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.  
She’s...

Claire Voyant  

Note: This is a past column from May 16, 2008
You can find the current column HERE


Las Vegas - May 16, 2008


Bernie Allen

Martin Kreloff

Bill Acosta

Friends of the late comedian, Bernie Allen (born Bernard Allen Kleinberg), are collecting money to plant trees in his memory at Sunset Park in southeast Las Vegas. Calling themselves a Committee of Comics, the group states that Allen, who died in January of 2004 (only five months after the death of Norma, his wife of 62 years) following a fall, was a caring and charitable individual. On his birthdays, the "admission cost" to attend one of Bernie's parties was to bring at least one article of old clothing for donation to Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada's St. Vincent's homeless shelter. Cousin Claire knows that when Jack Entratter's (the Sands longtime impresario) one time secretary/ assistant, Eleanor Grasso, was living out her final months at the Rose Cottage assisted living facility, Allen was one of Eleanor's very few regular visitors. Bernie would also get his show business friends together to perform for the residents at Rose Cottage, giving them a real treat. In an odd twist of fate, Rose Cottage is where Allen himself resided before his death. A veteran of World War II, during his show business career, the former Bronx diner owner and cab driver was paired with both Redd Foxx and Steve Rossi (from 1972 to 1977). It was prizefighter Rocky Graziano who gave Allen his big break, promoting him, giving him his stage name, and later introducing him to comedienne Martha Raye. Allen worked with Raye for more than 10 years. He became notorious for showing up at events to which he was not invited, often as his shell-shocked German general character. That character got the onetime nightclub comic a brief film role in the 1968 film version of Mel Brooks' The Producers in which Allen played the auditioning Hitler who tried to sing The Little Wooden Boy. He had occasional roles in a number of other movies and TV shows, usually playing either a mobster or a Vegas comedian. He played the latter in a quick scene in 1980's Raging Bull. As for the collection, the plan is to accept $20 donations from individuals and use whatever is collected to create a peaceful spot where people can go to relax, reflect and maybe even read Bernie's book, Have a Clown On Me. The amount raised will determine just how many trees will be planted. A plaque, with Bernie's name, will be located near what, if the public is generous, could turn into a small forest. To participate, checks (no cash or money orders) should be made out to Plant World (no hanky panky here) with a notation in the memo portion stating "Bernie Allen Tree." Send donations to the Bernie Allen Memorial, 7380 S. Eastern 124-216, Las Vegas, NV 89123. Who says Las Vegas has no heart?

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Las Vegas artist Martin Kreloff is thrilled to be included in the new book, America at Home (Running Press Books). A local resident for the past four years, Kreloff joins a handful of Vegas personalities - Frank Marino, Toni Hart, Rich Little and Rick Thomas among them - who made it onto the pages (see a preview of Marty's work on page 107)) of this much anticipated tome. Pulitzer Prize-nominated Brad Zucroff, another Las Vegan, is the photographer and art director of America at Home. The beautiful book is from the same team that produced the acclaimed America 24/7 series. It is available at major book chains including Barnes & Noble and Borders, as well as online. Martin Kreloff grew up in Brooklyn, New York (attending Erasmus Hall High School with Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond), spent many years in Miami, a short time in San Francisco and, prior to moving to Southern Nevada, lived in Los Angeles for 15 years. While in L.A., Kreloff concentrated on portrait commissions and some movie design work. In the accompanying photo by Brad Zucoff, Martin Kreloff is shown putting the finishing touches on his recent painting "Psycho." He and his partner love Vegas, stating "The idea of living in a city with cactus and neon is a constant delight." Later this year, the city he loves will unveil his banner designs for The Cultural Corridor. Those who are regular Claire Voyant readers may remember that entrepreneurial Jeanne Bavaro worked with her neighbor Brad Zucroff during the creation of America at Home. Bavaro tells us that the photos are amazing and she is really proud to have been a part of the project.

And speaking of Jeanne Bavaro, her husband, singer/impressionist Bill Acosta, goes into the South Point from June 6th through the 8th. Bill's special guests for this engagement will be the Original Golddiggers. The ladies were an integral part of the Dean Martin TV show, as well as his live performances in places like Las Vegas. For South Point reservations, call (702) 797-8055.

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Ne-Yo

Bobby Slayton

'Weird Al' Yankovic

Look for onetime Las Vegan, Ne-Yo, to make a couple of appearances on ABC's All My Children, May 21st and 22nd. The Grammy Award-winner attended Rancho High School and downtown's Las Vegas Academy of International Studies, Performing and Visual Arts (couldn't they have come up with a shorter name???). Ne-Yo (real name Shaffer Smith) is only one of many Academy success stories. Others who have attended the prestigious high school, and moved on to do impressive things, include Dancing with the Stars blonde beauty Julianne Hough and her cute brother Derek Hough; Matthew Gray Gubler of CBS's Criminal Minds; Rutina Wesley, who appeared in the film How She Move and on Broadway in The Vertical Hour.

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If you call funnyman Bobby Slayton a dog, he probably won't mind. His billing touts him as the Pitbull of Comedy. His gravely voice sounds enough like a bark to be one and, once he finds himself a target in the audience, he's like a canine with a bone...not willing to give it up until all the meat is gone. Slayton should come with a warning label. Unless you're willing to be a part of the show, sit way in the back of the Night Owl Showroom, in the darkest corner you can find. Even then, you won't be able to escape the biting wit of this comic pitbull. This month, Slayton is celebrating his one year anniversary at Hooters. The man voted One of the 100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time, shares the performance space with The Mentalist, Gerry McCambridge. Part magician, part comic, all entertaining. You won't be able to figure out how McCambridge does what he does, so don't even try. Just sit back and prepare to be amazed. Slayton performs at 9 p.m., Wednesdays through Sundays. McCambridge takes to the stage at 7 p.m., Wednesdays through Sundays. For reservations to either or both shows, call (866) 584-6687.

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The City of Henderson Department of Cultural Arts and Tourism presents Weird Al Yankovic at the Henderson Pavilion, 200 S. Green Valley Parkway, on June 27th at 8 p.m. Yankovic is best known for his parodies of contemporary hits such as I Think I'm a Clone Now, Like a Surgeon, Smells Like Nirvana, Eat It and others. Tickets are priced from $26. To purchase and/or obtain additional information, call (702) 276-4TIX.

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Take two individually talented musicians, combine their artistic skills, and what do you get? In this case, you get a concert called Springtime Serenade, put on by The Performing Arts Society of Nevada. The program features cellist Lee Richey and piano virtuoso Philip Fortenberry, and will take place at the Clark County Library Theater, 1401 E. Flamingo, at 2 p.m. on May 18th. Mr. Richey is a member of The Venetian's Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular, orchestra, is assistant-principal cellist with the Las Vegas Philharmonic, and teaches at the Nevada School of the Arts. Before coming to Southern Nevada, Lee was also principal cellist with the Knoxville, Winnipeg, Green Bay and Fairbanks Symphonies and the Spoleto Festival. As for Mr. Fortenberry, he is currently associate conductor for Jersey Boys at Palazzo. Prior to his Jersey Boys position, Philip was associate conductor for Mamma Mia! at Mandalay Bay. Additional credits include US and Canada concert tours with Michael Crawford in The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber and serving as associate musical director for Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman's pre-Broadway workshop production of Harmony. (We especially liked Every Single Day from Harmony. That song, and others from Harmony, can be heard on Barry's Scores album.) Richey and Fortenberry will perform the music of Bach, Francoeur, Grieg, Hindemith and Shostakovich among others. Tickets for Springtime Serenade are $15. For additional information, call Performing Arts Society's office at (702) 658-6741.


Philip Fortenberry and Lee Richey

George Michael

Mark Giovi

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We will be doing a little Moonlighting at The Cannery (and possibly even hanging out until the Mornin') tomorrow night. Why? Because one of our favorites, Al Jarreau, will be performing in The Club at the North Las Vegas hotel and casino. Appearing with Jarreau will be the Stanley Jordan Trio, featuring Stanley Jordan. And speaking of The Cannery, friends we know who attended the Popera concert there last Saturday night, report a large and enthusiastic crowd for the unusual (for the venue) booking.

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Joanie Spina, who is probably best known for her work with a number of well-known magicians as well as with animals, informs us that she is involved with casting a new touring show called The Circus McGurkus. Directed by Franco Dragone (of Cirque du Soleil and Celine Dion's A New Day fame), The Circus McGurkus is based on a Dr. Seuss novel, If I Ran The Circus. They are looking for a variety of performers, including an actor to play 13-year-old Morris McGurk. Casting director Spina informs us that they would like someone who has graduated high school, therefore not requiring a road guardian and tutor. "There are many young actors who are small and can play a young teenager," says Spina, "it's just finding them!" They would love to cast Morris in Las Vegas because the formation and rehearsal period will take place here, from November through February. Contact Joanie Spina, after May 26th, via e-mail at [email protected] Check out the shows' Web site at http://www.circusmcgurkuscasting.com


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Singer George Michael, who is getting a lot of positive publicity these days, thanks to the new ABC hit TV show, Eli Stone, will perform at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on June 21st. In Eli Stone, the lead character suffers from an inoperable brain aneurysm, causing him to have realistic hallucinations which often relate to the plot of that episode. Pop singer Michael has figured prominently throughout the series. Each episode has been named after a song of Michael's. Producer/co-writer Greg Berlanti is a fan of Michael and tried hard to get him to appear on the show. It turned out that Michael is a TV junkie. This led to the singer agreeing to do several episodes, including one in which Stone represents him in the case of a teenage girl who plays I Want Your Sex in protest of an abstinence-only sex education program in her school. After performing 80 shows in 12 European countries for a staggering 1.3 million fans over the past year, Michael brings his smash 25 LIVE TOUR to Las Vegas. The tour is in support of his new retrospective record. Titled Twenty-Five, the new recording is a 29-song, 2-CD set featuring several new songs (Including duets with Paul McCartney and Mary J. Blige, and a song from Eli Stone) in addition to many of Michael's iconic songs from both his solo and WHAM! career. This is Michael's first North American tour in 17 years. Although we were mostly listening to pop recordings by Kenny Rogers, Lionel Richie, John Lennon, Queen (with or without Mr. Michael) and Boyz II Men during George's Wham! days, we really do like his Songs From the Last Century album. On the 1999 recording, George does his unique take on tunes such as You've Changed, Secret Love, I Remember You and Where or When. If schedule permits, we will be in the audience. Ticket prices are $183.75, $94.50 & $68.25, not including applicable service charges and taxes.
For reservations, call (702) 891-7800. Since Cousin Claire keeps late night hours, please don't Wake Her Up Before You Go-Go.

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The Las Vegas Tenors, originally comprised of founder Bill Fayne, Bobby Black, Teddy Davey and Mark Giovi, came into existence by accident when the four guys got together at Kelly Clinton's Celebrity Karaoke one evening to harmonize. Soon thereafter, Fayne created The Las Vegas Tenors. Since that day, some two years ago, the group has performed in various hotel showrooms throughout the city, landing a special contract with the Las Vegas Hilton. Very recently, a change has occurred within the group. Apparently, Mark Giovi has left the Tenors. The next Las Vegas Tenors concert will be on Sunday, June 1st at the Hilton. This time the quartet will be presenting Popera (the name used by the foursome that played at The Cannery last week), made up of a mix of the classics, pop, rock, swing and Broadway. In addition, the gentlemen will perform some of their most requested songs, such as You Raise Me Up, The Prayer, Moondance, Nights in White Satin, Nessun Dorma and a brand new medley of Beatles music. Filling the spot vacated by Giovi will be Chris Coyne, lead singer in the Tropicana's Folies Bergere. Tickets for the Las Vegas Tenors are priced from $40 to $53.64. Las Vegas residents (with proper ID) may purchase tickets for half-price at the Hilton box office. For further information or reservations call (702) 732-5755. The Las Vegas Tenors will appear in the Suncoast Showroom during July 4th weekend. We hope to have more about Giovi's departure from the group in next Friday's column.

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The May issue of Cabaret Scenes magazine has numerous references to, and photos of, entertainer Terri White. Terri, who has made her home in New York for a number of years, used to be a Las Vegan. In the 1970s and 1980s, she performed in numerous clubs around the city. Since moving to the East Coast, she linked up with Liza Minnelli and appears on both the audio and video of Liza Live! From Radio City Music Hall. Terri can be heard on recordings of Finian's Rainbow, The Lady's Got to Sing, Forbidden Broadway - The 20th Anniversary Edition (featuring Terri in "Screamgirls"), Mama, a Rainbow, Incurably Romantic and Barnum. Terri also co-starred with Golden Girls' Rue McClanahan in Nunsense and Nunsense 2: The Sequel (both available on video). Her brother, Bill White, who also spent some time in Vegas, performed with the Mickey Finn Show and portrayed Louie Armstrong in Legends in Concert at the Imperial Palace. Actor/singer/director Terri White performs Fridays through Sundays at Rose's Turn, 55 Grove Street, in the Big Apple. If you are a fan of cabaret music and the musical theater, Cabaret Scenes offers all kinds of useful information, not just on New York happenings, but on Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Palm Springs, Philadelphia/New Hope, San Francisco, Washington DC and even Las Vegas as well. For subscription information or advertising rates, call (888) 802-2227, or e-mail to [email protected]. You can also learn more about the New York-published monthly magazine by checking the Web site at www.cabaretscenes.org.

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Mark Nadler

Sharon McNight

David Archuleta

Mark Nadler's Broadway-aimed "one-man comedy-in-music adventure," Russian on the Side (formerly known as Tschaikowsky and Other Russians), is almost halfway through its eight-week engagement at the Royal George Theatre Mainstage in Chicago. Mark Waldrop (Bea Arthur On Broadway and the Drama Desk Award-winning Off-Broadway revue When Pigs Fly, for which he also provided book and lyrics, and Las Vegan Bill Nolte‘s one-man-show All of Me) directs Nadler‘s show, which is being produced by Michael Alden (Grey Gardens, Bridge & Tunnel and more). Performances continue to June 15th. According to production notes, in this revue, "virtuoso Mark Nadler takes audiences on a zany 90-minute journey from Stravinsky to Sondheim. Filled with music from celebrated American songwriters of the 20th-century such as Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein, Cole Porter, and Ira Gershwin, Nadler tickles the ivories, and dishes scintillating gossip about some of the world's greatest composers." Pianist/singer/writer/arranger Nadler starred in and co-wrote the off-Broadway Gershwin revue, American Rhapsody, which was nominated for a 2001 Drama Desk and two Lucille Lortel Awards and received the Manhattan Association of Cabarets (MAC) Award for Outstanding Musical Revue. Regularly appearing at New York City's landmark cabaret The Algonquin, Nadler created and starred in more than a dozen shows based on the great American songbook. He has received four MAC awards for Outstanding Musical Comedy Performer and, in 2003, was awarded the Backstage Bistro Award for Continuing to Raise the Standards of Cabaret Performance, as well as Outstanding Singer/Instrumentalist and Outstanding Direction. He has performed at Carnegie Hall with the New York Pops Orchestra, New York City's Town Hall, and has been a soloist with the Baltimore, Indianapolis and Oregon Symphonies as well as The National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa. He has played in major nightclubs in New York City and Los Angeles, and has performed abroad in England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Belgium, Holland and Australia. On Broadway, Nadler appeared as "The Fingers on the Keys" in Dame Edna: The Royal Tour and as "Pinky Pickles" in The Sheik of Avenue B, as well as numerous productions off-Broadway and regionally. He co-wrote, directed and starred in The Nose Knows, a tribute to Jimmy Durante for the Reel to Real series at Lincoln Center and arranged and coached Glenn Close's performance of Bye Bye Blackbird for the 1985 film Maxie. Nadler is also a Las Vegas favorite, having appeared here at the Charleston Heights Arts Center, with and without KT Sullivan, on numerous occasions. If you are, or plan to be, in the Chicago area between now and June 15th, the Royal George is located at 1641 North Halsted Street in Chicago. The performance schedule for Russian on the Side, is Tuesdays through Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 5 and 9 p.m., and Sundays at 3 and 7p .m. Special Wednesday matinees are scheduled for May 28th and June 11th at 2 p.m., and will replace Tuesday night performances for those weeks. There will be a Monday night performance on June 2nd at 7:30 p.m., and no performance on June 7th. Tickets are $34.50-$55. For information, call (312) 988-9000 or online at Ticketmaster.com. Discounts are available for groups of ten or more by calling Group Theater Tix at (312) 423-6612. For more information visit RussianOnTheSideOnline.com.


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Dick Feeney (that's with three "E"s) wants to let the immediate world know that TRP Entertainment, LLC, producers of The Rat Pack is Back show at the Plaza Hotel and Casino, has just purchased the rights to the service mark and trademark The Rat Pack is Back and corresponding federal Trademark Registration Nos. 2640066 and 2578115 from DRDC Productions, Inc. (We suspect DRDC stand for Don Rio/David Cassidy.) In 2006 TRP entered into a licensing agreement with the David Cassidy owned DRDC, to use The Rat Pack is Back mark for TRP's production of its Tribute to Frank, Sammy, Joey & Dean. Feeney, managing partner of TRP Entertainment, says "TRP is extremely excited about the acquisitions." May 24th will mark the 6th anniversary of The Rat Pack's show in Las Vegas. It remains the only Vegas based show that has made the transition to the national theatre market. Already having successful runs in San Francisco, Chicago, Detroit and numerous other cities, a new agreement with the Broadway Booking Office agency in New York City has resulted in a major nationwide 2008-2009 theatre tour in addition to its Las Vegas based show.

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Michael Chapman and ChapQuist Entertainment are proud to present the Las Vegas premiere of Red Hot Mama! The Life and Loves of Sophie Tucker, starring Sharon McNight. The performance will take place at 7 p.m., Saturday, May 24th, at the Starbright Theatre in Sun City Summerlin. Sophie Tucker was a powerful presence in American entertainment for nearly 60 years. She was a magnificent entertainer, a luckless gambler, a generous friend, a tireless trouper and an unforgettable character...truly the last of the Red Hot Mamas. Sharon McNight, the entertainer portraying Tucker, has a long and successful show business history. She has repeatedly won the San Francisco Entertainer of the Year Award and has been honored with a Tony Award nomination. Tickets are $18 for Sun City residents and $20 for the rest of us and are on sale at Desert Vista, Mountain Shadows and Pinnacle community centers in Sun City Summerlin. Call (702) 240-1301.

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Even though we don't yet know who comes out the winner (we would bet that it is someone named David, as in Archuleta or Cook), tickets to American Idol's Las Vegas stop go on sale tomorrow. The event will take place at the Thomas & Mack on July 5th. To purchase tickets, call (702) 739-FANS.



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