Claire Voyant's Las Vegas Gossip Column

Displaying keen perception and great insight.  
She's a little bit naughty. She’s a little bit nice.  
She calls ‘em like she sees (and hears) ‘em.  

Claire Voyant  

Note: This is a past column from February 27, 2009
You can find the current column HERE

Las Vegas - February 27, 2009

Michael Troy Wieser

Eric Marientha

Frankie Laine at 90

Local model and friend to many, Michael Troy Wieser, died on Wednesday, February 25th. He was only 27. Michael was one of 12 children adopted by Richard and Sheila Wieser. He attended schools in La Crescent, Minnesota, graduating in 1999. Michael was a standout athlete in football, basketball and baseball. He was named Tribune Coulee Region Player of the Year in basketball. He accepted an athletic scholarship to the North Dakota State University to play football for the Bison where he was named Division II All-America. He moved to Las Vegas after graduating from NDSU in 2003 with a degree in Business Administration.

While he was a student at NDSU, Michael was diagnosed with Wilson's Disease. Wilson's Disease is a genetic disorder that is fatal unless detected and treated before serious illness from copper poisoning develops. Wilson's Disease affects approximately one in 30,000 people worldwide. The rare, genetic defect causes excessive copper accumulation in the liver or brain. When his condition worsened recently, it was determined that Michael's only hope was a liver transplant. Three transplant centers had denied him access to consideration, based on a complex policy which denies transplants based on 'non-compliance' with maintaining treatment over the years. Michaels 'non-compliance' was the result of not having medical insurance, a problem shared by too many in this country. About a week ago, Michael was airlifted from Las Vegas' Spring Valley Hospital to the famed Mayo Clinic Transplant Center in Rochester, Minnesota. Sadly, he died before a suitable donor could be found. In addition to his parents, Michael is survived by his 11 siblings and many nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins.

A Mass of Christian burial will be held at 10 a.m., Monday, March 2, at La Crescent Crucifixion Church in La Crescent with Father Havel officiating. Burial will be at Crucifixion Cemetery immediately following. Family and friends may call on Sunday, March 1, at Crucifixion Church in La Crescent from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Schumacher – Kish and the McCormick Funeral Homes will be assisting the family. In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to the family to be shared among organizations and charities dear to Michael's heart. A benefit account, to assist the family with final medical and funeral expenses, has been set up in Michael Troy Wieser's name at Merchants Bank, 316 Main Street, La Crescent, MN 55947. A private memorial service will be held in Las Vegas this weekend. A public fundraiser will be announced soon. When we get the details, we will pass the information along to our readers. Our sympathies go out to Michael's family and friends.

* * * * * *

If you are reading this early enough, tonight at 7:30, the UNLV Department of Music, Jazz Studies Area, in recognition of Black History Month, presents the 2009 Invitational Jazz Festival, featuring the UNLV Jazz Faculty with special guests, saxophonist Eric Marienthal, and Joe LaBarbera on drums. Tomorrow night, Saturday, February 28th, at 7:30 p.m., it's the UNLV Jazz Concert, featuring the UNLV Jazz Ensemble I, with Eric Marienthal on saxophone, vocalist Marlena Shaw, and the Las Vegas Academy Jazz Band. These programs, co-sponsored by the Las Vegas Jazz Society, will be held in UNLV's Judy Bayley Theater. For ticket information, call the UNLV Performing Arts Center at (702) 895-2787.

* * * * * *

Two years after the death of Frankie Laine, and the day before what would have been his 96th birthday, the first of what is hoped to become an annual event, will take place in San Diego on March 29th. A Frankie Laine Birthday Toast, presenting an afternoon of video clips, music, sharing memorable stories, and great food (there will be a no host bar), will honor Mr. Rhythm at Spaghetteria, 1953 India Street in San Diego. With hits such as Jezebel, That Lucky Old Sun, I Believe, Moonlight Gambler, Mule Train, That's My Desire, and the themes from films and television such as High Noon, Blazing Saddles and Rawhide to his credit, Laine was one of the top recording artists of his generation. The gathering of family, friends and fans (of which he had millions) will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. The cost is $20 per person in advance, and $25 at the door. Seating is limited. Please RSVP by March 20th. Check or money order may be sent to: Frankie/JFM, 340 Andrew Ave. Encinitas, CA 92024. To charge by credit card, e-mail to [email protected]. The paid guest list will be at the door.

* * * * * *

Among those scheduled to perform at the newly opened, Don't Tell Mama club for this weekend are Joey Singer, Jenifer Kruskamp, Phillip Officer, Kelly Booth, Christopher Lash, and Lisa Wilson. Some of the personalities who have been and will be part of the entertainment lineup include, Thom Culcasi, Chani, Mike Dubay, Bianca, Lloyd Ziel, Jeff Celentano, Rique Rose and Colette Hawley. As we get the upcoming talent schedule, we will pass the information along to readers. We have some suggestions for the club's owner, Minh Pham...We would love to see Vita Corimbi and Davy Nathan and Keith Thompson do their thing at Don't Tell Mama. The 96-seat cabaret/piano bar is located at 517 Fremont Street, about one block east of Neonopolis. An official grand opening, with Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman cutting the ribbon, will take place on March 9th.

We bad! A red-faced Claire Voyant apologizes for using the wrong photo for Jenifer Kruskamp in last Friday's column. For those that know Jenifer, and noticed how much she had changed, she didn't. The photo identified as Jenifer was, in fact, someone else. Hopefully, this week's accompanying picture really is the talented singer/actress. We are oh so sorry, Jenifer.

THE REAL Jenifer Kruskamp

Kristen Hertzenberg

* * * * * *

There were a few participants in Thursday night's Composers Showcase that were added to the program after last Friday's column deadline. Since we feel all of these talented people should be acknowledged for their creativity and skill, we credit them now. Songwriters, some who perform their own material, included The Apple Sisters, Kye Brackett (from Ultimate Manilow), Michael Brennan, Rylan Leo Helmuth, Christopher Lash, Jeff Leibow, Richard Oberacker, Keith Thompson, Mark Wherry and Ashton Zyer. Vocalists were Brooks Asher, Travis Cloer, David Demato, Jason Forbach, Kimmy Gatewood, Kristen Hertzenberg (in her first time back in the showcase since the birth of her first baby, three months ago), Christine Hudman, Rebekka Johnson, TeeJay Jones, Greg Kata, Melody Leibow, Sarah Lowe, Joan Sobel, Rebecca Spencer and Danielle White. Musicians included Jim Belk, Angela Chan, Patricia Diaz, Philip Fortenberry, Jeff Johnson, Ian Martin, Jeremy Meronuck, Danny Miranda, Aaron Ramsey, Rebecca Ramsey, Geri Thompson, Moonlight Tran, Ron Walters, Fred Watstein and Zandra Zuppan. Unfortunately, Jersey Boy Erich Bergen, who was scheduled to participate, was taken ill earlier in the day and did not attend. The evening's selections ran the gamut of musical subjects, from songs about the Statue of Liberty, parenting and lost love, to songs about dirty words, and pudding (yes, pudding). One never knows what to expect at these monthly programs, except maybe the unexpected.

And speaking of Rebecca Spencer (the former Madame Giry in Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular at The Venetian), the talented lady, who currently calls Seattle home, will wind up her too brief guest spot with pianist extraordinaire, Philip Fortenberry, in the Cabaret at the Liberace Museum, tomorrow at 1 p.m. Tickets are $17.50. The Liberace Museum, where the Composers Showcase is also held, is located at 1775 E. Tropicana at Spencer. For additional information, call (702) 798-5595.

Rebecca Spencer

Gerald Gordon Grads

* * * * * *

Last Saturday afternoon, a small group of invited guests had the opportunity to see the work of drama coach, Gerald Gordon's, latest "graduating class." These eight people, selected from more than 80 who sought entrée into Gordon, did an amazing job of getting inside their characters and bringing them to life. The fact that all but two of the actors had never in front of an audience before, and these performances were the result of only six weeks of study, made the afternoon even more impressive. Jeffrey Bentz, Jennifer Brown, Josh Costell (who flew in from Toledo, Ohio, with his parents to attend the classes), Cody Deal, Autumn Hernandez (who drove in from St. George, Utah, twice a week for six weeks), Justin Hopkins, Michael Spadoni (who also served as stage manager and played piano for one of the scenes), and Jackie Stryker, performed scenes from David Mamet's Sexual Perversity in Chicago, Neil Simon's California Suite, Streamers, The Rainmaker, Ordinary People, The Vagina Monologues, In the Boom Boom Room, Boy's Life, Frankie & Johnny in the Clare De Lune, Echoes, Key Exchange and Loose Ends. Costell and Spadoni had some limited previous acting experience, but the others never had anything before this class. Former students helped behind the scenes, with Nathan Ferrier handling the camera work and Luke Jones acting as host. George Photias did the lights and sound.

Shown in the accompanying photo are (back row, from left to right), Billy Gomez, Sandy Griffin (who were unable to participate in the showcase), Cody, Autumn and Jeff, (middle row, from left to right), Jackie, Gerald Gordon and Jennifer, and (front row, from left to right), Justin, Josh and Michael.

And speaking of actors and acting, we have to mention Sunday night's Academy Awards ceremony. Were we the only ones who felt something was missing? We would have liked to see film clips showing the Best Actors and Actresses, and Best Supporting Actors and Actresses, in the roles for which they were nominated. We loved Hugh Jackman and all of the musical numbers. We also liked seeing past Oscar winners announcing the nominees and presenting awards. Halle Berry, Marion Cottillard, Nicole Kidman, Sophia Loren (who, at 74, seems to have discovered the Fountain of Youth), Shirley MacLaine, all former Best Actress winners, presented the Best Actress award to Kate Winslet for her role in The Reader. Former Best Actor winners, Adrien Brody (a onetime student of the above mentioned Gerald Gordon), Robert DeNiro, Michael Douglas, Anthony Hopkins, and Ben Kingsly, presented this year‘s Best Actor award to Sean Penn for his role as the leading character in Milk. Whoopi Goldberg, Goldie Hawn, Angelica Huston, Eva Marie Saint and Tilda Swinton, presented Penelope Cruz her Best Supporting Actress award for Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and the late Heath Ledger's Oscar, for his role in The Dark Night, was presented to his family by former Best Supporting Actor winners, Alan Arkin, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Joel Grey, Kevin Kline and Christopher Walken. Then there was Eddie Murphy, presenting the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award to occasional Las Vegas resident, Jerry Lewis. We have to say, that Lewis probably did his finest turn on stage as he gave his acceptance speech. For a few minutes (thankfully, he kept is brief), Lewis acted somewhat humble...with "acted" being the operative word. Lewis, who helped found the Muscular Dystrophy Association in the early 1950s, has served as the organization's national chairman since 1952. The 82-year-old is best known for the annual Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon, which has raised more than 2 billion dollars since 1966. While the Oscar ceremonies were going on inside the Kodak Theater, a number of protestors, many in wheelchairs, gathered outside to protest the award. A spokeswoman for the group of disability advocates said Lewis "trades on the dignity of people with disabilities" in order to raise money and offers "pity, not progress." Lewis offers an inaccurate view of the disabled as "half a person," said the spokeswoman, Janine Bertram Kemp. Kemp stated that the protests were held in hopes of further educating the public.

2009 Oscar Winners

Jerry Lewis Protestors

* * * * * *

Award-winning jazz performer, Diana Krall, is scheduled to perform in the 2,500-seat Pearl concert venue at the Palms on Saturday, August 8th. We mention it this early because tickets go on sale at noon tomorrow (February 28th). Krall is known for applying an artistic perspective and modern twist to a classic era of jazz, encompassing the talents of artists such as Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. The Canadian-born singer/pianist began playing classical piano at age four. After attending Berklee College of Music, Diana continued development in Los Angeles, working with artists such as Ray Brown and Jimmy Rowles. She has also collaborated with contemporary artists such as Vince Gill, Celine Dion, Ray Charles, Sarah McLachlan, Natalie Cole and Willie Nelson. Krall's debut album was released in 1993 and, in 1999, she received a Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album for When I Look in Your Eyes, which was the first jazz album to be nominated in 25 years. She was nominated again in 2002 for Live in Paris. In 2004, she released The Girl in the Other Room, which focused on her own songwriting and featured six tunes co-written with her husband, Elvis Costello. Her tenth album, From This Moment On, was made in 2006 while she was expecting her first child. The Very Best of Diana Krall, released in 2007, expressed Krall's personal and artistic perspective on contemporary and classic tunes like I've Got You Under My Skin, Tom Waits' The Heart of Saturday Night, Only the Lonely, and an interpretation of You Go to My Head. Diana Krall begins the world tour for her newest album, Quiet Nights, in March. Tickets for this 8 p.m. event, presented by Andrew Hewitt and Live Nation, are $59, $89 and $104, plus any additional service fees, and may be purchased through any Ticketmaster location or at the Pearl box office, which is open from noon to 7 p.m. daily.

Diana Krall

Taylor Swift

Hudson & Saleeby

Also, tomorrow, tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. for Taylor Swift's Fearless Tour, coming to the Mandalay Bay Events Center on May 23rd. Appearing with Swift is American Idol's Kellie Pickler. For information and/or to purchase, call the Mandalay Bay box office at (702) 632-7580, or Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000.

* * * * * *

If you happen to be in a Tennessee area or zip code during March, and you remember Hudson and Saleeby from their years performing in Las Vegas (or don't), you can check out the piano playing/singing duo at a couple of places over the next few weeks. Christopher Hudson and Doug Saleeby will entertain customers at Southland Park's Juke Joint in West Memphis, March 6th and 7th, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., March 11th, 17th, 18th and 25th, from 7:30 to 11 p.m. (a little later on St. Paddy's Day, the 17th). On the 2nd and 16th, from 9 to midnight, and March 10th and 24th, from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., the duo will perform at Dan McGuinness Pub at 4698 Spottswood near Perkins. Tell them that Cousin Claire sent you.

And, if you are in New York, and we know some of you are, let us once again recommend the musical husband and wife team of Eric Comstock and Barbara Fasano. The talented twosome open their Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams show at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 3rd, and continue through the 15th. In their first extended joint engagement at New York's Metropolitan Room, Comstock and Fasano, joined by Sean Smith on bass, celebrate the inspiration, strength and wit of our unique American songs - by Laura Nyro, Cole Porter, Vernon Duke, Leonard Cohen, George and Ira Gershwin, Stephen Sondheim, Harry Warren, Paul Simon, Arthur Schwartz, Dorothy Fields, Oscar Brown Jr. and others - to move us through the changing times we're living in. Show times are Friday and Saturday, March 6th and 7th at 9:45 p.m., Sunday, March 8th at 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday, March 13th and 14th at 9:45 p.m., and Sunday, March 15th at 7 p.m. For those that don't know, the Metropolitan Room is located at 34 West 22nd Street in Manhattan. For reservations, call (212) 206-0440.

Eric and Barbara's photo by James Smith

* * * * * *

Eric Comstock & Barbara Fasano

Harry Goldson

Jeanne Brei and The Speakeasy Swingers have found a new home. They will be performing at Mezza Lounge & Grill on Sunday, March 1st, and then again on Tuesdays in March ( the 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th and 31st), from 6 to 9 p.m. The lineup of musicians includes Charlie Shaffer on piano, Bob Sachs on bass, Gary Olds on drums, Don Hill on sax, Merv Harding on trumpet, Bobby Scann on trombone, and Brei on vocals. The group will perform popular swinging standards and feature special guests sitting in. There is no cover or minimum. Just show up at Mezza, 9640 W. Tropicana west of Ft. Apache, and settle in for a good time. Bill Fayne and Teddy Davey continue at the city's latest hotspot on Mondays, with Larry Liso on Thursdays and Fridays, and Mediterranean music on Fridays and Saturdays after 10 p.m. Phone (702) 489-4493 for other information.

* * * * * *

Birthday greetings go out to Pisces celebrants Candi Cazau, Joey Pero, Harry Goldson, James Lee Reeves (Milo Tremley), Brent Barrett, Cherry Wainer, Betty (Mrs. Guy) Mitchell, Lance Burton, Marlon Jackson, Carole Hassell, Al Jarreau, Margaret Kurtz, and Don Cadette. And happy anniversary to James and Amber Reeves who are celebrating their 7th.

James Lee Reeves

John Quinones

* * * * * *

From Tony Arias, one of God's cutest creations, comes this e-mail...
Most of us are feeling the grips of this tough economy or at least know of someone who is, and some of us are very thankful for having a job, home, food, and a little ching in our pockets. Regardless of what your financial or employment situation is, this may be a good time to give thanks, praise, prayers for encouragement, and direction for yourself, friends and family. All of us need our spirits lifted once in awhile and sometimes friends, loved ones, and family are not there to hug and share with. On Monday, March 2nd, at 7:30 pm, the Metropolitan Community Church of Las Vegas is a having a Labor Night service. This special service is designed to lift spirits with scripture, music, prayer, and praise. There will be clergy and lay ministers available for individual prayer and words of spiritual encouragement. The NewSong band and singers will provide contemporary up-beat praise and prayerful music. Entertainer Arias, who serves as the church's music coordinator, also invites one and all to join them for one of the regular worship services. The weekly schedule includes that on Sunday at 9 a.m. with the Joyful Morning service featuring the MCC-LV Choir, and at 11 a.m. for the NewSong service featuring the New Song Band/Singers. On Saturday, the Rainbow service takes place at 5:30 p.m. The

Metropolitan Community Church of Las Vegas is located at 1140 Almond Tree Lane. They can be reached by calling (702) 369-4380.

* * * * * *

ABC Primetime series, What Would You Do?, hosted by John Quinones, recently spent four days filming at Las Vegas' Hash House A Go Go. The crew arrived at the restaurant on February 1st, with two RVs and a truck full of sound, lighting and surveillance equipment. They worked through three nights, installing hidden cameras and microphones throughout the establishment. For four days and nights, the crew secretly filmed two different scenarios, catching the reactions of Hash House A Go Go customers on camera. The first and most controversial of the two scenarios involved a polygamist family dining in the restaurant. The family consisted of actors portraying a man and his four wives dressed in full 19th century-style clothing and hairstyles. The newest member of the family was a 15 year-old wife who discussed loudly about being forced to join the family at such a young age. Several customers reacted to the situation, making for some great television. The second scenario involved an actor portraying a "way too friendly customer." The actor interacted with actual customers making friends and sometimes enemies, sharing food and even getting some of the other customers to pay his bill. Primetime's What Would You Do? airs on Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. The show sets up public scenarios and films the reactions of people on hidden cameras. Hash House A Go Go Las Vegas, famous for its unusual décor and enormous portions, will be featured prominently in the show, along with the highly involved customers. The expected air date for this segment of the show is in mid-March.

A number of celebrity-types are Hash House A Go Go fans. The Today show's Al Roker stops in whenever he is in Las Vegas. TV's Dr. Phil McGraw and wife Robin, Martha Stewart, and Hell's Kitchen contestant, Louis Petrozza, have also visited the restaurant. Comic Bobby Slayton, who closes his two year run at Hooters on March 8th, was a recent patron at the unique and fun dining place. The restaurant is located at 6800 West Sahara. For reservations or inquiries, please call (702) 804-4646.

Have a question about Las Vegas? Want to make a comment (be nice, now)?
If so, drop an e-mail and ask. Click Here
Cousin Claire will do her best to find the answer for you.
You can find Past Columns HERE

     Like to be notified when Claire Voyant's next column is available?
Then join Claire Voyant's announcement mailing list!
Enter your email address below, then click the 'Join List' button:

Claire Voyant's portrait by Charlie Frye

[an error occurred while processing this directive]