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Note: This is a past column from May 15, 2009
You can find the current column HERE
Las Vegas - May 15, 2009
Dom DeLuise as "Aunt Kate"
In March, after wildly successful runs of Nunsense A-Men!, Three Fairy Godmothers, and Annie Get Your Gun, the award-winning theater company, Hoochi-Doo Productions, and the Sonoma Charter School, presented the hit off-Broadway musical, The Taffetas. Set in a 1950s TV studio, The Taffetas is the story of the four singing sisters (Kaye, Peggy, Cheryl and Donna) who are making their national debut appearance on Spotlight On Music, a fictitious weekly program on the real-life Dumont Television Network. Prior to Spotlight On Music, the Taffetas most notable appearance had been at the Moose Hall in their home town of Muncie, Indiana. They sing and dance their way through nearly 40 classic tunes including hits like Sh-Boom, Mister Sandman, Johnny Angel, and Where The Boys Are. The Taffetas pay tribute to the sounds of the girl groups of the '50s, such as the McGuire Sisters, Fontaine Sisters, and Chordettes. Taking the audience back to the golden age of music, hula hoops, 3-D movies and home perms, the toe-tapping performance follows the lives of the sisters and their drive to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show. This version of the Taffetas starred Daniela Innocenti-Beem as Kaye, Sonia Perozzi as Peggy, Elizabeth Seagrave Nunan as Cheryl and Melina Diaz as Donna, and featured Julia Holsworth as the Stage Manager. The Taffetas was directed by Scott Maraj (who also choreographed) and Vicki Martinez, with musical direction by William Hedge. The ladies were accompanied by a three-piece band. If the "Seagrave" name stands out or sounds familiar, that is because Elizabeth's father, Jim Seagrave, currently VP of Marketing and Advertising for Boyd Gaming, has been a media man around Las Vegas since the 1960s (he was at the Stardust for 18 years, prior to the property's closing in November of 2006). Jim, and his wife Jan are the proud parents of TWO talented daughters. Last year, Jill Seagrave received excellent reviews for her role in Hay Fever at the Altarena Playhouse in Alameda, California, and in December, The Taffetas took on a holiday glow for A Taffeta Christmas at the same theater. The lively musical, conceived by Rick Lewis and directed by Frederick L. Chacon, combined hits from the Taffeta prequel, with a few new songs and some Christmas favorites. For this production of A Taffeta Christmas, Kaytie O'Hara, Meghan Ihle, Jillian Seagrave, and Jillian's real life sister, Elizabeth Seagrave (Nunan), turned into the ever-smiling Kaye, Peggy, Cheryl and Donna, and took the audience on a magical Christmas tour of the Moose Hall in Muncie, as they performed their special Holiday Hometown Hoedown on the Dumont Television Hour. We have a feeling you will be hearing more about, and more from, the talented Seagrave sisters.
In the accompanying photo of The Taffetas, Elizabeth Seagrave is in orange, Jill is in teal, Kaytie is in purple, and Meghan is in fuchsia.
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From actor Bart Williams comes this e-mail...
I was so sad to hear about Dom DeLuise passing away. The DeLuise family are dear old friends. I met them about 1980 through Eleanor Keaton (Buster's widow) my sweet companion for all those years. Last year I was set to do a film interview with Dom for my Burlesque Comedy Documentary. Dom worked with and knew many of the great Comics of that era. Just days before the interview, Carol called me to say that Dom was in the hospital. It has been a big health struggle for him ever since then. What a generous, FUNNY and talented man he was! When I was cast in the opera, Die Fledermaus, several years ago, he gave me hilarious comedy "bits" to be used by the character of "Frosch," who he had also played. He knew comedy-timing like a Swiss watch, and he was a WONDERFUL director. Eating the food that Dom cooked was also a real treat. Once, when I decided I needed to make a Spinach Quiche to take to some gathering, it was Dom who, over the phone, gave me the perfect easy recipe. I don't make a lot of Quiche, but I will always keep that recipe and use it forever! I just know that all the great comedians up in Heaven, will be on hand to greet him at the gates, and usher him into the stage-door of the Heavenly Variety Theatre. He loved to work with his tools, and could fix about anything. Dom was a dear, loving husband and father, and one of the kindest people I have ever had the great pleasure to have known. Oh yes, Dom DeLuise will be missed by the public and by his friends. Memorial services for Dom DeLuise were private. In lieu of flowers, the family requested that donations be made to one of the following charities - The Elixir Fund www.elixirfund.org, The Pearl S. Buck Foundation www.pearl-s-buck.org,The Lily Sanctuary www.lilysanctuary.org, or the Hydrocephalus Foundation, Inc. www.hydrocephalus.org. Mail to the family may be addressed to: P.O. Box 1801, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272. "It's easy to mourn his death, but easier to remember a time when he made you laugh."
We also received this e-mail, on a much different subject, from another reader...
I noticed a negative article about Colabo on your site from last year. Has your opinion changed? I was thinking about sending my kids to theater camp at Family Music. Any thoughts? Do you know of any safe and legitimate theater camps in Las Vegas? We are just looking for a fun experience.
This is our response...
There has been absolutely no reason for us to change our opinion about COLABO. Hardly anything that they claimed they were going to do (ongoing performances of three productions) has materialized. For about a year, constantly changing dates for performances were announced and then canceled. (Note the ON HOLD comments about their currently listed shows.) We still don't know how things might have been resolved for anyone who purchased tickets. The people who were involved ("Troy Adams") with Colabo, and who claimed to have a reputation in theater in the San Diego area, could be found NOWHERE on the Web. There were never any photos of him where there should have been. We suspect he was "hiding" under a phony name and feared showing his photo, lest some of his former "victims" recognize him. (See his section under the Hedwig show bios.) We had not looked at the Colabo site for some time...until getting your inquiry. Based on the LACK of information on the site, we would suggest not giving them a dime or enrolling any youngster in their supposed "program." There are too many unanswered questions. Who is behind this "school"? Who are the teachers? Why wouldn't there be names and credentials provided by the owner/instructors? He (or she) who has nothing to hide, hides nothing. There is way too much mystery behind EVERYTHING Colabo is involved in. If we were you, we would RUN in the opposite direction of this organization...especially when there are children involved. We suggest that you get in touch with the award-winning Rainbow Company Youth Theatre in Las Vegas. This is a LEGITIMATE operation that has been around for years. The number for them is (702) 229-6553. You can ask for Jay Neal. Here is a Link about the Rainbow Company...
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A film, based on the life of Frank Sinatra, is planned for the big screen. Academy Award-winner Martin Scorsese (Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Taxi Driver, The Aviator, Casino, Gangs of New York, The Color of Money, and The Departed) will direct. No production date has been announced, and no casting decisions have been decided. Although there have been two made-for-TV movies - 1992's Sinatra, with Philip Casnoff as Frank, the late Danny Gans as Dean Martin, David Raymr as Sammy Davis Jr., and Shelly Lipkin as Joey Bishop (iIt won a Golden Globe for best miniseries, and an Emmy for director James Sadwith), and 1998's The Rat Pack, starring Ray Liotta in the title role, Joe Mantegna as Martin, Don Cheadle as Sammy, and, Vegas comic, Bobby Slayton as Joey - this will be the first feature film on Ol' Blue Eyes. It took two years to secure the rights to Sinatra's life and music. Warner Music Group and the Sinatra estate are partners on the project. Sinatra "was indisputably the 20th century's greatest singer of popular song," according to Rolling Stone. "Not only did his freely interpretive approach pave the way for the idiosyncrasies of rock singing, but with his character a mix of tough-guy cool and romantic vulnerability, he became the first true pop idol, a superstar who through his music established a persona audiences found compelling and true," the magazine says on its Web site. Sinatra, who died in 1998, performed on more than 1,400 musical recordings, was awarded 31 gold records and earned 10 Grammys. He also appeared in 58 films and won a supporting-actor Oscar for 1953's From Here to Eternity. In 1971, Frank Sinatra was presented with another Oscar: the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. At one time, Scorsese was in talks to direct a Dean Martin biopic, but that project never came to fruition.
Here's a bit of Danny Gans trivia...In a 1991 episode of Roseanne, the impressionist did a takeoff on Wayne Newton.
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Gary Oaks & Lou Garcia
Nelson Sardelli & Cork Proctor
On Sunday, May 31st at 2 p.m., it's local favorites, Gary Oaks and Lou Garcia, taking their annual turn on the stage of the Clark County Flamingo Library Theater. Presented by the Performing Arts Society of Nevada, this versatile singing team will perform selections from Broadway as well as other popular standards. Both Oaks and Garcia have a musical theater and production show background. Tickets are $15 and may be purchased at the library an hour before show time. The library theater is located at 1401 E. Flamingo.
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Lance Burton will be doing a real disappearing act, until at least June 2nd. The magician, who has been headlining at the Monte Carlo since 1996, broke his foot during a performance at the hotel on May 7th. Burton was scheduled to have surgery the following Monday. When Lance signed on with the Monte Carlo, it was for 13 years. The 13 years are up next month. As of now, no plans have been announced regarding his future at the property. As a result of this injury, there is a very strong possibility that Burton will have to bow out of this Sunday's big fundraising event at The Orleans. If Mr. Burton is a no show, chances are that his girlfriend, singer Gabriella Versace (late of Erocktica at the Rio), will also be absent. But, never fear, there will be plenty of entertainment taking place at the Las Vegas Italian Earthquake Relief Fund, to be held in The Orleans Theater on Sunday afternoon, beginning at 1. Among those expected to perform are the perennial favorite, longtime Las Vegas lounge legend, Shecky Greene (at the Suncoast this weekend, after at least a 10 year absence from the Las Vegas entertainment scene); comic/impressionist Scott Record; Phyllis McGuire of the famed McGuire Sisters (Something's Gotta Give, Sincerely, He, Sugartime, May You Always, the theme from Picnic), unless some scheduled Friday dental work keeps her away; the man of many voices, Rich Little; comics Pete Barbutti, Charlie Callas, Kathleen Dunbar, Cork Proctor, Sammy Shore; and musicians Michaelina Bellamy, Denise Clemente, Kelly Clinton, Clint Holmes, Linda November, Artie Schroeck, and siblings Chrissi and Frankie Scinta. Nelson Sardelli will serve as host/MC. Doors open at noon, with a pre-show starting at 12:30, and the main show from 1 to 4 p.m. The Gary Olds Quintet - with Gary Olds on drums, will play the pre-show music, and the 12-piece Gary Olds Orchestra, with Vince Falcone conducting, will provide the music for the main portion of the show. Tickets are $35, and may be purchased at the hotel box office, right outside the showroom. The money raised from the event (which will also include a silent auction, and merchandise for sale, as well as commemorative T-shirts at $15), will go to help rebuild the areas destroyed during the devastating Earthquake last month. Hundreds were killed in the disaster, while thousands were left homeless. A show of this size would not be possible without the help of volunteers. Among those Committee Members lending a hand, are Peter Anthony, Pete Barbutti, Paul Campanella, Rolando Larraz, Nik Mastrangelo, Pietra Sardelli, Frankie Scinta, Felix Silla, Lou Toomin, Allen Tramont and Conrad Villella.
Tonight and tomorrow night, clever comic/impressionist Babe Pier will give a sneak preview of what he will be doing at the above mentioned fundraising show on Sunday. Pier will perform at that (never mentioned here by name) Italian joint on the south end of the Strip, with shows at 8:30 both nights. Chances are he will mention the Sunday fundraiser to help rebuild communities in Italy destroyed by the April earthquake. Pier, a Vegas entertainer for half a century (no kidding), is one of the city's good guys. He is always available to help out a worthy cause. Check him out at both the Italian bistro and at the above mentioned Las Vegas Italian Earthquake Relief Fund benefit at The Orleans on Sunday afternoon.
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Menopause the Musical, that did good business at the Las Vegas Hilton for three years before being displaced by Voices with Earl Turner and Lani Misalucha, opens at the Luxor on May 26th. Menopause will join Carrot Top, Fantasy and Criss Angel in Cirque du Soleil's Believe, at the pyramid-shaped hotel/casino. Tickets are now on sale at the Luxor. We will have more details (show times, cast members and ticket prices) next week.
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A true Las Vegas pioneer woman, Claudine Williams, died on Wednesday. Williams, who bought her first casino before she was 21 and who in Las Vegas proved that women could stand up to men in the corporate world of gaming, was 88. Williams may best be known as the long-serving chairwoman of Harrah's, the successor of the Holiday Casino, that she and her husband, Shelby, opened in 1973. Williams was the first woman to be enshrined in the Nevada Gaming Hall of Fame and, in 1992, the first woman inducted into the American Gaming Association Gaming Hall of Fame. Claudine Williams was an active philanthropist, and served on the board of trustees at UNLV. Memorial services are pending.
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If you are a KJUL listener in Las Vegas (or any easy listening radio station where you live), you probably know the name, and voice of Steve Tyrell. Good news! During a special limited engagement, from June 12th through the 15th, while Gordie Brown takes a few days off, the Grammy Award-winning vocalist will be performing in the Gordie Brown Showroom at the Golden Nugget in downtown Las Vegas. We saw Tyrell when he appeared at the Nugget in April of 2007 and enjoyed his show very much. We plan to see him this time around as well. Known for bringing the standards from the Great American Songbook to life, the jazz vocalist will perform at 7:30 p.m. nightly for the four-day stint. "Steve Tyrell is an amazing vocalist who has worked with some of the biggest-named performers of the Twentieth Century," said Justin McVay, Golden Nugget public relations manager. "We're very excited to have him appearing in our venue." With his breakthrough performances in 1991's Father of the Bride, and 1995's Father of the Bride II (where we first "discovered" the singer), Tyrell reinvented and re-popularized classic pop standards for a modern-day audience. In September, his voice will be featured over the end title of Steven Soderbergh's next film, The Informant, singing a new song written for the movie by Academy Award-winners, Alan and Marilyn Bergman along with Marvin Hamlisch. Tyrell has produced hits for artists ranging from Linda Ronstadt to Grammy-winner Rod Stewart, and has collaborated with numerous other artists, including Ray Charles, Aaron Neville, LL Cool J, Blood Sweat and Tears, Dolly Parton, Bonnie Raitt, Burt Bacharach, Bette Midler, and Stevie Wonder. He has also sold thousands of albums and gained a passionate following all over the world with his hits like The Way You Look Tonight, A Kiss To Build A Dream On, and Sunny Side of The Street. Tickets start at $29.95, plus applicable taxes and fees, and are now on sale now at the Golden Nugget Ticket Office. Special VIP tickets are available for $59.95, and include a backstage meet and greet. Tickets may be purchased in person, over the phone at 866-9-GOLDEN or online at www.goldennugget.com.
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On Thursdays, Larry Liso performs great jazz standards and provides dance music at the Mezza Lounge & grill, 9460 West Tropicana from 6 to 10 p.m. There are always guest singers dropping by to lend a hand and a tune to the festivities. Call (702) 489-4493 for additional information.
And on Saturday at 10 p.m., and Sunday at 8 p.m., entertainer Ronnie Rose joins the Chris Koman Band as guest vocalist at the new IBO Turkish & Mediterranean Restaurant & Bar, 9755 W. Flamingo (west of 215). The restaurant's founder, Ibo Olmeztoprak, has a goal. He "wants to blow the socks off of hospitality in Las Vegas." Sounds like a place to check out. Call (702) 365-6111. As for Rose, the blues, jazz and soul man will also be one of the participants in the Earthquake benefit at The Orleans on Sunday.
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This Sunday, May 17th, musician Eric Comstock returns to one of his favorite venues, Shanghai Jazz, a magnificent gourmet Asian restaurant in Madison, New Jersey (23 miles west of Manhattan, and easy to reach by NJ Transit). Shanghai Jazz owners, Martha and David Niu, love jazz and bring the best to their room, presenting top artists such as Marian McPartland, Junior Mance, Geri Allen, Freddy Cole, Bill Charlap, John Pizzarelli, Bucky Pizzarelli and, of course, Mr. Comstock, among others. Eric has been appearing at the restaurant for ten years now. He reports that the atmosphere at Shanghai Jazz is relaxed and casual; the food is superb and the crowd friendly and knowledgeable. He will do two sets, ranging from well-known pop and jazz standards to more obscure tunes, and if you've got a song you want to hear, he will take requests (of a musical nature). Show time is from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Shanghai Jazz is located at 24 Main Street in Madison. As we frequently say, if you happen to be in the neighborhood. Call (973) 822-2899 for directions and further information.
Eric's photo by Gary Brewster.
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Las Vegas's own jazz superstar, drummer/vibraphonist, Joe Locatelli, and his trio, will be playing at DeStefano's Restaurant, located on the northeast corner of Tropicana and Pecos, next Friday, May 22nd. On June 7th, Locatelli, who has lived in Las Vegas since the early '60s, will receive a BIG honor from the Los Angeles Jazz Society. At a ceremony in Southern California, the LAJS, an internationally recognized jazz organization, will present Locatelli an award earned for his skill on the vibes. This award has also been won by musicians Lionel Hampton and Terry Gibbs. Pretty impressive company, we think.
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They call themselves Unified Tribe, and they just might be the best musical ensemble you never heard of. Made up of a large, multicultural "tribe" of talented musicians and singers, Unified Tribe has a sound somewhat reminiscent of Earth Wind & Fire, while still staying true to themselves. The organization has gained a sizeable following over the last decade for both its style and its grooves. Formed in the early '80s by the singular-named Magic, the tribe, a classy funk/R&B band with New York and L.A. roots, is anything but industry-formulated. It's their true musicality that first hooks fans. With a core that's been together for more than twenty years, their strong relationships form the perfect foundation for the potent sound in their music. Newcomers and industry veterans show an appreciation for what they have to offer. "Unified Tribe is the badest band on the planet. If history repeats itself, then Unified Tribe is the next Earth, Wind and Fire," states R&B group The Whispers. Howard Hewett, formerly with Shalamar, adds to that sentiment. "I went to their studio and left with my mouth wide open...These cats are bad!" Their production company, Magic Muzik Productions, Inc., comprised entirely of band members, has worked with music veterans such as Earth, Wind & Fire, The Whispers, The Manhattans, Phil Perry, The Rippingtons, George Duke, and Nia Peeples. After spending some time in Austin, Texas, the group is currently based in Las Vegas. Independent from the get-go, Unified Tribe debuted in 2001 with Listen to This, an album that was well received and earned positive buzz for the group. In 2003, Unified Tribe released their second album, Mixed Messages. Following a three-year break from recording, in 2006, Unified Tribe self-released FUNKtional Family, their long-awaited third album. It was a hit, and became the group's first album to chart around the world. Mixing a funk foundation with soulful grooves and messages of unity, the strong musicianship of the ensemble has solidified a relatively small but fiercely loyal following for the tribe. With their latest album, On Purpose, that small group of followers is expected to grow. There have been a few changes in personnel over the past twenty-some years, but the team remains unified and focused on the future. Today's band-mates, all of whom go by single names, consist of the above mentioned Magic (lead and background vocals, keyboards, guitar, bass and drums), Starr (lead and background vocals, bass, didgeridoo and percussion), Harmony (lead and background vocals, keyboards, violin and mandolin, Merrily (lead and background vocals, keyboards and acoustic guitar), Baby (lead and background vocals and guitar), Kara (background vocals, sax and flute), Tamara (background vocals and keyboards), Zen (drums and percussion), Hammer (drums and percussion), Kal-El (background vocals, trombone, guitar and bass), Seth (background vocals, guitar, bass and trumpet), and Falcon (background vocals). Whether in the studio or on stage, the teams' originality comes across loud and clear. Fans and industry aficionados often comment on the fact that Unified Tribe's show far surpasses any earlier expectations. On Purpose ("Cuz that's how we dooz it") is available online through Amazon and CD Baby. You can learn more about Unified Tribe by going to their Web site at www.unifiedtribe.net.
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From friend Larry Atello comes this update on his world. The musician/actor reports that the move of
Tony n' Tina's Wedding, from the Rio to Planet Hollywood in February, has been a major success. Atello states that he is "having a blast, working with the likes of guest stars Tiffany, Barry Williams (from The Brady Bunch), "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, Kato Kaelin and, currently, his good friend Frank Marino!" As far as his Bon Jovi tribute band, Have A Nice Day, this week the group made an appearance on local Fox News, where they performed a few songs and talked about the tribute scene in Las Vegas. Have a Nice Day will be playing at Lake Las Vegas' Montelago Village on Friday, June 26th.
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There was an accidental omission (probably more than one) in last Friday's list of Taurus birthday celebrants. How in the world we managed to omit Harvey Goldson from the group, is a major mystery. A faux pas on our part. An embarrassment. Something we will never forgive ourselves for. An executive with a Southern California Commercial Interior Design company, Mr. Goldson is also a familiar face in the poker rooms of California and Nevada. We hope he had a very happy birthday last Tuesday. In our attempt to make amends, we are throwing in a photo of the younger-than-springtime Harvey Goldson. We hope he had a happy birthday and promise to try and do better next year.
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Not only is Gerry McCambridge a fine entertainer, The Mentalist is also a son that any mother would be proud of. Last Thursday night, after his show at Hooter's, McCambridge took the red-eye (that means late at night, when most folks would or should be sleeping) to New York so he could take his mom to dinner on Friday night (his night off at Hooter's). It was a quick Mother's Day celebration, as Gerry had a show on Saturday. Beginning tonight, The Mentalist will be performing on a new stage at a new location. He will be performing 7:30 p.m. shows, Thursdays through Tuesdays (dark on Wednesdays) in a newly created space at the V Theater, in the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood. Tickets are $60 to $71, all inclusive. Call (702) 260-7200, or (702) 932-1818. If you haven't seen the act, we highly recommend The Mentalist. If you HAVE seen it, go again. This time, take your mother with you.
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The Bob Saget show, scheduled for Saturday, June 6th at The Pearl at the Palms Casino Resort, has been canceled due to a change in Saget's production and filming schedule. Tickets purchased with a credit card via telephone or through the internet have been automatically refunded. For refunds on tickets purchased at a Ticketmaster outlet or The Palms box office, please return to the original point of purchase to obtain a refund.
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Two of the members of SinCityQSocials have written and produced The Facts of Life: The Lost Episode. This very funny comedy, that had extended sold out performances in both Miami and Los Angeles, is now playing at the Onyx Theatre, 953 E. Sahara in the Commercial Center, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., through May 30th. Tickets are $20, and may be purchased by calling (702) 732-7225, or visit www.onyxtheatre.com. This is a must see event, especially for Facts of Life groupies.
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Over Memorial Day weekend, from Saturday, May 23rd through Monday, the 25th, between noon and 6 p.m., Dan Decker Theatricals, in association with the Springs Preserve and Metro Arts Council, presents A Taste of Shakespeare. Six shortened plays - Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear, As You Like It, Romeo and Juliet, and Much Ado About Nothing - with one starting every half hour on two different stages, will be performed. Music will be provided by members of both the Henderson Symphony Orchestra and the Green Valley High School Orchestra. Food, beverages (including wine), and gift items are available for purchase throughout the Springs Preserve. This oasis, in the middle of the desert, is located at I-95 and Valley View, across from the Meadows Mall. Free parking is available. Drama coach, Gerald Gordon, informs us that two of his students, Michael Cassano and Lysander Abadia, are among the A Taste of Shakespeare cast members. Adult general admission ticket prices are $18.95. Locals pay $9.95. There are discounts for seniors (65+), students (18+), and children from five to 17. There is no charge for children under five. To go, or not to go, that is the question.
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Claire Voyant's portrait by Charlie Frye