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 February 08, 2008
You can find the current column HERE

Las Vegas - February 8, 2008

Jahna Steele CATS Roseanne Barr

The first of two local memorial services for the late Jahna Steele will be held at Canyon Ridge Christian Church, located at 6200 West Lone Mountain Road Room C-100, on Monday, February 11th at 2 p.m. This tribute is being lovingly put together by Joelle Jenson, Lon Bronson, Shellee Renee, Frank Marino, Karen Raider, Nicole Navarro, Norbert Aleman and Tara Drasy, longtime friends and co-workers of entertainer Jahna who died at the age of 49 on January 24th. A number of wellknown local personalities, including magician Lance Burton and Robin Leach, are expected to attend. There will be a reception at the home of Joelle Jenson following the service. If you would like to learn more about Jahna Steele, as well as other women who traveled a similar path, Cousin Claire suggests the very interesting documentary, Trantasia. Filmed mostly in Las Vegas, the film takes a behind-the-scenes look at the first-ever transsexual beauty pageant, where Jahna served as Mistress of Ceremonies. For more information on Monday's open to the public service, call the Canyon Ridge Christian Church at (702) 658-2722. It is requested that attendees wear pink, Jahna's favorite color.

We will have more information about the second celebration (this one musical in nature), scheduled for February 29th at the E String Grill, next week.

Also, a reminder for friends and fans of acclaimed dancer Clem Zeleski. A memorial service to pay tribute Zeleski is taking place tomorrow afternoon, February 9th, at the East Flamingo Clark County Library Theater. This Celebration of Life gathering begins at 1:30. Clem, best known for his tribute to Fred Astaire, was only 45 when he died unexpectedly on November 27th. Former Stardust Lido de Paris performer, Kenny Mazlow (now Director and Choreographer for San Francisco's long running, Beach Blanket Babylon), will serve as host/MC. The public is invited to attend.

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The award-winning Las Vegas Academy of International Studies Performing & Visual Arts (whew!) presents CATS, Las Vegas style. Based on the universally popular poetry of T.S. Eliot, CATS tells the story, in song and dance, of the annual gathering of Jellicle cats. During this time, one special cat is selected to ascend to the Heaviside layer. This newly conceived production may change the way you feel about CATS, the musical as well as the beloved house pet. CATS opened last night and will run through February 23rd, with performances at 7 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays - tonight and February 9th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd. Tickets for the evening shows are $20. There are 2 p.m. matinees on Saturdays the 16th and 23rd, with those tickets costing $15. Cousin Claire has seen a number of musicals put on by the students at this high school - Thoroughly Modern Millie, Miss Saigon, Sweeney Todd and Little Women to name some - and is always amazed and impressed by the professional quality that is achieved by these young people. One has to remind themselves that these are teenagers, not seasoned professionals...they are that good. The theater is located on the corner of Clark and 9th Street in downtown Las Vegas. Call StarTickets at (800) 585-3737 for reservations, or the Academy at (702) 799-7800 for additional information.

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Emmy award-winning comedian Roseanne Barr returns to Las Vegas, bringing her everyday humor and observations to the Sahara Hotel and Casino‘s Congo Room, beginning on March 1st. Shows will be at 9:30 p.m., Saturdays through Wednesdays, off on Thursdays and Fridays. Roseanne describes herself as "Fresh out of rehab and ready to PARTY!" "Seriously though, I'm thrilled to be back in Las Vegas for another run and cannot wait to see you all at the Sahara," says Barr. As one of the most notable names in the comedic industry, Barr holds honors as one of the highest ranked comics, landing at No. 9 on Comedy Central's list of 100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time.

Following a move to Los Angeles in 1983 to pursue a career in comedy, Barr landed a television appearance on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1985. Little did she know that, years later, she would be performing in the 520-seat Congo Room, where Carson himself performed when in Las Vegas. A few years later, Barr began her namesake show. The series ran for nine seasons, picking up four Emmys, two Golden Globes, six People's Choice Awards and many other accolades. The show propelled her career and soon Barr branched out to show the world that her talent extended beyond television comedy. Releasing two best-selling books, Roseanne: My Life as a Woman and My Lives, established Barr as an author. A run as the Wicked Witch of the West in a production of The Wizard of Oz showed Barr could handle the theater-side of the industry. The Roseanne Show proved she had the power to connect with audiences in a talk show-style setting. Barr has now extended herself into children's books and DVDs. We caught the politically astute Ms. Barr on TV's Extra a few nights ago. She explained that when Bill Clinton looked the world in the eye and declared "I did not have sex with that woman," he was referring to Hillary. That makes us feel so much better. Ticket prices for Roseanne Barr start at $59.50 (inclusive of all taxes and fees); limited VIP and Golden Circle seats are also available. For more information, please contact the Sahara box office at (702) 737-2515, or visit

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The Producers

With The Producers closing its one year run in Las Vegas tomorrow night (Saturday, February 9th), folks who want to see it again or who are seeing it for the first time, are heading over to the Paris Theater. We were there on Monday and spotted an interesting assortment of people. Among those that we recognized in the audience were famed tap dancer Arthur Duncan (who performed on the Lawrence Welk Show for 18 years, and in the 1989 film, Tap, with the late Gregory Hines, who would have celebrated his 62nd birthday this Valentine's Day, and Sammy Davis Jr., among others); singer/actress Anna McNeely (Broadway's CATS, where she created the role of Jennyanydots; Gypsy, and Disney's Beauty and the Beast): Michael Chapman and Paul Holmquist of ChapQuist Entertainment; entertainer Laurie Miller, ChapQuist's most recent presentation at Sun City Summerlin's Starbright Theatre; actor/Burlesque historian/filmmaker Bart Williams; tour manager Bob Kaz; and UK filmmaker Louise "Lou" Camby. After the show, Mr. Duncan greeted the cast backstage, posed for photos and even gave the group a little demonstration, showing why he is considered one of the last of the classic tappers.

Lee Roy Reams Rich Affannato Anna McNeely

And speaking of Laurie Miller, her back-by-popular-demand performance at the Starbright last weekend was a real treat. Her solo performance included You're Gonna Hear From Me (from the 1964 film, Inside Daisy Clover), I Got Love (from Broadway's Purlie), songs from Walt Disney films (Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, The Little Mermaid), and tributes to Cher, Barbra Streisand and Liza Minnelli. There were well-done versions of Cabaret, How Lucky Can You Get, Someone To Watch Over Me, The Man I Love, Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah, My Buddy, Inch Worm (from the 1951 movie, Hans Christian Andersen) and a little dancing number called One Step. There was also a segment touching on her years with the all-girl recording group, Expose'. With Michael Chapman accompanying Ms. Miller on piano, she did an especially terrific job on combining It Goes Like It Goes (the 1980 Oscar-winning David Shire/Norman Gimbel song from the film, Norma Rae) and Ervin Drake's I Believe. Laurie was cleverly and beautifully costumed, and used videos effectively in her one hour performance. It was female impersonator Frankie Kein who inspired Laurie to do her own takeoffs on celebrities. "I learned more from that man about being a woman on the stage than I've learned from any woman I've ever known," says the multi-talented Ms. Miller. Miller's 2004 CD is called the Riviera, and, no, it‘s not the Riviera located mid-Strip in Las Vegas.

And speaking of The Producers (and we frequently do), when Keith Thompson isn't leading the 20 plus musicians of the theater orchestra, it is pianist David Kancsar (Forever Plaid) who conducts. When that occurs, David's main substitute keyboard player is Jay Atwood. On Monday night, Jay's band, Wicked Tinkers, were the musical guests and closed out the CBS's Late Late Show where they were joined by the programs' host, Craig Ferguson playing drums. Glasgow, Scotland-born Ferguson, who performs his standup act at The Orleans when he is in Las Vegas, became a U.S. Citizen last Friday. The Wicked Tinkers are a Celtic musical group who perform at many Irish/Scottish festivals, playing bagpipes, drums, didgeridoos and bronze age Irish horn. In addition to Atwood, the Tinkers are made up of Warren Patrick Casey, Keith Jones and Aaron Shaw. Look for the Wicked Tinkers new CD, Rant.

And, once more before they go, a tip of the hat to the strong Producers cast and nice people who did such a good job in their roles as foils for the comedy mind that is Mel Brooks. We will miss you as members of our community. Wherever you go and whatever you do, break a leg (we don't mean you, Bill "Franz Liebkind" Nolte.

Wicked Tinkers Larry Taylor Las Vegas Tenors

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There is plenty to do around Las Vegas for Valentine's Day addition, of course, to getting hitched. Here are some of the options for you romantics...

Las Vegas DJ Larry Taylor, who spent 18 years hosting Ballroom Dancing at the Gold Coast, followed by a year at both Nevada Landing and the Gold Strike, now takes his fancy footwork to the Railroad Pass Hotel & Casino on Boulder Highway in Henderson, opening, appropriately, on Valentine‘s Day. Beginning on February 19th, Taylor will launch weekly ballroom evenings at Railroad Pass, on Tuesdays from 6 to 10. Larry opened Las Vegas' first disco in 1972. He has been recognized in publications such as Billboard, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and numerous local magazines and newspapers. In addition to encouraging people to get up and dance, Taylor books live entertainment...anything from Rat Pack shows, Neil Diamond and Tom Jones look-a-likes, to complete inter-active comedy dinner shows. For additional information about the Railroad Pass events, call (702) 294-5000 or (800) 654-0877.

If you choose to sit this one out, and prefer your music presented from a stage, we recommend the Las Vegas Tenors in the Hilton Theater. You can expect plenty of romantic ballads courtesy of the talented tenors, Bill Fayne, Bobby Black, Teddy Davey and Mark Giovi, plus their special guest vocalists, classic soprano, Lorena Provencio; Vegas lounge favorite, Denise Clemente; and Lorena Peril, from American Superstars at the Stratosphere, and the Sunset Strip Band who perform in the Shimmer Cabaret at the Hilton. The show starts Valentine's night at 7. Tickets are $29.95 and $39.95, plus applicable taxes and service charges. Call the Las Vegas Hilton Box Office at (702) 732-5755 for reservations.

Celebrate a Hassle-Free Valentine's Day with Sammy's Woodfired Pizza's Survival Kits. The kits, for couples, singles and kids are available on February 13th and 14th at all Las Vegas locations: 6500 West Sahara Avenue, just east of Rainbow Boulevard; 4300 East Sunset Road at Green Valley Parkway and Sunset in the Town Center shopping plaza, between Courtyard by Marriott and Barley's Casino; and 7160 North Durango Drive in Montecito Marketplace in Centennial Hills. The Valentine's Survival Kit is a decorated bag filled with pizza dough, cheese, sauce, herbs and an easy recipe to make a fun or romantic pizza at home. The kits lend a helping hand, providing creative options for a girls-night-out or a fun and festive activity for kids to do with their parents. Since Valentine's Day can be a tough day to get a reservation at local restaurants, the Valentine's Survival Kit provides a fun way for people to celebrate Valentine's Day in the comfort of their homes. The kits cost $5 and are available as long as supplies last. Sammy's Woodfired Pizza, founded by Sami Ladeki in 1989, is known for its gourmet pizzas, tapas, salads and signature Messy Sundae®, and has been listed among America's Top Restaurants in the Zagat Survey. Sammy's recently concluded a company wide renovation, which included a full menu revision, adding more than 20 new tapas to sample and share, as well as dramatic new design elements. Owned and operated by the Ladeki Restaurant Group, Sammy's Woodfired Pizza has grown to nearly 800 employees with nine San Diego locations, one in Rolling Hills/Torrance, one in Palm Desert, and three in Nevada. The Ladeki Restaurant Group corporate headquarters is at 565 Pearl St., Ste.225, La Jolla, Calif., 92037 and can be reached at (858) 456-8018.

And speaking of romance and Valentine's Day, the Golden Nugget's Entertainment Director, Ron O'Neal, and Jeanne Forman will exchange wedding vows on that day. We wish the happy couple the very best.

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We are asking that you keep Vegas entertainment icon Freddie Bell in your thoughts. Bell, who along with his band, The Bellboys, were lounge staples for many years here, is gravely ill and can use your prayers.

Freddie Bell Louise DuArt & SQuire Rushnell Freda Payne

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Our sympathies go out to Howard Jochsberger, Executive Casino Host at the Suncoast, on the loss of his mother, Marcia. Services were held at Davis Funeral Home and Memorial Park in Las Vegas on Thursday. Among the mourners were Terry Jenkins, Janie Miller, Candi Cazau, Papote Varet and Donna Sinclair. Howard is a longtime employee of Boyd Gaming and one of the really good guys in Las Vegas.

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Happy anniversary to Sheri and Jimmy Hopper who celebrated their first year of (hopefully) wedded bliss on Wednesday (February 6th). Look for the multi-talented Mr. Hopper to return to the Suncoast on March 28th, 29th and 30th. We will tell you more about Mr. Hopper as we come closer to the March dates.

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At 7 p.m., next Friday, February 15th, the Community Lutheran Church located at 3720 E. Tropicana, will present the husband and wife team of SQuire Rushnell and Louise DuArt. Billed as An Evening of Music, Inspiration & Comedy, these two individuals have their own unique talents but, every once in a while, they join together on stage to create a special event. This is one of those times. SQuire Rushnell has done lots of things during his career years. He is a speaker, TV CEO and the author of When God Winks. As for his bride, DuArt is a comedienne with a gimmick, she has a knack for duplicating the voices of other people - both male and female. Among her collection of dead-on impersonations are Cher, Fran Drescher, Judge Judy, Barbra Streisand, George Burns, Bette Davis, Barbara Walters, Joan Rivers, Katharine Hepburn, Carol Burnett, Woody Allen and Edith Bunker. Louise has starred in Catskills On Broadway, hosted her own TV show, and toured with Harvey Korman and Tim Conway in a show called Together Again. (The trio were regulars on the rotating lineup of entertainment at the Stardust prior to the hotel's closing). Rushnell and DuArt first met more than three decades ago at ABC-TV. She was playing Witchiepoo on H. R. Pufnstuf, and he was a vice president there working on Good Morning America and family programming (like Schoolhouse Rock). On Saturday, the 16th, the dynamic duo will repeat their Evening of Music, Inspiration & Comedy at the New Song Church at 1291 Cornet in Henderson. Tickets for the shows, at either place, are $10 per person. Author Rushnell will sign copies of his book after both performances. In addition, he will return to the East Tropicana church on Sunday, where he will sign books after the 10:45 morning services (no performance by Mr. and Mrs. Rushnell on the 17th. Call (702) 458-2241 for more information and reservations.

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Songstress Freda Payne does her Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, this Sunday at the Charleston Heights Arts Center, 800 S. Brush Street near Charleston and Decatur. Payne has released 16 solo albums between 1963 and today. Her Showtime is at 3 p.m. and tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the CHAC Box Office. Call (702) 229-6383.

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And the saga (or however you spell it) of The CAST continues. And you thought (hoped?) we were through with this subject. Like we said in an earlier column, as long as there are things to write about regarding this dwindling group, we will continue to do so. Here is the latest. We, along with longtime Las Vegas journalist, Norm Johnson, and respected pioneer entertainer, Nelson Sardelli, received the following letter, dated February 4, 2008, from Coleman Law Associates. As is our custom, the letter is reproduced exactly as written, warts and all...

Re: Libelous Statement Regarding Tony Sacca

This office represents Mr. Tony Sacca who has turned over to us for review certain written materials apparently published by one or all of you concerning Mr. Sacca. We have examined the writings provided to us, particularly the column "It's the Norm" published January 18, 2008, and have concluded that such writings are libelous per se in that they accuse Mr. Sacca of misappropriating funds (characterized as "BESWINDLE) of The Cast, Inc. In Addition, those writings place Mr. Sacca in a false light, which, in and of itself may be construed as libel.

Mr. Sacca believes that all of you may have in some manner contributed to the writings in issue, due to a series of emails between and amongst you. While it is not entirely clear whether some or all of you, except for Mr. Johnson, did actively participate, we deemed it appropriate to address this letter to all by reason of the referenced email communications.

We are also advised by Mr. Sacca, and thereby impart to you, the allegations contained in those writings are absolutely false and are adversely impacting upon his reputation as a performer, producer and businessman in the Southern Nevada community.

Accordingly, you are all advised that whether one or all of you participated in a conspiratorial manner, or in an active effort, to cause the aforesaid libelous statements to be prepared, written and/or published, whomsoever is responsible is hereby directed to retract such statements forthwith. Your failure to do so may result in the institution of legal proceedings for injunctive relief as well as damages.

We trust that you will comply with our demand forthwith and provide to this office evidence of your retraction in whatever form.

We also suggest to you that Mr. Sacca is following our advice to take all reasonable steps to avoid litigation and we suggest that it would be advisable for all of you to consider the same course.

Very truly yours,

(Signed) Edward S. Coleman

As our response to Mr. Coleman is still "under construction," we cannot share it with you...yet (you can look for it next Friday). Although we can't speak for Mr. Johnson or Mr. Sardelli, two things we can assure OUR readers are (1) there will be absolutely NO retractions on our part, and (2) our package to Mr. Coleman will contain copies of the libelous, lying letters that his client sent to and about us, using e-mail addresses "lifted" from other people without their permission.

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