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 July 25, 2008
You can find the current column HERE

Notice: Due to continuing computer problems, Claire Voyant's column for August 1 & 8, 2008 will not be published. Please check back next week.

Las Vegas - July 25, 2008

Michael Darrin

Paula Abdul

Gerry McCambridge

Services for Michael Darrin, who died on July 2nd following a debilitating illness, will take place at noon on Tuesday, July 29th, at Oasis Christian Church, 10450 Gilespie Street in Las Vegas. Attendees are requested to wear something purple, black or even grey, as these were Michael's favorite colors. The Emmy-winning choreographer/costume and lighting designer, who never stopped being creative (even to the lighting in his hospital room), had one last wish before he left this world. Michael wanted the facility where his memorial would be held to be "filled with flowers." It is hoped that friends will try to honor those wishes. Cousin Claire would like to see Paula Abdul, who neither attended or contributed anything (not even a note) to the fundraising benefit held for Michael at Krave on July 24th of 2006, come through on this one. We feel it is the very least that she could, and should, do, considering that it was Michael who created her groundbreaking music video, Cold Hearted Snake (the video debuted at No. 1), as well as worked with Abdul on a dance number for the 17th Annual American Music Awards, earning them, along with Dean Barlow, an Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Choreography in 1990.

Last Friday's memorial service for entertainer Jason Scott (real name, Jason Scott Ogilvie) attracted a handful of friends, including fellow performer, Gerry McCambridge, The Mentalist. McCambridge and Scott shared a dressing room during last year's taping of the NBC reality series, Phenomenon. Scott dropped out of the show before the finals took place. Jason Scott was a strolling mentalist and frequent performer at the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay, the Palms Playboy Club, and at celebrity events and private parties, primarily in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Jason, a California native, was found dead in his home on July 15th. He was only 33. For those who would like to acknowledge Jason's life and death, donations in his memory may be made to the Boys and Girls Club of Las Vegas, P.O. Box 26689, Las Vegas, NV 89126.

Gerry McCambridge, now in his second year at Hooters, performs in the Night Owl Showroom at the East Tropicana Hotel Casino, 7 p.m. every night but Friday. Call (866) 584-6687.

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Jeanne Brei & The Speakeasy Swingers got off to a good start on their first Saturday night gig at Bugsy's Supper Club. Bugsy's, located at 6145 W. Sahara at Jones (southwest corner), was jumping on July 19th, with musicians including 87-year-young Don Hill (musical director of the Treniers for 55 years who toured with Louis Armstrong for three years before that!) on sax, Ty Lemley (formerly with Guy Lombardo) on bass, Bruce Harper (toured with 10th Avenue Jazz Band) on drums, George Pollock (piano), Bob Scann (trombone), Michael Ray Tyler (trumpet), and Jeanne Brei on vocals. The sit-ins included Shades of Sinatra's Larry Liso, who sang Night & Day, and Cousin Harry Walker from the Treniers who did Walkin' My Baby Back Home. Some of the folks who came to enjoy the ambiance included corporate entertainer Kiki Kalor and Mark Bowers, Boyd and Jeanne Coulter (Boyd has a trio that Ty plays in at a senior center on Fridays), harmonica player Charles Linn Fraher, former local TV hostess Mimi Williams, Phylis David, David and Stella Forbes, Joy and Mel Johnson, Patricia Hudson, Andrea Gross, Christina Muentes, Elsie Schreuder, David Atwell, Eugene Markoff and Irene Kay, Ada Brei and Gloria Hill, Don's wife. This week, Charlie Shaffer will be back on piano and almost everyone from last week is confirmed and some surprise drop-ins are anticipated. On August 9th, 16th, 30th and September 6th, drummer Bruce Harper (the sub for Jim Racey) will be bringing going to bring his Big Band to Bugsy's. If you'd like one of the top tier booths for dining, be sure and call (702) 871-7194 to reserve your booth. Chef Jeremy Rallo is introducing his new menu, so come for the show, dinner and dancing (there�s a large dance floor). It's old Vegas with a new twist! No cover, no minimum.

Charlie Shaffer

Estelle Getty

Larry Edwards & Estelle Getty

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We are saddened to report the death of actress Estelle Getty. Getty made a number of films. On stage and in the movie, Getty played the mother of Harvey Fierstein in his Torch Song Trilogy, but her best known role was as the feisty and funny Sophia Petrillo on the TV series Golden Girls. Based on the last couple of years of Getty's life, as she suffered from severe dementia, we feel that the lady, as we knew her, really died two years ago...she just stopped breathing on July 22nd, three days short of her 85th birthday. Thanks for the laughs, Estelle Getty. Rest in peace.

Artist Marty Kreloff had this to tell us about the late Estelle Getty...

We just learned our dear friend for many years Estelle Getty died today. Estelle was one of our closest friends during our years in LA. I painted several portraits of Estelle along with her beloved cat Mazel. She even taught my partner Tim Olsen to make matzo brei. Every year on her birthday, July 25th, she would throw a giant bash at her home. Lots of the most famous TV and stage stars would perform for Estelle and her guests after dinner. Several years ago, as Estelle was starting to fade, and her memory going, her sons made a small party for her at her apartment in Hollywood. As we came in Estelle was frail and seated in a straight back chair. Standing on one side was Betty White, and on the other, Esther Williams. I walked over hoping she would remember me. She lit up, and told Betty and Esther, " Marty's the best artist I know." I will never forget that moment or our friend Estelle Getty. At the official opening of his one-man exhibit tonight (Triq Ultralounge at the Steve Wyrick Theatre at Planet Hollywood), Kreloff will toast the memory of his dear friend on what would have been her birthday.

And, from Tina Turner impersonator, Larry Edwards, comes this note (and photo)... Estelle Getty will be truly missed. I had the opportunity to meet Estelle in Los Angeles at the El Rey theater. Estelle adored female impersonators. Every female impersonator in the country would watch the Golden Girls because of their wit and humor. We're going to miss Estelle. Thank you for being a friend!! Perfect song!!

In a testament to her ability as an actress, it might surprise many to know that, although she played the senior member in the Golden Girls household, Getty was, in fact, the youngest of the lead cast members. Bea Arthur, who portrayed Dorothy on the show, is 86;74 year-old Rue McClanahan, as Blanche, is the youngest at 74; and like Bea Arthur, Betty White who played Rose, is also 86.

Among Estelle Getty's many mourning friends, is Michael Orland, associate musical director for American Idol. Orland appeared here at The Orleans last New Year's Eve, where he accompanied Filipino singer Imelda Papin and her special guest star singer/songwriter David Pomeranz. Orland also recently appeared on The View, playing for this season's popular Idol runner-up, David Archuleta, during the show's Las Vegas week. Michael is currently the musical director with Idols in Concert, now at the Rrazz Room in San Francisco's Nikko Hotel. Through August 30, a number of Idol's former competitors, including (in alphabetical order) Christina Christian, Frenchie Davis, Julia DeMato, Gina Glocksen, Mikalah Gordon, Justin Guarini, RJ Helton, David Hernandez, Kimberly Locke, Constantine Maroulis, Brandon Rogers, Rickey Smith, Vonzell Solomon, Trenyce, and Camile Velasco - are performing in groups of three and four, in an intimate, cabaret-style setting. For the schedule of the individuals, you can call (415) 394-1189.

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TheaterMania's reviewer, Sandy MacDonald, had this to say about Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, playing at the Cape Playhouse in Dennis, Massachusetts, through August 2nd... Watching the Cape Playhouse cobble together a musical in just two weeks is like seeing a magician pull a fast one: How is it possible to muster such fine production values, not mention superlative performances, on so stringent a schedule? Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, enjoying its first regional production here under Mark Martino's sure-handed direction, is a perfect example of what this 81-year-old institution does so brilliantly. It also augurs well for the imminent small-stage dissemination of this 2005 Broadway hit by David Yazbek and Jeffrey Lane. The Playhouse is lucky to have a consummate pro like Brent Barrett playing continental smoothie Lawrence Jameson. Barrett gets to use every demisemiquaver of his marvelous voice -- along with a panoply of accents -- in songs both comic ("All about Ruprecht," "Ruffhousin' mit with Shuffhausen") and tender ("Love Sneaks In"). The fact that he's faint-worthy handsome also makes it realistic that a sentient woman like Muriel Eubanks of Omaha (the mellifluous, funny Dee Hoty) would fall for this "prance" among men, even if it means she ends up one gull among many? Brent Barrett, who recently closed out his two year run in Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular at The Venetian, plays Lawrence Jameson in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, the role originated by John Lithgow on Broadway. For tickets, visit the Playhouse box office, call (508) 385-3911, or go online at cape

Brent Barrett

Roseanne Barr

Siameze Floyd

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Roseanne Barr, the original Desperate Housewife (thank you, Frank Marino), will wind up her four-month run at the Sahara on Wednesday night. To see the Emmy-winning funny lady before she departs Las Vegas, call (702) 737-2515 for reservations. Show times are at 9:30 p.m.

Don.t blame us for the fact that Wizard - The Musical Journey of Oz Composer Harold Arlen has closed, sooner then anticipated. The show was originally scheduled to run for six weeks at the Greek Isles, but called it a day in less than four. Our earlier blurb on Wizard only pointed out the obvious - a revue with the distinct advantage of great musical material by songwriter Harold Arlen, some interesting behind-the-scenes home movies shot during the filming of The Wizard of Oz, but a weak "script� and some possibly talented performers who just weren�t ready for primetime. A big hurdle to overcome, even before the show opened, was one of an identity problem. Although he wrote a very, very impressive catalogue of songs that have stood the test of time (with Come Rain Or Come Shine, Blues in the Night, The Man/Gal That Got Away, Hooray for Love, One For My Baby (and One More For the Road), It's Only a Paper Moon, Got the World On a String, Let's Fall In Love, Ac-cent-tchu-ate The Positive, Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea, That Old Black Magic, and I Love a Parade among them), the typical/average audience member is not familiar with the name Harold Arlen...until they realize he wrote the music for the Oscar-winning Wizard of Oz. If not for Mr. Arlen, there may never have been Off to See the Wizard, Ding-Dong! The Witch is Dead, If I Only Had a Brain, Follow the Yellow Brick Road, and of course, Over the Rainbow. Which brings up the big question...why didn.t the show title give more of a hint that it was Harold Arlen who wrote the song that just about everyone knows? Our suggestion of calling the show Over the Rainbow - The Music of Harold Arlen, or something similar, might have attracted more people to the Greek Isles Star Theater (a dandy showroom, by the way). Good word of mouth would also have helped to build an interested audience. Unfortunately, that didn.t happen. We left the show humming Is That All There Is?

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Las Vegans, Eric Floyd and his diva recording artist wife, Wanda Dee, were very surprised to learn that their multi-talented son, Siameze, will have his America's Got Talent audition aired on the popular NBC reality show this coming Tuesday. Why are they surprised? Because father Floyd (who also happens to be his sons. manager), would not allow Siameze to sign the "69 page long form 'slave' contract that the producers of Freemantle Media (the American Idol people) thrust upon them 30 minutes before his audition performance at Planet Hollywood's main showroom, as it would have given them unchallenged universal rights and ownership (in perpetuity, of course) to Siameze's name, image, likeness (etc.), leaving him in the position where he'd have to ask permission to use his own name in the future." Although daddy said "no," the audition was still a go. Siameze, called "The Godson of Rock & Soul," went out and killed the usual. Celebrity judge, Sharon Osbourne, adored the young singer/ dancer, and Siameze was allowed to complete his entire 90-second song. Since he did not sign the contract, fellow judges Piers Morgan and David Hasselhoff justified their indifference toward Siameze by suggesting that he should choose to be either a singer or dancer, but clearly not both. We have to wonder if anyone ever suggested that to Michael Jackson or his sister, Janet Jackson, or James Brown, or Prince, or Tina Turner, or Justin Timberlake, or Usher or Beyonce'? Were those artists ever forced to choose between being a singer OR a dancer? We think not. In any case, without the America's Got Talent paperwork signed, the Floyds thought for sure that Siameze's video footage would never see the light of day. Apparently, SOMEONE thought the segment would make for good television. You can decide for yourself if you tune in to America's Got Talent on Tuesday night, July 29th. Check your local TV listings for the time in your area.

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The Composers Showcase will be a little late this month (so will spring)...mostly due to the busy work schedule of Keith Thompson, the man who, along with Michael Brennan, is behind the event. As a matter of fact, the July edition is getting in just under the wire, on Thursday night, the 31st (chances are that the evening's festivities will run into August). Presenting their original compositions for this edition of the showcase will be the above mentioned Michael Brennan (Le Reve), Vita Corimbi (Menopause the Musical), Wayne Green (Spamalot), Clint Holmes (Just Another Man), newcomer Christopher Lash, Jason Martinez, Richard Oberacker (KA), the above mentioned Keith Thompson (Jersey Boys), and Mark Wherry. Singers on the schedule as we go to press are Robin Baxter (Mamma Mia!), Natalie Bradshaw (Jersey Boys), Ben Hale (Phantom), Greg Kata (Mamma Mia!), Randal Keith (Spamalot), Julia Krohn (Jersey Boys), Savannah Smith, Lisa Wilson and Melody Wilson. Supplying the instrumental portion of the evening will be Larry Esparza, Bill Fayne, Philip Fortenberry and Mark Ziegler. Showcase takes place at the Liberace Museum, 1775 E. Tropicana at Spencer, beginning at 10:30 p.m.

And what is it that is keeping Keith Thompson so busy these days? In addition to his work as the musical director for Jersey Boys at The Palazzo, and the Composers Showcase, Keith has been preparing his musical revue, IDAHO!, for its end of September New York debut. We have seen two readings of this clever parody of OKLAHOMA! - both at UNLV - and predict East Coast theatergoers will enjoy it as much as Southern Nevadans, especially with New Yorker Jay Rogers (Thompson's Kooky Tunes) and Rob Sutton (late of Mamma Mia!) recreating their Las Vegas performances. We will have much more on this subject as we get closer to the end of September.

And speaking of showcases...On Tuesday, we attended another one of acting teacher Gerald Gordon's mini-productions. This is probably our 10th time in the audience for one of these special, by invitation only, treats. Gordon, who is a Southern California transplant, has just completed his 56th class since moving to Las Vegas in February of 1996. In the more than 50 years that he has been teaching (he started very, VERY young), Mr. Gordon has created an impressive track record. Some of his past students include Christopher Titus, Andy Lauer, Joe Flanigan, Roslyn Kind, Randolph Mantooth, Corrina Harney-Jones, Greg Grunberg, Paul LeMat, Mark Curry and Oscar-winner Adrien Brody (The Pianist). In Las Vegas, Gordon's all age students (ranging from 17 to 83) have included cast members from many of our city's top production shows, among them Jubilee!, Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular, Toni Braxton Revealed, Mamma Mia!, Zumanity, Enter the Night, Love, Skin Tight, Legends in Concert, Cirque du Soleil's Love, Showgirls of Magic, Chippendales, The Great Radio City Music Hall Spectacular, At the Copa, O, Second City, Shag with a Twist, Tony n. Tina's Wedding, Folies Bergere, Mystere, Thunder from Down Under, EFX, Le Reve and Crazy Horse (formerly known as Le Femme). He has even had people who willingly traveled between San Diego, Utah, Arizona, Mesquite and Las Vegas (twice a week), just to study with him. Gordon has interviewed approximately 3,000 hopeful actors in the past dozen years. After the "Gordon test," only 688 were accepted into his classes (this guy is tough). The most recent group of hard working thespians consisted of (in alphabetical order), Lee Beffort, Daniel Berarducci, Elly Brown, Domenica Castro, Martha Corona, Michael Haayen, Luke Jones, Susan Lundt, Margarita Maliagros, Cecilia Miller, Sam Port, Forest Rall, Sameya Roocke, Cory Lee Taves, and Scott Watanabe. Each scene (there were 11 of them) offered something unique. The variety of material gave the actors the opportunity to display many emotions. Everyone did a very good job...some just "goodier" than others. We will probably regret mentioning particular individuals by name (we should have learned our lesson following the reaction of an unhappy actor after one of our earlier columns), but here we go anyway... The actors who greatly impressed us were (also in alphabetical order) Elly Brown, whose acting range - from light musical comedy to heavy, physical drama - leads us to predict big things for her; Susan Lundt, in a scene from Lanford Wilson's Ludlow Fair was excellent; Scott Watanabe, a Phantom cast member who shows there is much more to him than as just an interpreter of Andrew Lloyd Webber music; and handsome Sam Port, who has an excellent singing voice (he is in Jubilee!) also left a positive lasting impression. We would love to see Cecilia Miller perform something in her first language (which is not English). She came across as a natural, non-acting actress. And the three musical numbers were a real treat. Apparently, we weren.t the only ones impressed. From Mr. Gordon comes this follow-up..."Elly, Sam, Luke, Cory, Scott and even Cara (Cara Dace, a former student) who didn't perform - all were asked to test for a pilot for a new series, while Cory was also asked to work in a new developing stage show. I loved this group - no egos, no problems, great deal of talent and lots of love on all parts. What more could I possibly ask for from a cast, a class or any group of 15 people! I was delighted with the over-all outcome of the show." Although Gordon has said, "this is my last class," on many occasions, we predict that he will never give up teaching. The payoff of seeing his students perform after six or 12 weeks under his tutelage is too heady. The next class (of an Intermediate level) is scheduled to start sometime in August.

Elly Brown

Paige O'Hara

Terrence Forsythe

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This Sunday, July 27th, from 3 to 9 p.m., the areas. newest art spot, Gallery Las Vegas, will celebrate their grand opening with a meet the artists gathering. Featuring local, national and international painters and sculptors, along with antiques, furniture, jewelry and more delights, among those with work on display will be singer/actress Paige O'Hara (currently in Menopause the Musical at the Las Vegas Hilton), journalist/former auto racer Norm Johnson, Ruel James, Rick Metzler, Vital, Beti Kristof and Evgeni Vodenitcharov. The Gallery Las Vegas is located at 5115 S. Decatur at Reno (between Tropicana and Hacienda). For additional information, call (702) 221-4868.

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Yesterday afternoon, we attended Ed Mathews. Hit Parade Show at the Suncoast. Although we were a bit disappointed not to see Mark Giovi featured in more than a couple of solo numbers (a self-penned If I Could See Tomorrow, and Puccini's beautiful Nessun Dorma), he was terrific at what he did do. We were also quite taken with musical director/drummer Gary Olds. very well done versions of Stevie Wonder's You Are the Sunshine of My Life (with high marks to pianist Cocho Arbe for his contribution), and Wheels of a Dream, the 11 o.clock number from the musical Ragtime. Guest star, Terrence Forsythe, looking snappy in yellow and white, did a fine job on his half dozen songs, with our favorites being Change the World and You and I. When the band was a little late returning to the stage (Forsythe worked to pre-recorded tracks), Terrence went into an a cappella version of My Girl, with a great save by bass player Fred Watstein (the other two musicians were Dennis Mellen on keys and Jiggs Hemsley on saxophone). The afternoon's big negative, we felt, was the stage attire worn by Hit Parade regular, Terry Lynn Pershing. OMG! This lady is in serious need of a wardrobe consultant. We do not consider ourselves to be prudish, but we are actually offended by the first garment worn by Ms. Pershing. We have to wonder who she is dressing for. It certainly can.t be the mostly senior, and mostly women, audience that fills up the room for the weekly show. This getup was way too short and too revealing. We can only hope Ms. Pershing was wearing panties, as the fabric barely covered her crotch area. If she makes the wrong move, especially while trying to perch herself on a stool, showroom attendees (especially those closest to the stage), might see a recreation of the Sharon Stone interrogation scene from the film, Basic Instinct. The getup was offensive and inappropriate, no matter what the circumstances. Being on a high stage, with the audience having to look up, presents a view that most folks would prefer to miss. Do we see (among other things we see) a "wardrobe malfunction" on the horizon? Really, Ms. Pershing (who is a bit long in the tooth to be making these kinds of fashion statements anyway, put the mini-skirts, that barely cover your nether regions, away for a night out at one of our city's ultra lounges or for an audition at Olympic Gardens. Surely you can come up with something classy, tasteful and pretty for these daytime shows at a primarily locals casino.

On Sunday, at 2 p.m., the Performing Arts Society of Nevada presents an encore performance of the pianist Philip Fortenberry in his solo concert, Now Just Me! Don't miss this entertaining and enlightening musical offering by one of the most talented musicians you will ever see. Currently the Assistant Musical Director for Jersey Boys at Palazzo, Fortenberry�s earlier solo concert was such an audience favorite, he is back by popular demand. If you saw the first solo concert in September, or his joint venture with cellist Lee Richey two months ago, chances are you will want to return for this show. If you missed the earlier offerings (shame on you), Sunday is your opportunity to see it. Once again, the place is the Clark County Library Theater at 1401 E. Flamingo for this special performance. Admission $15. Call (702) 658-6741, or e-mail
[email protected] for reservations. Tickets can also be purchased at the door, from 1 p.m. the day of the show, subject to availability.

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