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.
Note: This is a past column from November 07, 2008
You can find the current column HERE
Las Vegas - November 7, 2008
In this corner, the big winner is...our new president, Barack Obama. In the other corner, the big loser...the Bad Boy of Magic, Criss Angel. There are no hanging chads involved here, and no demands for recounts. The critics AND audience members, seem to be unanimous when it comes to Angel's (in association with Cirque du Soleil) new show at the Luxor. It appears, to most who have seen it, that Believe is an $85 million + (some figures claim as high as $100 million) disaster. A year ago, Cousin Claire called a small musical revue that she saw at a local's favorite venue, a "slight misstep" in an otherwise impressive series of offerings. From what we are reading and hearing, Believe it or not, this production is a MAJOR misstep. A speed bump of epic proportions. A bust. A bomb. A great big, very expensive disappointment. We have yet to hear one reviewer (and we don't consider Las Vegas Channel 3's Alicia Jacobs to be a qualified, unbiased and fair critic, especially when it comes to attractive male show business types) speak well of this Cirque du Soleil effort. When entertainment writers (not us, as we haven't seen this one) use words like "boring" to describe a new, much hyped production that is supposed to run for 10 years, friends, you got trouble...BIG trouble! Oh, you've got trouble. Terrible, terrible trouble. Oh yes you've got trouble, trouble, trouble! Lots and lots a' trouble. (Thank you, Music Man Meredith Willson.) It's almost inconceivable to believe that Believe could generate so much consistent bad press. We have not seen one positive piece on Believe. Prior to all the bad reviews (or maybe in spite of all the bad reviews), it is claimed that there had been $5 million in tickets sold before the first public performance. One show business-type suggested that those early ticket buyers fell into one of three categories, (1) Angel's following built through his Mindfreak TV series, (2) the Cirque fan base who like to see all new Cirque shows, and (3) the crowd that will pay to see a train wreck. Maybe, instead of hanging out with the likes of Pamela Anderson; Cameron Diaz; Minnie Driver; Miss Nevada, Veronica Grabowski; Paris Hilton; Lindsay Lohan; Britney Spears, and now, 80-year-old Hugh Hefner's former playgirl, Holly Madison (29), our 40-year-old Angel should have been taking acting lessons and working more on his live performance on stage than his reputation as a ladies man. If it was publicity he was seeking, Criss Angel is definitely getting it...although, certainly not the kind he was hoping for. When other Cirque, or Cirque-related shows (Zumanity, Le Reve, Celine Dion's A New Day, and Ka) opened to lukewarm reviews, they were described as "works in progress." Some of the problems in those shows could be fixed (with new choreographers, some rewriting or rethinking) or hidden. What do you do with a show where the problem is the STAR? We have heard that the powers-that-be (who ARE these people, anyway?) won't try to make any changes in Believe until January. Acting lessons for Mr. Angel or, at the very least, an on-the-scene coach, might be a good starting place to fix this humongous problem. No one who loves Las Vegas, or lives and works here, wants anything with money, creativity and/or effort involved, to fail - whether it be a well-run, well-crafted hotel, restaurant, publication, department store, specialty shop...or show. It is a black-eye for the community.
SPOILER ALERT: If you do decide to see this show, based on the dark and scary photos we saw - featuring blood and gore and injured bunnies - we suggest leaving the kids at home.
In the past few weeks, Believe is the second Vegas show to take a critical hit. Mike Weatherford gave the Sahara's new show, Raw Talent Live, a "D" rating. We don't recall the entertainment writer/critic ever giving any other show a "D." Raw Talent Live must really be a stinker to generate a "D." Mediocrity, or worse, does not bode well for a city that calls itself "The Entertainment Capital of the World."
Bad news for Stomp Out Loud cast members, crew and fans. Things will be a lot quieter around Planet Hollywood after January 4th, when the raucous and rhythmic production winds up its 21-months at the Strip hotel/casino. Coincidentally, Stomp Out Loud will end its run on the same night that Mamma Mia! shuts up shop and sails off into the sunset. The Lion King will replace Mamma Mia! in the Mandalay Bay Theater. Hopefully, the award-winning Lion King will have the same success as its predecessor. Although there has been no announcement regarding what will go into the theater at Planet Hollywood, a little birdie tells us to look for Tony Award-winning (Best Choreography for La Cage aux Folles) director/choreographer Jerry Mitchell's adult-geared Peep Show to take over the 1,500-seat performance space occupied by SOL for the next eight weeks. More than a year ago, BroadwayWorld hinted at things to come in Las Vegas. Here is some of what was written in June of last year. Could this be the time? And could Planet Hollywood be the place? What do you think?
Variety reports that Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS's racy, popular benefit series "Broadway Bares" may be headed for Sin City. "The venture has been so successful that (Jerry) Mitchell and producer Scott Zeiger have plans to retitle (sic) it 'Peep Show' and take it to Las Vegas for a sit-down commercial production at one of the casinos," states the article. In the meantime, if you haven't seen Stomp Out Loud and would like to, make your reservations soon. There are bargains to be had during the final performances. Remember, if you snooze, you lose.
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Steve Solomon's hit comedy, My Mother's Italian, My Father's Jewish & I'm In Therapy!, returns to the Suncoast this weekend, where it will run tonight through Sunday. The show concluded its nearly two-year New York run on August 24th, after 724 performances. Solomon, the show's creator and original star, continues to play to sold-out houses in cities around the country. "We couldn't be more thrilled with our New York run," says Solomon. "When we first announced the New York engagement, the plan was to stay for only three months before taking the show on the road. But the audiences just kept coming back and bringing their families with them." Described as "Twice the holidays! Twice the hollering! Twice the guilt! One part canoli, one part kreplach and two parts Prozac." TV host Regis Philbin, of ABC TV's Live with Regis & Kelly, calls My Mother's Italian, My Father's Jewish & I'm In Therapy!,
"beautifully written and hysterically funny! Non-stop laughs all the way!" WOR Radio raves "The show's a big hit! It's an hour-and-a-half of laughter!" while Joe Franklin of Bloomberg Radio calls the show "the sleeper hit of the season!" WCBS-TV heralds the show as "A funny look at family relationships" that WWOR-TV raves "brings down the house!" The one man show returns to the Suncoast, tonight through Sunday, following three sold-out nights at the hotel in May. Tickets are priced from $19.95 (plus taxes and fees). Call the Suncoast at (702) 636-7075 for reservations.
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Michael Kessler & Melinda Jackson
Don Hill & Charlie Shaffer
Reichard, Raben, Chandler, Engel & Ross
South Point Hotel & Casino presents M&M (that stands for Michael & Melinda) in Let's Dance!, on Sunday. Described as "A Romantic Musical Comedy," Let's Dance! stars the husband and wife team of Michael Kessler and Melinda Jackson. With M&M American Dance Theatre, a cast of 11 international artists, the musical tells the story of a Dancin' Man from the streets of New York, whose search to "leave his footsteps on the sands of time" leads him to a ballet class where he discovers the girl of his dreams. Featuring great dancing and the timeless music of George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Irving Berlin, this humorous and poignant love story follows our heroes back in time to relive a life of "rhythm and rhyme." The Miami Herald wrote, "Kessler & Jackson dance like a dream... Kessler sings persuasively... Generous helpings of Fred & Ginger elegance," while the New York Times described the show as, "...lively...acrobatic...elegant..." The Las Vegas Review-Journal stated, "It was unusual to find a pair of performers who can carry with equal grace dance, song and acting...top notch entertainment...genuine romance..." Let's Dance! starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are priced at $15, $20 and $25, and can be purchased in person through the South Point Box Office, or by calling (702) 797-8055 or (866) 796-7111. If you like Dancing with the Stars, you'll love Let's Dance!
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Don Hill's 87th birthday party turned out great, in spite of the unbelievably poor business tactics used by the owner of the site of the celebration, the six month old Caylix Jazz Supper Club (formerly Café Nicole) on West Sahara. About 100 of Don's personal friends and fellow musicians turned out to honor the half-century long, saxophone-playing member of the Treniers, last Saturday night. Among those in attendance to toast and roast Hill (some also performed), were 91-year-young Prince Spencer of the famous dancing Step Brothers, and his daughter Holly; Skip Trenier and "Cousin" Harry Walker, both former members of the famed Treniers show band; the multi-talented husband and wife team of Artie Schroeck and Linda November; trombonists Jimmy Wilkins (Count Basie and Clark Terry) and Brian O'Shea; musician/artist Gene Redden; entertainer Paul Stubblefield; drummer Joe Locatelli; and comics Peter Anthony and Cork Proctor. The big negative aspect of the evening was Regina Edwards, the owner of Caylix. Edwards created plenty of bad-will, doing everything she could come up with to financially take advantage of the group. The hostess/party giver, Jeanne Brei, was required to put up a $500 deposit, from which money spent on drinks by the party attendees would be deducted. Edwards was going to get $500 in bar business any way that she could. In a display of greed and gall, this woman did not deduct or credit the sales of the overpriced soft drinks, coffee or bottled water (at $3 a bottle) toward the $500 deposit/ guarantee. Brei paid the Speakeasy Swingers - Charlie Shaffer on piano, Merv Harding on trumpet, Bob Scann on trombone, Bruce Harper on drums (those would be, as it turned out, the rented-for-the-night drums), and Roy Shain (filling in for absent Ty Lemley) on bass - who not only entertained the expected party guests, but the handful of Caylix customers as well...all at no cost to the club owner. Although Brei was told that she did not need to have her musicians bring their own drum set, as there were drums at the club that could be used, Ms. Edwards added $50 to the group's bill for the use of those drums. We were also told that, although the hostess brought the birthday cake to the party, there may have been an attempt to charge a $15 "cake cutting fee" (our words, not theirs) for the use of a knife and dessert plates. From what we understand, there is very little chance that those who attended Mr. Hill's celebration will be returning to Caylix in the future. It is our suggestion that potential customers send a strong message to the proprietors of this establishment by spending their hard-earned dollars someplace else - someplace where they are appreciated and welcome, and not being ripped off and taken advantage of. With the recent/unexpected closing of Bugsy's (where Don Hill's birthday party was originally scheduled to be held), Sonny's on South Grand Canyon Drive, both Louis's Fish Camp and Louis's Las Vegas (owned by Louis and Marleen Osteen) at the Town Center Mall, one would think that people in the hospitality business would be doing everything that they could to attract and KEEP customers. It seems that Regina Edwards knows very little about hospitality. We won't be surprised, if within a few months, we learn that this establishment has an Out of Business sign on their front door.
Photo of Hill and Shaffer by Gloria Hill.
Yesterday, while telling the tale of Caylix to a local friend, we learned that six to eight weeks before the place opened, the owner hired a group of musicians to play at the club on Tuesdays. When they showed up for their first night of work, they were totally ignored for about half-an-hour before finally being acknowledged by an unknown employee. They were told that since the owner wasn't present, they wouldn't be playing that night, at which point they left the place. Needless to say, they never returned. Although the musicians did not want to be named in this article, they did say that, if needed, they would verify this story.
And speaking of poor business tactics...
Some local musicians want to share a recent experience they had, as a sort of warning to others who might become victims. In June, a five-piece band called BLU7, and led by James Barela, was hired to play on Friday and Saturday nights at the VOX Wine Lounge, located at Eastern and Horizon Ridge in Henderson. In the beginning, they were paid $300 a night (always in cash), to be divided among the five players. In August, the musicians' pay was increased to $500 a night. At the end of the night on Wednesday, August 27th, restaurant management said the club was short on petty cash and asked if the musicians would agree to be paid at their next appearance, scheduled for the following Friday. BLU7 agreed to the arrangement. When the time came to be paid on Friday, the men were told that they had to return the following week to get a check for both nights, and, oh by the way, that they would not be working on Saturday, as planned, because VOX had booked somebody else. The following week, James went to see Carl Goldner, one of the VOX partners, to get paid. Goldner told James that they didn't have the money to pay the group and that they don't pay $500 a night for entertainment. (This was in spite of the fact that is what they had been paid for each of the previous five gigs.) The musicians were also told they would have to accept a cut in pay, back to $300, if they wanted to work the four Saturdays in September they had already booked them for. Barela turned down the September dates, telling Carl that he only wanted the money owed for the nights the group played, and that he would forget about the last-minute cancellations. As is the nature of the business, the musicians had turned down other work to be available for what they thought were firm, and confirmed, dates. Carl said he did not agree to the $500 even though he knew that both of his managers had done so. After additional conversation, Goldner did finally agree to pay the $1000 for the last two nights, but told James to come back again because he needed his partners' signature for their two-signature checks. James has left several phone messages and visited twice since his meeting with Carl. As of today, Barela has received no return phone call, and when he went to VOX in person, was given the brush off. More than two months later, BLU 7 has not been paid. Las Vegas musicians, you have been warned.
By the way, bass player extraordinaire, Fred Watstein, one of the BLU7 players, will be the featured guest artist for Ed Mathews' Hit Parade show at the Suncoast on Thursday, November 13th. For a couple of months in the summer, Fred was part of the "house band" for the Suncoast's weekly, very well attended, afternoon gigs. Watstein will be joined by some of the Hit Parade musicians while performing selections such as Henry Mancini's Walkin' Bass, Duke Ellington's Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me, Fever (a hit for both Peggy Lee and Little Willie John), Bob Haggart's Big Noise From Winnetka, and a blues medley featuring the band and more Ellington. You can never have too much Ellington.
The much in demand Mr. Watstein will also join Mike Shane and his Metropolitan Club Orchestra in establishing a holiday show to benefit Child Haven in Las Vegas. Fred has done two previous gigs with this group, stating that the participating musicians are top-notch as are most of the entertainers. This is for a great cause, as Child Haven provides temporary shelter for abused, abandoned and neglected children in Southern Nevada. The variety show will be held at Calico Jack's Saloon & Restaurant, from 6 to 9 p.m. on Sunday, November 16th. In addition to the live big band, the classic Las Vegas show will also feature music and comedy. Calico Jack's is located at 8200 W. Charleston at Cimarron, and their phone number is (702) 255-6771. There is no admission charge for the show, although donations for Child Haven are happily and gratefully accepted.
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And then there's COLABO. We have written about this bunch before. Since things had been quiet from their camp for a spell, we hoped they had left the area. They hadn't...or if they had, they're back. If you are a regular reader, you know that, since early June, this pseudo "theater company" had been promoting their intention to put on three different plays/revues - Hedwig and the Angry Inch, An Evening with Billie Holiday, and Light My Fire: The Jim Morrison and The Doors Story - all at one of the local Family Music Centers. In the beginning, we thought this was a legitimate and, on that basis, plugged their upcoming projects (see Claire Voyant's June 20th past column). Our mistake. Cancelled performances (almost all of them). Many rescheduled dates that came and went with no shows. Changing cast members. Unpaid musicians. What is going on here? Why is the Family Music Center still working with this flaky outfit? Don't they realize how this affects their credibility? Surprise (or not). Once again, they are promoting the same three shows, this time with November performance dates. Maybe Las Vegas should enact the same "three strikes and you're out" laws (also known as habitual offender laws) that California uses when it comes to repeat criminals. COLABO has had more than three strikes around here. Time for them, or "Mr. Adams," to move on.
And speaking of "Troy Adams," we find it more than a little suspect that, even after five months, "Adams", who is listed as Artistic Director of Colabo on the Web site (see colabo.biz), and claims to be a working actor (he is listed as the star of Hedwig), has no photo up on the site. How many real actors do you know of that have NO photo to promote themselves? There are pictures of everyone else in the Hedwig cast, but still none of the mysterious Mr. Adams (or whoever he is). We suspect that "Troy Adams" is not the name this character has used throughout his career in show business (if in fact that is the business he is in). We can find NOTHING under his name anywhere on the Internet (very unusual for an actor). As far as the 'Picture Coming Soon' thing where his headshot should be, maybe this fellow doesn't want to be recognized by anyone who may have had questionable dealings with him before he turned up in Las Vegas. "Troy Adams" bio states that he received a BA in Journalism from San Diego State University and promptly created the non-profit organization UMOJA Theatre Company. Through UMOJA. he produced over 30 stage productions in 10 years, employing over 1200 performers and musicians in large scale productions such as THE WIZ, FAME, ANNIE, and WEST SIDE STORY. It goes on to say that he also founded San Diego's first fully integrated independent youth theater (PYT), giving many children of all race, creed and religon (sic) their first taste of the Arts. Troy appeared on Broadway as a swing/understudy in the two time Tony award-winning musical revue 5 GUYS NAMED MOE and often stunned the audience with his 3.5 octave range. He graduated high school from the School of Creative and Performing Arts in San Diego and is an in-demand choreographer and actor.
We can find NOTHING to back up any of this information. Nothing about these theater companies. Nothing about the "large scale productions." If, in fact, he appeared in ANY Broadway show, why isn't Troy Adams listed anywhere on the Internet Broadway Data Base (IBDB), and why doesn't he know that the show he claims to have been in is correctly titled FIVE (not 5) Guys Named Moe? There are way too many unanswered questions about this man. Purchase tickets to their promoted shows, or get involved with these operators at your own peril. We say it once again...You have been warned.
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Cutting-edge magician Jeff McBride hosts Wonderground, a magical, interactive club experience, following his Magic at the Edge shows in the Palace Station's Sound Trax Showroom on Friday and Saturday evenings. Tonight and tomorrow night (November 7th and 8th), from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., McBride's special guests include magicians Mark Kornhauser and Sophie Evans. Kornhauser, a very successful comedy magician, has performed as an opening act for Tom Jones, Elvis Costello and Frankie Valli, among others. He has consulted for several magicians and entertainers, including David Copperfield, and is currently consulting for ventriloquist Terry Fator. Evans is a versatile magician with skills that range from close-up magic to fire-eating. She recently appeared in the BBC television series, The Sorcerers Apprentice, and is the only woman to ever win an International Close-up Magic title. There are different guests each week. One never knows who may appear (or disappear). Lance Burton, Criss Angel, and Defending the Caveman's comedian/star, Kevin Burke, have all been to Wonderground. Entrance is $10 at the door, or half price for patrons showing up in magical costumes before 10:30 p.m. Those who have attended McBride's Magic at the Edge show earlier in the evening can show their ticket stub for free admission. For more information, go to www.vegaswonderground.com.
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For all you Forever Plaid fans, here's good news. The tale of the singing Plaids has been filmed for release as a movie! No release date has been announced for the film that features Tony Award-winner David Hyde Pierce as the celestial emcee, and stars Daniel Reichard (as Francis), Larry Raben (as Sparky), Stan Chandler (as Jinx) and David Engel (as Smudge). Stuart Ross, the creator of the revue that has played worldwide, directed. The creative team also included set designer Neil Peter Jampolis, musical director David Snyder and costume designer Deborah Stein. The musical is being produced for the silver screen by Benni Korzen, Barney Cohen and Suren M. Seron. Forever Plaid, according to press notes, takes audiences on a "trip to Fiftiesville with Sparky, Jinx, Smudge and Frankie, a fictional 1950's boy band. Tragically, and inconveniently struck down before their first big gig, 'The Plaids' will be brought back to earth to take the stage one last time." To date, the worldwide total box office gross for Forever Plaid is $265,000,000. The revue has played non-stop worldwide for nearly two decades, including in Las Vegas at both the Flamingo and the Gold Coast. Engel was one of the cast members of Forever Plaid during its Vegas run, while Raben played Leo Bloom in the Las Vegas version of The Producers until its closing earlier this year. When we have more details about the film, we will share them with our readers.
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And speaking of The Producers, our friend, actor/singer Bill Nolte, who played Franz Liebkind in the Mel Brooks musical romp, made CBS Channel 2's news in New York on Wednesday. No, it wasn't to tout a smashing performance on Broadway, or to promote his upcoming show at Birdland this Monday night (although Nolte's one-man-show, All of Me, should be promoted on television). Nolte, who works all around the country but still maintains a home in Las Vegas, was interviewed as one of the thousands of people in the Big Apple trying to buy copies of the Wednesday New York Times with the Obama Wins headlines.
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Marvin Lashever w/Yellow Ribbon Medal
As he has done for the past 14 years, Tony Orlando will host the 15th Veterans Day Yellow Ribbon Medal of Freedom ceremony to be held at 2 p.m. on November 11th at the Lawrence Welk Theater in Branson, Missouri. Orlando's 1973 hit, Tie a Yellow Ribbon 'Round the Ole Oak Tree, became an anthem for soldiers returning home from countries with hard to spell and hard to pronounce names. The song opened doors and started a relationship between Tony and vets from around the United States. One of the things to emerge from that relationship is this specially produced, annual extravaganza, open only to veterans and their families and offered to them free of charge. As a part of this salute to those who have served to protect our freedom, Tony presents the special medal, designed by Las Vegan Marvin Lashever, to a deserving recipient. Past honorees include Bob Hope, former POW Major Stephen Long, Ross Perot, former President Gerald Ford, BoxCar Willie, former Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Anthony Principi; former Branson Mayor, Lou Schaefer, and Connie Stevens. In 1999, the Eisenhower family, represented by Mary Eisenhower, granddaughter to President Dwight D. Eisenhower, received the Yellow Ribbon Medal of Freedom. Last year's recipient was recent presidential candidate, John McCain. This year, Marine Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, recipient of the Bronze Star, Silver Star, and two Purple Hearts, will be honored and presented with the Yellow Ribbon Medal of Freedom medal.
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Emmy Award-winning stand-up comedian and actress, Wanda Sykes, returns to the Planet Hollywood Showroom, where she will perform 10 p.m. shows on Friday and Saturday, November 14th and 15th. Sykes is an Emmy Award-winning comedian and actress. She is well known for her blunt observations on current events (we are sure she will have plenty to see about our country's newly elected president), the differences between the sexes and races, and life in general, as well as for her roles on the Emmy-winning series, The New Adventures of Old Christine, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Sykes also appears as herself on Larry David's HBO series, Curb Your Enthusiasm. For reservations to see funny lady Wanda Sykes live, call ticketmaster at(702) 474-4000.
And more funny stuff
On November 10th, Richard Belzer, Lewis Black, Margaret Cho, Denis Leary, Bill Maher, Joan Rivers, Garry Shandling, Jon Stewart and Lily Tomlin, will be among an all-star lineup of entertainers who will honor the late comedian George Carlin at this year's Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. It will be awarded during a tribute performance at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington. The program will be broadcast on PBS at a later date. The prize was announced just before Carlin's death in June and is being awarded posthumously for the first time in its 11-year history. Carlin passed away on June 22nd after checking into a Santa Monica, California, hospital for chest pain. He was 71. Carlin had performed at The Orleans in Las Vegas only a week prior to his death. Previous Mark Twain Prize honorees are Richard Pryor (1998), Carl Reiner (1999), Jonathan Winters (2000), Whoopi Goldberg (2001), Bob Newhart (2002), Lily Tomlin (2003), Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels (2004), Steve Martin (2005), author/ playwright Neil Simon (2006), and last years recipient, Billy Crystal.
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Entertainer Ronnie Rose, who was scheduled to perform at Louis's (in the Town Square Mall) Jazz Brunch on Sunday, reports that the business has closed, another victim of the current economic situation. Rose, who would have been accompanied by Ned Mills on piano, states it was a pleasure working for Marleen and Louis Osteen over the past few months, going on to say that they were gracious employers, providing musicians with a meal, a drink, and a place to do their thing.
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Tickets for the Dancing with the Stars Tour, coming to The Orleans Arena on December 29th, go on sale at 10 a.m., this Monday. ABC TV's No. 1-rated reality competition is hitting the road and taking an entirely new cast of celebrities and professional dancers to 37 cities around the country. The fourth national Dancing with the Stars tour features the most popular and exciting competitors from the hit television show, including celebrities Lance Bass, Toni Braxton and Maurice Greene from Season 7, as well as Marlee Matlin from Season 6. Joining the celebrities on the tour will be some of the show's professional dancers, including Mark Ballas, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Derek Hough, Kym Johnson, Alec Mazo, Lacey Schwimmer, Edyta Sliwinska, Karina Smirnoff and Fabian Sanchez. The two-hour show features a larger-than-life recreation of the TV show's actual stage and set design - complete with intimate, cabaret-style VIP table seating on the floor, putting the fans in the center of the action. In addition, the cast will be accompanied by an unstoppable ten-piece live band, performing all of the much-loved hits featured on the TV show as well as popular hits to accompany the new production numbers, produced exclusively for the tour. The production will also feature two huge high-definition video screens showcasing never-before-seen rehearsal footage, exclusive behind-the-scenes interviews and outtakes, as well as many extra surprises. Tickets can be purchased at www.DancingWithTheStarsOnTour.com as well as through www.orleansarena.com.
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The weekend of November 14th is going to require an eeny, meeny, miny, mo, or a coin toss for entertainment lovers. Here are some of the TOO MANY choices available over a three day period. So many shows, so little time...
Singer/songwriter/musician Don McLean comes into Texas Station next Friday, November 14th. McLean, who penned Vincent (Starry Starry Night), American Pie, Empty Chairs, Castles in the Air, Superman's Ghost (a tribute to actor George Reeves) and Wonderful Baby (an homage to Fred Astaire), was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2004. Showtime is at 8 p.m. For reservations, call (702) 547-5300.
Gerald Gordon & Roslyn Kind (1981)
Singer/actor Bruce Ewing (Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular) and Joey Singer (Mamma Mia! keyboards, and Debbie Reynolds musical director/piano) will introduce their new Christmas CD during two live performances in the Cabaret Showroom at the Liberace Museum on Sunday, November 16th. The first of the free concerts will take place at 1:30 and the other at 3 p.m. Remembering To Dream contains a collection of 20 songs performed by tenor Ewing and Singer. Among the selections are Mary Did You Know, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, O Holy Night, Just In Time for Christmas, All Those Christmas Clichés, and the title track, Remembering To Dream, written by Joey Singer and Phantom cast member, Jason Forbach. Although admission is free, a "free will offering" will be accepted, to be split between the Liberace Foundation and Family Promise Of Las Vegas. Remembering To Dream will be available for the first time at this event. The Liberace Museum is located at 1775 E. Tropicana on the corner of Spencer. For more information on this concert, or on this album, visit www.BruceEwing.com
On Friday and Saturday (the 14th and 15th), it's Roslyn Kind at The Cannery in North Las Vegas. Born and raised in New York, Roslyn now makes her home in Los Angeles. Although she is frequently compared to her half-sister, Barbra Streisand, Ms. Kind has her own unique and unmistakable singing style, making her a popular act across the United States in theaters, nightclubs and concert halls, as well as in sold out appearances in England, France, Budapest, Hungary, Germany and Canada. She cut her first record the day she graduated from high school. Since that time, Roslyn has released albums and singles that confirm the rich and lyrical depth of her performances. On Broadway, Roslyn starred in Three From Brooklyn at the Helen Hayes Theater, and off Broadway, in the musical Show Me Where The Good Times Are, for which she received rave reviews. Her acting skills were also critically acclaimed in a star-studded, limited engagement Los Angeles production of Elegies, directed by Marshall Mason.
Roslyn's film roles include I'm Going To Be Famous and The Underachievers. On television, she appeared in the NBC Movie of the Week, Switched At Birth, had a recurring guest-starring role on the NBC comedy series, Gimme a Break, and a guest-starring role on the hit sit-com, The Nanny. Roslyn has been a guest on Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show, Good Morning America, and many others. In recent years, Roslyn has at some of the most prestigious venues including Lincoln Center, The Greek Theater and London's Café Royal. The London Times noted "To say she is superb would be an understatement." In 2006 she made her long awaited Carnegie Hall debut with her frequent musical collaborator and friend, Michael Feinstein. Due to popular demand, Kind's Come What May album has recently been re-released. Cannery show time is at 8 p.m. Admission is an unbelievably low $10. For information, call (702) 617-5585 in Las Vegas, or Toll Free at (866) 287-4643.
Acting coach Gerald Gordon, who has been a Las Vegan since 1996, has a direct connection to Ms. Kind. In the early 1980s, Rozzie (as he calls her) was one of his students. She was so good, that Gordon cast her in her theatrical debut, the Los Angeles premiere of Ferguson the Tailor, which he directed. You can bet Gordon will be sitting ringside for both of Roslyn's Cannery performances.
On Saturday night, November 15th, Las Vegas' own Kelly Clinton brings her one woman show to the intimate Starbright Theatre in Sun City Summerlin. Clinton is a multiple-threat performer. A singer, dancer, actress, impressionist, and comedienne, Kelly has been described as a "kaleidoscope of talent." As a youngster, her idols were Carol Burnett and Lucille Ball. Her one-woman show reflects her love for this type of entertainment. "I always identified with Carol Burnett and Lucy's style of sketch comedy and didn't worry about glamour," says the bubbly Ms. Clinton. "I was always going for the humor, mimicking family members and trying for a laugh." A Las Vegan since she was barely legal, Kelly had her own band and was a favorite on the local lounge circuit. The New Jersey-born entertainer has performed with both Engelbert Humperdinck and Wayne Newton and headlined at the Suncoast Hotel/Casino. Kelly can frequently be found entertaining at the Turnberry Towers' exclusive Stirling Club, where she also serves as the club's entertainment director. In September, Kelly performed her Baldheaded Men number on the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Muscular Dystrophy telethon. Kelly and her husband, fellow entertainer Clint Holmes, will celebrate their first wedding anniversary on Tuesday, November 11th. Presented by Michael Chapman and ChapQuist Entertainment, Kelly Clinton's Out of My Mind starts at 7 p.m. The Starbright is located at 2215 Thomas Ryan Blvd., off west, west Lake Mead. Tickets are $18 for Sun City Summerlin residents, and $23 for non-residents. For ticket information, call (702) 240-1301. To purchase by credit card, call (702) 869-2064.
On a personal note...Cousin Claire thinks it is an insult to charge non-residents more than
those from the neighborhood. In the first place, it makes it appear that Sun City Summerlin is trying to discourage "outsiders" from patronizing the Starbright. In the second place, it is already costing the outsiders more to travel to the hills of Summerlin so, if anything, they should pay less than those who have to fill up their gas tank to get to the theater . So there!
Right down the street from the Starbright Theatre, at the Suncoast, Variety Live!, presented by Paul Stone, returns for another back-by-popular-demand engagement, November 14th through 16th. This version of the Ed Sullivan-inspired show features a variety of performers including
Larissa Youens' breathtaking hula-hoop act, the post modern magic of Joseph Gabriel, Variety Award Winner Charlie Frye & Company, the hilarious Jeff Hobson, the outstanding physical comedy of Rob Torres, England's new singing sensation Ben Stone and Antje Pode, the fantastic foot juggler. Larissa Youens is a graduate of the prestigious Cirque School. She was voted Best New Young Performer by her State Circus School in the Ukraine. In 1989, she received first place in the Russian Circus Festival for best Novelty Act – hoops on a skateboard. Joseph Gabriel is a master magician and illusionist. He is a master of sleight-of-hand and has created some of the most spectacular illusions in the world of magic. Jeff Hobson was serious about his magic as he grew up in Detroit. Rigorous practice was a ritual, and by age 12 he was routinely winning national magic competitions. At age 17, when he was booked to perform his manipulation act at Boblo Island amusement park, things changed for Jeff when he realized he had forgotten to unload his equipment. As a result, Jeff had to improvise, utilizing only a simple prop or two, along with his innate sense of humor. It was a hit, and Jeff has focused on comedy magic ever since. Rob Torres has a unique way of bringing out the absurdity of everyday tasks, whether he is changing his clothes, setting the table or just sitting down. His award winning international comedy has made him one of the foremost visual comedy acts in the world today. Ben Stone, a native of Liverpool, is England's new singing sensation. At 23, Ben has already performed at many of the major theaters in London's West End, including the London Palladium. He has performed around the world for and alongside big name celebrities including Lionel Richie, Simon Cowell, Matthew Perry, as well as Las Vegas legends, Siegfried and Roy. Germany's foot juggler, Antje Pode, is one of the stars of European Variety Theater. She provides entertainment for all, by combining skills of a juggler with artistry of a high wire act. On a personal level, Charlie Frye & Company are one of our favorite specialty acts. We first saw them here in a production show called, From the Top (circa, sometime in the '80s). In the years since, we have watched these two clowns (Charlie and Sherry Frye really are clowns, having attended Clown College in Florida) in a number of other revues. Charlie had a role in the Tom Hanks film, That Thing You Do, and the twosome toured with Liza Minnelli as her opening act. Charlie Frye & Company synthesizes virtuosic skills and a passionate love of their art into something classic yet undeniably fresh. Something that astounds even as it entertains. For the past 20 years, Charlie and Sherry have been delighting audiences worldwide with their singular blend of silent comedy, slapstick, magic, juggling, and acrobatics. Charlie is often compared to classic comedians such as Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Stan Laurel and Dick Van Dyke. Charlie plays the rubber-faced, put-upon juggler/magician. Sherry plays his elaborately bored, beautiful assistant. The couple have a residence in the Green Valley section of Henderson, but they don't spend much time there. The reason? The clever comedy juggling act is very popular and much in demand in other parts of the world. See them, and the rest of the talented variety performers, during their weekend Suncoast engagement. Show time for Variety Live! is 7:30 p.m. Tickets are priced from $19.95, plus tax, and can be purchased by calling the box office at (702) 636-7075.
Oh yes, we almost forgot to mention...Charlie Frye is also a fine cartoonist and caricature artist. He is responsible for Claire Voyant's portrait used with this column.
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Claire Voyant's portrait by Charlie Frye