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 October 03, 2008
You can find the current column HERE


Las Vegas - October 3, 2008


Dana Allen & Frederic Kahler

IDAHO!

Wes Winters

Due to the extremely busy schedule of Keith Thompson and Michael Brennan (the gentlemen responsible for the monthly Composers Showcase), there was no September edition. Instead of skipping a month, and having a gathering at the end of October, there will be a showcase on Sunday, the 5th. One of the main reasons for doing this so early in the month (in addition to the fact that the music-loving public can't go for a month without their "fix"), is to give artists Dana Allen and Frederic Kahler, who are Leaving Las Vegas within the next week, the opportunity to participate and share their material one final time before their departure. Much of the music presented on Sunday will be from Dana's musical, Hayes Hotel. Among the entertainers scheduled to perform the material are Clint Holmes (Just Another Man), Tina Walsh (Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular), Philip Fortenberry (Jersey Boys),
Kristen Hertzenberg (on maternity leave from Phantom), Victor Wallace (Mamma Mia!), Jason Forbach (Phantom), Jeanne Brei, Reva Rice (Just Another Man), Sandra Benton (Menopause the Musical), Wayne Green (Spamalot) and other surprises. Cousin Claire has heard some of the songs from Hayes Hotel and she is very impressed. What better testimonial is needed? Other composers presenting material include Jason Andino, Jeff Day, Erich Bergen, Vita Corimbi, Damon Innerarity, Jeff Liebow, Jim McMains, Steven McMains, Richard Oberacker and Keith Thompson. Those singing the songs will include Ian Jon Bourg, Rochelle Collins, Janien Valentine, and Renata Renee Wilson. Accompanying musicians are Philip Fortenberry, Dan Philippus, Nielle Santos, Micah Santos, Victor Santos, and Fred Watstein. Showcase is at 10:30 p.m. (after theater), in the Cabaret Showroom at the Liberace Museum, 1775 E. Tropicana at Spencer (next door to Carluccio‘s Tivoli Gardens Restaurant). There is a cash bar (no credit cards, please), and a $5 hors d'oeuvres buffet provided by Keg and Cork Catering. The mission of the Liberace Foundation is to help talented students pursue careers in the performing and creative arts through scholarship assistance.

And speaking of Keith Thompson...On September 26th, on NYTHEATRE.com, David Gordon had this to say about Thompson's and Buddy Sheffield's "comedy musical love story," IDAHO!

"If you're a fan of Golden Age musicals, you'll love IDAHO! IDAHO! has the potential to be a crowd-pleasing Broadway smash. Hopefully, some producer will see Idaho! and snap it up for a Broadway outing. It's got everything going for it - and it's original, too! Judging by the audience's reaction, it certainly seems like there's a long life in there beyond the six performances at the festival." Elena Shaddow, Rob Sutton and Bill Nolte get special mention. Sutton and Nolte both have recent Vegas history, Rob in Mamma Mia! and Bill in The Producers. Two extra performances have been added to the original IDAHO! schedule. If you are in New York, or plan to head there for the weekend, if seats are available, the last two IDAHO! performances are tomorrow (October 4th) at 1 and 9 p.m. at the 37 Arts Theatre C.

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And speaking of Liberace's, the talented Wes Winters, who was the featured entertainer in the museum's showroom for more than four years, joins a club that already had too many members. Wes opened at the Wyrick on June 30th and closed less than three months later. The divorce was not a happy, amicable one. It never is with this operation. Winters is not the first performer to become more than disenchanted with the Wyrick tactics. (Hopefully he will be the last, but there are always other unsuspecting hopefuls waiting in the wings for a stage to perform on.) Wes Winters joins a list of entertainers that include comic/ventriloquist Ronn Lucas, the Cirque inspired Aga Boom, Fan Yang and his Gazillion Bubbles Show, Filipino singing sensation Martin Nievera, and impressionist Tom Dane. All of these performers have used the lost-in-the-maze theater, located in the Miracle Mile Shopping Mall at Planet Hollywood. Although this group of professional entertainers possesses all the elements for success, in our opinion, they were doomed before they started when they decided to take their shows to this venue. Since its delayed opening in February of 2007, the Wyrick complex has had a dark cloud hanging over it. The dark cloud, we feel, is Steve Wyrick himself. Defending the Caveman wisely chose to back out of their anticipated opening at the mall theater and head to the downtown Golden Nugget instead. We are sure that if Kevin Burke and company had chosen to bring their show to the Wyrick, as originally planned, they would have met the same fate as Lucas, Aga Boom, Nievera (last seen here with the Society of Seven), the Gazillion Bubbles Show, Dane and pianist/singer/songwriter Winters. Instead, the Caveman is entering its second year in the 600-seat Nugget showroom. The multi-talented singer/songwriter David Pomeranz also did two performances at the Wyrick (both on the same night). Pomeranz's situation was a bit different from the other acts who have taken a chance at this venue. His plan was to use the theater as a showcase, not for a long-term run. If he had done his two shows anywhere else, David probably would have had a bigger and better turnout. After all, although he is a New Yorker by birth, Pomeranz is a major recording and performing artist, with a very strong fan base, primarily in the Philippines. Almost everyone who has performed at the Wyrick theater has had to use discount ticket outlets to get warm bodies into the 500-seat theater...including Steve Wyrick himself. In May, Fan Yang told Las Vegas Review-Journal entertainment columnist, Mike Weatherford, "There's something wrong with this organization. I think this theater will work only when they get rid of Steve Wyrick. He has too much ego." Of his own experience, Yang said, "I don't see the future there. We cannot fix the issues." There are numerous problems when it comes to this space...some that might possibly be remedied and others that can't be. Frankly, we are amazed that this theater is still up and running. We feel it will take a miracle (or thousands of them), new owners, or a much better magician than Wyrick, to keep this place from disappearing.


Martin Nievera

Rebecca Spencer

Paul Newman

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Rebecca Spencer, who played Madame Giry in Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular from its opening at The Venetian in June of 2006, to February of this year, returns to the role she created here through October 16th. Spencer stepped in for the injured Tina Walsh, who took the Madame Giry role after Spencer's departure almost eight months ago. Rebecca was recently featured in the New York Musical Theater Festival's Heaven in Your Pocket. Welcome back, Becky, if even just for a brief time.

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Paul Newman, was a mensch! The actor, who died on September 26th at the age of 83, will be remembered, not only for his film work, but also as a quiet philanthropist. In 1982, with writer A.E. Hotchner, Newman founded Newman's Own, a line of food products - salad dressing, pasta sauce, popcorn, lemonade, salsa and wine among them. Newman established a policy that all proceeds from the sale of Newman's Own products, after taxes, would be donated to charity. As of May 2007, Newman's Own products have generated more than $250 million for charity. One of the beneficiaries of Newman's philanthropy is the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. Located in Connecticut, where Newman and Joanne Woodward, his wife of more than 50 years, resided, the summer residential camp provides for seriously ill children. Named after the gang in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Hole in the Wall (which now has several camps around the world), serves approximately 13,000 youngsters every year, free of charge. If you don't know the meaning of the word "mensch," look it up. Paul Newman's picture should be right next to the word.

* * * * * *

Paul Campanella, co-star of Tony 'N Tina's Wedding at the Rio, is starring as FBI Special Agent Charles McDermot in the new feature film, Heroes. Also starring in the action drama are Las Vegas favorite Tezz Yancy, from the Clint Holmes musical production, Just Another Man; Sean Newman, and Richard "Shott" Brown. Las Vegan, Malcolm Brooks of MB Films, is the writer, producer and director of this R-rated action thriller. The official debut is today, October 3rd, at the Galaxy Neonopolis Theater Complex at the Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas. The film will play at Neonopolis for one week. Call the theater at (702) 383-9600 for show times.


Paul Campanella

Michael Kessler & Melinda Jackson

Nicole 'ND' Durr

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The husband and wife team of Michael Kessler and Melinda Jackson, along with members of the M&M American Dance Theatre, will tap and glide their way across a couple of local stages, in both October and November. This month, the talented troupe will perform Dancin' Feet at the Charleston Heights Arts Center, 800 S. Brush Street, this Sunday, October 5th, at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 and $15 and may be purchased by calling (702) 229-6383. On Sunday, November 9th, Michael, Melinda and the M&M American Dance Theatre will perform Let's Dance - A Romantic Musical Comedy at 7:30 p.m. in The Showroom at the South Point. Tickets are $15, $20 and $25, and may be purchased by calling (702) 797-8055 or (866) 796-7111.

* * * * * *

Performances of Raw Talent Live begin tonight at the Sahara Hotel & Casino. Creator, producer and director, Nicole Durr (also known as ND), says that the production will bring a new side of entertainment to the Las Vegas Strip. The show's intricate plot will transport audience members into a virtual world through raw, interactive, adrenaline-packed performances interlaced with surreal characters and high-tech digital imaging. Raw Talent Live features talented dancers, singers and musicians along with original music. Tickets are $79.95, inclusive of tax and fees, and can be purchased by visiting RawTalent.com, SaharaVegas.com, or by calling the Sahara box office at (702) 737-2515 or toll free at (888) 696-2121. Show times are 8:30 p.m. Dark on Wednesdays.

* * * * * *

Las Vegas musician Gary Olds will be getting married on Sunday, October 12th. If his wife Julie finds out, she probably won't mind, as Gary is marrying her for the second time. The vow renewal ceremony will take place aboard a boat on Lake Mead. Fellow musician, bass player extraordinaire Keith Nelson, who is an ordained minister, will officiate as Gary and Julie reconfirm their love for each other.

* * * * * *

Brent Barrett, former star of Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular, will perform Broadway's greatest love songs with the Akron Symphony Orchestra tonight. Barrett will be joined by Patty Goble for Romantic Journey: The Broadway Concert. Christopher Wilkins is conducting. The program will include some old favorites along with some dazzling new hits, with songs from Chicago, West Side Story, Guys and Dolls, South Pacific, My Fair Lady, Oklahoma, 42nd Street, and many more! Showtime is a t 8 p.m. at the Akron Civic Theatre. Tickets for the Pops Series range from $28 to $40, and may be purchased through ticketmaster. As a bonus, and back by popular demand (it was a sell-out last year), there is a pre-concert Martini Tasting. Sample up to four different specialty martinis with fellow Broadway music lovers. Tasting begins at 6 p.m. Prices are $10 for season subscribers, and $15 for non-subscribers, and is limited to the first 150 reservations. For additional information (if it's not too late), call (330) 535-8131


Brent Barrett

Sheryl Crow

Criss Angel & Larry Edwards

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There will be a big change for this year's Andre Agassi Grand Slam for Children. For the first time in 13 years, the major charitable event will not be held at the MGM Grand. Instead, the 2008 event will take place on Saturday, October 11th, at Wynn Las Vegas. Rod Stewart and Sheryl Crow are making return appearances at the Grand Slam for Children, while Las Vegas' homegrown band, The Killers, and David Spade will make their Grand Slam debuts. Rod Stewart continues to captivate and inspire five generations of music fans worldwide as a brash pub-rocker, sophisticated balladeer, soul man, folk troubadour and rock ‘n' roll singer. The Grammy winner has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the UK Music Hall of Fame. Since emerging in the early 1990s, Sheryl Crow has been profiled as one of the most popular mainstream rock recording artists and activists the world over. Her music and lyrics have earned her numerous awards and recognition, including multiple Grammys and American Music Awards. David Spade has earned notoriety for his wry humor and biting witticism. The "Buh-Bye" and "And you are...?" phrases he made famous during his five-year run on NBC's landmark Saturday Night Live are now part of the mainstream vernacular. He also has found success on the big screen in Benchwarmers, Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star, Joe Dirt, Tommy Boy and Black Sheep. Spade received critical acclaim for his role in NBC's Just Shoot Me, and can now be seen starring in CBS' Rules of Engagement. The Killers - Brandon Flowers (vocals/keyboards), Dave Keuning (guitar), Mark Stoermer (bass) and Ronnie Vannucci (drums) - are one of America's most popular, critically acclaimed bands. The group's achievements include two platinum-plus albums, multiple Grammy and American Music Award nominations, MTV VMA Awards and NME Awards. The Killers' highly anticipated third studio album, Day & Age, will be released next month. The chart-toppers were recently honored at UNLV and inducted into the Nevada Entertainment Artist Hall of Fame. Of course, David Foster will once again serve as musical director, a job he has done since 1995. For more information, please contact The Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation at (702) 227-5700 or visit www.agassifoundation.org.

* * * * * *

The Bernie Allen garden is now a growing, thriving living memorial to the kind clown who died in Las Vegas on January 16th, 2004, at the age of 88. So far, seven trees have been planted in a designated section of Desert Bloom Park at South Maryland Parkway and Wigwam. Thanks to the generosity of a number of caring people, there is a credit with Star Nursery which will be used to add another tree or two. There are also plans to put in a plaque and, perhaps a bench where visitors can sit and remember Bernie and some of the other local entertainment pioneers we have lost over the years.

* * * * * *

Unlike some of the reviews we have read regarding the new Criss Angel show, Believe, at the Luxor, impersonator Larry Edwards gives the Cirque du Soleil magic production high marks. We will give this one a little more time to iron out the kinks. Hopefully, much like the initially poorly reviewed Zumanity at New York -New York, and Celine Dion's A New Day at Caesars, this too shall turn into another success story. The price tag on Believe is astronomical, so you better believe it has to be more than just good.

* * * * * *

Radio station 100.5 JACK FM presents Jacktoberfest at Sunset Station Hotel & Casino Amphitheatre tomorrow, October 4th, from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. Your $20 not only get you in the door, but also gets you twenty tickets good for food and drinks (it‘s like buying the food and getting the entertainment for free). Enjoy live music all afternoon long from Mini KIIS, Mini YMCA and local favorites, Rock Daddy! Beginning at 8:30, the party continues inside Club Madrid with Have a Nice Day - a Bon Jovi Tribute Band, featuring Larry Atello up front. Not an alcohol drinker? Don't fret, $5 at the door gets you a designated driver wristband good for water and soft drinks. It's still a Jacktoberfest regardless of your beverage preferences. Rain or shine. Must be 21 years or older. No exceptions, ID will be checked at the door. We JUST found out that Have a Nice Day will also be appearing TONIGHT inside the Club Madrid at Sunset Station, beginning at 11 p.m. See you there!!!


Larry Atello

Mickey Manners

Dangerous Curves

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When the phrase 'Goin' Ol' School' is mentioned, you can definitely think of Mickey Manners. Funnier than ever, the 82-year old comedian has been wowing audiences for nearly 50 years. Early on, Mickey's idol was the legendary Milton Berle, and Berle's jokes and style of comedy are what inspired Mickey to start his own comedy variety act. Known as a 'clean' comedian, Mickey doesn't go for off-color jokes to make his audiences laugh and through the years, this seemingly insignificant difference has set him apart from his peers and furthered his career as a funnyman who doesn't resort to common tactics to get a rise out of his listeners. From stand-up to variety to touring with Berle, Manners made numerous television appearances (Get Smart, Lost In Space, Hogan's Heroes, Murphy Brown, Silk Stalkings and many more popular series). He has also appeared on The Tonight Show, and as a guest on shows hosted by Steve Allen, Merv Griffin and Joey Bishop. In addition to two Jerry Lewis movies, Manners is most famous for his panelist role on CBS' Stump the Stars and on the original Hollywood Squares. Mickey will headline the Riviera's Comedy Club, from October 6th through 12th. Appearing with Mickey are Kathleen Dunbar and Chris Monty. Kathleen Dunbar says being a single mother has given her a sharp tongue and sarcastic wit. Her comedy has been called "sexy and sassy," but never dirty. Kathleen has performed with Bob Saget, Emo Philips, Bobby Slayton and Bob Zany. Chris Monty is New York's freshest rising comedy star. Born and raised in Long Island, Chris has expanded his career into radio and television. He has hosted his own radio show on Long Island's WGBB and later co-hosted On A Roll with fellow comedian John Larochia. Chris has written jokes for other comics, and has appeared in numerous television commercials. Tickets are $24.99 plus taxes and fees. Call the Riviera Box Office at (702) 794-9433, or click on www.rivierahotel.com. Ask about the special dinner/show combos. Children under 18 not permitted.

* * * * * *

Next Friday, October 10th, Anthem's New Song Lutheran Church, 1291 Cornet Street, near the northeast corner of Anthem Parkway and Reunion, in Henderson, will be hosting a special evening with Dangerous Curves, Las Vegas' premier all-girl jazz trio! In addition to performing many favorite Dangerous Curves' classics, like Moon River and Is This Any Way To Fall In Love, the girls will also be featuring several new songs (from Broadway to the cabaret world), and will even be premiering some songs from their soon-to-be-released CD! The gals with the curves, and the pipes, are Margaret "Gret" Menzies, Karen Merstik, and Lisa Smith. Tickets for the 8 p.m. show are a reasonable $10, and can be purchased by contacting Jason Manlapaz at [email protected]. A portion of all proceeds from the evening will be donated to the Alliance for Lupus Research.

* * * * * *

The Las Vegas Philharmonic is very excited about their 2008/2009 Pops Series...and so are we! Leading off the season, on October 11th, is Trumpeter and Showman, Byron Stripling, in a tribute to Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong. The series' second offering is A Christmas Celebration!, with 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. shows on Saturday, December 13th. The concert we are most looking forward to features former Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular star, Brent Barrett, who will perform on Saturday, March 21st at 8 p.m. The Broadway leading man is calling his presentation, You and the Night and the Music. For tickets and information regarding the Las Vegas Philharmonic Pops Series, call UNLV at (702) 895-2787.


Byron Stripling

Cantors Goldberg, Goldstein, Friedman & Kornworcel

Susan Anton

* * * * * *

In honor of Israel's 60th anniversary, the Las Vegas Philharmonic will celebrate with a gala concert on Sunday, October 12th, at the Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall. Four of Las Vegas' Top Cantors - Cantor Marla Goldberg (Temple Sinai), Cantor Philip Goldstein (Congregation Ner Tamid), Cantor Daniel Friedman (Temple Beth Shalom) and Cantor Andres Kornworcel (Midbar Kodesh Temple) - will perform with the Las Vegas Philharmonic. The concert will also feature special performances by world-renowned mezzo-soprano Eugenie Grunewald, tenor Nathan Brian Wine, clarinetist Shelley Hanson, and the Adelson Educational Campus Choir and will feature a variety of traditional Israeli, Jewish folk, patriotic, liturgical and Klezmer music performed by the Las Vegas Philharmonic and directed by musical director, David Itkin. The celebration is supported by Dr. Miriam Adelson and Sheldon G. Adelson, with proceeds from ticket sales benefiting the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Educational Campus and the Las Vegas Philharmonic. The event will start at 6:30 p.m. with a Kosher VIP reception; VIP tickets are $300 per person and include the reception and premium concert seating. The concert begins at 8 p.m. and ticket prices are $30, $60 and $90, on sale now. For additional information and to purchase tickets, please LasVegasPhilharmonic.com or UNLVtickets.com, or contact the UNLV box office at (702) 895-2787.

* * * * * *

It's Susan Anton at the Suncoast this weekend. Anton and her filmmaker husband, Jeff Lester, make their home in Las Vegas, where they own Big Picture Studios. Susan was one of the rotating stars (along with Paige O'Hara, Maurice Hines Jr. and Marlene Ricci) in the Great Radio City Music Hall Spectacular featuring the Rockettes that played at the Flamingo from 1994 until 2000. She also was a featured cast member of the musical Hairspray, during its short 2005 run at the Luxor. On Broadway, Anton played Ziegfeld's Favorite in The Will Rogers Follies. In addition to her engagements at the Suncoast, Anton has also performed her cabaret act here at the Desert Inn (now Wynn Las Vegas), the Cinegrill in Southern California, and Feinstein's in Manhattan. Many people don't know that, in the 1970s, Anton was a principal singer in a production show at the Hacienda (now the site of Mandalay Bay). Producer Bill Moore was blown away by the tall, beautiful and talented Anton. She was exactly what he had been looking for to co-star in a new Las Vegas revue called Turn It On, starring French Canadian sensation, Jean-Paul Vignon. The show opened in 1974 with Vignon and Anton making their Las Vegas debut. It ran for nine months. Anton was held over for six more months to headline in Moore's new ice show, Fantasy on Ice. You never know when this information might come in handy. Jeopardy! anyone? Show times for Susan Anton are at 7:30 p.m., through Sunday. Tickets start at $19.95 plus applicable taxes and fees. For reservations, call (702) 636-7075.

And on the subject of the Suncoast, Chef Chas La Forte, formerly of Fellini's on West Charleston, has opened Salvatore's Italian Steakhouse at the northwest Boyd Gaming property.

* * * * * *

We would like to think that our little column had some bearing on the outcome of America's Got Talent, but we doubt that it did. If that were the case, we would gladly take a bow. On Wednesday night, the opera-singing insurance salesman, Missouri's Neal E. Boyd, was declared the winner, taking home a monetary prize of $1 million and earning a spot in a show on the Las Vegas Strip. We were rooting for 32-year-old Boyd, or Nuttin' But Stringz (a pair of fiddle playing young brothers named Damien and Tourie Escobar), to take the top prize. What we didn't want to see happen was Queen Emily (real name, Emily Baloney or Emily David), with her fictionalized bio, win. Of the five finalists, Miss Full-of-Baloney came in last. Sometimes, crime (and/or lies) doesn't pay.



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Claire Voyant's portrait by Charlie Frye