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 30, 2007
You can find the current column HERE


Las Vegas - November 30, 2007

Helio Castroneves & Julianne Hough Bruce Ewing Rebecca Spencer

Anyone who cares about dancing (and according to the TV ratings, many people do), knows that racecar driver Helio Castroneves and his beautiful, blonde partner, onetime Las Vegan Julianne Hough, took home the top prize on the latest edition of Dancing With the Stars. Look for competitors from all three years to be part of the tour that hits Las Vegas on December 30th. The place is the Orleans Arena and the time is at 7:30 p.m. This Dancing with the Stars tour, the third, will feature a cast of the show's most popular personalities - combining established favorites from previous years, with newcomers from the current season. Las Vegas audiences will be treated to an exciting new line-up of stars including season two winner and special guest star Drew Lachey with Cheryl Burke, Sabrina Bryan with Mark Ballas; season three's Joey Lawrence with Edyta Sliwinska and Monique Coleman; professional dancers Karina Smirnoff, Derek Hough, Kym Johnson, Alec Mazo and Brian Fortuna. As with the network show, an amazing live band will accompany each dance number, performing the hit music that has become a much-loved aspect of the program. Additionally, the show will feature two huge video screens to the left and right of the stage, displaying never-before-seen rehearsal footage, exclusive behind-the-scenes interviews, and outtakes. Dancing with the Stars alum, Louis Van Amstel will once again choreograph the tour. We have yet to hear if this season's winner will participate in the tour. The two-hour show will feature a larger-than-life recreation of the TV show's actual stage and set design complete with cabaret-style VIP seating on the floor. Tickets are on sale at the Orleans Arena Box Office from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Prices range from $52.50 to $198, including tax and facility fee. For more information call (702) 284-7777, or visit www.orleansarena.com. Go to www.iloveallaccess.com for VIP seating information.

And speaking of Dancing with the Stars, we hear competitor Wayne Newton has changed his mind and WILL join the tour…this after reports that illness caused him to cancel a bunch of singing (?) dates around the country as well as a six-week engagement at Harrah's in Las Vegas. We received an interesting e-mail from a reader suggesting that it might not be only a health issue that has Mr. Newton canceling dates. It has been suggested that because of his poor relationship with musicians, specifically union members, Wayne may have had a hard time putting a group together to back him up (or drown him out, which would be our choice) as he moved from city-to-city. It's an interesting thought, we think, and a definite possibility.

* * * * * *

As the end-of-the-year holidays draw nearer, parties, shows and benefits increase around these parts. Here is one show that should be a sellout. On December 9th, at 2 p.m., the College of Southern Nevada's Nicholas Horn Theatre will be the site of a benefit for Family Promise, a local charity that helps homeless families. A Phantom Family Holiday Concert: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, features cast members from Andrew Lloyd Webber's masterpiece, Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular will gather together to perform. This time, there will be no Music of the Night...instead, it will be music appropriate to the season. Produced by Phantom cast member Bruce Ewing (who will also sing), 28 actor/singers from The Venetian's lavish production will take to the stage at the Nicholas Horn Theater in the spirit of giving. Among the performers for this project (listed alphabetically to be politically correct), Brent Barrett (our favorite Phantom), Elena Jeanne Batman, Kristen Hertzenberg, Kristi Holden, Geena Jeffries Mattox, Larry Wayne Morbitt, Brianne Kelly Morgan, Ryan Silverman, Lawson Skala, Rebecca Spencer and John Leslie Wolf. They will be accompanied by 14 real live musicians from the Phantom orchestra, led by the show's musical director, Jack Gaughan. Among the seasonal music, presented by some of the best vocalists anywhere, will be Carol of the Bells (with hand-bells and voices), Christmas Waltz, Let It Snow, Santa Baby, The Snow and Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire). A takeoff on a 1940s-style radio show (including jingles of the time) will include songs such as White Christmas, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, I'll Be Seeing You and What Are You Doing New Year's Eve. The Prayer, a section from Amahl and The Night Visitors, Thankful, O Holy Night, the Hallelujah Chorus and more will be part of the program. Come celebrate with the Phantom cast while helping out a worthwhile cause. Tickets are $30 per person. For additional information and reservations, call (702) 245-0992, or log on to www.familypromiselvtickets.com. The campus is located at 3200 E. Cheyenne in North Las Vegas. Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular plays at The Venetian.

* * * * * *

We are very saddened to report the sudden and shocking death of entertainer Clement Zeleski (originally spelled Zelewski). Clem was a true Las Vegan, born and raised in this city. At just 17, he went to work as a dancer in the Stardust's Lido de Paris production and never stopped dancing. In years following, this young man performed all around the world, in large production shows in Sun City, South Africa, the Lido in Paris and Jubilee! at Bally's in Las Vegas, as well as in smaller revues. In 1992, Zeleski did his Michael Smuin conceived Fred Astaire in Rehearsal show at the Cable Car Theater in San Francisco. The revue lasted for one year. Clem also danced in commercials for Hertz Rent-A-Car in London and the Walker Furniture Stores in the Southwestern United States. His lean look (he was more than six-feet tall), style, grace and talent made him a perfect interpreter of the classy moves and routines of Fred Astaire. Other entertainers were in awe of Zeleski's dance abilities. He had the opportunity to partner with Cyd Charisse at a party hosted by actress Stefanie Powers and work with Debbie Reynolds at her hotel in Vegas (now the site of the Greek Isles). Ballet great Rudolph Nureyev was so impressed with Zeleski, he insisted upon meeting Clem after seeing his San Francisco show. Zeleski's most recent local performance was in the Las Vegas Legends benefit for Golden Rainbow held at The Orleans on November 4th. Although we weren't able to attend that event, we heard that Clem and his "Vera Ellen" partner were brilliant. On Tuesday morning, November 27th, Clement Zeleski was found slumped over his kitchen table. Paramedics were called; he was rushed to a hospital but was unable to be revived. He was only 45. At the beginning of Clem's Salute to Fred Astaire on YouTube, there is a poem by an unknown author that reads, "When I get to heaven, and I'm settled there, may I dine with Mr. Disney and dance with Fred Astaire." We have a feeling that is what he is doing now. No final arrangements had been made as we approached our weekly deadline. When we have more information, we will pass it along.

Clem Zeleski Rich Affannato Clint Holmes & Kelly Clinton Holmes

* * * * * *

We saw many familiar faces at Sunday night's Patti LuPone show at the Suncoast. Among those captivated by the performance of the Broadway diva were Producers cast and crewmembers Rich Affannato (Carmen Ghia), Larry Raben (Leo Bloom), Lee Roy Reams (Roger DeBris) and Paul Hansell. From Phantom, there was leading man Brent Barrett and Doug Carfrae, newlyweds (as of November 11th) Clint and Kelly Clinton Holmes, Bill Fayne, performers from Tony n' Tina's Wedding, and dancer/singer/ producer Jeanne Brei. Also in the audience were a couple of vacationing entertainers, both named Kevin - Spirtas and McMahon. Kevin Spirtas, who served as Hugh Jackman's standby in the Peter Allen-inspired musical, The Boy From Oz, on Broadway, had a recurring role as Dr. Craig Wesley on the NBC daytime soap, Days of Our Lives, played Corny Collins in Hairspray at the Luxor, and performed his one-man show, Night and Days, at both the Starbright Theatre in Sun City Summerlin and the Charleston Heights Arts Center. Kevin's main reason for being in Vegas was to attend a surprise birthday party for entertainer/producer Michael Chapman of ChapQuist Entertainment. Kevin McMahon, who last worked in Las Vegas in Forever Plaid, was in the city visiting friends. Also visiting for the Thanksgiving holiday was entertainer David Engel, mentioned in last week's column. LuPone's show, called Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda…Played That Part, featured songs from Broadway that Patti had the opportunity to perform in Evita (she also starred in Anything Goes and Sunset Boulevard) as well as many she wished she "coulda" sung. Among the numbers she interpreted were You Mustn't Be Discouraged (Fade In, Fade Out), Don‘t Rain On My Parade (Funny Girl), Ya‘ Got Trouble (The Music Man), Neverland (Peter Pan), Easy To Be Hard (Hair), Meadowlark (The Baker‘s Wife), A Quiet Thing (Flora the Red Menace), I Was Here (Glorious Ones), A Boy Like That/I Have a Love (West Side Story), A Wonderful Guy (South Pacific), a Stephen Sondheim medley (Company, Anyone Can Whistle, A Little Night Music, Follies), Oh What a Beautiful Morning (Oklahoma!) and, of course, her show-stopping Don‘t Cry For Me Argentina (Evita). It was a delightful evening for lovers of Broadway musicals.

And speaking of Mr. and Mrs. Holmes, the talented couple both have separate upcoming dates in the Suncoast Theater. Look for Clint Holmes and family - his mother, Audrey; sister, Gayle Steele and his wife, Kelly Clinton - and some of his talented pals - the Las Vegas Tenors - to Celebrate the Holidays, or at least some of them, filling the Suncoast Theatre with music and fun. The dates are the 7th, 8th and 9th, with performance times at 7:30 p.m. As for Kelly, aka "Kelvis," by popular demand (from people like Cousin Claire, for example), this multi-talented singer/comic/impressionist will reprise her wonderful one-woman show, performed in a couple of smaller venues over the past few months. We thought Kelly's was one of the best evenings of talent we had seen in quite sometime. Come check her out and see for yourself, when she appears in the Suncoast Theatre, at 7:30 p.m., Wednesdays in December (that's the 5th, 12th, 19th and 26th). For tickets, call Suncoast reservations at (702) 636-7075.

Gayle Steele Roseanne Barr Jimmy Hopper

And speaking of the Suncoast (which we frequently do), look for Menopause The Musical (at the Las Vegas Hilton) principal, Skye Dee Miles to perform in the theater there on Thursday, December 6th at 2 p.m. Skye, who was one of the players in San Francisco's long running Beach Blanket Babylon revue before relocating to Las Vegas, gave audience members a look at her other side when she did her one-woman show at the Bootlegger. For tickets, call (702) 636-7075.

And speaking of Jeanne Brei, her final night of Wednesdays in November wound up this week with an eclectic mix of friends, fans and music lovers in attendance. Gathering in the upstairs showroom at Fitzgeralds were folks such as Artie Schroeck and Linda November, pianist Ronnie Simone and his wife Madeline (Ronnie composed Brei's opening theme song, and was "Invisabella" at Caesars Magical Empire for years), George and Bella Meese, longtime Treniers fan Betty York and her friends, Michael Kessler and Melinda Jackson, singer Kimberly Brent (she was a dancer in Legends in Concert at the Imperial Palace and does a mean hula since she's from Hawaii) and Bryce Krausman among others. Although Jeanne was suffering from Vegas Throat, or something like it, she still managed to have enough of a voice to record the night's two shows for an upcoming CD. Also contributing to Wednesday's entertainment were musicians Charlie Shaffer, Ty Lemley, Jimmy Racey, Dehner Franks and Treniers pioneer, Don Hill.

* * * * * *

Happy birthday to Sagittarians Kenny Kerr, Billy Chapel, Michael Chapman, Larry Henley, Johnny Pate, Doug Breniser, Roger Caldwell and George Verbiwski. And happy anniversary to Steven Lee and Brenda Leonard Cowart (Sunset Strip Band at the Las Vegas Hilton) who are celebrating their 10th on the 14th of December.

* * * * * *

There are some rumors circulating that suggest Roseanne Barr may be returning to Las Vegas for another extended run at a major property. The Domestic Goddess did well enough during her three months at New York-New York last summer (she was originally scheduled for six weeks), to warrant another go round here. In a recent list of television's Greatest Icons, compiled by cable's TV Land and Entertainment Weekly magazine, Roseanne came in at No. 11, beating out personalities including Ed Sullivan, Dick Van Dyke, Jackie Gleason and David Letterman. In case you are interested (and you wouldn't be reading this if you weren't), Johnny Carson came in as No. 1. We will keep you posted on this one.

* * * * * *

Because Miracle Flights for Kids was deprived of contributions it may have received if the scheduled Jimmy Hopper concert had taken place on December 2nd (it was cancelled with no real explanation), we would like to let you know a bit more about this wonderful organization in the hopes that, when you have the opportunity, you will support it at other times, in other ways. Founded in 1985, Miracle Flights is a non-profit organization that offers free airline transportation, both commercial and private, to sick and disabled children in need of medical treatment. It allows families to get their children to the top medical facilities for both second opinions and treatment. Miracle Flights has aided more than 50,000 children in 22 countries. In April, the organization will celebrate its Month of Miracles. Watch for more details on April events. For more information on Miracle Flights for Kids, call (702) 261-0494 in Las Vegas. And, by the way, the cancellation of the concert was not due to Mr. Hopper. He was taken by surprise like the rest of us. (Jimmy's photo is by Michael Munson.)

* * * * * *

Lisa Dawn Miller, the daughter of legendary songwriter Ron Miller, will make her New York City debut at the Metropolitan Room on Monday, December 3rd at 7 p.m. That will be followed by a second 10 p.m. performance on Wednesday, the 5th. Calling her show I Want To Come Back As a Song - Ron Miller, A Knight of Lyrics, this will be a loving tribute to her father, done as only a daughter could do. When Motown songwriter Ron Miller passed away in July at the age of 74, he left behind a magnificent catalog of inspirational pop classics that truly defined an era - For Once In My Life, Heaven Help Us All, Touch Me In The Morning, Yester-me, Yester-you, Yesterday, A Place In The Sun, I've Never Been To Me, If I Could and many more. Lisa, a Los Angeles-based producer and singer/songwriter, calls these tunes, "amazing songs that have been the fabric of so many people's lives." The title of the intimate one-woman show, I Want to Come Back as a Song, is named for one of Miller's songs. "The incredible outpouring of love and support from around the world in the wake of Daddy's passing has comforted and inspired me," says Lisa. "Knowing how much he is loved and respected means so much to me. My father will be reborn every time someone sings one of his songs. I want to preserve his legacy, as his daughter, an artist, a producer and as a believer of his dream – his dream of peace and hope for a brighter tomorrow. I am very excited to perform in New York. I get to be in my favorite city singing my favorite songs!" Lisa has recorded some of her favorites on her critically acclaimed debut album, Fly Away. Working with a small ensemble, Lisa's show at The Metropolitan Room will feature some tunes that she has never performed live, including the powerful, gospel flavored Heaven Help Us All, which won a Grammy Award in 2005 for the Ray Charles/Gladys Knight collaboration from Charles' Genius Loves Company release. The Metropolitan Room is located at 34 W. 22nd Street in New York City. The cover charge for Lisa Dawn Miller's show is $25 with a two-drink minimum. For reservations, call (212) 206-0440.

* * * * * *

Here's an interesting bit of casting, American Idol runner-up, Clay Aiken, will join the cast of Broadway's Spamalot in January. The multi-platinum superstar becomes a blessed Knight of the Round Table as Sir Robin from January 18th to May 4th. Author and original Monty Python member, Eric Idle, has been a Clay Aiken fan ever since he took his daughter to see him live on the second season of American Idol. Maybe now Aiken will be known as 'American Idle.'

Lisa Dawn Miller Clay Aiken David Brummel

* * * * * *

A special performance of Fiddler on the Roof, benefiting the Jewish Family Service Agency, will take place at 2 p.m. on Sunday, December 9th. Presented by the Nevada Conservatory Theatre, Fiddler on the Roof will be staged in the Judy Bayley Theatre at UNLV. Although Fiddler on the Roof has been performed many times before, Robert Brewer, Nevada Conservatory Theatre artistic director, thinks there is a freshness to this production that hasn't been seen in a while. "I really appreciate the way Mindy Cooper has taken a hard look at the play and the context of history in the early 1900s with Russia turning to communism," he said. "Prior to this time, the Jewish and Russian people had a good relationship until the politics of the time destroyed it. Based on the stories by Jewish author, Sholom Aleichem, Fiddler on the Roof portrays the struggle of a father, Tevye, to maintain his family and religious traditions while the world and civilization around him rapidly change. Though written in 1894, Fiddler on the Roof raises the still, contemporary issues of mixed marriages, dissolution of religious customs and religious persecution. Cooper, whose grandparents were original investors in the play, is particularly delighted to be doing this production of Fiddler on the Roof. "I grew up seeing the show which is dear to me. As a director/choreographer, it is a joy to work on. I've come full circle," she said. Audiences will see the deterioration occur which is the backdrop of the play." Another interesting dimension comes from set designer Xuzheng He, who grew up in Maoist China and painted political posters to earn money. As a result, he understands the politics of the play from personal experience and designed the sets with a sense of realism. The play's cast features Broadway veteran David Brummel as Tevye. Brummel has performed in numerous Broadway productions and television shows, and had a recurring role as the Honorable Gus Stamos on Law & Order. Attendees are invited to bring a new, unwrapped toy for the JFSA holiday drive, or a non-perishable food item for the food pantry as part of the organization's Chanukah Program. Tickets for the special show are $36 per person. Tickets to sponsor an underprivileged individual also are $36 each. Various other sponsorship packages are available beginning at $180. Event sponsors are invited to attend a private, post-show dessert reception with the cast. For more information, call the JFSA at (702) 732-0304.

* * * * * *

Due to time constraints, not to mention lack of space, we will pick up where we left off on the subject of the CAST in next week‘s column. There is plenty more to say as we have uncovered additional deception and shenanigans within the (dis)organization in the past week. Also, look for the latest on the talented folks who participated in drama coach Gerald Gordon's most recent Actor's Showcase. Cousin Claire suggests that some of these people should start writing their awards acceptance speeches. If they ever have the opportunities to use them (like Gordon‘s former student, Adrien Brody who won an Oscar for his role in The Pianist), we say, don't forget to thank your teacher.



Have a question about Las Vegas? Want to make a comment (be nice, now)?
If so, drop an e-mail and ask. Click Here
Cousin Claire will do her best to find the answer for you.
You can find Past Columns HERE


     Like to be notified when Claire Voyant's next column is available?
Then join Claire Voyant's announcement mailing list!
Enter your email address below, then click the 'Join List' button:
   

Claire Voyant's portrait by Charlie Frye