Claire Voyant's Las Vegas Gossip Column

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.  

Claire Voyant  

Note: This is a past column from May 23, 2008
You can find the current column HERE

Las Vegas - May 23, 2008

David Cook

Gerry McCambridge

Placido Domingo

And the new American Idol is...David Cook! David Cook? If Cousin Claire were a betting woman (and she sometimes is), she would have put a few bucks on the OTHER David...17-year-old David Archuleta. Maybe the runner-up is really the winner, as in the case of Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken. Runner-up Aiken seems to have the better career, with a couple of albums and a role in the New York production of Monty Python's Spamalot. Maybe they have a little more freedom when it comes to what they record and what they do with their career AI (After Idol). At any rate, if you are an Idol fan and in the Las Vegas area, you can see the finalists (and winner) on July 5th, when the gang comes to the Thomas & Mack to perform. For ticket information, call (702) 739-FANS (3267).

And speaking of Spamalot, the Las Vegas production, starring John O'Hurley, will end its run on July 13th. If you want to see it here, call Wynn at (702) 770-WYNN (9966). And here's a little secret...two-for-one tickets are available, if you mention the word "Laughter."

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Next month, on June 11th, Gerry McCambridge will celebrate his one year anniversary as a performer at Hooters. On the 7th, he celebrates his 500th performance in Las Vegas. We intend to celebrate the occasions right along with the man they rightfully call The Mentalist. Magic has never been one of our favorite forms of entertainment (sorry Dirk, Lance, Steve, David and the rest of you talented folk), and we don't know if McCambridge considers himself to be a magician. What we do know is that we are never bored and always entertained when we see The Mentalist at work (or play). All of those who we have recommended this show to, have become fans. Even the people who think they can figure everything out, are puzzled and admit they don't have a clue how McCambridge does what he does. Whatever it is, magic or otherwise, it works. NBC agrees. Gerry has had his own TV special and, last year, was featured on the reality show, Phenomenon. If you haven't seen his show, and would like to experience something different, and fascinating, we suggest a trip to Hooters (or wherever McCambridge may be appearing). Tell him Cousin Claire sent you.

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We understand that world-renowned operatic tenor Placido Domingo will perform at Planet Hollywood's Theater for the Performing Arts (the six-month home of Dutch magician Hans Klok and his poor excuse of an assistant, Pamela Anderson). The scheduled date for the one night only show is September 15th. In addition to his versatile and strong voice, Domingo is also admired for his acting ability, his musicality and musical intellect, and the number and variety of opera roles that he has mastered. He has also taken on conducting opera and concert performances, and also serves as the General Director of the Washington National Opera in our nation's capitol, and the Los Angeles Opera in California. His contracts in both Los Angels and Washington, D.C. have been extended through the 2010–2011 season. Although we were told about this booking a week or so ago, no one at the property knows anything about it. Have we been given the wrong information, or, as frequently happens, is it a case of one hand not knowing what the other one is doing? Hmmm.

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We made our fourth trip to see Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular last week, this time taking folks who had not seen this or any other version of the Andrew Lloyd Webber Tony-winning musical. Cousin Claire saw Phantom of the Opera in Los Angeles a number of years ago. That production starred Michael Crawford as the Phantom (Crawford later headlined in EFX at the MGM Grand) and featured longtime Las Vegan, Gary Marshal in multiple roles (Marshal appeared locally in Donn Arden and Maynard Sloate productions, as well as in the 1967 film, Camelot). Brent Barrett, who plays the lead in The Venetian production, is as good as Crawford ever was. Besides, out of the mask and makeup, Barrett is much cuter (that's our opinion, so deal with it). Brent ends his run in the Las Vegas show on June 6th. If you haven't seen him as the tortured resident of the Paris Opera House, we urge you to do so. Call (702) 414-7469 for reservations.

Brent Barrett

Kristen Hertzenberg

Wes Winters

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It's that time of month again! (No, not THAT time of month.) Thursday (yes, Thursday) the 29th, is the May episode of the Composers Showcase. Now into its third year, and entering the second year in the performance space in the Liberace Museum, these monthly events are a constant surprise. Until a few days before, one never knows whose original music will be featured and who will perform the material (the composer doesn't usually do their own tunes). You also never know if you are going to hear a beautiful instrumental, a storytelling ballad, a piece from an anticipated Broadway-type musical, gospel, or a comedy tune. The upcoming showcase will present the music of local composers and songwriters, Vita Corimbi, Rylan Leo Helmuth, Kyle Norris, Richard Oberacker and Rob Taylor, Jon Peterson, Keith Thompson (Jersey Boys), Mark Wherry and Ashton Zyer, performed by Mary Catania, Ben Hale, Kristen Hertzenberg (Phantom), Kristi Holden (Phantom), Greg Kata, Savannah Smith-Thomas, Tina Walsh (Phantom), Scott Watanabe, and other special guests, plus the amazing instrumental chops of pianist Philip Fortenberry (Jersey Boys). All of this creativity will begin at 10:30 p.m. (after theater). The Liberace Museum, for those of you that don't know, is located at 1775 East Tropicana @ Spencer, adjacent to Carluccio's Tivoli Gardens Restaurant (Carluccio's serves until 10, so plan to have dinner there before the show). The showcase offers a cash bar (no credit cards, please) and, if you missed dinner at Carluccio's, a $5 hors d' oeuvres buffet provided by Keg and Cork Catering. The mission of the Liberace Foundation is to help talented students pursue careers in the performing and creative arts through scholarship assistance, so donations are always gladly accepted.

And speaking of the Liberace Museum, Wes Winters, who has been a mainstay in the approximately 80-seat performance space in the museum for more than four years, will depart the East Tropicana facility and the showroom named in his honor, to take his act to the Steve Wyrick Theater. In a case of musical chairs (or piano benches), the afternoon time slot that Winters will fill, had, until very recently, been occupied by Fan Yang and his Mega Bubbles Show. Winters will end his museum run on June 11th, and open his A Musical Tribute to Liberace at the 422-seat Planet Hollywood venue on Monday, June 30th. The award-winning Winters is neither an impersonator nor look-alike but a talented tribute artist who has captured the spirit, enthusiasm and legendary showmanship that made Liberace a beloved icon to millions of people throughout his 40-year career. During Winters' one-hour show, he performs many of Liberace's signature songs, including Sabre Dance, Tiger Rag, Beer Barrel Polka and I'll be Seeing You. He also performs a Gershwin medley, Bumble Boogie, Love is a Many Splendored Thing, Time to Say Goodbye and Mame, among other famous musical pieces. Winters will incorporate some new theatrical elements that take advantage of the Wyrick Theatre's state-of-the-art lighting and technical capabilities. He also will introduce a new nine-foot black and silver concert grand piano that he is personalizing with mirrors and other embellishments. Worthy of Liberace's own dazzling rhinestone pianos, Winters calls the new piano his Tuxedo Piano, "because," as he says, "it's being dressed up for a formal night out." Winters is excited about the move. "Performing in the Steve Wyrick Theatre is a great opportunity for me," he said. "I get to do what I love plus add a few new things in the larger venue." He added his show will offer something for everyone. "It will introduce a whole new generation to the magic and music of Liberace, provide an exciting show for a great value, and add some new features for those who have seen the tribute before. I've enjoyed a great run at the Liberace Museum and am grateful to the Liberace Foundation Board and Staff for the extraordinary opportunity they have given me in sharing Liberace with so many wonderfully receptive people," said Winters of his successful four-and-a-half-year engagement at the museum. With an extensive background in musical theater including a one-man cabaret show, Winters has been entertaining professionally for more than 20 years. He has fans around the world, six solo recordings and his own company, 88 Key Productions. A Kansas native, Winters moved to Las Vegas in 2003. He won the Liberace Play-Alike Competition the same year. Following the competition, the judges told him they knew within the first few minutes of his performance that they had their winner because of his showmanship and skill. Winters was just 5 years old when he was inspired by Liberace. He saw the famed pianist on a CBS Sunday night television special that was filmed in Las Vegas. "I had never seen anyone like Liberace before whose fingers could move so fast," recalls Winters, who comes from an extremely musical immediate and extended family. "I was mesmerized by his skill. After seeing the show, I sat down at the family piano, listened to a Liberace record and started playing. I began practicing four to seven hours a day for the next seven years." The self -taught pianist hasn't stopped. Winters' talent continues to develop just playing by ear. He has never had a music lesson and doesn't read music. A Musical Tribute to Liberace starring Wes Winters will fill the matinee spot at the Wyrick Theatre, performing at 1 p.m., five to six days a week. Tickets are $24.95 per person, and available at the theatre box office and or by calling (702) 777-9974.

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Frank Marino may or may not have won the title of EXTRA's New Face of Las Vegas (maybe because his is such a familiar face around these parts), but he certainly comes out a winner. The entertainment TV news magazine will be using Marino as an ongoing correspondent for the popular show. Yesterday (Thursday), Marino had some fun with The Hoff, otherwise known as David Hasselhoff. We are sure there will be much more to come. When he isn't doing celebrity interviews for EXTRA, Marino can be seen as the star of the Riviera's long running An Evening at La Cage.

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Battling the Country Music Awards, that was going on at the same time, pianist extraordinaire Philip Fortenberry (Jersey Boys) and cellist Lee Richey (Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular) entertained and impressed a small but enthusiastic audience during their concert at the Clark County Flamingo Library last Sunday. Presented by the Performing Arts Society of Nevada, the gentlemen performed works by Bach, Francoeur, Grieg, Hindemith and Shostakovich. Among those spotted enjoying the program were Brent Barrett (our Phavorite Phantom), Bill Nolte (late of The Producers), musical theater/cabaret/recording artist Phillip Officer (a recent New York transplant), Joey Singer (Debbie Reynolds' musical director/ accompanist), cellist Moonlight Tran and Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular's Tina Walsh.

And speaking of Bill Nolte, who brilliantly portrayed Franz Liebkind in the Paris Las Vegas production of Mel Brooks' The Producers, he is in New York to audition for Brooks' latest Broadway show, Young Frankenstein.

Bill Nolte

More & Gendel

Stanley Jordan

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By some standards, music makers Llynda More and Mark Gendel might be considered Las Vegas newcomers. Transplants from Nashville, in the four short years they have been here, More & Gendel have had very little time off. The duo spent a few years performing at Mandalay Bay immediately after arriving in Southern Nevada. Two months ago, while running, Llynda had an encounter with an automobile. You might say the vehicle won...sort of. But you can't keep a good woman down. Llynda has spent the past few weeks recovering from her injuries. She and Mark will return to the stage when they play Barley's Casino and Brewing Company's Outdoor Concert series tomorrow night (Saturday, May 24th). Showtime at the Green Valley establishment is from 6 to 10 p.m. The talented duo, who perform all genres of music, are hoping to pack the place to make a statement that live musical entertainment in Henderson is definitely alive and well! If they attract a big crowd, the way they have done so many times in the past, perhaps Barley's will consider bringing back regular weekend entertainment. Gather your pals together and head to Barley's, at 4500 Sunset Road, just east of Green Valley Parkway, and join More & Gendel for a festive-filled spring night under the stars...dancing, singing, meeting new friends, and having a great time! Barley's has lots of food and fine brew, so if you choose to, you can order dinner from one of the restaurants and dine on the patio while being serenaded by More & Gendel. For additional information, call Barley's at (702) 458-BREW (2739). The musical twosome just received word that, on Sunday, the 25th, from 3 to 6 p.m., they will also be performing at the Grand Opening celebration of an amazing new restaurant, Sonrisa Grill, in Lake Las Vegas' Montelago Village. The restaurant overlooks the lake and has an open-air bar that's wonderful to sit in and enjoy fresh breezes along with a cool drink. If you can't make the show on Saturday night, check out the new Sonrisa Grill on Sunday afternoon. Call (702) 568-6870 for more information. To learn more about More & Gendel, check their Web site at

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We made our first trip to the Cannery in North Las Vegas last weekend. The good news was that we enjoyed the performances by Al Jarreau and the Stanley Jordan Trio. Jarreau (We're In This Love Together, Mornin', After All, the theme from TV's Moonlighting) has always been one of our favorites (and is obviously a favorite of perfomer Clint Holmes as well). Al is not only a fine entertainer, he is very generous with his fans. He came out to greet those who waited to meet him, signed autographs and posed for pictures, taking his time with everyone. The bad news, for us anyway, involved problems with valet parking (they are possibly out of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act) and one of the worst Vegas coffee shop experiences we have had in our 32 years in Southern Nevada. We will tell more about the valet situation after we get a copy of the ADA rules outlining the obligations of public places such as the Cannery. As for the coffee shop, we probably should have had a clue of what was to come, just by the fact that we waited five minutes for a hostess to even acknowledge our presence at the entrance to the, relatively empty, restaurant. There was an efficient and friendly bus-lady who brought us a beverage very quickly. Everything else, moved at a snail's pace. It took too long for a server to come to our table. She seemed unclear and puzzled regarding a simple request (regular, not Canadian, bacon, on the side, of an Eggs Benedict order), but we thought she finally "got it." Thirty minutes later, we still had not received our order. When we "reminded" her that we were waiting, she remembered us and said she would check on the order. Another 10 minutes passed before she showed up with the plate - containing bacon buried under poached eggs and drenched in Hollandaise sauce. This is exactly what we DIDN'T want. When we pointed out that the order was wrong, this genius at hospitality responded, "We told them to put the bacon on the side." We have never done this before, but we refused the order and stated we were leaving. Before we did that, however, we stated that we wanted to talk to the restaurant manager. The dingy waitress disappeared for a few minutes and then returned to let us know "it was okay." What was okay?" we asked. "You don't have to pay," she stated. We already knew that. What we wanted was the opportunity to let someone in charge know about the fiasco we had just experienced. Again the young lady appeared puzzled. We found our way to the cashier, and asked to see someone in authority. A nice lady named Karen appeared. She was concerned and wanted to make amends. We just wanted to get to a Jack-in-the-Box and get some food. When she asked us if we would fill out a comment card, we said we would be happy to do so. Just as we completed the two-sided questionnaire, Karen showed up with a bag, telling us it was the Eggs Benedict, prepared the way we had requested it...with regular bacon on the side. That procedure took less than five minutes! When we asked why the 40-minute mess-up earlier, Karen had no explanation, just apologies. We shudder to think what kind of impression this type of treatment would have had on a first-time tourist. In our opinion, the Cannery needs some tending to.

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Tonight is the David Foster & Friends Concert at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. We don't know if any tickets are still available, but if they are, expect to pay $295.75 (the lower priced tickets are gone) to see Foster and his musical friends - Andrea Bocelli, Michael Buble, Peter Cetera, Josh Groban, Brian McKnight and Katharine McPhee (other entertainer friends are likely to show up for this one). Although Foster has written many songs (among them, the score for St. Elmo's Fire, and the Whitney Houston hit, I Have Nothing, co-written with his former wife, Linda Thompson), Foster is probably better known as a producer for stars such as Peter Allen, Bocelli, Buble, Mariah Carey, Cetera, Chicago, Natalie Cole, Destiny's Child, Celine Dion, Groban, Faith Hill, Julio Iglesias, Al Jarreau, Gordon Lightfoot, Kenny Loggins, Madonna, Richard Marx, McPhee, Anne Murray, Olivia Newton-John, Renee Olstead, Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer, among others. The winner of 14 Grammy Awards, Foster is also a regular participant in the Andre Agassi Grand Slam for Children fundraiser, held here at the MGM Grand every year. For additional information on tonight's 8 p.m. show, contact (702) 632-7580.

Incidentally, if you are an East Coast resident or visitor, and/or a fan of cabaret music, the name McPhee might be familiar...Peisha McPhee, that is. Peisha is the mother of last year's American Idol finalist, Katharine McPhee mentioned above.

Katharine McPhee

Sharon McNight

Debby Boone

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Tomorrow night (Saturday, May 24th), it's another East Coast favorite, Sharon McNight, at the Starbright Theatre in Sun City Summerlin. McNight is Tony Award-nominee (for Starmites) and a recipient of numerous cabaret awards. Her show tomorrow, brought to the Starbright by ChapQuist Entertainment, is a tribute to Sophie Tucker called Red Hot Mama! The Life and Loves of Sophie Tucker. Sophie Tucker was a powerful presence in American entertainment for nearly 60 years. The performance will take place at 7 p.m. 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.

And speaking of the Starbright Theater, next Saturday, May 31st, at 7 p.m., Encore Follies will present Broadway Our Way III in the hilltop facility. This brand new production features showgirls and dancers, singers, comedy, exciting costumes, and more. This energetic group of 20 entertainers includes former New York and Las Vegas performers, among them Carmine Mandia from the Shades of Sinatra and the Bobby Darin tribute show; Ann McCormack, Frank Sinatra's onetime opening act; 77-year-young Bobby Rogers, currently starring in Tony n' Tina's Wedding at the Rio; and Terry Lynn Pershing of the Suncoast's weekly Hit Parade Show. Tickets are $8 for Sun City Summerlin residents and $10 for non-residents. They are on sale at Desert Vista, Mountain Shadows and Pinnacle community centers. For additional information on either show, call (702) 240-1301.

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Next Friday (May 30th), Blackbook702, in conjunction with Escada, Jimmy Choo, The Cupcakery and Las Vegas Vodka, hosts an evening of friendship, frosting and fashion with a private showing of the highly-anticipated movie, Sex and the City on the night of its U.S. premiere. The evening will benefit The Public Education Foundation and tickets are tax-deductible. "So many women and men have been awaiting the return of Sex and the City and the adventures of Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda – we wanted to create an environment that fosters the very essence of the movie, friendship and fashion," said Glynda Rhodes, CEO of Blackbook702 and board member of The Public Education Foundation. The evening will take place at Brenden Theatres inside the Palms Casino Resort. Doors open at 6:45 p.m. and the show begins at 7:30 p.m. There will be a special valet set up at the west casino entrance so guests can have an effortless experience coming and going. Upon entering, guests will be escorted to the theatre where they will be given a Las Vegas Vodka Cosmo to kick off their evening. Each ticket includes a hosted bar featuring our local Las Vegas Vodka Cosmopolitans made possible by Guests will also be treated to retro and decadent cupcakes from the The Cupcakery, not unlike those the fabulous foursome enjoy on screen. The Cupcakery's signature cupcake, the Southern Belle, made of red velvet with cream cheese frosting is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Additionally, models from Blackbook702 will surround the guests as the latest in couture from Escada and Jimmy Choo are shown. Dazzling items from Escada in the Forum, Michael E Minden Diamond Jewelers in the Fashion Show and other shops will be raffled off. Tickets for this exclusive event are only $55 per person or $500 for groups of 10. They are available for purchase at Escada in the Forum Shops at Caesars; The Cupcakery in Henderson, located at 9680 S. Eastern Avenue at Silverado Ranch Boulevard; at Blackbook702 at 5564 S. Fort Apache Road and Russell Road off the 215-Beltway; by calling (702) 736-5042, or online at Established in 1991, The Public Education Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving public education in Southern Nevada. For more information about the Foundation's programs and initiatives, go to

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It's Debby Boone at the Suncoast, May 30th through June 1st. Debby, the daughter of Pat Boone and Shirley Lee Foley Boone (Shirley is the daughter of the late Red Foley) can light up your life with her tribute to her late mother-in-law, Rosemary Clooney in Reflections of Rosemary. Boone, who received a Grammy Award as Best New Artist in 1977, has been married to Gabriel Ferrer, son of singer Rosemary and actor Jose Ferrer, for 29 years. They are the parents of four children. Debby Boone has spent much of her career performing in musical theater. Among the productions she has been featured in are Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Camelot, South Pacific, Grease, The King and I, and The Sound of Music. Shows start at 7:30 p.m., with tickets from $19.95 plus tax. Call (702) 636-7075 for reservations.

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A memorial service for the late Fay McKay, who died on April 4th following a lengthy illness, will be held at the 44-year-old Spiritual Life Center (formerly called the Las Vegas Church of Religious Sciences) at 2 p.m. next Saturday, June 7th. A native of Manchester, New Hampshire, the singer/comedian was born Fay Gelinas in August of 1930. She gained national recognition in 1951 after she won the Ted Mack Amateur Hour. She toured extensively with the Ted Mack troupe, performing in nightclubs across the country. After moving to Las Vegas, McKay appeared at the top of the Landmark Hotel where she met Liberace. She later traveled around the world with him, appearing as his co-star. Fay also appeared in such shows as Bloopers at the Marina (now the site of the MGM Grand), Casino de Paris at the Dunes, and performed with the Mickey Finn band. Fay is survived by many cousins, nephews and nieces, mostly on the East Coast, and one cousin in Las Vegas. She will be fondly remembered as that incredibly funny "drunk" lady who made the 12 Daze of Christmas a popular holiday favorite. The public is invited to attend the memorial service. The Spiritual Life Center is located at 1420 E. Harmon, one block east of Maryland Parkway and UNLV.

Fay McKay

Toxic Audio

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Toxic Audio, the off-Broadway hit vocal comedy show at the V Theater inside the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood, is hosting a special charity show for St. Jude's Ranch and Big Brothers Big Sisters on May 25th at 5:30 p.m. Big Brothers Big Sisters helps children reach their potential through professionally supported one-to-one relationships. Founded in 1973, the organization matches children with adult and older teen role models. Big Brothers Big Sisters produces successful children who are confident, competent and caring, which in turn contributes to a stronger community for all. St. Jude's Ranch for Children is a non-profit, non-sectarian home for abused, abandoned and neglected children of all races and faiths. St. Jude's Ranch, located in Boulder City, Nevada, provides healing and nurturing in a safe home-like environment where children can learn life skills to start new lives with new chances, new choices and new hope. This special show is open to the public. Tickets start at $49.00 plus taxes and fees. For ticket reservations, guests can call the V Theater Box Office at (702) 932-1818 or purchase online at Toxic Audio performs Friday through Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in the V Theater. In addition to Toxic Audio, the V Theater is home to entertainment for the entire family, including V - The Ultimate Variety Show, Gordie Brown, and Gregory Popovich's Comedy Pet Theater. For additional information, please contact Derek Short, Director of PR & Advertising for David Saxe Productions and the V Theater Group, at (702) 318-6465 or e-mail to [email protected].

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Claire Voyant's portrait by Charlie Frye