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.  
She’s...

Claire Voyant  

Note: This is a past column from November 23, 2007
You can find the current column HERE


Las Vegas - November 23, 2007

The Producers

We are sorry to hear that the Las Vegas production of The Producers, currently at Paris Las Vegas, will close on February 9th. If you haven't seen this musical romp, created by the wild, wacky and brilliant mind of Mel Brooks, we urge you to do so before it disappears. The Producers, which has won more Tony Awards than any other Broadway show, opened here in January. Through December 15th, locals showing a valid Nevada ID, can purchase up to four tickets at $59 each. For reservations, call (702) 946-4567. To take advantage of the reduced ticket price, the code word is Danza (as in Tony Danza, who plays Max Bialystock in the show).

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As stated in an earlier column, we regularly receive lots of e-mail - people asking questions about the Las Vegas (and its inhabitants) of yesterday and today, folks sharing their own memories, and commenting, pro and con, about topics we write about, but, nothing, absolutely NOTHING, has generated the kind of response that we are getting on our stories about The CAST. We are amazed by the sheer number of people who feel that this once proud fundraising organization has strayed from what it originally set out to do. Therefore, the good or bad news (depending on your interest or lack of interest on the subject of CAST) is that as long as we get e-mails like these, we are staying on the case. Here is a sample of what we have received. We are using the names of the writers, as they said we could or should. Some of the letters have been edited due to their length, but no words or thoughts (or misspells) have been changed, added or deleted. Too bad we couldn't do the same thing with the onslaught of phone calls. The feelings of our readers come through, loud and clear...

I receive emails and "Evites" from the CAST with a degree of regularity. It appears to me that the purpose and methodology of it's original intent have been greatly skewed. I also recently receive an unsolicited email from the CEO of the CAST that was highly disrespectful of Nelson (Sardelli). The "person" (and I use the term loosely) who sent it exposed Nelson's entire email list to the world TWICE! He totally disrespected Nelson on both occasions! I think the membership of the CAST should take a close look at their alleged "Leader" and demand some hard answers to some easy questions. The person has an ego approaching (Maybe surpassing) that of Steve Wynn and The Donald combined. I have no idea of WHY he has this perception of his self-bloated importance, as I have not figured out just what it is that he DOES or what TALENT he may possess. He definitely is not a WRITER as his spelling capabilities are exceeded by the average third grader. His sentence construction and punctuation are in the category of the recent remodel jobs at the Rio and Harrah's.
Mike Christ

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It's so interesting about the CAST Inc. I have a 3-hour video tape when Mr. Sardelli proposed his idea at a get together at Freddie Bell's house. Just some of the names in attendance were, Sonny King, The Checkmates, Buddy Greco, Cork Proctor, Peter Anthony, Carme Pitrello, Steve Rossi and about 20 more. Needless to say, I notified the CAST last year that I was no longer interested in supporting an organization where its members are never invited to a business meeting, there are no elections and its membership numbers are dropping like confetti. The current cast officers are not the one's that started this policy. It has always been a sort of a secret as to who our president was going to be until it would be announced at a lunch or dinner event. SURPRISE, SURPRISE, SURPRISE! Then one would wonder how did that happen? What happened to the last president? Not to mention the other CAST officers. I want to make it perfectly clear that I have no suspicious feelings about the handling of money or the CAST function as it was originally formed. But why isn't the membership informed or allowed to vote on giving away such large amounts of money to someone other than a member in need. As for me, the CAST helped me in my time of need when my wife passed last year. I needed burial funds until her insurance check reached me. Without hesitation, they loaned me the money. It was paid back in full within 6 months. For emergency situations like that, you can't expect a membership vote. On what to do with left over funds at the end of the year shouldn't others be allowed to suggest other organizations in the arts that may be in need? It's a shame that such an organization with a noble beginning has come to what it is today. Maybe it's not too late because there are still several really good members that make up The CAST. Try making it a democratic group and you may see people like myself take an interest again. Keep up the good work.
Respectfully, Larry Taylor

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As you may know, Tony Saccashit (as I call him) did a benefit for Dave Swan using the cast as a vehicle. From what I heard, Tony took 20% off the top for the CAST, which is wrong. The CAST was only to receive monies if it was a sanctioned benefit like for cancer etc. Plus he deducted money for advertisement and the band. The CAST should have picked that up as Dave is in real bad shape. That's what we started this thing for. To help our performers. Dave's benefit had a poor turn out to begin with because nobody wanted to do anything for Tony or the CAST. Then he wouldn't let people donate money directly to Dave at the benefit. You know and I know we always had a big bowl up front of the stage for people to donate monies. Tony is also the treasurer along with being president, which gives him control of the books. It was not supposed to be that way. When Freddie Bell was treasurer, not a penny was taken out of that account unless it was for a damn good reason. The CAST was designed not to further anyone's career or be used as a tool to get publicity. It was designed to quietly help needy performers without embarrassing them. All Tony wants is his star on the Walk of Fame and won't pay for it. He wants it donated and I hope he isn't using the CAST's money. He has Ed Swindle on the board of the cast as Ed is also on the board of the Walk of Fame. So who is kissing whose ass? The whole board quit because they didn't like the way Tony was running things. The idea of the CAST is performers helping performers. Entertainers helping entertainers, Unfortunately Tony doesn't fit into either category. That is my opinion and I am entitled to it.
Carme Pitrello (Ex-Vice President and one of the original founders of The CAST Inc.)

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"Get a Life"
You are a poor example of a reporter, or whatever you're trying to be. Who knows...however, one thing that I know is that you've been fired from every publication and lost every media outlet that you've been involved and now you are trying to use the Web as your so called freedom of the press. However, you forgot one important fact and that is.... THE FACTS. You continusuously write things that are not substantiated. In a way I feel sorry for you. Maybe you should try getting a job as a greeter at K-Mart or the 99c store; it's obvious you have too much idle time. Remember, a parasite is something that feeds off the blood or lifeline of another life form.
Tony Sacca

Note: Speaking of "substantiating things" (which we do), we assume that creative writer Sacca has something to back up his claims about us "being fired from every publication where we have been involved" (not even close to the truth). As for "losing every media outlet," Mr. Sacca knows that is a lie as we are often in attendance at the same by-invitation events where Mr. Sacca shows up. Instead of addressing the issues, this fellow chooses to avoid them and make false personal attacks. That should tell you something.

And to wind up this week's incoming mail (we need room to cover some other topics), there is this one...

Dear Mr. Sacca:
I note that there is a pissing contest currently occurring between you and Nelson Sardelli. A word to the wise....Nelson would probably like to have a battle of wits with you, however, he is a gentleman, and would not engage the unarmed. I might add that you DO NOT own his email list. Hence, I do NOT wish to receive emails from YOU or the CAST. Also, I would suggest that you take a remedial spelling and composition course at some educational establishment prior to your sending any more venomous emails. Having been a resident of Las Vegas for 46 years, I have the utmost respect for Mr. Sardelli. Your thinly veiled sarcasm is indicative that were your brains made of cotton, you would not have an amount adequate to fashion a Kotex for a pissant. You also seem to suffer a serious medical malady known as an anal/cranial inversion. This is a serious condition usually perpetrated by believing one's own PR. The cranium perpetrates the illusion that the individual is a legend in his own mind. Methinks you are a victim of this serious condition.

A Concerned Innocent Bystander,

Mike Christ

Questions remain. Why are there only two CAST board members left when the state of Nevada Incorporation regulations require three? Do CAST checks require two signatures or only one? How many paid CAST members are there today? There are way too many unanswered questions when it comes to the remnants of this group. The questions need to be answered, honestly, before the CAST is involved in any more "fundraising" events. If the answers don't add up, we predict the demise of the organization. And the saga continues. Stay tuned.

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Eric Michael Gillett Carmine Mandia Larry Atello

New Yorker Eric Michael Gillett passes along this information...The former Las Vegan is receiving great reviews for his role as Alfonse in Frankenstein...no, not Mel Brooks' musical of YOUNG Frankenstein. This Frankenstein, unaffected by the stagehands strike, is continuing to run at the 37 Arts Theater/450 W. 37th Street (between 9th and 10th). David Spencer of Aisle Say New York writes, "... Mitigated miraculously in the uncommonly still, grounded performance of Eric Michael Gillett as Frankenstein's proud and tolerant father; a simple stroke of humanity that puts the lack of anything similar elsewhere into the harshest relief," while the Associated Press wrote "Memorable numbers include the anthem-like The Coming of the Dawn, poignantly sung by (Hunter) Foster, and two lovely ballads: Dear Victor, flawlessly voiced by (Christiane) Noll, and Your Father's Eyes, heartbreakingly expressed by Eric Michael Gillett as Victor's father, Alphonse." Eric assures that all is well at the 37 Arts Theater and tickets are available. He states that, in addition to Noll and Foster, the show boasts a wonderful cast of actors, including Steve Blanchard, Jim Stanek, Mandy Bruno, Becky Barta, Nick Cartell, Casey Erin Clark, Struan Erlenborn, Leslie Henstock, Patrick Mellen and Aaron Serotsky. Plus it offers a pretty amazing physical production. Frankenstein performances will play Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.; Wednesday and Sunday at 3 p.m.; and Saturdays at 2 p.m. Tickets are on sale at TicketMaster.com or at (212) 307-4100. 37 Arts is located in Manhattan at 450 West 37th Street. For more info, visit www.FrankensteinTheMusical.com.

In addition to Frankenstein, on Tuesday (the 27th), Gillett is directing and appearing in 1907-It Was a Very Good Year at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall. The evening includes tributes to Jane Froman, Kate Smith, Gene Autry, Edward Heyman, Alec Wilder, and many other writers and performers who were all born in 1907. The cast includes Craig Rubano, KT Sullivan, Olivia Stevens, Karen Kohler, Nancy McGraw and Alan Harris. Show time is 8 p.m. Tickets are available at the Carnegie Hall box office, through Carnegie charge at (212) 247-7800, or at www.carnegiehall.org. While he lived here, Eric was a principal in Donn Arden's Hallelujah Hollywood! at what was then MGM Grand and is now Bally's, as well in Bill Moore and George Arnold's Bal du Moulin Rouge at the Las Vegas Hilton. While here, he also starred in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at the downtown (Union) Plaza. For a dozen years, Gillett was known as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey's "Singing Ringmaster." He has recorded a couple of solo CDs, Cast of Thousands (the music of Craig Carnelia) and Sing a Rainbow, and performs on some compilation albums. On Broadway, he has appeared in a number of productions, including Sweet Smell of Success and Kiss Me, Kate, both at the Martin Beck Theatre, and The Frogs. If you don't blink, you can also see Eric in Mel Brooks' Producers movie (he is one of the herd of accountants in the I Want to Be a Producer number).

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Don't miss entertainer Jeanne Brei's final week of "Wednesdays in November" at Fitzgeralds in Las Vegas. This Wednesday, the 28th, Jazzin' with Jeanne will honor 90-year-young tap dance pioneer Prince Spencer at the 7 p.m. show. Charlie Shaffer is featured on piano, with Ty Lemley on bass, Jim Racey on drums, and lounge legend Don Hill on saxophone. Over the past few weeks, Brei has paid tribute to 86-year-old Hill, who was with the Treniers for decades, presented entertainers Carmine Mandia (Shades of Sinatra) and R&B singer/drummer Paul Stubblefield, and featured pianist Dehener Franks, bass player Danny DeMorales and the Fench jazz/Dixie band, Sac a Pulses. As for Spencer, he was a longtime member of the legendary tap dancing group, The Step Brothers. At the 9 p.m. Jammin' with Jeanne show, Ms. Brei, backed by Shaffer and the boys, will be recording a live CD. Hang around for the fun and become a part of history. Tickets are $15 for the first show. Add $10 and see both, completely different, shows. For additional information, call (702) 254-3836. It might be mentioned that this has been an up and down month for Brei and company at Fitzgeralds, and will contine to be for the final week. Why? Because the Fitzgeralds hotel/casino is DOWNtown and their showroom is UPstairs.

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Larry Atello's Bon Jovi Tribute Band, Have a Nice Day, will be playing at Rox, tonight Friday, November 23rd at 11. They will be shooting a DVD that night, so Larry suggests you wear your Bon Jovi Best. Atello is a cast member of Tony n' Tina's Wedding at the Rio. Catch him in both shows. The Rox Club is located at 5285 Dean Martin Drive. Call (702) 804-7699 for exact directions and additional information.

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Lucie Arnaz Jason Graae Brent Barrett

We have to say that we turn green with envy when we read publications such as Cabaret Scenes magazine. Why, we wonder, doesn't the Entertainment Capital of the World (that's one of Las Vegas' claims to fame) have a regular offering of true cabaret performers working in this city? We are not talking about the typical Vegas lounge acts - show/dance bands, vocalists doing cover tunes, and the like, we are talking real cabaret. For example, at Feinstein's Loews Regency in New York, Las Vegan Susan Anton recently did her nightclub act (sometimes known as cabaret) there. There is not a club, or even a room, in this city that regularly features performers with theater and recording credits, such as Lucie Arnaz, Eric Comstock and wife Barbara Fasano, Amanda McBroom, Sam Harris, Ray Jessel, Jason Graae, Eric Michael Gillett, Alan Campbell (who played lounges in Vegas before earning a lead role in Broadway's Sunset Boulevard), Jane Oliver (who lived here for a while some years back), Andrea Marcovicci, Craig Carnelia, Ann Hampton Callaway (with or without her sister, Liz Callaway), Jim Caruso, Chita Rivera, or any of the many talented entertainers with cabaret acts. A number of artists who are currently appearing, or have appeared, in shows like Hairspray, Chicago, Mamma Mia!, Spamalot, Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular and The Producers, have solo albums out and perform in cabarets around the country. When we have artists like Brent Barrett, Rebecca Spencer, and Kevin McMahon (to name a few), right in our own backyard, and they already have solo recordings on the market, why can't they have the opportunity to show their "unmasked" sides in one or two-person shows? No big orchestras are required. Just piano accompaniment or a trio works fine for most of these performers. Why, when entertainers of this genre perform in places like Delray Beach and Palm Beach, Florida; New Hope and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Palm Springs and, aren't they also performing in Vegas? The answer is because no one has created a space for this type of entertainment in our fast growing city.

And speaking of Brent Barrett, his Kander & Ebb Album is one of our personal favorites. For those who think all that John Kander and Fred Ebb wrote was music for Chicago, Cabaret and special material for Liza with a "Z," Brent's CD contains some wonderful, lesser known material penned by these two. We especially like our favorite Phantom's interpretation of Sometimes a Day Goes By (from Woman of the Year), Seeing Things (from The Happy Time, which, in 1968, earned the late Robert Goulet a Best Actor in a Musical Tony Award), No, My Heart (from Hay Fever), Why Should I Wake Up? (from Cabaret), Isn't This Better (from Funny Lady), Why Should I Wake Up?, sung with Ruthie Henshall (from Cabaret), and the clever and sexy Wet, sung with Jane Krakowski (from Steele Pier). Buy it. You'll like it.

David Engel Kristen Hertzenberg David Pomeranz

Another musical gem is Kevin McMahon's Mirror CD. The album contains tunes such as Stevie Wonder's Lately; Stephen Sondheim's I Remember/Take Me To the World, from Evening Primrose, a medley of Cry and Crying, and Dale Gonyea's tale of John & Fred. Kevin, who was nominated for an L.A. Stage Alliance Ovation Award as Best Featured Actor in a Musical, was beat out by repeat-winner David Engel who earned his current award for his role in Can-Can at the famed Pasadena Playhouse. Engel has appeared in Broadway productions of Putting It Together with Carol Burnett, Seussical: The Musical, La Cage aux Folles, and played an Aggie in both the stage and film version of Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. David created the role of Smudge in the original New York production of Forever Plaid, as well as the subsequent London, and Los Angeles productions (for which he earned L.A. Drama Critics and Drama-Logue Awards as well as an earlier Ovation Award). Engel then recreated the role of Smudge in Plaid Tidings, also at the Pasadena Playhouse. Other stage credits include starring roles in Crazy for You, The Full Monty, Kiss Me, Kate, Singin' in the Rain, Children of Eden, Dames at Sea, Little Shop of Horrors and I Do! I Do! He has also appeared in versions of Falsettos, Passion, The Wild Party and My Favorite Year. His resume is extensive. We dare not go on too long, lest we make some of the local talent envious. David Engel is currently traveling the country as "Phil" (played by Danny Kaye in the 1954 film) in the national tour of White Christmas. He is spending his Thanksgiving holiday in Las Vegas, where, among other things, he plans to attend Sunday's Patti LuPone show at the Suncoast, along with cast members from The Producers, Larry Raben (Leo Bloom) and Lee Roy Reams (Roger DeBris).

Our city's closest thing to cabaret may be the monthly Composers Showcase. Featuring the music of local songwriters sung by professional entertainers, this wonderful showcase presents top talent performing works that could very well wind up on some star's next album or on a Broadway stage. The setting is an intimate theater space at the Liberace Museum. The hour is late for most people, but perfect for many of the local entertainers. Initiated by musical director/songwriter Keith Thompson (currently working on Jersey Boys, set to open at Palazzo in April) and Michael Brennan, the showcase has been up and running for more than a year-and-a-half. One never knows what to expect, but we guarantee you will be entertained. Scheduled for this month (Tuesday, the 27th) are the works of local composers and songwriters, Michael Brennan, Vita Corimbi, Thom Culcassi, Wayne Green, Frederic Kahler, Kyle Norris, Josh Sassanella, Rebecca Ramsey, Dale Vernon and Mark Wherry, performed by amazing artists including Jason Andino, Kelli Andino, Kristen Hertzenberg, Rebecca Spencer and Rob Sutton. Expect other special guests and a surprise or two, as this will be the last showcase of the year. Cash bar and $5 Hors d'oeuvres buffet (no credit cards, please) provided by Keg and Cork Catering. The Liberace Museum is located at 1775 E. Tropicana at the corner of Spencer, next to Carluccio's Tivoli Gardens restaurant. The Liberace Showroom is in the round building next to Carluccio's (enter off Spencer). Come early for dinner at Carluccio's (they serve until 10 p.m.) and stay for the show. Sound support is generously sponsored by John Meren and Tom Gallagher of the Performing Arts Society of Nevada. Don't miss the holiday showcase. There won't be one in December so this will be your last chance to enjoy the experience until January. Show starts at 10:30 p.m. (after theater).

By the way, the $5 "charge" goes to offset the cost of the food and for the use of the museum space. None of the performers or the museum staff gets paid. This is the best bargain in Las Vegas entertainment. The mission of the Liberace Foundation is to help talented students pursue careers in the performing and creative arts through scholarship assistance. As he always helped promote new, undiscovered talent, we know that Liberace would have loved the Composers Showcase. See you there!

And speaking of green with envy, one of our favorite musicians, the oh so talented David Pomeranz, will make a rare appearance in Southern California. It's In Every One of Us - A Celebration Concert will play at the Morgan-Wixson Theater in Santa Monica at 8 p.m. on Saturday, December 1st. Best known for his classic recordings on Arista and Universal Records, and writing hits for artists as diverse as Barry Manilow (Tryin' To Get The Feeling Again and The Old Songs), Cliff Richard (It's In Every One Of Us), Missy Elliot, Richie Sambora and Bette Midler, David will be taking the stage for an unforgettable evening of his Inspirational and Romantic songs. Here are a handful of reviews earned by Pomeranz..."It is difficult to open up one's creative heart and soul before an audience and to project the honesty and emotional sensitivity that Pomeranz possesses..." - Phillip Elwood, San Francisco Examiner. "Where has David Pomeranz been all our life? The artist warms up to the audience like a pair of motorman's gloves and his easy rapport enabled him to virtually embrace the listeners...." - Ernie Santousosso, Boston Globe. "A Skillful storyteller and consummate showman, Pomeranz delighted the packed house with quirky banter and flair with a charming combination of humor and humility. He creates an exciting world..." - Lisa Elaine Scott, Music Connection Magazine. "...Pomeranz is a talented, energetic performer with a knack for evoking audience response...(he) left the audience craving more. (David is) truly an exciting artist whose work speaks volumes...." - Billboard Magazine. Some celebrities have their thoughts on Mr. Pomeranz as well. "David is inspiring!, " says Barry Manilow, while Mel Brooks states, "David Pomeranz is wonderfully talented!" The late Richard Harris said, "I would give up all of my awards, and they are many, if I could do what David Pomeranz can do with his music." (All three of these men have sung the songs of Mr. Pomeranz.) Tickets are $35. Reservations may be made by calling Peggi Sturm at Peggi Sturm & Associates (310) 470-9390, or email to [email protected]. The multi-platinum award-winning recording artist and songwriter did a two-night engagement at the Steve Wyrick Entertainment Complex at Planet Hollywood's Miracle Mile in June. We would like to see him back here on a more regular basis.

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On Sunday, December 2nd, at the Clark County Library Theatre (1401 E. Flamingo) will be the next program for the Performing Arts Society of Nevada's - Brown Bag Concert Series is Let's Get Ready For the Holidays. Cost is $15 a person with proceeds going to the Performing Arts Fund. The 2 p.m. show will be a Joyous Salute to the season, featuring many of your favorite artists who have been featured in our monthly programs. Among the special artists will be Tony Arias, Lloyd Ziel, Wes Winters, Rebecca Spencer, Gary Oakes, Lou Garcia, Joan and Laurence Sobel, Tina Walsh, Dolly Coulter, Bert Anderson, Bill Nolte, Tracy and Nathan Thomas, Kelli Wright, Bruce Ewing, Tim Searcy and Lee Roy Reams. Each has chosen a different song to help you Get Ready for the Holidays. The list is still growing and we will keep you posted of any additional performers joining the celebration. Mike DuBay will tickle the ivories. It is truly a season to be thankful when these wonderful artists find time to give of their talents. Make your reservations early, as this should be a sellout. Call (702) 658-6741.

Gary Oakes & Lou Garcia Bill Nolte Charo

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It's "Cuchi-Cuchi" time as the incomparable Charo brings her celebrated variety show to the Rampart Casino on Sunday afternoon (November 25th). Recognized the world over for her witty humor, loveable accent and mastery of the flamenco guitar, this truly multi-talented icon is guaranteed to bring a smile to the faces of all who see her. Born in Murcia, Spain, Charo was taught to play the guitar by the world-famous master, Andres Segovia, and became a recording artist in her early teens. Her resume boasts more than 45 appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. She also made more guest-starring appearances on the popular Love Boat series than any other actor. Currently, the international superstar is touring, playing to sold-out audiences. Her live shows are an exciting blend of song, dance and laughter. She is also busy promoting her new highly anticipated CD, Charo and Guitar. Her Sunday performance will be held in the Grand Ballroom at the adjoining J.W. Marriott, starting at 4 p.m. with doors opening at 3. Tickets are on sale at the main cage at the Rampart Casino for only $40, which includes taxes and fees. As a special bonus, all purchased tickets include a complimentary meal at the Rampart Buffet. The buffet voucher can be used anytime before December 23rd. The Rampart is located at 221 N. Rampart at Summerlin Parkway. Call (702) 507-5900 or (866) 999-4899.



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