera. In a performance space where many have come and gone (Stephen Sorrentino, Tony Sacca, Roxanna Bonilla Giannini, and even the theater's onetime "landlady" Marlene Ricci), Jay White has managed to endure. White's look and sound-alike interpretation of the hit-maker is uncanny. The real Diamond calls Jay's tribute "his favorite." In a great testament to Jay, when he is isn't on the road, Neil's percussion player, Las Vegan King Errisson, joins White and his live band at the Riv...a real compliment, we think. Errisson, who has been performing with Diamond for more than 30 years, will, once again tour with the popular singer/ songwriter during his upcoming 2008 tour. In his personal life, Jay also has longevity. He and his wife, Pam, have been married for more than 25 years. Last year, the Whites celebrated their Silver Anniversary by renewing their wedding vows in front of family and friends. Jay recently completed filming a role in director Ron Howard's latest pic, Frost/Nixon, starring Frank Langella recreating his Tony Award-winning role as Richard Nixon in the Broadway play of the same name. White sings the Sammy Cahn tune, Love and Marriage, in the movie due out next year. Frost/Nixon also stars Michael Sheen as talk show host David Frost, Patty McCormack (Rhoda in the creepy 1956 film, The Bad Seed) as Pat Nixon, Kevin Bacon, and Oliver Platt. For reservations to America's Neil Diamond Tribute, call (702) 794-9433. Show times are Sundays through Thursdays at 7 p.m.

Barbra and Frank - The Concert That Never Was, starring Sharon Owens and Sebastian Anzaldo, with Rob Hiatt on piano, and hypnotist, Dr. Scott Lewis, are doing well in the Riviera’s Le Bistro Theatre. Tell them Cousin Claire says 'hello' when you go see them.

As for Marlene Ricci, the former Frank Sinatra protégé, seems to have disappeared from the local entertainment radar screen. During her reign as the "boss" of the Le Bistro, Ricci's reputation changed from that of a successful (especially in the corporate field) female singer, to that of the landlady from hell. In a situation where Ricci was supposed to be the main act in the room, she found it more profitable to sublease the space to other entertainers looking for a place to perform. At the end of her term, Ricci was only singing for her supper one or two nights a week (if that). Hopefully, her former tenants have short memories and can forgive her bad behavior during that period and fans will see her on a Vegas stage again.

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"The Vintage Vegas Experience" is how singer/dancer Jeanne Brei describes her upcoming two shows a night at Fitzgeralds Casino on Wednesday nights in November.

"The 7 p.m. show, Jazzin' With Jeanne, is going to be like a 1950s musical variety TV show - sort of a cross between the Dinah Shore and the Nat King Cole shows," says Brei. The 9 p.m. show, Jammin‘ With Jeanne, will be a looser cabaret/jam with some very special guests. For instance, during the first three weeks of November, the French jazz band, Sac a Pulses, will be the jammin' band and I'll have the marvelous Dehner Franks on piano. And I'm so incredibly fortunate to have some of the finest Las Vegas musicians for my early show - including the incomparable Charlie Shaffer on piano, the wonderful Danny DeMorales on bass, the outrageous Jimmy Racey on drums and the legendary Don Hill from the Treniers on saxophone." Brei's first show, this Wednesday, will be a tribute to Don Hill as he celebrates his 86th birthday that week. The second show of the night will feature Sac a Pulses, a fabulous band currently on tour in the United States. Defining their sound is very difficult to do since they serve up jazz instrumentals and vocals in 2 and 4-beat swing, Charleston, beguine, blues, boogie-woogie, Cajun and modern New Orleans parade rhythms. Brei is self-producing the series of shows and is determined to keep it affordable for those on fixed incomes. "Since there will be a completely new show every week, we're going to offer monthly passes for all four early shows, all four late shows or all eight shows for the month – bringing the cost per show down to $12.50. But even if you only come for one show, we'll offer seniors and locals half price tickets ($15) and if you'd like to stay for the second show, it'll be just $10 more with your ticket from the first show." Of course, for those whose budget allows them to splurge, VIP tickets for the first two rows will be $40 and will include a meet-and-greet and photos with the cast. For more information, call (702) 254-3836.

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The popular Las Vegas Tenors will get a chance to show their stuff at the Suncoast on Thursdays throughout this month. Show times for the quartet - Bill Fayne, Bobby Black, Teddy Davey and Mark Giovi - are at 7:30 p.m. on November 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th. Tickets are priced at $22 and $33. For information and reservations, call (702) 636-7075 or toll free at (877) 636-7111.

Las Vegas Tenors Chita Rivera Kevin McMahon

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If you happen to be on the other coast, Feinstein's at Loews Regency in New York City is offering up some fine entertainment. Winding up her New York nightclub debut is onetime Las Vegas headliner, Lynda Carter. The former star of TV's Wonder Woman, Carter closes her five-night engagement tomorrow, Saturday, November 3rd, with shows at 8:30 and 11 p.m. Doing a one-nighter on November 5th is onetime Las Vegan, Gianni Russo, and from November 6th through the 24th, it's Tony-winner Chita Rivera in the spotlight. All shows have a $75 cover and a $40 minimum. Jackets are suggested but not required. The club is located at 540 Park Avenue at 61st Street. For reservations or additional information, call Feinstein's at (212) 339-4095.

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We are pleased that the voting audience of NBC's new reality show, Phenomenon, didn't agree with judge Uri Geller (magician Criss Angel is the other judge) who stated that Gerry McCambridge's segment on the series premier episode was, "dull, flat (and) totally predictable." Apparently, the audience saw the phone book demonstration differently than Geller did, as McCambridge moves on to amaze again next week. As a fan of The Mentalist, we felt that the show put him at a disadvantage. In his performances in the Night Owl Showroom at Hooters (where he entertains when he is not in Los Angeles for the TV show), McCambridge has a little more time to set up the clever "trick." Also, in his live show, Gerry doesn't have to leave out a phone number or two as required by the FCC or one of those other Big Brother operations. We also feel the program's setup is a little confusing. Instead of seeing all 10 competitors during one show, in the first episode, four of the mentalists/magicians did their thing, and in the second show, six more performed while two from the first airing were eliminated. McCambridge was one of the two survivors. Tune in to Phenomenon next Wednesday (8 p.m. in our neck of the woods) to see what the Las Vegan has up his sleeve (or behind the blindfold) next. Don't forget to call in and vote.

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Actor/singer/writer Kevin McMahon, last seen in Las Vegas as Jinx in Forever Plaid at the Gold Coast, is a nominee for an Ovation Award as Featured Actor in a Musical for his recent role as Malcolm MacGregor in The Full Monty at the Musical Theatre West in Long Beach, California, and the San Diego Musical Theatre in, surprise, San Diego. Winners will be announced on November 12th at a ceremony held at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. Actor Neil Patrick Harris will host. Kevin just closed in Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa. You can hear and enjoy his beautiful tenor voice on his debut solo CD, Mirror. The album contains an eclectic mix of pop standards, contemporary theatre music, traditional favorites and original material, with songs by composers such as Harry Chapin, Dale Gonyea, Glenn Mehrbach, James J. Mellon, Roy Orbison, David Snyder, Stephen Sondheim and Stevie Wonder. The San Francisco Chronicle describes Kevin McMahon as "one of the best 'unknown' voices." Hopefully, not 'unknown' for too much longer. We'll be rooting for you on the 12th, Kevin.

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