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 January 30, 2009
You can find the current column HERE
Las Vegas - January 30, 2009
As usual, the most recent Composers Showcase was wonderful. The January edition took place late last night (the festivities start at 10:30 p.m., as the songwriters and performers come after their last shows on the Strip). Each and every month, new surprises await. One never knows what they will see and hear. The music always has two things in common...it is all original and it is all created by people living and/or working (mostly in the city's large production shows) in Las Vegas. Styles vary, covering everything from Broadway musical theater-type and humorous, to classical and spiritual, and just about anything in between. For almost two years (the showcase will celebrate its third anniversary in April), the event, the baby of Keith Thompson and Michael Brennan, has been held in the Cabaret Showroom at the Liberace Museum. Although, the museum hours usually end at 5 p.m. (4 p.m. on Sundays), one night a month, the crew comes back to reopen the museum for the people who so look forward to the opportunity to see and hear what's new. For the new year, there has been one change, there is now a $5 admission charge for audience members (of course performers are exempt from that charge). Not sure how this charge would be received by the regulars, Darin Hollingsworth was delighted with the response. Not only did the audience members willingly pay the $5, many generously gave more. Why not? It's a small price to pay for what might be the best show in town, and the money goes to help support the Liberace Foundation (none of the performers are paid for their work). The hors d'oeuvres buffet remains at $5 per person.
And speaking of Keith Thompson, we have some corrections ...one (or two) that involve Mr. Thompson. Yes, dear readers, on occasion Cousin Claire goofs (although, unlike some people, she admits it). First, let's clear up the Thompson MISinformation. Once again, Keith will be filling in for pianist extraordinaire, Philip Fortenberry, in the Liberace Cabaret at the museum honoring "The King of Bling." Fortenberry, associate conductor for Jersey Boys, is the current afternoon attraction, usually sitting and playing Liberace's mirror-covered Baldwin at 1 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. In his absence, Thompson will provide the daytime entertainment. Keith's Celebrate Me Home combines music with the story of his journey from a small town in Alabama, not Arkansas as we wrote last Friday (precariously close to the world famous Boll Weevil Monument), to the bright lights of Broadway and Las Vegas, all while paying homage to Liberace. You can see and hear Keith Thompson at 1 p.m. tomorrow, January 31st, and again in February, on Tuesday, the 10th, and Wednesday, the 11th. For those who love music, we highly recommend that they see both of these uniquely talented gentlemen if they have the opportunity. Admission is $17.50 per person and reservations are recommended. As mentioned above, the museum is located at 1775 E. Tropicana at Spencer. Call (702) 798-5595, extension 14.
And, it turns out that the downtown Neonopolis movie theater is still open and showing films. Sorry for any confusion (mostly ours).
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More on the subject of the proposed downtown Mob Museum, which we are very much against. From reader Bart Williams comes this e-mail...
Some time ago, when I heard about the idea of a Museum honoring the "Gangster" connection in Las Vegas, I was appalled. Yes indeed, the "mob" has had a long history in the creation and development of the city of Las Vegas. But to build any kind of edifice or public museum, especially one using taxpayer funds, is just not a GOOD thing to do. Why in the world would anyone want to glorify or pay homage to any group of individuals who functioned as criminals? We are not talking about "Robin-hood" here. These were, for the most part, pretty evil people. In my own time, I have met individuals who were part of the Mafia. Yes, they can be charming to meet, and kind to their mothers, and they might help finance a worthy charity. But they are NOT to be revered as historic "Heroes". If you really know the history of Las Vegas, you know that the "Mob" took great pains to lay-low and never let their presence be seen by the authorities or the customers. Ever since the silent film days, they have made entertaining movies about these people. That is no reason to glorify them in real life. Please, Las Vegas, do not take one more step down the slippery slope of bad taste and the dumbing-down of America. There are "Bad Guys" and there are "Good Guys". Make the right choice.
And on the subject of reader e-mail...In response to our observations about the shrinking Las Vegas Review-Journal, Cousin Claire received a nice e-note from Carol Cling, the "Movie Maven" working under the R-J banner. Ms. Cling writes...
Thanks for the nice shout-out regarding Shooting Stars, which I'm still writing. It appears every Monday, online, in the Review-Journal's Vegas Voice blog, so please look for it there every Monday (http://www.lvrj.com/blogs/vegasvoice/). Thanks!
You are welcome, Carol. We are happy to pass along the information to those who thought you were MIA. As for what once was a fairly substantial newspaper, R-J Lite is now down to the size and scope of that paper's onetime Classified section. We assume that one of the reasons for the diminishing size of "Nevada's Largest Newspaper" (it WAS, but is it still?), is the Internet and sites such as eBay and Craig's List. Apparently, in an "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" way of thinking, the paper has moved Ms. Cling's movie reviews and Shooting Stars column (providing information about film and commercial work being done in and around the Southern Nevada area), along with some other things that used to be found on the pages of the R-J, to your indispensable desktop (or laptop) computer. We are glad that the knowledgeable Ms. Cling is still writing, but we would like to see her in print more often.
Note: Exactly one year ago, the Review-Journal's Friday Neon section (an insert covering local entertainment, music, theater, dining, etc.) contained 60 pages. Today's issue is down to 44.
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To say that Las Vegas "Ballad Belter" Michael Cagle is excited, would be putting it mildly. Cagle reports that tomorrow, he will be in Los Angeles for the final preliminary rounds of the upcoming season of America's Got Talent. Cagle submitted his resume/bio, along with two performance videos, resulting in an audition. He received a congratulatory call last week, stating that he was in the final round, and to be ready for "the cameras to be rolling." If this potion goes well, Michael will be on Season 4 of the popular reality talent competition. He reports that he is "stoked and scared, and excited and humbled." We will be rooting for you, Michael.
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Hello, Gordie. Well hello, Gordie. It's so nice to have you back where you belong (with apologies to Dolly, and a thank you to Jerry Herman). On Thursday, the talented Gordie Brown returns to the Golden Nugget. For two years, from 2004 to 2006, Gordie entertained audiences in the 400-seat Golden Nugget showroom. This time around, things, and the hotel casino, are a bit different from when the talented comic/impressionists last played there. While he was busy doing other things, the property underwent extensive physical changes (the swimming pool area is amazing). Mr. Brown has made a wide sweep, playing on lots of stages since his departure from the upscale downtown property. Gordie spent 16 months in the 740-seat showroom at The Venetian, where he was accompanied by a group of talented live musicians. That was followed by four-and-a-half months at the V Theater, located in a shopping mall adjacent to Planet Hollywood, where Brown worked to prerecorded tracks (Gordie needs real living, breathing, playing, well-trained musicians who can follow his often unplanned improvisation and lead, not the other way around). For the past six months, Mr. Brown has been the opening act for Celine Dion's 2008-2009 Taking Chances World Tour. Now, he gets to unpack his bags and spend time at home, enjoying his family and entertaining audiences in Las Vegas. When he opens on February 5th, it will be in the 600-seat Gordie Brown Showroom. When he opens on February 5th, it will be in the redone, renamed 600-seat Gordie Brown Showroom. Accompanying Brown for his upcoming Golden Nugget long-term engagement will be Davy Nathan on piano, Keith Nelson on bass, Adam Shendal on drums, Mike Gonzalez on keyboards, and Steve Swinford on guitar. Show times will be, Tuesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., with ticket prices ranging from $39.95 to $99.95 for VIP front-row seating and a meet and greet with the star. For additional information and reservations to see the entertainer that award-winning musician Quincy Jones describes as "remarkable," call (702) 386-8100.
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The Saturday Afternoon Jazz Conversations Concert Series presents Ronnie Rose and the legendary Vince Falcone Quartet. You don't want to miss the opportunity to hear this celebrated group, featuring Vince Falcone on piano, Chris Gordon on bass, Tim Pratt on drums, with special guests, sax players Tommy Alvarado and Dave Stanbaugh, Michael Ray Tyler on trumpet, and Dave Hart on chromatic harmonica. This concert will take place tomorrow, January 31st, from 2 to 5 p.m., at the Black Label Bar & Lounge, 3550 S. Decatur. There is a $10 door charge. For additional information, call (702) 832-2222.
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And it's the Las Vegas Tenors - Bobby Black, Teddy Davey and Bill Fayne - at the Suncoast this weekend. The three talented gentlemen will be joined by a very special guest, show- stealer, Cayleigh Capaldi. Since many of you have heard, seen and know about Bill, Bobby and Teddy, we will devote this paragraph to Miss Capaldi. At nine-years-young, this little lady is a show business veteran, having made her stage debut at the ripe old age of five months. The fact that both of her parents are professional entertainers - her mother is singer/dancer/ actress, Leigh Zimmerman (Ulla in Mel Brooks' The Producers, late of Paris Las Vegas) and her father is singer/musician/actor, Domenick Allen (onetime co-headliner with Liberace, former member of the rock band, Foreigner, and costar with Helen Reddy in Broadway's Blood Brothers) - may have something to do with that early appearance, but it is Cayleigh's ability and comfort in front of an audience that keeps her, and will keep her, in the spotlight for as long as she wants to be there. Since she studies voice and ballet, is very interested in playing guitar and piano (much like her daddy, who will accompany Cayleigh on piano for this engagement), and enjoys being in the recording studio and singing on worldwide concert tours with her father, and is equally at home on film and television soundstages with her mother, we have a feeling we will be seeing and hearing Miss Capaldi for a long time. She made her Las Vegas showroom debut in 2007 when she was invited to appear with the Las Vegas Tenors in their Christmas Spectacular at the Las Vegas Hilton. Last month, she and her father charmed an audience when they performed Daddy's Little Girl/Toyland/Ordinary Miracles together as part of a Holiday Celebration presented by the Performing Arts Society of Nevada. When she isn't in school, studying to learn more about being a well-rounded entertainer, or on a stage somewhere, Cayleigh's greatest joy is playing with and performing for her new puppy, Budda, a 10-week-old "Goldendoodle." The Las Vegas Tenors show times are at 7:30 p.m., tonight through Sunday. Tickets start at $19.95, plus taxes and fees. Call (702) 365-7075.
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Condolences to veteran Las Vegas musician/conductor, Jimmy Mulidore, on the loss of his mother.
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It's almost February...not too early to start planning for Valentine's Day with your sweetie. There are some interesting choices from which entertainment fans can choose...
At the new Aliante Station in North Las Vegas, it's Richard Marx who will sing for lovers.
With his debut single, Don't Mean Nothing, and self-titled debut album, Richard Marx kicked off his career as a solo artist in 1987. Over the next three years, he became the first male solo artist to have his first seven singles reach the top five on Billboard's Singles chart, including the No. 1 hits, Hold On to the Nights, Satisfied, and the worldwide classic, Right Here Waiting. He remained a fixture on pop and adult contemporary radio for years, selling more than 30 million records, even as he emerged as a top producer working with some of the biggest names in the music business, including *NSYNC, Keith Urban, Barbra Streisand, Josh Groban, Vince Gill, LeAnn Rimes, 98Â°, Luther Vandross, Kenny Rogers, Sarah Brightman, and SHeDAISY. More recently, Marx has written and produced records for Natalie Cole, Kenny Loggins, Chris Botti, Michael Bolton, Hugh Jackman, and Sissel. In February 2004, Richard won the Song of the Year Grammy for Dance With My Father, which he wrote with the late Luther Vandross. More recently, Better Life, a song written by Richard and Keith Urban that was included on Keith's latest CD, the triple platinum Be Here, was the biggest hit single from the CD. The song spent six consecutive weeks at No. 1 on Billboard's Country Singles chart. Richard is currently working on his next CD, the follow up to 2004's My Own Best Enemy, which contained the hits When You're Gone and Ready to Fly. Tickets for Richard Marx in Concert, on February 14th, start at $29.95. For reservations, call (702) 547-5300.
Also in North Las Vegas, it's former local resident, Bob Anderson who returns to Las Vegas for 8 p.m. performances at the Cannery Casino Hotel on both February 13th and Valentine's Day. Anderson was last seen here at the South Point, where he headlined the annual For the Love of Joe, the Joe Williams Music Scholarship Concert last April. Billed as "America's Greatest Singing Impressionist," Anderson currently makes his home in Branson, Missouri, where he performs at Branson's only supper club, Club 57 in Dick Clark's American Bandstand Theatre. Bob is considered "The Best" by many of the stars that he duplicates. Tom Jones says, "The reason Bob Anderson is the best at what he does, is because he actually sings as well as the person he is doing!" Tony Bennett says, "He gets me so close, I have to change my act. He is the best!" Sammy Davis Jr. said, "Bob is the most accurate impressionist I have ever heard." Anderson has appeared on more than 100 national TV shows, including The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, to The Late Show with David Letterman. Among Bob's credits are 14 appearances on The Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon. In January of the new millennium, the Las Vegas Review Journal asked its readers to name their all-time favorite performers of the last 50 years. Bob Anderson came in at number 12, smack in between Barbra Streisand and Ray Charles. In 2002, Anderson was inducted into the Casino Legends Hall of Fame in Las Vegas. If you haven't seen Mr. Anderson at work, for only $10 per person, this is a great opportunity to do so. If you are already a fan and familiar with his talent, we are sure you will want to see him again in The Club's intimate cabaret configuration. This is a 21 and over show at the North Las Vegas Cannery. Call the Cannery at (702) 507-5757.
And, back by popular demand, it's Sharon McNight at the Starbright Theatre in Sun City Summerlin. After becoming ill the day of her originally scheduled performance last May, and having to cancel her show, it was in September that Ms. McNight brought her long awaited Sophie Tucker tribute, Red Hot Mama!, to the Starbright. This time around, Michael Chapman and ChapQuist Entertainment will present McNight in Gone, But Not Forgotten, a Valentine to some of the unforgettable ladies of music and comedy. In her unique style, San Francisco's Entertainer of the Year winner and Tony-nominated (for Broadway's Starmites), Sharon McNight lovingly and laughingly pays homage to women such as Pearl Bailey, Judy Canova, Patsy Cline, Bette Davis, Betty Hutton, Madeline Kahn, Ethel Merman, Martha Raye and Ethel Waters. In this show, Sharon will also perform her unique, delightful and popular interpretation of the characters from The Wizard of Oz. This should be a Don't Miss presentation. Tickets are $18 for Sun City Summerlin residents, and $23 for others. The Starbright Theatre is located at 2215 Thomas Ryan Blvd. (about three-and-a-half miles west of Rampart off Lake Mead). For general information, call (702) 240-1301. For more information about this particular show, and for credit card orders, call (702) 869-2064. Remember, show times are at 7 p.m.
And, as we mentioned a couple of weeks ago, The Piano Man, Billy Joel, will perform in concert in the MGM Grand Arena on Valentine's Day. Tickets are available at all MGM Grand box offices, via mgmgrand.com, or by calling (702) 474- 4000. We hear that when Elton John winds up his gig at Caesars Palace in mid-February, he and Joel will be teaming up for concert dates beginning in early March, and possibly even do an album together. We will keep you posted on this.
Or, how about dinner and dancing with Brian Evans in the Fiesta Showroom at Harrah's in Laughlin? Described as "one of the next relevant crooners of this generation," Evans will be featured in shows at 7 p.m., February 13th through 15th. According to his press, Evans has opened for legendary artists such as Dionne Warwick, Lou Rawls, Frankie Valli and comedian, Jay Leno. It goes on to say that he has been covered in People Magazine, USA Today, and Grammy Magazine. About 10 years ago, a very young Mr. Evans was singing in the lounge at the Desert Inn (now buried under Wynn Las Vegas). According to an item in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Evans also performs at Trump International in Las Vegas. Who knew? Laughlin dinner show prices, with Mr. Evans and his band performing, are $65 on February 13th and 15th, and $75 on Valentine's Day, the 14th. For reservations, call (702) 298-8510.
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TV or not TV. In this case it's TV. Monday, February 2nd, will see Las Vegas' own, Lance Burton, on CBS's Late Late Show, as Craig Ferguson once again presents Magic Week.
While on last Monday's Masters of Illusion, along with Vegas-connected Jason Byrne and Kevin James, it was Fielding West in the spotlight. West performed his very funny "Bob the Bird" routine (small children, the squeamish and PETA supporters might want to cover their eyes for this one). We missed the broadcast, as we were dining alfresco at Mon Ami Gabi at Paris Las Vegas. Following a wonderful meal, accompanied by a spectacular view of the dancing Bellagio fountains, we headed across the Strip to see the Chinese New Year decorated lobby and conservatory. We stopped to listen to pianist Whitney Phoenix, who has been performing in the Petrossian Bar & Lounge at Bellagio for ten years. Musician Bruce Zarka (formerly with Louis Prima and later The Goofers) returns to his piano in the Baccarat Lounge on Monday, following some time off for abdominal surgery and a short recovery.
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Wondering where ventriloquist Ronn Lucas is and what he has been up to? We are here to let you know. Following a long run at the Rio, and a spell at both the Steve Wyrick Theater and the Excalibur, Ronn's puppet sidekicks, Buffalo Billy and Scorch, started getting restless. Time for a change...at least for a while. So, off the crew went to London where Lucas played "Buttons" in Cinderella at the New Wimbledon Theatre for six weeks (ending January 18th).
The most magical fairytale of them all was told live on stage at New Wimbledon. Renowned for its high quality pantomimes, this Cinderella dazzled and delighted audience with its sumptuous sets, amazing costumes and one of the biggest, freshest pantomime casts in the country. The production earned Mr. Lucas excellent reviews, including these...
From The Stage comes this critique..."And Ronn Lucas as Buttons is a simply brilliant ventriloquist. Scorch the Dragon and Buffalo Billy are his usual side-kicks, but a dad called Stuart was a signable stand-in "dummy" on press night." From Croydon Today, "As if all that wasn't enough, world class American ventriloquist Ronn Lucas is a Buttons with a twist - a pet teenage dragon called Scorch. The puppet looks so alive and Lucas's artistry is incredible: you never see his lips so much as quiver. He brings on another puppet for the ballroom scene and instead of the song sheet he gives us a comedy routine using a volunteer from the audience which is hilarious." The IndieLondon said, "The surprise of the evening was Ronn Lucas, an American ventriloquist, who played Buttons and was a sheer delight. He had two dummys (sic) - a dragon and a raucous cowboy - whom he manipulated brilliantly and was extremely funny in the character delineations without resorting to silly gags or smut. He culminated his performance by attaching a dummy's mouth to a member of the audience and turning him into an inanimate dummy, with whom he carried on a surrealistic conversation; a brilliant act and one I would welcome seeing again." We will let readers know where the brilliant Mr. Lucas' non-moving lips can be seen next.
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Due to the illness of Tim Searcy, last Sunday's musical program, Four Guys In Search of a Song, put on by the Performing Arts Center of Nevada and held at the Clark County Flamingo Library, might have been called Three Guys and a Gal in Search of a Song. Joining Tony Arias, Bruce Ewing and Lloyd Ziel (with Michael Dubay on piano), and filling in for the ailing Mr. Searcy, was Marque Munday. The onetime Rockette, who came to Las Vegas as part of the Great Radio City Spectacular, starring the world famous New York City Rockettes, at the Flamingo, decided to make this city her home after the show ended its five year run here. Marque has comfortably moved into her second career as a singer of pop and smooth jazz music. She has also performed impersonations of Donna Summer and Diana Ross in various tribute shows around the country. These days (and nights), in addition to her work locally, Marque is a member of the touring group, Radiance, presenting a tribute to the Ladies of Motown and R&B. The accompanying photo of the ladies in Radiance shows, from left to right, Wendy Edmead, Marque, Yolanda Tharrington and Crystal Robinson.
Tom & Dick Smothers
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Tom (the Yo-Yo Man) and Dick Smothers bring their tried and true comedy/music act into The Orleans for the weekend. The Smothers Brothers supposed rivalry, with Tommy claiming that "Mom always liked Dickie best," has served them well. With successful television shows, numerous albums, and live performances around the country, the twosome have been stars for more than 50 years, making them the longest-lived comedy team in history. Show times are at 8 p.m., tonight through Sunday. Tickets start at $38.50. For reservations, call (702) 365-7075.
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A new ballet, Transit(ion) II: Dancing on the Edge of a Dream, by Margot Mink Colbert, will have two performances tomorrow ( Saturday, January 31st), in Studio 1 of the Alta Ham Fine Arts Building on the UNLV campus. The first performance is at 2 in the afternoon and the second at 8 p.m. The ballet takes a choreographic journey, inspired by the artistic contributions of the Jewish immigrants to American culture in the first decades of the 20th century. From New York's lower East Side sweat shops, to the Broadway stage and Hollywood, the ballet tours the trajectory of the early life of author Anzia Yezierska, dubbed by the press as the "Sweatshop Cinderella." With music by Aaron Copland, George Gershwin and others, along with a company of professional dancers from New York City and Las Vegas, Transit(ion) II, the second in a trilogy, is narrated by Indranee Clarke. Among the dancers are Sophie Devore, Theresa Duhon, Dolly Kelepecz, Tamara Lohrenz, Billy Blanken, and Margot Mink Colbert. General admission is $12, with students, seniors and military at $8. Call the UNLV Performing Arts Box Office at (702) 895-ARTS (2787) for tickets. For additional information, contact the UNLV Dance Office at (702) 895-3827.
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Community Theater presents 3,000 Miles Off Broadway at the Starbright Theatre, tonight and tomorrow night at 7, and on Sunday at 2 p.m. That's right, folks, Broadway comes to the Sun City Summerlin Starbright. Some favorite scenes from Broadway and beyond will be presented. You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll be delighted. Tickets are only $8, a real bargain by Broadway, or any, standards. The is directed by Gary Sessa, Theater Facilitator for the Clark County School District. 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. This show is open to anyone, 12 and over. All ticket sales are check or cash (exact change required). No credit cards accepted. For up-to-date news on Starbright Theatre shows, call (702) 240-1301, or for more information, call Elaine Ruda at (702) 838-3849.
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This Sunday marks the third anniversary of Las Vegas Metro Sgt. Henry Prendes' death. Prendes, 37, was killed in the line of duty while responding to a domestic violence call in the Valley. Prior to his untimely death, Sgt. Prendes and his wife, Dawn, had the desire to start a camp for under privileged youth. Now, three years later, that dream is becoming a reality. Through the generosity of the citizens of Southern Nevada to the "Henry's Place Foundation," Mrs. Prendes has purchased a 14-acre parcel of land in the foothills west of Cedar City, Utah. That location will become a permanent home for Henry's Place. One way that "Henry's Place Foundation" is raising money is through the Annual Henry Prendes Charity Golf Classic. The tournament will be held at Angel Park Golf Club on Friday, March 27th. Proceeds from this event will be used to build cabins at the new camp facility and also lend support to send needy children to camp through "Henry's Place Foundation." Thanks to past participants, more than $7,000 in camp scholarships was donated to send students from the Las Vegas Valley to Young Life camps. Young Life (www.younglife.org) reaches out to more than one million middle school, high school and college students around the world each year in friendship and faith. Founded in 1941, Young Life is a non-denominational Christian ministry committed to making a positive difference in the lives of kids through the friendship and influence of caring adults. Sgt. and Mrs. Prendes, the parents of two daughters, believed in the idea that through service we truly test the character of a person's heart. Mrs. Prendes continues that mission through "Henry's Place Foundation." For more information on "Henry's Place Foundation," to make a donation or to participate in the 3rd Annual Henry Prendes Charity Golf Classic, please visit www.henrysplace.org.
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Claire Voyant's portrait by Charlie Frye