Displaying keen perception and great insight.
She's a little bit naughty. Shes a little bit nice.
She calls em like she sees (and hears) em.
Note: This is a past column from March 07, 2008
You can find the current column HERE
Las Vegas - March 7, 2008
He's at it again. Apparently, singer Freddie House doesn't have enough faith that his talent alone can get him work as an entertainer. So, in spite of the fact that a DNA test proved without any doubt that House ISN'T related to the late Billy Eckstine, this fraud continues to use the name Freddie Eckstine to try to capitalize on the well-earned legacy left by Mr. B. Instead of keeping his promise to STOP using the famous name and publicly fess up for the attempted scam, if the DNA did not show him to be related to Eckstine, Mr. House goes on as if the test was never done. From Gina Eckstine, a REAL child of Billy Eckstine, comes this information...
"Well, good ol' Freddie ran into the parents of my brother Ed's friend. Freddie was doing some kind of show/appearance on a Los Angeles public TV station (KCET). These people only spoke to Freddie because they thought he was my brother Ed (Eckstine). Freddie just went along with it when they told him that their son said hello. When Guy Eckstine (Gina and Ed's REAL brother) heard about it, he called Freddie, and The Fredster actually had the nerve to tell Guy that he still believed his mothers "deathbedâ story and didn't care what the DNA said. Guy immediately fired off a very caustic letter to Freddie's attorney. So there ya' go...he's like a cockroach, ya just can't get rid of him!"
If Mr. House really had any respect for the man he claims is his father, he would stop the nonsense, sing a chorus of I Apologize (a big hit for Billy Eckstine) and get on with his OWN life. We might also mention that, (1) Mr. House's mother is still alive and, (2) insect spray or exterminators will usually get rid of cockroaches. Entertainment buyers and media folks BEWARE. There is a con man in our midst. He has managed to fool too many people. Don't let him fool you. There is plenty of documented evidence to confirm the House of Lies that this Freddie the Fraud has tried to build. This House is built on sand and has no solid foundation. You have been warned.
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As usual, the most recent Composer's Showcase was a hit, playing to an SRO crowd at the Liberace Museum. There were many highlights and no lowlights. We do have to admit, however, it will take a while to get used to the absence of Rebecca Spencer. The talented singer/actress has returned to New York after portraying Madame Giry in Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular at The Venetian for more than a year-and-a-half. Becky, as her friends call her, became very involved in the Las Vegas community during her stay here. She performed in numerous fundraising projects - God Lives In Glass, A Phantom Family Holiday Show - was a regular participant in the Composers Showcase, entertained as part of the Performing Arts Society of Nevada's series, and attended and supported concerts put on by her cast mates and other local performers. If you miss the sounds of Becky's beautiful voice, you can hear them on her solo CDs, 2003's Wide Awake and Dreaming and 2006's Fair Warning (accompanied on both by Las Vegans, pianist Philip Fortenberry, and on Fair Warning joined by cellist Moonlight Tran and composer/pianist/musical director Keith Thompson, who produced the CD and wrote some of the songs).
Also missing from the past two showcases, the very, very busy and very, very talented Vita Corimbi. A Las Vegas-native (yes, there are such things), Vita is a gifted and award-winning (three Emmys) performer, recording artist, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and legend in her own mind. She is currently performing in Menopause The Musical as the Earth Mother. In addition, Vita is the pianist and musical director for the Las Vegas Tenors. As if that were not enough, she is the newest member of Killian's Angels, the popular Celtic all girl band! As St. Patrick's Day approaches, the Angels - group founder Beth Mullaney (on guitar/ mandolin/lead vocals), Dolly Coulter (vocals/guitar/keyboard player), Ginger Bruner (tuba/bass player), Lisa Viscuglia (vocals/violin), Nan Fortier (drums) and Vita - are at their busiest time of the year. Here is a sample of their schedule for the next 10 days: tonight, March 7th from 7 to 9 p.m., Killian's Angels performs at the Boulder City Renaissance Fair; March 8th, from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Reed Whipple Cultural Center; March 8th, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., McMullan's Irish Pub; March 13th at 2 p.m. the Dennis Bono Show at Sam's Town; March 14th, from 5 to 8 p.m. at McMullan's; March 14th, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. at Brendan's; March 15th, from 5 to 8 p.m., McMullan's; March 15th, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., Brendan's; March 16th, from 5 to 8 p.m., McMullan's; March 17th, from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m., McMullan's; and also on the 17th, from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Brendan's. The event at Reed Whipple, beginning at 3 p.m. tomorrow, will also include Sharon Lynn's Celtic Storm Dancers. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 the day of performance (that would be tomorrow). You can call (702) 229-6211.
As a side note, Vita's husband, Brian Grasmick, is also an award-winning musician (he plays the trumpet), as well as a jingle and voiceover producer. To quote his proud wife, "Brian has played behind everyone and their mother."
And speaking of the Las Vegas Tenors, Bill Fayne, Bobby Black, Teddy Davey and Mark Giovi, return to the Hilton on Sunday, March 9th, for their fourth appearance in the main showroom. It wasn't long ago that the Tenors were performing primarily at local places such as the Bootlegger and Turnberry's Stirling Club. So, how did the fellows make it to the big showroom that has seen the likes of Elvis Presley perform on its stage? Hard work and talent. For their March show, it will be all Tenors, no guests. We guarantee that you will be entertained. Showtime is at 6 p.m. For reservations, call (702) 732-5755.
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Las Vegas Tenors
Tony Arias & Lloyd Ziel
Belated birthday wishes to Mary Wilson who celebrated yesterday, March 6th. The Supreme Ms. Wilson just finished an engagement at the Riverside in Laughlin. Her performances in places like Scottsdale, Washington DC, Miami, Boston, Nashville, San Diego and Venice, Italy, keep the singer/author busy. An engagement at the South Point in September is Mary's next Las Vegas gig. To learn more about Ms. Wilson, her book Dreamgirl - My Life As a Supreme, should provide insight into Wilson's rise to fame. You might also check out her CDs, I Am Changing and Up Close - Live from San Francisco.
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Those two wild and crazy guys, Tony Arias and Lloyd Ziel, actually settle down every now and then. Best known for their musical/comedy act, the duo will get serious on Sunday, March 16th, when they will be joined by the equally talented Tim Searcy (the ORIGINAL Splash at the Riviera, Abracadabra at the Aladdin) for Victorious in Concert. Described as "A New Dawn of Christian Contemporary Music," the 7 p.m. production will take place at the Metropolitan Community Church at 1140 Almond Tree Lane (off East Sahara near Maryland Parkway). Victorious, presenting music for all ages, takes the audience on a journey of emotions, from elation to gratitude, that will change their lives. Arias states, "In July of last year, we were invited to sing at our fellowship's conference. That moment changed our lives and we haven't been the same since. We've been called to sing for God's people and we love it!" He goes on to say, "I am so excited to share with you this blessed new group I'm in, Victorious!" Tony goes on to say, "Victorious consists of my longtime dear friend Tim Searcy, and of course my brother-in-comedy Lloyd Ziel. The three of us have been singing together at our church for years. Tim is an international recording artist and longtime Las Vegas entertainer who continues to thrive, and Lloyd and I will never stop doing what we do best, being silly and laughing all the way to the buffet. The later part of last year, we had a wonderful time touring in South California and Northern California. In the next few months, we'll be back on the road. Victorious is our ministry with amazing uplifting music." Tickets for the first Las Vegas appearance of Victorious are $10 each. Seating is limited, so if you want to attend, call (702) 585-6342 or e-mail to info@WeCareVictorious.net to reserve your spot.
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Lisa Dawn Miller
On Thursday, March 13th, Lisa Dawn Miller returns to the Suncoast Showroom as part of the Ed Mathews' Hit Parade series. Lisa will pay tribute to her late father, songwriter Ron Miller, in I Want To Come Back As a Song: Ron Miller, A Knight of Lyrics. As her special guest, Lisa will feature her son, Oliver. Now, let's talk about (write about?) Oliver Liam Richman. This seven-year-old is an exceptional talent. Vocally, while still maintaining the sound and the innocence of a child, Oliver is mature beyond his years. In addition, the kid has acting chops. He recently auditioned for and got his first film role. The movie, Man Overboard, directed by Oliver Robins, is scheduled for release in September. Lisa and Oliver's Thursday show time at the Suncoast is 2 p.m. For reservations, call (702) 636-7075 or (877) 636-7111. If you are in the New York area, Lisa will also be making return appearances at the Metropolitan Room on April 25th and 26th. See her in the east or west...or in both places.
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Last Sunday, Mark Nadler and KT Sullivan made a return visit to the Charleston Heights Arts Center where they, once again, charmed the audience with their cabaret performance. Previously, the twosome has paid tribute to George Gershwin and Irving Berlin. Nadler made a solo appearance with his very clever Mark Nadler In a Nutshell revue (this fellow does it all - plays piano, sings, dances, is funny, and has an incredible memory to boot). This time, the show was called Time After Time and paid homage to many of the great composers. We had been hoping to get Mr. Nadler into one of the hotel showrooms within the next few months. Not surprisingly, he has just signed on for a two-month gig at Chicago's Royal George Theater, where he will win new fans performing Russian On the Side, from April 22nd through June 29th. From there, look for the uber-talented Mr. Nadler to take his show to the Great White Way. You know that old saying, "You snooze, you lose"? Someone in Vegas was snoozing. Too bad.
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In response to half of Robert B's inquiry comes this answer from Greg Smith of the musical Smith Brothers band. Reader Robert's question...Whatever happened to The Reycards?
Answer: The Reycards -- Philippine-born singer/comedians Rey Ramirez and Ricardo "Ricky" Castro -- played Honolulu several times in the late 1970s and early '80s. Strong singers with a knack for comedy, the Reycards' ability to combine the two quickly earned the self-styled "Kings of Comedy" a loyal local following.
Ramirez died in August 1997. Castro, known to many in the Philippines as Carding, died in November 2003.
"They were very dedicated (entertainers)," producer Frances Kirk said. The Reycards' most memorable engagements in Waikiki were at the On Stage Showroom in the Outrigger East Hotel in 1978 and 1979. The duo's 1979 album, Besame Mucho, produced by Kirk and Ernie Freeman for release on Silvercloud Records, captured the breadth of their repertoire. Angelitos Negroes, Sometimes When We Touch and the title song showed what they could do as serious vocalists. Papa Oom Mow Mow, a longtime personal favorite, and Ah So, Disco! an original by Kirk Freeman written for the album, offered glimpses of their comic capabilities. The partnership began in 1953 when Ramirez and Castro won a singing contest in Manila. They coined the name the following year, entertained in the Philippines through the '50s, moved to Las Vegas in the '60s and toured extensively for the next two decades. "They would come down one hour beforehand and prepare all their props and everything," Kirk said. "Very few acts do that and then go out and greet the customers. They were really a special pair."
Thank you, Greg (we love our readers). Now, anyone know what happened to Lee Meza (the second half of Robert B's question)?
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Michelle Rohl-Justice passes on this information...Just wanted to drop a line and let you know Jahna Steele's Tribute went great last Friday (February 29th). We opened with a set of (me) singing the blues. Then Lon Bronson took the stage and we re-created the days of yore when our hair was as high as an elephant's eye (and so were we). Special guest and special (transsexual) soul sister, roommate and close friend of Jahna's, Tara, recreated "Dr. Longjohn," with hilarious perfection. Rick Friedman performed an original song for Jahna, penned just a few hours before the show, titled "I Must've Seen an Angel," inspired from the images he saw on the video footage played at Jahna's funeral. Ex Crazy Girls, Joelle Rigetti, Michele Sandoval and Jilan Ricci, recreated Jahna's production number, "Cuz I'm a Blonde," to dingy perfection! Joelle also sang Jahna's version of "Vehicle." I sang Jessica Rabbit's Do Right (Jahna's Strip number) and Piece of My Heart, dedicated from Robyn (Lewis) St. Romain who couldn't be present (she's on the road with Wayne Newton). She was missed. Tony Davich closed the set with "A Little Help From My Friends." The turnout was great, the band was awesome and it was so cool to see everyone from the "olden days."
Thanks for the update, Michelle. Wish we could have been there.
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The very talented Kristen Hertzenberg (she portrays Christine in Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular) and her husband, Dana Satterwhite, have launched a new Web site promoting the culture and arts that tie Las Vegas and Broadway together. Dana is a freelance writer/creative director in the advertising industry and a "hobby photographer" (he takes many of the photos used on their site), although he's hung his work in galleries and has been selling more and more lately. Check out what these two are up to in their "spare" time, by going to BroadwayVegas.BlogSpot.com.
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The ageless Tempest Storm celebrated her Leap Year birthday with an "intimate" party at Carluccio's on Wednesday, February 27th. Jerry Ritholz and Ray Jarvis hosted Storm, Tulara Gilbert (who had an acrobatic/comedy act under the name of Virginia Lee) and 93-year-old Edna Miner, as Tempest prepared to turn 80. The saucy redheaded former Burlesque Queen proudly states, "I'm old enough for Medicare, but young enough for men to care." With a figure many women would kill for, Tempest still manages to turn plenty of heads. The five celebrants enjoyed the music of Wes Winters, who performs to a full house at Carluccio's on Wednesday nights. You can also see Mr. Winters at work, doing his Liberace tribute show, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays at 1 p.m., in the museum's Wes Winters Showroom.
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Broadway veteran Lee Roy Reams is the Director for Houston's Theatre Under The Stars production of Hello, Dolly! starring Leslie Uggams, while Las Vegan Randy Slovacek serves as the show's Choreographer. Hello, Dolly!, with lyrics and music by Jerry Herman (Mame, La Cage Aux Folles), runs through March 9th at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. Most recently, Reams starred in The Producers on Broadway and in Las Vegas. In addition to performing in the 1978 Broadway revival of Hello, Dolly!, Reams both directed and choreographed the 1995 Broadway revival. His accolades include receiving the 1981 Tony Award and Drama Desk Award nominations for his performance as Billy Lawlor in the original production of 42nd Street. His numerous Broadway credits also include Sweet Charity; Applause; Lorelei; Hello, Dolly!; La Cage aux Folles; Beauty and the Beast; and An Evening with Jerry Herman. Slovacek has appeared on Broadway in Hello, Dolly! starring Carol Channing. His choreography credits include the National touring company of Hello, Dolly! (which he also supervised), the off-Broadway, world premiere of Plane Crazy, companies of A Chorus Line, and regional productions of They're Playing Our Song, Promises Promises, and Chicago among others. Also starring in TUTS' production of Hello, Dolly! are Lewis J. Stadlen (Horace Vandergelder), who was previously seen in Broadway's The Producers; Glory Crampton (Irene Molloy), who returns to TUTS, having starred in My Fair Lady and the World Premiere of Phantom; Kevin Earley (Cornelius), who was previously seen in the Broadway and National Tour of Les Miserables and joined Leslie Uggams on Broadway in Thoroughly Modern Millie; Michael McGurk (Barnaby Tucker), who was seen in Broadway's The Wedding Singer and The Music Man; Ron Kellum (Ambrose), who returns to TUTS, having recently appeared in Dreamgirls; Katharine Randolph (Ermengarde Vandergelder), who was recently seen in Main Street's The Secret Garden; Jessica Sheridan (Ernestina Simple), who appeared in the National Tour and the 2005 film, The Producers; and Erick R. Walck (Rudolph), who was previously seen in The Producers in Las Vegas understudying Lee Roy Reams and David Hasselhoff. The ensemble cast includes Melanie Allen, Brian Barry, Alan Bennett, Jennifer Blakeney Young, Nathaniel Braga, Dominic Di Felice, Craig Foster, Adam Gibbs, Kevin Hill, Traci Hines, Darrell T. Joe, Tony Johnson, Laura Kaldis, Richard M. Keck, Dominique Kelley, Chris Klink, David La Duca, Alissa Ann LaVergne, Reid Lee, Sarah Moore, Christina Stroup, Mary Jo Todaro, Gia Valenti, and Paige Wheat. The famous story of Hello, Dolly! was taken from Thornton Wilder's 1938 play, The Merchant of Yonkers, which was revised and retitled as The Matchmaker in 1955. The original Broadway production of Hello, Dolly!, directed and choreographed by Gower Champion, opened on January 16, 1964, at the St. James Theatre, where it ran for 2,844 performances. The stellar cast included Carol Channing, David Burns, Charles Nelson Reilly, Eileen Brennan and Alice Playten. Although facing stiff competition from Funny Girl with Barbra Streisand, Hello, Dolly! swept the Tony Awards in 1964, winning in 10 categories (out of 11 nominations), a record that remained unbroken for 37 years until, ironically, The Producers won 12 Tonys in 2001.
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Regarding our interest in the Las Vegas Walk of Stars, an honorarium only if you have the $15,000 to buy one, comes this e-mail from John Kaye, a member of the famed Mary Kaye Trio family...
I was talking about the Walk of Stars and was wondering why that walk is in existence? I thought the concept was for a person to be famous in order to get a Star. Not someone who is famous in their own mind, but people who are truly well known for their contributions to the Las Vegas scene. How is this sanctioned by the city of Las Vegas? Why is it run by one person from out of state? Can I buy a star for $15,000.00 for my dearly departed dog, Shadow? What the hell is the Walk of Stars all about and whose pockets are being lined because of it?
We wonder the same thing, John. That's why we are checking into exactly how this operates.
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A friend told us about this fundraiser. We have not seen it mentioned anywhere else (yet) and have been unable to confirm all (or any) of the information, so please check into it before getting too involved. If it's true, we are happy to help out for a worthy cause. If not, well... Robin Sherwood, a long time Vegas performer, has experienced kidney failure and is in need of a kidney transplant. In November, Jeff Beacher, Beacher's Madhouse creator, donated proceeds from one of his shows at the Hard Rock Hotel for one of his little-people performers. Sherwood is a member of Beacher's Oompa Loompas troupe, the Tiny Kiss band, and a wrestling team that spoofs the UFC, and has been in and out of the hospital. Beacher said he was forming the Robin Sherwood Oompa Loompa Foundation. Here is what we have been told. On Sunday, March 9th, there will be a Robin Sherwood Walk-a-Thon to raise money to help with Sherwoodâs mounting medical expenses. Signups begin at 9 a.m., with the Walk-a-Thom starting from Town Square at 10 a.m. In case you are not familiar with it, Town Square is the south Strip's new 1.5 million-square-foot open-air shopping, dining and entertainment destination. Donations are also being accepted for Robin at The Robin Sherwood Foundation, 5275 S. Arville St., Suite 348, Las Vegas, NV 89118.
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Claire Voyant's portrait by Charlie Frye