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 October 17, 2008
You can find the current column HERE

Las Vegas - October 17, 2008

IDAHO! cast

Philip Fortenberry

Doug Taylor

We have some pretty excited people in the Las Vegas entertainment community. That's because Keith Thompson's original comedy musical, IDAHO!, did extremely well at the just concluded New York Musical Theater Festival. Thompson is currently the musical director for Jersey Boys at the Palazzo. The Musical Theater Festival began its fifth season on September 15th and ended on October 5th, having presented 241 performances over the course of 21 days. A record-breaking 25,000 people, selling the festival to 87.5% of capacity, attended the NYMF. More than 75% of productions had sold-out performances, and 11 productions extended their runs to accommodate the high demand. On Sunday, November 2nd, a gala will honor the winners of the NYMF 2008 Awards for Excellence, along with producer Robyn Goodman. Ms. Goodman was the co-founder and Artistic Director of Second Stage Theatre for 13 seasons. She spent four years as Supervising Producer of One Life to Live, and two seasons as Director of Artistic Development at Manhattan Theatre Club. Since forming her own production company, Aged in Wood, Goodman has produced Bat Boy the Musical, Jonathan Larson's tick, tick...BOOM! (both won Outer Critics Circle Awards), Our Lady of 121st Street and Red Light Winter. On Broadway: A Class Act, Metamorphoses (Drama Desk Award, Best Play 2001), Avenue Q (2004 Tony Award, Best Musical), Steel Magnolias, Barefoot in the Park, Altar Boyz, In the Heights and the revival of West Side Story. She is also on the Board of Counts Media and Artistic Consultant to the Roundabout Theatre Company. Goodman will be recognized for her dedication to new work and new artists.
Best of Fest Audience Prize: Idaho! by Buddy Sheffield and Keith Thompson
Most Promising New Musical Honorable Mention: Idaho! by Buddy Sheffield and Keith Thompson
Excellence In Direction: Matt Lenz, Idaho!
Excellence In Overall Design: Idaho!
Hailed as "The Sundance of Musical Theatre," NYMF exists to revitalize one of America's greatest art forms by discovering, supporting and promoting new musical theater artists, producers, and projects, and by introducing a diverse audience to the vibrancy of contemporary musical theater. Since its inception in 2004, this three-week annual festival has premiered more than 130 new musicals - many of which have gone on to award-winning productions in New York, in regional theaters and on tour in 38 states, and nine countries worldwide. The NYMF 2004 hit, Altar Boyz, has played well over 1,500 performances off-Broadway and spawned two National Tours; fellow NYMF alum [title of show] recently played at the Lyceum Theatre on Broadway; Nerds is coming to Broadway this Spring; and off-Broadway audiences will soon see My Vaudeville Man. The evening will include cocktails, a silent auction, seated dinner and star-studded performances celebrating NYMF's fifth anniversary. Tickets are $500 / $375. The event will take place at the Hudson Theatre, 145 West 44th Street. For reservations, call (212) 664-0979 x13, or e-mail [email protected]

And speaking of Keith Thompson, as regular Claire Voyant readers know, he and Michael Brennan (Le Reve musical director) are the originators of the Las Vegas Composers Showcase. Because both Thompson and Brennan have been occupied with theater projects in New York, there was no end-of-the-month showcase in September. Instead, the September showcase was held on October 5th. There will be a REAL October version at the end of this month (stay tuned for details). As for the October 5th edition, it was very impressive, with the very pregnant Kristen Hertzenberg (on leave from Phantom), Damon Innerarity, Richard Oberacker, Rochelle Collins, Janien Valentine, Clint Holmes, Vita Corimbi, Rebecca Spencer (formerly in Phantom, visiting from New York), Philip Fortenberry, Erich Bergen, Fred Watstein, Tina Walsh, Wayne Green, Scott Watanabe, Victor Wallace, Jeanne Brei, Reva Rice, Sandra Benton and others taking part in the late night show in the cabaret at the Liberace Museum. This was a kind of farewell appearance by composer Dana Allen, as he and partner, artiste Frederic Kahler, are departing Las Vegas (although we expect they will return for visits). Dana presented some of the songs from his Hayes Hotel musical. As usual, it was a great night.

And speaking of the Liberace Museum...We made a trip over there on Tuesday to see pianist extraordinaire, Philip Fortenberry, in his new afternoon show, Liberace and Me. Playing Liberace's beautiful touring nine-foot Baldwin Grand (covered in small mirrored tiles done by John Hancock), is inspiring for Fortenberry, a man who was an admirer of Mr. Showmanship since he was a small child. This is a must-see presentation for music lovers. Fortenberry plays everything from Liberace's version of Chopsticks, to Broadway tunes, standards, inspirational numbers, ragtime, and ends his show with Liberace's usual closing number, I'll Be Seeing You. Singers from Strip production shows are expected to stop in on occasion and join Philip on a song or two. Performances are on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 1 p.m. Tickets are priced at $17.50 and may be purchased by calling (702) 798-5595, ext. 14. The museum is located at 1775 E. Tropicana at Spencer. We will have more on Philip Fortenberry and Liberace and Me in future columns.

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Due to budget cuts at the upscale Red Rock Resort (everyone is doing it), this will be Doug Taylor's last weekend at T-Bones Chophouse & Lounge (at least for right now). You can catch the talented musician tonight and tomorrow from 7 p.m. to midnight. Over at Boulder Station, you can see and hear More & Gendel in the Kixx Bar on Thursdays from 7 p.m. to midnight. On Saturdays, one-man-band Van de Guzman, entertains in the same venue, also from 7 to midnight.

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Olympic Gold Medal-winner Maurice Greene is currently displaying his athleticism and good sportsmanship as a competitor on this seasons‘ (No. 7) popular Dancing With the Stars. The 34-year-old is paired with two-time Dancing With the Stars champ, Cheryl Burke. The winner of two gold medals, in the 100m sprint and the 4x100m relay at the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics, track star Greene was dubbed the "World's Fastest Man" during his career. In addition to being the former world record holder in the 100m sprint, and winning multiple world championships, he also won silver and bronze medals at the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics. He is the current Indoor World Record holder in the 60m at 6.39 seconds. Greene is currently being managed by Las Vegan Marvin Lashever, President/CEO of G.E.M. (Global Entertainment & Management) Group, Inc. Dancing With the Stars can be seen on ABC TV.

Cheryl Burke & Maurice Greene

Michael Stacey & Jennifer Hepburn - A Tale of Two Cities

Joe Bologna & Renee Taylor

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So, maybe you think Cousin Claire mentions David Pomeranz too often. Well, if he would stop writing music (he won't), winning awards and honors (he won't), and selling out venues around the world (he won't), we wouldn't have anything to say about the talented gentleman. One of Pomeranz's latest projects is the Charles Dickens inspired musical, A Tale of Two Cities, which opened at Upstairs At The Gatehouse Theatre in London on September 27th. Steven David Horwich and David Soames wrote the book for the production, the lyrics are by Horwich and the music was written by Mr. Pomeranz. It isn't just us who has great things to say about this gentleman. Here are a few of the things critics are saying about A Tale of Two Cities...
October 9, 2008
By Lizz Brain
Every now and then there comes the chance to discover a new gem, a show which revives your passion for Musical Theatre and sends you home wanting to tell the world to see it. The London premiere of "A Tale Of Two Cities" is such a joy, it deserves to be championed - soaring tunes, evocative underscoring and a gripping, powerful story of sacrifice. This is an ensemble piece and there's not a weak link. Jennifer Hepburn is a glorious soprano who makes Lucie Manette a genuinely pleasing lady. Her final few scenes and beautiful duet with noble husband, Charles Darnay (earnest and likeable Michael Stacey) are packed with emotional punch, while Sarah Dearlove and Richard Stirling provide the comic relief as Miss Pross and Jarvis Lorry. There's an exquisite trio too, between Carton, Manette and Darnay, as good as anything you'll hear in bigger blockbuster Musicals. Director Paul Nicholas keeps the story tight (book by Steven David Horwich and David Soames) and the action moves swiftly. The musical numbers with lyrics by Horwich and music by David Pomeranz manage to be both intelligent, accessible and pleasing on the ear. The set is simple and the performers transform it easily from Aristocratic homes to courtroom, London to Paris and visa versa. It‘s atmospheric, enthralling and moving - and whether you're fascinated at the historical tale or end up bawling at the tragedy, it IS the best of times. A must see!

Ham & High
By Aline Waites
A beautiful tale of love and sacrifice
".......a stunning production - not to be missed."
".......Dickens' unforgettable characters come alive on a musical stage and this has all the hallmarks of becoming a long-standing show."

Reviews Gate
Geoff Ambler 30 September, 2008
It was the best of evenings
A Tale of Two Cities is an epic musical, with a score to match and songs that pleasingly lodge themselves in your head and leave you humming "The Best Of Times" all the way back down to the Tube. Songs of love unrequited thrill. Horwich and Soames' book thankfully précises Dickens for the stage but brings more humour than I remember and with Paul Nicholas's tight direction it retains the drama and darkness of the piece, yet keeps it a compelling tale throughout. A Tale of Two Cities feels every part the epic classic musical, which keeps the pulses racing with stirring, impassioned music and characters to care about.

Camden New Journal
Sarah Nowakowska, October 5, 2008
A musical trip through two cities that goes like the Dickens
THE light is dim, a sallow glow weighing on the stage set as though immersed in a nightly mist. The London premiere of the new musical based on the novel by Charles Dickens plunges you straight into an eerie atmosphere of impending doom. Paul Nicholas holds the directing reins in this latest adaptation of A Tale of Two Cities and introduces a cast of passionate actors intent on filling their songs with enough emotion to make you quiver. This latest adaptation of Dickens's classic manages to transform an intense story into musical escapism with a cast that sizzles with emotions and conviction.

An American Look at London Theatre
Posted by Rogue Zentradi
THOUGHTS: "A Tale of Two Cities"
No, the RZ hasn't made a journey to see the (show) currently running on Broadway. This OTHER version of the classic novel, running at Upstairs at the Gatehouse, is the brainchild of David Pomeranz (score), Steven David Horwich (Book/Lyrics) and David Soames (Book) manages to condense Dickens's epic into a svelte 2:40 (with interval) without sacrificing characterization or major events in the plot. Director and co-producer Paul Nicholas has brought together an excellent and experienced cast and in this case things do get better with age: they sell the show marvelously. Pomeranz has supplied a chamber score reproduced here on two pianos. Sound tech Andy Evans has gone above and beyond the call of duty to provide a wonderful mix, Mike Lee's costumes are lovely to stare at and his set design is clean and simple. Sometimes smaller is better, and this intimate production is worth checking out. The RZ would not be surprised were it to have a lovely future ahead. There's a gem of a show here, and with some polishing it can become brilliant.
If you happen to be hanging out in London over the next few weeks, A Tale of Two Cities, set against the background of the French Revolution, the enduring Dickens classic takes audiences on a journey of love, revenge and sacrifice, is at the Gatehouse through November 2nd.

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The annual Old Time Reunion Party will be held this Sunday, October 19th, at The Orleans. The event is primarily for people who have lived in Southern Nevada for at least 30 years. After years of meeting for breakfast and talking about the "good old days, a group of Vegas "pioneers" (Joe Delaney, Ron Lurie, Abe Fox, Thalia Dondero, Ken Johann, Paul Endy, Lou and Davey Pearl and others) decided to make the nostalgia fest into an annual event. Eleven years ago, the first gathering at the Stardust attracted about 500 people. The interest and attendance has grown, with the more recent reunions generating larger numbers of folks who come to visit. This year the event is being co-hosted by the Old Time Reunion Party Reservation Committee and the Las Vegas Centennial. The ticket price is $35 per person, which includes dinner, cocktails and entertainment. Cocktails are at 6 p.m. Dinner is at 7. Call (702) 382-6336 for tickets and information.

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Renee Taylor and Joe Bologna are back at the Suncoast this weekend, performing their ode to marriage (their marriage, anyway) in If You Ever Leave Me...I'm Going With You! We have seen this both funny and touching show twice, and enjoyed it both times. Shows are tonight, tomorrow and Sunday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $19.95 plus taxes and fees and may be purchased by calling (702) 636-7075.

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Neil Diamond

Ellen DeGeneres

Monster Mayhem

Neil Diamond, who, following his July 1976 sellout concerts at the Aladdin‘s, then, brand new Theater of the Performing Arts, vowed never to perform in Las Vegas again, returns to our city on Saturday, January 2nd of next year (which, hard to believe, is less than three months away). Neil will perform in the (up to) 16,800-seat MGM Grand Garden Arena, where in spite of his "threat," he has performed on a number of occasions. Cousin Claire, who didn't become a Las Vegan until October of 1976, made the trip from Southern California to see Mr. Diamond launch the Aladdin's 7,500 seat theater. We knew he would be back. Diamond has made numerous appearances in Vegas since his Aladdin gig 32-years ago and we are sure the January 2008 visit will not be his last. Tickets go on sale tomorrow, staring at 10 a.m. Go to, contact ticketmaster, or call (702) 474-4000. Never say never, Neil.

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If you need some laughs, and who doesn't today, The Comedy Festival, starring Jerry Seinfeld, Ellen DeGeneres, Jeff Dunham, Dane Cook and Katt Williams, will take place at Caesars Palace, November 20th through 22nd. In addition to Seinfeld, DeGeneres, Dunham, Cook and Williams, Tracy Morgan, David Allen Grier, Andrew Dice Clay, Mike Epps, The Kids in the Hall, and a number of other funny folks, will also perform. Tickets are on sale at (877) TCF-FEST (823-3378, for those who hate to try to transcribe letters into numbers while dialing).

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Pretty Scary Stuff...
Monster Mayhem - The Haunted Village opened last Friday (October 10th) in the Town Square Mall at 6605 Las Vegas Blvd. So. Returning once again to frighten the beejesus out of Las Vegas residents and visitors, Monster Mayhem promises to deliver the goods when it comes to getting your fright on this Halloween season. The collaboration of two of Las Vegas' longest running Halloween entertainment providers, Haunted Enterprises and Great White Entertainment, presents a most horrifying collection of haunted houses for 2008. Three complete, haunted attractions, including a remodeled and up-dated perennial favorite, The Haunted Mansion, plus the 3-D Morbid Clown Manor, and a completely new Haunted Attraction, tailor made for Las Vegas, The Aces & Eights Haunted Casino. Custom built in the off-season, aces and eights, as any gambling aficionado can affirm, represents the Dead Mans Hand, and those unfortunate souls who played it out to the end, seem to have shown up in this location to take out their frustrations on our unlucky visitors. Throw in the Boneyard, an aboveground graveyard just like in New Orleans, and you've got the look, the sound, and the smell of terror. Hours of operation are 7p.m. to midnight, Thursday thru Sunday, and every night beginning October 21st. Tickets to experience all the attractions are $20 per person For old and young alike). Monster Mayhem, which runs through November 1st, may be quite scary for young children. Suggested minimum age is six-years-old. For additional information, call (702) 676-FEAR (3327).

And, on the other side of the city, frightening strikes as the Morbid Manor makes its horrifying debut in Las Vegas. The Morbid Manor is the first high tech haunted attraction in Las Vegas to be built inside an actual Halloween retail store, the Halloween Connection, located at 5675 S. Rainbow at the corner of Russell Road. First created for a Hollywood insider's party in 2007, the Morbid Manor features the state-of-the-art effects, far beyond the usual trailer haunt fare. In addition to the spectacular walk through Fright Fest, this location features a creepy new creation called The Last Ride. This claustrophobic, spine chilling contraption simulates your final trip to the cemetery by placing you in an actual coffin and then simulating a frenetic hearse ride to your plot, your lowering to your final resting place, and lastly, the sounds of dirt being shoveled on you and the increasingly muffled sounds of your mourners. This is definitely not for the squeamish! The Morbid Manor promises to make your blood run cold this Halloween season. Morbid Manor is currently open Wednesday through Sunday. Beginning October 21st, it will be open daily, through the 31st. Hours are 7 p.m. to midnight. Admission price is $15 per person. Call (702) 682-6677.

And speaking of Halloween, as part of the Haunted Harvest, Zavier Blue, a favorite at Lucille's Smokehouse Bar-B-Que in The District at Green Valley Ranch, will perform four sets of live blues, soul, and rhythm and blues at the Las Vegas Springs Preserve in the Desert Living Center Amphitheater, October 17th, 24th and 31st, between the hours of 5 and 10 p.m. Enjoy the museums and celebrate the harvest with live music, our narrated Haunted Hay Ride, Garden Tricks and Cafe Treats. The Gardens will be aglow and fog over with the season's traditions. Don your costume for 'Safe Street' trick or treating, entertainment, creepy characters and an all-ages, family-friendly spooky atmosphere. See the winners of our first community-wide Scavenger Scarecrow Contest! Admission is free to Annual Pass members, $9 for adult non-members, and $6 for youngsters 5 to 17. There is no charge for children four and younger. Tickets include admission to Preserve museums and galleries. The Preserve is located on Valley View just south of Rte 95, across from the Meadows Mall.

And STILL speaking of Halloween (we were, weren't we?), and ghoulies, ghosties, goblins and witches, how many readers know that Cassandra Peterson, perhaps better known as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, was a Las Vegan for a number of years? Born in Manhattan, not in New York, but in Kansas (Kansas is also the birthplace of singer/actor Brent Barrett and pianist/entertainer Wes Winters), Peterson grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In 1969, just days after her high school graduation, Cassandra drove to Vegas where she became one of the city's youngest showgirls. She had a small role as a showgirl in the 1971 James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever, briefly dated Elvis Presley, had a very brief fling with Tom Jones, played a topless dancer in Working Girls (1973), and posed for the cover of Tom Waits' 1976 album, Small Change. In addition to being a former Vegas showgirl, Peterson has another local connection. In 2002, she licensed the name and likeness of "Elvira" to International Game Technologies (IGT) for use in an Elvira-themed video slot machine.

Cassandra Peterson


Freda Payne

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Slaughter, the hard rock/glam metal band formed in Las Vegas, plays Sunset Station at 8 p.m. on Saturday, October 25th. The group is led by vocalist/rhythm guitarist Mark Slaughter and bass player Dana Strum. Strum was formerly with the band Modern Design, along with one time Beggars & Thieves members and current Las Vegans, Louie Merlino and Ron Mancuso. Ron Mancuso is the son of former Nevada Lieutenant Governor, Lorraine Hunt-Bono, and longtime Vegas musician, Gus Mancuso. Slaughter reached stardom in 1990 with their first album, Stick It to Ya (containing Up All Night, Spend My Life, Mad About You, and Fly to the Angels. The album reached double platinum status in the United States. Slaughter was signed by Orion Pictures to record Shout It Out for the film Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey. The song was accompanied by a music video and received heavy airplay. The band remains a steady act in national tours. Tickets for Slaughter's, standing room only, concert are $15, plus taxes and fees. Must be 21+ to attend. Call (886) 264-1818, or (702) 547-5300 for reservations.

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Internationally celebrated vocalist Freda Payne brings her critically acclaimed show, A Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, to the Cannery Casino & Hotel in North Las Vegas. Lauded by critics from such publications as USA Today, Daily Variety and the Los Angeles Times, Ms. Payne delivers the thrill of experiencing the entirety of the great Ella Fitzgerald's career with a dazzling performance of Ella's classic tunes. The special two-night engagement will be held at The Club, located inside the Cannery, next Friday, October 24th, and Saturday, October 25th, with both shows starting at 8 p.m. Ms. Payne's multi-faceted career spans more than four decades and includes Broadway, concerts, television and movies. When Payne was 17, the legendary Pearl Bailey gave the teenager her first professional job, paving the way for an extraordinary career that has included sharing the stage with such legends as Lionel Hampton, Sammy Davis Jr., Billy Eckstine, Quincy Jones, Bill Cosby and many others. Her ever-expanding repertoire includes roles in the award winning musicals, Blues in the Night and Jelly's Last Jam. She has also starred in the Broadway production of Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies, Ain't Misbehavin‘, and the Tony Award-winning production of Hallelujah Baby. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door.

And at the new Eastside Cannery on the Boulder Strip, it's Michael John's Tribute to Billy Joel at 8 p.m., tonight and tomorrow. Tickets are a very reasonable $5.

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Danny Calico & Diane Ellis

Larry Edwards

Oliver Richman

Veteran entertainer, Howie Gold, has found himself a piano at the very comfortable Ichabod's Lounge at 3300 E. East Flamingo, just west of Pecos. Reminiscent of the old Chateau Vegas atmosphere, Gold provides easy listening music for a mostly locals crowd from 6 to 9 p.m., Wednesdays through Saturdays. Gold, who has spent more than 30 years entertaining in piano bars here and in Palm Springs, is very particular about who can sing along with his tasty piano playing. He has wisely decided that Diane Ellis and Danny Calico meet his high standards and has invited the twosome join him on Wednesdays and any other nights they have available. With Ellis at the mic, and Calico on vocals and drums, the threesome create a great crowd-pleasing sound. Ellis and Calico may be remembered when they were part of a vocal group called Chazz. As a duo, they called themselves D'Cal (a play on their names). Ichabod's is a 24-hour place with an extensive menu. They are located in the Renaissance Center, between Hollywood Videos and Food 4 Less. See you there.

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Never one to miss a photo op, impersonator Larry Edwards (aka Hot Chocolate and Proud Larry) skipped his usual Tina Turner/Patti LaBelle garb in lieu of dressing up like a sea creature, to pose with the now gone aquarium at the Piranha nightclub along the Paradise Road "Fruit Loop." One of Larry‘s many interesting jobs (he wears lots of different hats...and dresses, and high heels, and wigs, and, on occasion, fins), is at Piranha, where he acts as a greeter. He tells us that the authorities (whoever they may be) ordered that the tank be removed from the club, so it is now history. Our Piranha Goddess "misses those fishes."

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The family of seven-year old wunderkind Oliver Richman are beaming. This young man is not only an amazing singer, his first film, Man Overboard, has just been released. Mother, Lisa Dawn Miller, father Howard Richman, stepfather, Sandy Hackett, and little sister, Ashleigh Hackett, attended the movie's premiere last Saturday, at the Rialto Theatre in Pasadena, California. Cousin Claire predicts big things and a bright future for Oliver.

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Tomorrow and Sunday, at 2 p.m., there will be a staged reading concert of Dracula - A New Musical in the Nicholas J. Horn Theatre on the campus of the College of Southern Nevada, 3200 E. Cheyenne in North Las Vegas. Composed by Richard Oberacker (conductor of KA at the MGM Grand), directed by Carmen Yurich (formerly from Spamalot), and produced by Bruce Ewing (Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular), Dracula will feature a 15-piece orchestra conducted by Oberacker, and presents 25 singers and dancers from current and past productions including Phantom, Jubilee!, KA, Spamalot, The Producers, Mamma Mia!, and the Soprano's Last Supper. Performers from both UNLV and CSN are also contributing their time and talents. Tickets are $50 for VIP orchestra seating, plus a post-show reception with the cast, and $30 for second tier seating. Proceeds will benefit the CSN Performing Arts Center and Family Promise of Las Vegas. For reservations, call (702) 651-LIVE (5483).

Richard Oberacker

Carmen Yurich

Edie Adams

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Edie Adams, who died on Wednesday at the age of 81, was more than just the wife of comic Ernie Kovacs and the Muriel Cigar girl of 20-years ("Why don't you pick one up and smoke it sometime?"), she was a graduate of Juilliard School of Music who went on to win Broadway's prestigious Tony Award for her role as the cartoon-inspired Daisy Mae in Al Capp's Li'l Abner. Adams had planned to become an opera singer. Broadway and Ernie Kovacs had other plans for Adams' future. She first attracted notice on TV's Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts. Kovacs, who was doing a comedy show on a Philadelphia TV station, and his director saw her and invited her to audition. With her innocent face and refreshing manner, Adams became the ideal partner for Kovacs' far-out humor. In 1954, they eloped to Mexico City. Kovacs moved his show to New York, where he became a favorite of critics and viewers, as well as an influence on other comics. In 1957, both Kovacs and Adams earned Emmy nominations for best performances in a comedy series. Adams also had success on Broadway. She played Rosalind Russell's sister in the 1953 musical, Wonderful Town, and in 1957 won her Tony as Best Supporting or Featured Actress (Musical) for her role Li'l Abner. In the late ‘50s, the couple moved to Southern California where they became active in movies. Edie appeared in a number of films, including Billy Wilder's1960's Oscar-winner for Best Picture, The Apartment (Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine), Lover Come Back (Rock Hudson, Doris Day), Call Me Bwana (Bob Hope), the all-star comedy It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (as Sid Caesar's wife), Under the Yum Yum Tree (Jack Lemmon), Love With the Proper Stranger (Steve McQueen, Natalie Wood), The Best Man (Henry Fonda, Cliff Robertson), and The Honey Pot (Rex Harrison, Susan Hayward). In 1962, Ernie Kovacs died instantly following a single-car accident, leaving Edie to raise their three-year-old daughter, Mia, as well as his two daughters from his first marriage. At the time of his death, Kovacs owed the IRS several hundred thousand dollars in back taxes (he felt that the tax system was unfair, and simply refused to pay it). Adams took it upon herself to pay the back taxes, refusing offered help from Milton Berle, Frank Sinatra, Jack Lemmon, Dean Martin and other stars. She did movies, TV musical revues, commercials and a Las Vegas act to raise the money. After several years, the debts were fully paid off. There was also a lengthy custody battle over Kovacs' daughters. She won custody of her stepdaughters, telling reporters after the verdict: "This is the way Ernie would have wanted it." During a career that spanned some six decades, Adams appeared in various stage productions; had a short-lived TV show in 1963 that earned her two Emmy nominations; performed in nightclubs and released several albums. In the 1980s and 1990s, she made appearances on TV shows such as Murder, She Wrote and Designing Women. In 1978, she played Tommy Chong's mother in the first Cheech and Chong movie, Up in Smoke. Over the years, she strove to keep Kovacs' comedic legacy alive by buying rights to his TV shows and repackaging them for television and videocassettes. In more recent years, Adams had two brief marriages, including to trumpet player, Pete Candoli. In a strange twist of fate, exactly 20-years after the death of her father, Mia Kovacs, the then 22-year-old only child of Edie and Ernie, was also killed in an auto accident.

And speaking of Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong, after many years apart, the comedy twosome have reunited and will perform in the Palms Pearl theater tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. and again at 10:30 p.m. Tickets are $45 and $75, plus taxes and fees. Call (702) 942-7777 for information and reservations.

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