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 December 19, 2008
You can find the current column HERE
Las Vegas - One day late for December 19, 2008
Las Vegas, December 17, 2008
The Great Tomsoni & Company
Blame the delay and shorter column on Las Vegas' biggest snowfall in decades (or ever). Telephone and computer equipment are not at all familiar with freezing white stuff, therefore...
In last week's column, we neglected to give credit to Gary Oakes, Keith Thompson and Carmen Yurich for their behind-the-scenes help in getting, and keeping, everything running smoothly for the Performing Arts Society of Nevada's recent Holiday Celebration. While 23 entertainers were in front of the curtain, performing and receiving audience applause, these three fellows were backstage keeping things, and people, in order. Take a bow, gentlemen.
Also, last week we didn't have the time or space to give The Great Tomsoni & Company its proper accolades. The Great Tomsoni & Company, made up of John Thompson and his wife, Pamela, was one of the acts, along with John Archer, Tony Chapek, Joseph Gabriel and Kevin James, in Paul Stone's World Stars of Magic at the Suncoast last weekend. Known as "Poland's Finest Magician," the Thompsons are versatile performers with a background of music, magic, comedy and drama. John (The Great Tomsoni) got his start in show business as a musician and musical arranger. He has toured and recorded with Jerry Murad's Harmonicats, The Harmonica Gang, and The Harmonica Jazz Quartet. He later joined forces with a comedy team with whom he co-authored and co-performed three record-breaking revues for the New York and Chicago Playboy Clubs. It was during this period that John developed his successful comedy magic act, in which he plays the role of a dapper but buffoonish gentleman. Known as The Great Tomsoni, when wife and partner Pamela Hayes, actress and comedienne, joined the act, the billing became The Great Tomsoni and Company. John, who has lived in Las Vegas for many years, performed in Nevada casino venues as a supporting act for numerous stars including Carol Channing, Eddie Fisher, Ed Ames, the Pointer Sisters, Jose Feliciano, Robert Goulet, Brenda Lee, B.J. Thomas, Vic Damone, and Diahann Carroll. The act has been the recipient of many awards including Stage Magician of the Year, Society of American Magician's Superstar of Magic award, Prince Rainer's Prix S.B.M., and Magiques de Monte Carlo, Europe's most prestigious magic award. John has worked as a consultant to his protégé, Lance Burton, as well to the late Doug Henning, Penn & Teller and Mindfreak's Criss Angel. He also worked on an I-Max movie, The Magic Box, with Siegfried and Roy, as well as on the Oak Ridge Boys Live in Las Vegas, the World's Greatest Magic and the PBS Special, The Art of Magic. Over the years, John Thompson provided material for several television productions including Hart to Hart, Fantasy Island, One Day at a Time and Beyond Westworld. His film credits include Michael Ritchie's film version of off-Broadway's longest running musical, The Fantasticks, Norman Jewison's film, Bogus, and Turner Broadcasting's cable release, Houdini-Believe. As a theatrical special effects designer and consultant, Thompson has invented and presented a variety of unique optical illusions for trade shows, industrial shows and theme parks. There is probably not a professional magician on the planet who doesn't know the name Johnny Thompson. Now you do too.
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This week, we can also give you readers a little more info regarding CDs for sale by some of our talented local artists. In no particular order (other than "ladies first"), we have Dangerous Curves, made up of Margaret "Gret" Menzies, Karen Merstik-Michaels and Lisa Smith, are very excited with the release of their debut CD, Girl Talk. Song selection includes Cloudburst, Old Cape Cod, Is This Any Way To Fall In Love (by Frank Wildhorn and Jack Murphy), The Girl Who Used To Be Me, Faithless Love, Stephen Sondheim's Children Will Listen, I Love Being Here With You, By the Way, Moon River and Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens. The price is $17.95. If you order by December 31st, shipping is FREE (we love that word). To order, go to www.DangerousCurvesLasVegas.com. Bruce Ewing (from Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular) and Joey Singer (Mamma Mia! and Debbie Reynolds piano man) are Remembering To Dream (which also happens to be the name of their new CD and one of the tracks, written by Jason Forbach, also a Phantom cast member, and Singer) this holiday season. Some of the other song selections (there are 20 tunes on the CD) include, O Holy Night, Mary Did You Know, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, The Christmas Song, All Those Christmas Clichés, I'll Be Home For Christmas, Just In Time For Christmas, and Joy To The World. You can share the Dream. To order the CD, visit www.BruceEwing.com. Then there is Philip Fortenberry's latest, Home For the Holidays. In addition to his current position as associate conductor for Jersey Boys at the Palazzo, Philip is also a pianist for Faith Community Lutheran Church in Las Vegas, and performs his one man show (although there are some talented guests stopping by to join him on occasion), Liberace and Me, at the Liberace Museum's Cabaret Showroom at 1 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Home For the Holidays features Philip's beautiful arrangements of winter favorites such as
It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Ave Maria, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,
Do You Hear What I Hear?/ Ding Dong Merrily On High/ Angels We Have Heard on High, and many others. Purchase one CD for $15, three for $40, or five for $60. Home For the Holidays and Philip's other CDs are available online at http://www.philipfortenberry.com. Any and all of these recordings would make for great stocking stuffers and, remember, music is the gift that keeps on giving and can be enjoyed by the entire family.
Bruce Ewing & Joey Singer
And speaking of the Liberace Museum...
This Tuesday, December 23rd, and Saturday, the 27th, at 1 p.m. the Liberace Cabaret features the Glenwillow Strings Trio, who will present traditional holiday songs and classical selections. Tickets are $17.50 per person. A Liberace Christmas, Blinging in the Season, a new exhibit in the museum's Costume Gallery, runs until January 4th. The staff and volunteers are excited to share this display, developed from the Liberace Archives. The holiday season, especially Christmas, was Liberace's favorite time of the year. He called it "the month of Christmas." Mr. Showmanship's own Christmas cards became as spectacular as his stage presence. Just as no one in the history of show business performed in such glittering costumes, took to the stage in dazzling cars, played beautiful custom designed pianos, and wore fabulous jewelry, no one sent Christmas cards that were gifts in themselves. Receiving one of Liberace's Christmas cards was on of the joys of the holiday season. The museum hopes visitors will enjoy a sample of these "mini works of art." This exhibit has been made possible because of generous donations to the Liberace Adopt the Collection Fund, and was designed and installed by volunteer cast member, Taylor Johnson, with special thanks to Hilda Scheiner. The project was coordinated by Jerry Goldberg, manager of Archives and Special Projects. The exhibit includes some cards donated from the personal collection of Peter Marino, Jr., courtesy of Pam Christian. The silver plate is on loan from the collection of Neil Glick. For those that don't know, the Liberace Museum is located at 1775 E. Tropicana Avenue (at Spencer). For additional information and holiday hours, please call (702) 798-5595.
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Max Katchanov & Nataliya Tymoshenko
Wish we had received the information we requested in a more timely manner. We didn't, so here is the last minute news for Holiday Lights On Ice, being performed on the 1st Street Stage in downtown Las Vegas as a free show. Tonight (Saturday), there will be four shows, at 6:30, 7:30, 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. Featuring Russian National gold medalists ice dancing team, Max Katchanov and Nataliya Tymoshenko, the ice revue also presents soloists Meegan McDonald, USA National Ladies figure skating gold medalist, and Jered Guzman, Men's National gold medalist in figure skating. Guzman also serves as Holiday Lights On Ice production manager. The ensemble skaters are Yulia Sudakova, Colleen Smith, Brittany Howe and Lisa Montibello. Yevgeni Malimon and Oleksiy Snarskyy, gymnasts from the Ukrainian national gymnastic team, also perform. Peter Gordon serves as choreographer, is in charge of costumes, and a myriad of other creative issues. Liz Lieberman represents Rand Productions and Jeb K. Rand, producer of Holiday Lights On Ice. Rand also is the producer of Holiday Ice Spectacular, currently at the Eldorado Hotel & Casino in Reno through January 4th. At 4 p.m. on Sunday, in celebration of Hanukkah, the Grand Menorah Lighting Ceremony will take place on Fremont Street, between Las Vegas Boulevard and 4th Street. The ceremony will be led by Rabbi Shea Harlig, Director of Chabad of Southern Nevada. Congresswoman Shelley Berkley and Senator John Ensign are expected to be among the many Las Vegans in attendance. The Fremont Street Experience is a five-block entertainment complex located in historical downtown Las Vegas. In 1995, Fremont Street was closed to vehicles and a giant screen was suspended 90-feet over the street to display spectacular light and sound shows on its 1,500 foot surface. The 12.5 million lights of the Viva Vision screen dazzle 365 nights a year and make the Fremont Street Experience a one-of-a-kind venue. With direct pedestrian access to 10 casinos, more than 60 restaurants, specialty retail and free nightly entertainment, the Fremont Street Experience attracts millions of annual visitors.
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If you blinked your eyes, you probably missed it. We thought maybe we had imagined seeing Tanya Tucker's name as an upcoming act at the new Eastside Cannery. If we DID see it, where did it, and she, go? On a getaway with Glenn Campbell, perhaps? We think not. So? We started doing a little research. What we found, on Ms. Tucker's very own Web site, was months of one canceled show after another. Beginning in early July, none of Tanya's booked dates have been fulfilled. According to her representative, Frank Wing, Ms. Tucker is, and has been, having health and other problems. We would imagine that the Cannery might be having problems as well, like in having to refund money on unusable sold tickets. For those that don't know this already, Tanya Tucker, who is now 50, spent part of her early life in Southern Nevada. She was just a teenager when one of Ed Wood's favorite actresses, Dolores Fuller, became Tucker's manager. Fuller, who is now in her mid-80s, became a respected songwriter, collaborating with Duane Eddy, Peggy Lee and Nelson Riddle, and even penning more than a dozen tunes for Elvis Presley. She has lived in Vegas for quite some time and, while already into her 70s, appeared in some Ted V. Mikels films. Mikels is also a Las Vegan.
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We got a kick out of Las Vegas CityLife's December 11th cover story (and the art work by Courtney Wotherspoon), so we are going to give a little teaser in the hopes you will be able to go to the Web site and read the article. Spoiler Alert: This will primarily be of interest to Las Vegans. Here's a sampling...
So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye. In other words ... GET OUT OF TOWN! We wish these people would leave. Like, now. Don't make us say it twice!
These are tough times for everybody. And we at CityLife won't lie to you. We can't fix the economy, revive the housing market, curb the unemployment rate, lower your electricity bill or put a stop to those creepy commercials featuring Steve Wynn sitting like a gargoyle on top of his new casino. But we can make all our lives a little better by shipping a few of our homegrown douchewads safely beyond state lines. Among those on the weekly tabloid's Get Out of Town list are Criss Angel, Jerry Lewis, Senator John Ensign, and Dipak Desai, late of the shameful Endoscopy Center. To read the article (written by an assortment of CityLife staff members), go to http://www.lasvegascitylife.com/. We have some folks that we would like to see on a Get Out of Town list. Although we aren't going to print this particular persons name this week, if she doesn't do the right thing very soon, you can expect to see her name AND her picture here...possibly as soon as next Friday. She might be called a voucher broker, an event planner, general manager (of who or what, we don‘t know), or maybe an agent of sorts. In the past few years, she has worked for and been dismissed from positions with a couple of local producer and/or performer-types who run their own theaters. She was primarily let go for not doing the job she was paid to do. As if that isn't bad enough, her latest dirty deed is much worse. Now, it seems, she has committed a punishable crime - giving a longstanding Las Vegas business owner a bad check (for more than $1000) for product and services rendered. This took place more than a month ago, yet, in spite of trying to collect the money, the victim in this deception has not been able to do so. So far, we can find no record of any Clark County licensing for the numerous "business" names being used by this unsavory character. We continue to investigate. Interestingly enough, we learned of this con artist because of our articles about Regina Edwards of Caylix Jazz Supper Club. BOTH of these women belong on the Get Out Of Town list. Hopefully their victims will be able to get the money they are owed, BEFORE these two artists of deception disappear. On the somewhat bright side, after stalling around since November 1st, Edwards made a partial payment to Jeanne Brei, but only after Brei sent a certified legal letter to the night club owner. We will keep readers apprised of what happens next. Will Jeanne Brei get the balance of the money owed her? Will lady No. 2 make good on her bum check? Stay tuned.
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Michael Chapman and ChapQuist Entertainment present the Starbright Theatre return engagement of Good Vibrations - A Tribute to the Music of the Beach Boys, tonight at 7 p.m. If you missed their sold-out performance earlier this year, Good Vibrations is the ultimate tribute to the music and spirit of America's greatest pop band, the Beach Boys. It's a musical journey of sun, surf, cars and girls capturing the harmonies of the Beach Boys with faithful renditions of classic hits like California Girls, Surfing USA, I Get Around, Help Me Rhonda, Fun, Fun, Fun and the group's namesake hit, Good Vibrations. Don't miss an opportunity to experience a feel-good performance with Good Vibrations. Tickets are $18 for Sun City Summerlin residents and $23 for non-residents. All shows at the Starbright are first come, first served with no limit on the number of tickets purchased. Saving seats is prohibited. Show tickets may be purchased at Desert Vista, Mountain Shadows and Pinnacle. All ticket prices include Live Entertainment Tax. Tickets are non-refundable. Starbright Theatre shows are open to everyone ages 12 and over. To order by credit card (for ChapQuist productions only) call (702) 869-2064. For up-to-date information on Starbright shows, call (702) 240-1301.
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It's Holmes For the Holidays, starring Clint Holmes, through Sunday at the Suncoast. Bill Fayne will serve as musical director (he sings, too) and guests will include two very talented ladies, his sister Gayle Steele and his wife, Kelly Clinton. Singer Holmes only managed to notch one entry into the record charts, but his 1973 hit Playground in My Mind (My Name is Michael) was one of the more memorable songs by a one-hit wonder. The song was played on the radio in conjunction with the holidays (apparently feeling that the sing-song nature of the track gave it a seasonal feel) it drew a massive response. In June 1973, Playground in My Mind climbed to No. 2. It sold more than a million copies, lodging behind Paul McCartney's My Love. Born in Bournemouth, Dorset, England, to an opera-singing mother and a jazz-musician father, Clint grew up in Farnham, New York. Singing and acting since childhood, he was playing in rock bands by high school and went on to study music in college. A stint in the Army found Holmes singing in a military chorus and when he was relocated to Washington, DC, he continued to sing in clubs after his discharge gaining a regional following. Clint's first real break came when Joan Rivers invited him to be her sidekick and announcer on the now defunct The Late Show. This was followed by a two year stint on Entertainment Tonight, for which he served as their musical feature event correspondent. Although his career was greatly enhanced by those roles, it did not all come together until he landed his own Emmy winning talk/variety show entitled New York at Night. Clint, in his dual role as host and singer, had the opportunity to showcase the full range of his talents as he performed, interviewed guests, and interacted with his audience. Named Atlantic City's Entertainer of the Year three times, Clint starred in Clint Holmes' Sophisticated Rhythms, a dynamic stage show journey that takes you through the music of the 1940s to the present. In the world of theater, Clint is a seasoned performer and writer. Along with Nelson Kole he created the book, music and lyrics for the musical Comfortable Shoes. Clint starred in the World Premiere of this musical at the legendary Paper Mill Playhouse. Clint also anticipates taking his most recent creation, Just Another Man, to Broadway. Clint is one of Prince Albert's favorite entertainers, and jets off to Monte Carlo every summer at the Royal Family's request to appear at the Sporting Club, Hotel Paris, and other hot spots. His sizzling performance has taken him from London, Germany and Italy to Las Vegas, where he had long runs at both the Golden Nugget and Harrah's. Tickets for Holmes For the Holidays are priced from $29.95 plus tax can be purchased by calling the box office at (702) 636-7075.
If Clint's show is sold out (and we hear it might be), get your motor running, head out on the highway (sorry, we were just born to be wild) to the South Point. Susan Anton will be headlining there this weekend, tonight through Sunday, in her Magic of Christmas show. Shows start at 7:30 and ticket prices start at $20, including tax. A group of our favorite "boy" singers, The Four Freshmen, play the South Point, January 2nd through 4th. Call (702) 797-8055 for reservations and/or additional information.
Ava Stanley & Frank Marino
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When we first saw the accompanying photo of An Evening at La Cage star, Frank Marino, we thought the person seen with him was one of his fellow (fellowette?) cast members. We were mistaken. That's a real girl. It's actually 14-year-old Arizona resident, Ava Stanley, who happens to be fascinated by female impersonators. While visiting her great-aunt Mary Marcella Schwartz (who, along with Barbara Ciarlantini, is the creator of the Handy Girls concept), Ava took in the long-running Riviera La Cage revue. She loved it. We have a feeling that hanging out with Frank Marino will only increase Ava's interest and curiosity in handsome men who can turn themselves into beautiful women with only the flick of a makeup brush (and a few other tricks).
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New Year's Eve is almost upon us. Here are some of the special things taking place, here, there and everywhere, on the last day and night of 2008...
From longtime friend, Eric Michael Gillett comes this news. Following his return from Rochester, where he has been appearing in A Christmas Story, Eric, along with special guests, Broadway's Raissa Katona Bennett and Melanie Vaughan, as well as comedian Richard Cramer, direct from his recent appearances at Caroline's on Broadway, will be entertaining at New York's Metropolitan Room, 34 West 22nd Street in Manhattan, on New Year's Eve. Don Rebic will serve as musical director for Life of the Party. The show is a one-night only event,
Wednesday, December 31st at 10:45 p.m. Doors open at 10:15. Tickets, at $75 per person (plus tax and gratuity), include the show, open bar, and midnight champagne toast. For reservations, call (212) 206-0440, or buy tickets online at www.metropolitanroom.com. AMEX/ VISA/MC accepted. As Cabaret Scenes magazine suggested, "Go see this amazing man sing his heart out!"
The four-month-old Eastside Cannery Casino Hotel & Casino goes Sicilian for their first New Year's Eve celebration. That's Italian, starring Dick Contino, Frankie Randall, Pete Barbutti and Vinnie Falcone, with special guest, Jerry Vale, will play at 7 p.m. We will have more New Year's Eve news next Friday.
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Claire Voyant's portrait by Charlie Frye