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 March 20, 2009
You can find the current column HERE
Las Vegas - March 20, 2009
Vintage Folies Bergere
Regular Claire Voyant readers know how fond we are of the talented Brent Barrett. We make it a point to keep the public informed on our Phavorite Phantom (he was the original star of Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular at The Venetian), so they can go see and hear him when he's in the neighborhood. Our primary purpose is to help sell tickets and fill seats for entertaining and worthwhile programs, primarily in Las Vegas, but since we know very talented people in other parts of the world, we hope to help them also. Such is the case regarding our shameless ongoing plugs for tomorrow night's concert at UNLV, featuring Mr. Barrett backed by the 75-piece Las Vegas Philharmonic under the baton of David Itkin. We are pleased to say that, by 8 p.m. tomorrow night, when the familiar overture from Gypsy starts in UNLV's 1,832-seat Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall, all (or most) of those seats will be occupied. The response to this program has been overwhelming, especially today, when the performing and visual arts are suffering through this economic turmoil. To see if tickets (priced at $25 to $65) are still available for tomorrow night's POPS Concert, You and the Night and the Music, featuring the Las Vegas Philharmonic with Brent Barrett, call (702) 895-2787. See you there!
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They bill themselves as "The Way Las Vegas Was Meant to Be." We don't think so.
It had been a few years since our last trip to the Tropicana. We think it was for the very last Casino Legends Hall of Fame induction ceremony. That year, it was Debbie Reynolds, Ben Vereen, Patti Page, Jack Jones, Tempest Storm and Sheena Easton, being recognized and honored for their years of Vegas entertainment history. Sheena Easton??? We returned there on Friday night to see the down-to-the-wire Les Folies Bergere (the almost 50 year old production ends its Las Vegas run on March 27th). Does anybody remember when Bobbie Gentry (Ode to Billie Joe) and Claudine Longet (the onetime wife of Andy Williams) were in the Folies? Although the show we saw last week wasn't horrible, it certainly wasn't as good as we remembered it. The Folies has lost its luster. Perhaps, because it is closing, the once lavish production is just being allowed to play out its end, with fewer dancers and fewer cleanup rehearsals. Many of the beautiful costumes are gone (like the ones in the accompanying Folies photo). The current principal singer, was mediocre at best (Simon Cowell would have sent her packing), and the choice of musical material did not fit the show at all. If the solo song selections aren't made up of things suitable for a French-themed revue, familiar standards would have been a better choice than some of the, we thought, too contemporary numbers. If the truth be told (and we always tell the truth), our favorite parts of the revue were the front-of-the-curtain specialty acts, the Long Twins (Bing and Jun), with their unique contortionist routines, and comic juggler, Michael Holly. Holly succeeded in "reviving" a somewhat lethargic audience, bringing them back to life with his funny, snappy and clean material.
Also at the Trop...Last Friday, with virtually no warning (at least to the media), it was announced that the Comedy Stop at the Trop would be ending its almost 19-year-run following Sunday night's show. So, three nights later, it was over. For years, The Comedy Stop's owner/producer, Bob Kephart, provided stage time and an audience so that established and up-and-coming comics such as Tim Allen, Lewis Black, Brett Butler, Drew Carey, Johnny Dark, Fats Johnson, Richard Lewis, Gary Muledeer, Robert Schimmel, Ray Romano, Judy Tenuta and Jimmie "JJ" Walker, could practice their craft and move from novice to headliner positions and maybe on to stardom. We were at the Comedy Stop's one year anniversary celebration, when Rip Taylor made a guest appearance, and a 20-something New York newcomer by the name of Rosie O'Donnell was on the bill. We are sure that when the Las Vegas Comedy Stop finds a new local home, the trend will continue.
On a more positive note, we like the new (or at least new to us) Celebration Lounge. It is a big improvement over what used to be called the Atrium Lounge, where acts like Steve Beyer, Denise Clemente, Loretta Holloway, Hudson & Saleeby, Betty Hall Jones, Deano Noto, the duo of Doug Taylor and Bill Swick, Taylor & Taylor, Jerry Tiffe, the Treniers, and Sonny Turner, plied their trade. In those days, we referred to the performance space as, not the Atrium Lounge, but, the Atrium Shopping Plaza, as that's what the sign posted near the "stage" said, and because it was open on all sides with a shopping arcade background. The space has now been transformed into the Celebration Lounge, and is actually somewhat enclosed like a lounge should be. What we heard of the San Fernando Band on Monday, sounded very good. If we have a reason to go back to the Trop, we will plan to hang out in the lounge for a spell. What we won't do, is spend any time at, or put any money in, their embarrassingly low-payout video poker machines. Normally, when playing an IGT Double Double Bonus poker machine, a Full House pays back nine to one, or sometimes eight to one. Not at the Tropicana. Their Full Houses pay only six to one. That means, if you have five coins in, and get a Full House, instead of getting 40 or 45 credits, you only get 30. Personally, we think that stinks! The tourists may not realize this situation, but local players surely would. What it also does for Trop video poker players is give them less playing time there and a good excuse to spend their gambling money elsewhere.
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On Monday afternoon, we went to see Wes Winters perform at the Clark County Flamingo Library Theatre. Winters' Tribute to Liberace, presented by the Performing Arts Society of Nevada, included guest appearances by magician/puppeteer Joseph Gabriel and his assistant/magician/wife Katalin, along with three "vintage" Vegas showgirl/dancers - Teresa Cuchman, Suzanne Jipson and Jackie McDaniel - who collectively call themselves Fine Wine (as in "Aging like..."). What we found most interesting was when Tom Gallagher, of the PASN, asked the approximately 145-member audience to raise their hands if they had seen Wes perform before. About 144 hands went up. For his devoted followers, Winters, in glittery Liberace-style costuming (including a cape for the opening), played tunes that ranged from Sabre Dance and Gershwin, to polkas, movie themes, and show tunes (with the audience waving "glow sticks" during Jerry Herman's Mame). The afternoon concert ended with Liberace's theme song, I'll Be Seeing You. The program could best be described as "Glamour in the Afternoon" (with a little "corn" tossed in). Wes Winters can be seen and heard at Envy The Steakhouse, in the Renaissance Marriott at 3400 Paradise Road, where he entertains during Sunday Brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Cost is $25 plus tax and tip and includes brunch and entertainment. On March 25th, it's a Classic Las Vegas Dinner Show at Carluccio's (1775 E. Tropicana, next door to the Liberace Museum), formerly owned by Liberace, and where Wes performed for more than five years. For $38.50, all inclusive, guests get a delicious dinner and a show put on by Mr. Winters. Dinner seating is at 6:30 p.m., with the show at 8. For either or both events, call Carole Fishman at (702) 250-4506 for reservations, as seating is limited.
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Lots of things going on over at the Liberace Museum these days and some nights. Once again, the Jersey Boys musical director/conductor, Keith Thompson, will be filling in some dates in the Liberace Cabaret for Philip Fortenberry who normally plays for the afternoon crowd at the museum. While Philip takes some well deserved time off, Thompson will showcase his multiple talents as pianist/singer/songwriter at 1 p.m., March 24th, 25th, 28th and 31st, and April 1st and 4th. Tickets are $17.50 per person.
Erich Bergen, who portrays Bob Gaudio in Jersey Boys, the Tony-winning musical doing great business at The Palazzo, will step out of his role to do his own thing, in two special performances in the Liberace Cabaret. Erich will present an evening of original music, as well as songs you know and, hopefully, love, during 7 p.m. shows on March 25th and April 8th, both on Wednesdays. General admission is $15 per person and a premium seating package is available at $50 per person. Proceeds will benefit the Liberace Museum. Seating is limited and reservations and payment in advance is required.
And speaking of all things Liberace...For those that anxiously await this information every month, the next Composers Showcase will take place, late night on April 2nd. We will have the details next Friday.
For those who don't know, the museum is located at 1775 E. Tropicana at Spencer. The phone number there is (702) 798-5595.
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As we have mentioned here before, most of the entertainers in the Las Vegas community are caring and generous people. When there is a worthy cause, or someone in need, and funds are needed, especially if it involves a fellow performer, count on these people to help. Here are some recent and current examples.
On April 5th, the second annual Las Vegas Easter Bonnet Competition, a fundraiser for the Saint Therese Center HIV Outreach Center, will be held in the Rio Hotel's Chippendales Theatre at 2 p.m. The event is produced by Amelia Keene, who appeared in the original Broadway companies of Starlight Express and Anna Karenina, as well as New York's first annual Easter Bonnet Competition. Last year's Easter Bonnet Competition, the first in Las Vegas, raised close to $10,000 for the Saint Therese Center, which serves the Southern Nevada community by providing physical, emotional and spiritual support to those affected by HIV and AIDS. Performers from production shows around the city are expected to participate, along with numerous local businesses. They will create outrageous and beautiful hats for the occasion. Tim Tucker directs, with music man Keith Thompson arranging the theme for the event. Tickets range from $25 to $75, and may be purchased by phoning (702) 564-4224, or e-mailing to [email protected]. For further information,I visit LVEasterBonnet.
Because no one told us beforehand, we didn't realize that last Sunday's Heart & Music concert at the Mountain View Presbyterian Church, was to raise money to help Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular cast member, Steven Hood, who is battling leukemia in a Los Angeles hospital. Mr. Hood has performed in Las Vegas productions of Man of La Mancha (Don Quixote), Fiddler On the Roof (Tevye), and A Funny Thing Happened On the Way To the Forum (Pseudolus). In Los Angeles, he appeared in a number of productions, including Minnie's Boys as Groucho Marx, a role he later reprised on the Academy Awards in a tribute to the Marx Brothers. Steven serves as vice-chair of the Actors' Equity Liaison Committee of Las Vegas. Some of his fellow Phantom cast mates - Andrew Ragone, Megan Starr-Levitt, Tina Walsh and Scott Watanabe, with musical director, William Waldrop - raised their voices in song in hopes of getting generous Las Vegans to show up at the church, listen to the music, and dig into their pockets to help the Hood family during this difficult time. As they often do, the community, especially fellow entertainers, came through - filling the Summerlin church to overflowing. Although there was no set ticket price, donations were made by the many attendees. We weren't able to be there, but, fortunately one of our spies provided his thoughts on the afternoon. Our main spy was acting coach Gerald Gordon, who we know can be critical and would never sugarcoat anything. Therefore, although we are dealing with an exceptionally long column today, we are going to run MOST of Mr. Gordon's "review."
Last Sunday, five outstanding performers brought down the house - a standing room only house - with songs from a variety of sources. So many unexpected people turned out that programs had to be collected and shared with this appreciative enthusiastic audience. And well they should be enthusiastic as we were treated to some of the best singing voices Las Vegas has to offer. It was so obvious why director Harold Prince cast these people in the Andrew Lloyd Webber hit musical as all were the epitome of talented professionals loving what they do so well. It was pure joy to be part of this audience. The title of this concert, Heart & Music, was especially appropriate as it was exactly that - a heartfelt purpose and beautifully performed music. It's difficult to single out specific numbers as each seemed to have been selected for one reason or another. The group numbers, i.e. Heart and Music from A New Brain, blended the four voices making this an excellent opening and closing of the show. One of the outstanding surprises was Scott Watanabe performing the hilarious, The Life That Jack Built from Bittersuite - Songs of Experience. Actually, he handled a number of comedic entities with thorough and complete ease, plus he has a magnificent strong baritone voice which certainly helps. And speaking of strong baritone voices, handsome Andrew Ragone, starring as Raoul in PHANTOM, is everything one would expect from a leading man in theatre, films or TV. His great range was amply shown as he went from the comedic, Leading Men Don't Dance from the show of the same title, to the serious Anthem from the show Chess, to the poignant and moving duet with the talented Tina Walsh in I'd Give It All For You from Songs Fro a New World. Ms. Walsh who originated the role of Donna Sheridan in Mamma Mia! Las Vegas showed off her strong upper range in Vanilla Ice Cream from the lovely musical She Loves Me, sang a duet with Watanabe in the light The Recipe, also from Bittersuite, and joined the ensemble in the performance of Dear One from Kiss Of the Spider Woman. Megan Starr-Levitt brought the house down with her hilarious rendition of The Girl in 14G, by Jeanine Tesori and Dick Scanlan. Her well trained outstanding instrument seems to be at home in grand opera as well as musical theatre, as her credits include it all. Other selections were Megan's performance of Stars and the Moon from Songs For a New World, Watanabe's Anyone Can Whistle from the show of the same title, Ice Cream from Bittersuite sung by Starr-Levitt and Watanabe, and the beautiful duet from The Secret Garden, Lilly's Eyes performed by Watanabe and Ragone. For Las Vegas, that seems to have the unfair reputation of a city with no culture, that afternoon performance, with no trouble at all, made a liar of whomever started that rumor, for the performances were of the highest quality, wedding excellent talent with demanding and beautiful music. The vast and varied church audience, ranging from small children to many senor citizens, all joined in the standing ovation, richly deserved by these performers.
In a couple of weeks, Sam Port, a former student of the above mentioned Gerald Gordon, will be ending his time with the Jubilee! show at Bally's in Las Vegas, after more than a year and a half (nearly 1,000 shows!). Before he moves on the next phase of his career, he will once again participate in AFAN's annual AIDS Walk, taking place on April 19th. The Jubilee! cast members are collectively trying to raise money for this organization. A bit of information about AFAN (Aid for AIDS of Nevada)....it provides support and advocacy for adults and children living with and affected by HIV/AIDS in Southern Nevada. Sam states that he is always hesitant about asking people to donate money, but he feel strongly about this particular cause. Any help you can give is greatly appreciated. Donations can be made at my AFAN website:
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The boys are back! After taking a week or so off to perform as two-thirds of the Las Vegas Tenors, Bill Fayne and Teddy Davey are back at Mezza Lounge & Grill this Monday (the 23rd), for another night of music and fun. In addition to these two fine entertainers, there is an open mic so you never know who will show up to do their thing. Mezza features authentic Mediterranean and Italian cuisine for diners, along with a free glass of wine with any entrĂ©e. Show time is from 6 to 9:30 p.m.
Also at Mezza, Jeanne Brei and the Speakeasy Swingers will be back on Tuesday evening, from 6 to 9 p.m. Mezza Lounge & Grill is located in Summerlin, at 9460 W. Tropicana, near Ft. Apache. For information, call (702) 489-4493.
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After seeing Robin Williams' dramatic performance in an episode of last season's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, one of our very astute regular readers stated that Williams would be nominated for an Emmy Award as Best Guest Actor in a Drama Series, and would probably win. That is exactly what happened. Now, he is once again looking into his crystal ball and predicting that 73-year-old Carol Burnett's performance on Tuesday night's episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, should earn her a nomination, and perhaps a win as well. During Burnett's lengthy show business career, the lady has received numerous awards and honors, but never for a role like this one. Carol, primarily known as a comedian, turns serious, DEADLY serious in an episode called Ballerina. Carol guest stars as "Birdie," a well-to-do former dancer/singer with dark Norma Desmond-like idiosyncrasies. Her five unhappy marriages have ended, umm, mysteriously. Let's say that "Birdie" probably won't win any Humanitarian awards, but, this year, Carol Burnett could very well wind up with an Emmy for Best Guest Actress in a Drama Series.
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From letter writer Bob in Apollo Beach, Florida, comes this inquiry.
Hell-o. I am looking to contact guitarist Dmitri Callus (sic). I met him years ago when he was touring with Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons at the Newport Hotel on Miami Beach in the early 70's. He's a real treasure. Any tips on how to contact him?
Well, Bob, we were not familiar with this musician, but we knew who to go to with this one ...Las Vegans Artie Schroeck and Linda November. Mr. Schroeck, who just happened to do the arrangements for Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons' hits, Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You and I've Got You Under My Skin, knew who to go to as well, taking our question to Robby Robinson, Frankie Valli's conductor and close friend. Mr. Robinson informs us that Dimitri Callis (correct spelling) was the guitar player in the band in the early '70s. He says that Callis is from Baltimore and played in a band with Bill DeLoach who lives in Vegas (and who we happen to know from years ago). Mr. Robinson says that he never worked with Callis, but had met him on several occasions. "Frankie always said he was an amazing showman," says Robby. In doing some digging, Cousin Claire learned that in 2002, Dimitri was the lead guitar player for the John Lane version of Bill Haley's Comets. Callis' guitar skills are spotlighted on the band's CD, Almost Live. Prior to working with Lane, Callis was a member of the Four Seasons from 1971-73 and appeared alongside Frankie Valli on a number of TV shows of the time. Today, Dimitri lives in Las Vegas and plays guitar behind vocal impressionist, Danny Gans, in his new show at Steve Wynn's Encore. Coincidentally, Mr. DeLoach is the pianist for the same show. We hope that helps you, Bob in Apollo Beach. If we get a contact directly to Mr. Callis, we will pass it along.
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Don't Tell Mama in Vegas
Don't Tell Mama, the city's first real piano bar/cabaret, is finally up and running in downtown Las Vegas. Owner, Minh Pham, who operated the Manhattan club of the same name for 19 years, before heading to Nevada, had to overcome and endure all sorts of red tape/obstacles (delayed permits, remodeling problems, and more). On Monday, the 9th of March, mayor Oscar Goodman made everything official with a ribbon cutting ceremony at the cozy cabaret, located at 517 E. Fremont Street. At Don't Tell Mama, the bartenders and servers, and often, the customers, perform, making for a fun and lively atmosphere. Pianists, including Mike Dubay, Jeff Celentano, and Thom Culcasi, play and sing throughout the night and are also available to accompany scheduled guest performers, as well as visitors with some musical talent. A group of us were there last Monday night and had a great time. Culcasi, along with some of the bartenders, performed a variety of music, from tunes by Cole Porter to the works of contemporary Broadway songwriters such as Jason Robert Brown (Lisa Wilson did a great job on Brown's Stars and the Moon from his Songs For a New World). A special treat that night was hearing Diane Wisdom sing Mack Gordon and Harry Warren's At Last. Some years back, Ms. Wisdom, who now calls Dallas home, was a regular performer in Las Vegas, appearing (often with her musical partner, Jimmy Hassell) in the top rooms on the Strip. It was great to have her back at a mic in Vegas again, even for just one song. That's a big part of the enjoyment at Don't Tell Mama...you never know what lies in store. Doors open at 5 p.m., with music staring at 8. There is no food or gaming at Mama's, but there is plenty of live music and a full bar. Drinks are reasonably priced and there is no cover charge. For more information, call (702) 207-0788.
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Over at the Suncoast, it's Clint Holmes, back and performing at the hotel casino's showroom this weekend. Holmes usually has a talented guest or two join him on stage during his shows. We don't know who might show up this weekend, but you can bet they will be talented pros. Two things you can count on when you see one of Clint's shows, his longtime friend and musical director, Bill Fayne, will be at the piano, and you will be entertained. Show times for Holmes at the Suncoast, tonight through Sunday, are at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $33 to $55, all inclusive, and may be purchased at the hotel or by calling (702) 636-7075.
For those who have longed to see the Society of Seven back on a Vegas stage, your wish will soon be granted when the talented group of entertainers make an Easter weekend appearance at the Suncoast (their first at this property), April 10th through 12th. Paul Stone, who is also the fellow responsible for bringing a number of very entertaining variety-type shows (featuring world-famous specialty acts and magicians) into the Suncoast, gets credit for this coup as well. If you have never seen the SOS before, and you are within driving distance of the Suncoast, we say take the opportunity. If you HAVE seen this talented bunch perform, we don't have to try and sell you on Hawaii's favorites. For this engagement, the gentlemen will have American Idol finalist, Jasmine Trias, as their special guest. Ticket prices are $22 to $44. Call the same number as above, (702) 636-7075. We will tell you more about SOS in the next couple of weeks.
Sammy & Altovise Davis
And speaking of American Idol, Jordin Sparks, winner of the TV talent competition's sixth season, performs with multiple Grammy-winning singer/songwriter, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, tomorrow night at Buffalo Bill's Star of the Desert Arena in Primm, at the Nevada/California border. Tickets are $44.95 and $64.95. Show time is at 8. Call (800) FUN STOP (386-7867) for reservations.
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Unfortunately, due to some severe allergy issues, we missed the F.I.O.R.E. (Fun Italians Organizing Ridiculous Events) luncheon yesterday. We were very much looking forward to this non-meeting meeting, as Jack-of-all-forms-of-entertainment, Cork Proctor, was giving the public a second sampling of his upcoming, still a work in progress, new one man show, Classic Tales of Las Vegas. About the afternoon, the ringmaster, Nelson Sardelli, reports, "It was great! We had 140 guests...a record for the non club. There was live music and Cork was sharp, funny, informative and in command. Great stories. Funny remarks. A standing ovation. We all stayed at the Italian American Club till about 2:45 p.m. No walk outs. It is amazing what we can concoct on a shoestring." Lots of prizes and gifts were handed out during the afternoon. The F.I.O.R.E. rules! Mr. Sardelli informs that the next co-ed (that means boys AND girls) event will take place in July. The event will mark the non club's 5th anniversary.
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Sad news...Last Saturday, Altovise Davis, 65, the widow of legendary entertainer Sammy Davis Jr., died in Los Angeles after suffering what appeared to be a stroke. Altovise Davis, a onetime actress and dancer, met the Rat Pack icon at the peak of his career in 1967. They were both performing in Broadway musicals: he was playing the lead in Golden Boy and she, as Altovise Gore, was in the chorus line of High Spirits. She also appeared in the musical Sherry, the 1965 City Center revival of Guys and Dolls, and Kwamina among others. They married in 1970 and, in 1989, adopted a son, Manny. The following year, Sammy died of throat cancer at the age of 64. Altovise Davis was active in several philanthropic organizations and performed in many benefit productions, particularly for SHARE Inc., a non-profit group that raises money for disabled and abused children. She is survived by her son.
Actor Ron Silver, a longtime smoker, died on Sunday, following a two-year battle with esophageal cancer. Silver, considered to be an actors' actor, won a Tony and a Drama Desk Award for his role in David Mamet's original Broadway production of Speed-The-Plow. Silver, who was president of the Actors' Equity Association, from 1991 to 2000, was 62 at the time of his passing. Some of his most notable acting roles include Tunnel Vision in 1976 (his movie debut), Lovesick (1983), Eat and Run (1986), and the lead in Paul Mazursky's Oscar-nominated, Enemies: A Love Story (1989). Silver also portrayed defense attorney Alan Dershowitz in Reversal of Fortune, (1990), based on the trial of Claus von BĂĽlow. Between 2001 and 2006, Ron Silver played presidential campaign advisor Bruno Gianelli on TV's The West Wing. One of Cousin Claire's all-time favorite movies is Garbo Talks, in which Silver plays the devoted son of Anne Bancroft. The 1984 film, directed by Sidney Lumet (who was married to both Gloria Vanderbilt, and Lena Horne's daughter, Gail Jones, although not at the same time), stars Bancroft, who was a Golden Globe nominee for her work in the film, as a terminally ill woman who asks her son, Gilbert (played by Silver), to help her fulfill her last wish: to meet the elusive Greta Garbo. Carrie Fisher, Catherine Hicks and Steven Hill are also featured, with an interesting assortment of supporting actors - including Dorothy Loudon, Harvey Fierstein, Hermione Gingold, and Broadway songwriters Betty Comden and Adolph Green. The film's score was written by the wonderful Cy Coleman (Witchcraft, The Best Is Yet to Come, Barnum, Sweet Charity, City of Angels, The Will Rogers Follies). As for the title of the movie, in 1930, when Greta Garbo's distinctive voice was first heard on screen in Eugene O'Neill's Anna Christie, it was publicized and promoted with the slogan, "Garbo Talks." One never knows when this bit of trivia might come in handy.
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Talented singer/actor Kevin McMahon, last seen here in Forever Plaid, is currently performing in the national touring company of Wicked (which we wish would come to Las Vegas). Watch for Wicked in a city near you. It's in Portland, through April 5th; Salt Lake City, from April 8th through May 3rd; Omaha, May 6th through the 31st; San Antonio, June 3rd through the 28th; Tempe, July 1st through 26th; and San Diego, July 29th through August 23rd.
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Happy birthday to our Aries friends, Steve Schiffman, Danny Calico, Marty Allen, Benny Hollman, John Encinio, Mary Flanigan, Henry Shed, Mary Schwartz, Vita Corimbi, Corky D'Fini, Ervin Drake, Wayne Newton, Tony Orlando, Jackie Brett, Jack Lawrence, Janis Ian, Barbara Ciarlantini, Grace "Bambi Jr." Moerhle, Lisa Dawn Miller, Wanda Dee Floyd, Michael Cohen, Arthur Shafman and Jerry Fink. Happy 4th anniversary to Lisa Dawn Miller and Sandy Hackett, and a happy 14th to Buddy Greco and Lezlie Anders.
And speaking of octogenarian Marty Allen (he turns 87 on the 23rd), his publicist, Candi Cazau, reports that the funny man and his musical bride, Karon Kate Blackwell, will be performing at the South Point in June. These two are in such demand on the entertainment circuit, it's surprising that they can find the time to work where they live (no, they don't live at the South Point, but they do live in Las Vegas). We will have more about this booking as we get closer to their engagement dates.
Swing City Dolls
And speaking of John Encinio, tomorrow, at 2 p.m., Encinio and his Full House Band will be entertaining visitors to Floyd Lamb Park at 9200 Tule Springs Road. The group will perform western swing, Tex-Mex music, up-tempo tunes, Classic Rock, Country Rock, Blues, and Jazz. Always in great demand, the band has opened the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas for the past 16 years. In 1999, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Bureau asked Encinio to sing the national anthem at the second performance of the NFR in the Thomas and Mack Center. This band has appeared at many of the largest and most prestigious rodeos under the banner of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Popular throughout the Southwest and Intermountain region, they have played in thousands of venues and rodeos over the years to "full house" crowds that love the music of George Strait, Bob Wills and Merle Haggard. For information, call (702) 229-6383 for more information prior to March 21, or (702) 229-8100 on event day. Admission to the park will remain the usual $6 per vehicle. Take blankets and folding chairs, but no pets or glass containers, please.
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We hope you saw ABC's Primetime - What Would You Do? on Tuesday night (March 17th) to see how guests at the Las Vegas Hash House a Go Go reacted to a polygamist husband and his three wives welcoming the newest member of their family, a 15-year-old "new bride." The crew arrived with two RVs and a truck full of sound, lighting and surveillance equipment. They worked over three nights installing hidden cameras and microphones throughout the restaurant, before spending four more nights secretly filming two different scenarios, catching the reactions of Hash House A Go Go customers on camera. The second of these filmed in Las Vegas setups, involving a "way too friendly guest," will air sometime this summer on ABC.
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Natalie Carson, Connie Murray and Robin Vincent call themselves the Swing City Dolls. They perform '40s, '50s, and '60s swing, with a vintage look and choreography, and lively, original musical arrangements that appeal to all ages. Reminiscent of the tight harmonies of The Andrews Sisters, Natalie, Robin, and Connie present an extraordinary vocal blend, engaging performance, and a fun flirtatious style. They have been referred to as "The 1940s version of the Dreamgirls." It was more than 10 years ago that this trio started singing and dancing together. Their accomplishments include television appearances, radio broadcasts, and hundreds of live stage productions. They have performed up and down the Las Vegas Strip, opening for Lionel Richie at the Wynn Hotel and Casino, and being featured as vocalists for Frankie Avalon and Bobby Rydell at the Las Vegas Hilton. They have sung with numerous recording artists, among them, BJ Thomas, Leslie Gore, Marilyn McCoo, Billy Davis Jr. and Lou Christie. The Dolls have received accolades from such notables as Paul Williams, Jerry Lewis, Mario Andretti, and Tony Butala of The Lettermen. The Swing City Dolls have three dates booked at the Eastside Cannery - this Sunday, March 22nd at 4 p.m., Friday, July 28th at 8 p.m., and Saturday, August 1st, also at 8 p.m.
Also on Sunday, March 22nd, it's Michelle Rohl's turn in the spotlight at that Italian joint on south Las Vegas Blvd.
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Recently named the Midwest's newest and funniest female comedienne, Kathleen Dunbar will headline the Riviera Comedy Club, March 23rd through the 29th. Being a single mother has given Dunbar a sharp tongue and a sarcastic wit. Her comedy has been called sexy and sassy, but never dirty. She has performed with Bob Saget, Emo Phillips and Bob Zany. Joining in on the fun is Dave Russo who received national attention when he beat out more than 30,000 entertainers in 10 major cities to be a part of E! Entertainment Network's 10-episode series The Entertainer, starring Wayne Newton. Steve Marshall will add to the week's line-up. He has appeared on CNBC's "The Open Show," FOX's " Blind Date" and the CBS National Sunday Evening News. This multi-talented comic also wrote and directed a short film "Get the Script to Woody Allen" which won the 2003 Long Island Film Festival and was a 2003 Academy Award-nominee. Show times for the Riviera Comedy Club are 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. Tickets are $24.99 plus tax and fee. Dinner and show combinations are available. Audience members must be at least 18 years of age. For more information call the Riviera Box Office at (702) 794-9433, or go to www.rivierahotel.com.
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This might not be a real good sign for someone who already has some serious obstacles to overcome. We are talking about Trent Carlini and his new show, Evolution. Not only is the Elvis tribute artist dealing with the cursed Wyrick Theater as the location for his next effort, the unrealistically (especially at this time) high ticket prices of $70 to $150, now comes word that Carlini's media opening has been postponed from March 27th to April 24th. Will the fact that Trent Carlini was the $100,000 winner of ABC TV's The Next Best Thing in 2007 be enough to save him from the same fate/curse that befell Aga Boom, Martin Nievera, Ronn Lucas, Wes Winters, Mega Bubble's Fan Yang, and Tom Dane? Don't forget that those folks took their risk when times were a bit better than they are today. As we did with the other Wyrick tenants, we wish Trent Carlini good luck.
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Claire Voyant's portrait by Charlie Frye