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 May 29, 2009
You can find the current column HERE
Las Vegas - May 29, 2009
Annie Duke & "Joans"
Not surprisingly, Trent Carlini has ended his run in Elvolution at the Steve Wyrick Theatre. The man who, in July of 2007, took top prize on the ABC reality show, The Next Best Thing, thanks to his amazing vocal abilities and uncanny resemblance to Elvis Presley, called it quits after about two months. Carlini is a talented man and no newcomer to the Las Vegas entertainment scene. He has been performing here for a number of years, beginning in Legends in Concert, and then starring in his own shows, Trent Carlini - The Dream King at the Boardwalk Casino, Riviera and Sahara. He even performed on the same Las Vegas Hilton stage where the King spent much of his local career. In addition to his national exposure on The Next Best Thing, Trent has also made guest appearances on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Oprah and Entertainment Tonight. Although we were told that the reason "Elvis/Trent left the building," was because he is going to compete on the new season of America's Got Talent, we don't buy that. Since it first opened in early 2007, the Wyrick Theatre has been consistent in one thing...its failure rate. From Ronn Lucas, Martin Nievera, Aga-Boom, Fan Yang the Mega Bubble Man and Tom Dane, to Wes Winters and now Trent Carlini, not one of these talented individuals or shows (we are not counting the talented composer/performer David Pomeranz, who used the Wyrick for two performances as a showcase, or Kevin Burke who bailed with his Defending the Caveman show BEFORE setting foot on the stage) was able to make a success of their (ad)venture in the shopping mall adjacent to Planet Hollywood. There are numerous reasons for this facility's poor track record, one being the proprietor himself. In the case of Mr. Carlini, we feel he was doomed to fail before he started. Not only did he have to deal with the "cursed" theater itself, Carlini's ticket prices were totally out of line and unrealistic - with a general admission ticket priced at $70, a premium admission ticket at $92, and a VIP admission cost of $150. (Elvis could only have dreamed of those kind of ticket prices.) Of course, that top ticket included front row seating in the 500-seat theater, a few trinkets, and "a private meet and greet with Trent at Triq Nightclub following the performance." Private? Triq is a club open to the public. And what if there were a dozen folks who paid for VIP admission? Would they all be greeted privately and individually? And how long would the visit be? Oh well, for now, it's all a moot point...unless, like we were told, Carlini goes back into the Wyrick after the new season of America's Got Talent ends. Can we say, "When hell freezes over"?
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On Monday, we learned what would be going into the third floor Mardi Gras showroom at the Riviera. In the theater space that, until February, was the longtime home of An Evening at La Cage, starring Frank Marino and a cast of glamorous (and funny, when you picture Jimmy Emerson) female impersonators, another glamour girl will take to the stage. The one and only Charo will launch her show at the Riviera on Sunday, July 12th. We will have more details on this (show times, ticket prices) closer to July 12th.
And speaking of Marino and LaCage...Recent Celebrity Apprentice competitor/pro poker player, Annie Duke, and multiple Joan Rivers impersonators, took to the red carpet for the "Sucking Out on the Rivers" charity tournament benefiting international refugees, held at the Hard Rock Hotel Casino on Wednesday. The REAL Rivers (is there a REAL Rivers today?) who won the competition, and Duke, did not part the "reality" series as the best of friends. Therefore, the Duke/"Rivers" group at the Hard Rock, involved some faux ass kicking...all in fun, of course. Our accompanying photo, taken by Duane Prokop, shows Frank Marino on lAnnie's left, and Larry Edwards on her right. Both Marino and Edwards were members of the La Cage cast.
And still speaking of Frank Marino, it appears that he, the cast, and audience members at Tony n' Tina's Wedding, are having enough fun at the interactive Planet Hollywood Resort, that Frank will hang around as a special guest cast member for a while longer. Since their move from the Rio to Planet Hollywood, Tony n' Tina producers have come up with a clever guest-star gimmick. In addition to Marino, Barry Williams (Greg on the old Brady Bunch TV series), Kato Kaelin (of OJ Simpson fame), singer Tiffany (I Think We're Alone Now), and Rowdy Roddy Piper, have also made cameo appearances.
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Jim Caruso's Cast Party
When a reader recommends an act or performer, we often take a "we'll see" attitude, but when friend Jerry R. tells us something or someone is special, we (usually) listen, sooo...Jerry says we "have to go see" Human Nature, now playing in the showroom at the Imperial Palace. Billed as Smokey Robinson Presents Australia's Human Nature The Ultimate Celebration of Motown (whew!), the show is produced by Adam Steck, CEO of SPI Entertainment, who also produces comedy icon Louie Anderson at the Excalibur, and the hit shows Thunder From Down Under (also at the Excalibur), and American Storm (at the V Theater, located in the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood Resort). Human Nature, made up of Phil Burton, Toby Allen, and brothers Michael and Andrew Tierney, performs six nights a week (dark Friday) at 8 p.m. General admission tickets are $49.95 (plus tax and fees), and VIP tickets are $59.95 (plus tax and fees), and can be purchased by calling (888) 777-7664 or online at www.imperialpalace.com. Seen in the photo, by Erik Kabik, are (left to right): Phil, Toby, Michael and Andrew.
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One of our favorites, Kelly Clinton, resurrects her Monday night open-mic show at that Italian joint on the south end of Las Vegas Blvd, beginning next week. The onetime Engelbert Humperdinck and Wayne Newton backup singer, formerly hosted a similar program for three years. This time around, she is using Jim Caruso's New York Cast Party as part of her inspiration. Caruso, a cabaret performer and recording artist of note, has been the guiding force behind, and host of, the Cast Party for more than five years. Thanks to the way the performers are treated, Monday nights at Birdland has become THE place to be...for both the entertainers and audience members. We think Clinton is a real talent, but we question the idea of holding this weekly series at that cliquey, often snobby establishment just south of the Las Vegas Outlet Center (formerly known as the Belz Outlet). If she combines some of the methods of the Cast Party, Composers Showcase, and downtown's Don't Tell Mama, Kelly may be able to turn the newly named Open Mic Cabaret into something special. We plan to keep tabs on this project. In the meantime, the opening-night lineup includes Susan Anton; Domenick Allen, former lead singer of Foreigner; Clinton's husband, Clint Holmes; and the Las Vegas Tenors. Showtime is at 9 p.m.
The accompanying photo, taken at Jim Caruso's New York Cast Party, shows (from left to right): Paige Davis of TV's Trading Spaces, Clint Holmes, and Kelly Clinton.
We would be very interested to have readers share their experiences, good or bad, at this Bistro. You know how to reach us. We will happily print SIGNED letters.
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The reason you haven't read anything about a May Composers Showcase date is because, due to scheduling problems, there wasn't a May Composers Showcase (don't forget that there were TWO in the month of April, one on the 2nd and another on the 23rd). Calm down, you music/theater/cabaret lovers. You can get your fix on Thursday, June 11th. As usual, show time begins at around 10:30 p.m. (after theater) in the Cabaret at the Liberace Museum. This month will feature the songs of local composers and songwriters:
Jason Andino, Erich Bergen, Michael Brennan, Wayne Green, Jason Martinez, Niles Rivers, Keith Thompson, William Waldrop and others. The original material will be delivered by vocalists Jason Forbach, Kristen Hertezenberg, Andrew Ragone, Carly Thomas, and other special guests, and played by :
Lindsey Springer (we will have more names in the June 5th column). Sound is in the capable hands of Richard Camuso and Mary McFadden. Don't forget, there is now a $5 cover charge at the door (free with Student ID), with all the proceeds going to the Liberace Foundation. For thirsty guests (and aren't they all?), there is a Cash Bar (no credit cards, please), and for hungry guests (and aren't they all), there is a $5 Hors d'oeuvres buffet provided by Carluccio's Restaurant and the Liberace Museum. The mission of the Liberace Foundation is to help talented students pursue careers in the performing and creative arts through scholarship assistance. The Liberace Cabaret Showroom is located at 1775 E. Tropicana (at Spencer) next to Carluccio's Tivoli Gardens Restaurant.
Manny Kellough, Marlene Arden, Fred Watstein & Phil Conti
And speaking of the Composers Showcase, Las Vegas-based bass player extraordinaire Fred Watstein, who frequently is asked to play at the popular monthly (usually) event, has gone cruising. In March, Watstein joined the Marlene Arden Quartet, featuring pianist Phil Conti, vocalist Marlene Arden and Grammy-winning drummer Manny Kellough, on the Celebrity Cruise's Solstice. In mid-June, Fred will be back in Vegas for a short visit (his mother, Shirley, lives here), before heading back to sea until right before Thanksgiving. For the July through November part of the journey, the Marlene Arden Quartet will be at home on Celebrity's Equinox. FYI...Mr. Kellough was Billy Preston's drummer for more than 25 years. His association with Preston earned Kellough four Gold records, including for the song, Nothing From Nothing. The drummer, who also worked with Ray Charles, Quincy Jones, Carmen McRae, the Rolling Stones, and The Platters, among others, also is the recipient of a Grammy Award for his connection with Graham Central Station. We might say that Fred Watstein is traveling in very good company.
Also at Liberace's, at 1 p.m., on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, music-lovers can see and hear the amazingly gifted Philip Fortenberry, pianist from Jersey Boys, performing his entertaining Liberace and Me show. Admission is $17.50 per person, and reservations are recommended. At this point, Fortenberry is scheduled to play at the museum through the end of June. Like everything else in life (or most things, anyway), this is subject to change. But, if you want to catch the show, do it in the next month...just in case. Please call (702) 798-5595, ext. 14, for tickets or information. Philip will be away from the piano on Wednesday, June 3rd, Saturday, June 6th, and Saturday, June 13th. On those days, Keith Thompson, musical director for Jersey Boys, will present his popular Celebrate Me Home show, that has been very well received in the Cabaret on other occasions.
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We are sad to report that the 4-year-old daughter of boxer Mike Tyson died at a Phoenix hospital on Tuesday, a day after her neck apparently got caught in a treadmill cord at her Arizona home. Little Exodus Tyson, who had been on life support since being hospitalized on Monday, was pronounced dead just before noon the next day. Former heavyweight champion Tyson was in Las Vegas at the time of the accident and flew to Phoenix after getting word of the tragic accident. The death of his child adds yet another awful chapter to the boxer's very troubled life. Mike Tyson was 12 years old when he began boxing in a facility for juvenile delinquents in upstate New York. At 19, he became the youngest heavyweight champion ever when he knocked out Trevor Berbick in 1986. In 1990, soon after we was defeated by James "Buster" Douglas in one of the biggest upsets in boxing history, Tyson was convicted of raping a beauty pageant contestant in Indianapolis. Although he still denies he raped the woman, Tyson served three years in prison. A few years later, he served three months in jail for beating up two men after a minor car crash in suburban Washington. Trouble and bizarre behavior has continued to follow the boxer. In 1997, he bit off a portion of Evander Holyfield's ear during a boxing match. Tyson even threatened to eat the children of heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis. In November 2007, Tyson spent 24 hours in Maricopa County's "Tent City" jail after pleading guilty to one count of cocaine possession and one misdemeanor count of driving under the influence. According to police, Tyson said after his arrest that he bought cocaine "whenever I can get my hands on it."
There have been other newsworthy incidents in Tyson's life, including his turbulent marriage to actress Robin Givens. In this latest tragedy in Tyson's life, it seems that Exodus's mother, whose name has not been released, was cleaning in another part of the house when she sent her 7-year-old son to the playroom to check on his sister. The boy found Exodus tangled in a cord dangling from a treadmill. He called for his mother, who dialed 911 and administered CPR. The little girl, who had been on life support since being found, was pronounced dead at 11:45 a.m. at St. Joseph Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix.
In an eerily similar accident, but with a different ending, in 1979, boxer Joe Louis' small daughter, Janet Louis Barrow, was the victim of a near-drowning in the family' backyard swimming pool. The toddler was in a coma for three months. The accident, and subsequent cerebral palsy, left Janet brain-damaged, crippled and unable to speak. As for Mr. Louis, during the 1970s, Louis, who lived in Las Vegas, served as a greeter at Caesars Palace. It has also been reported that the proud former champion received monthly checks from Frank Sinatra. Louis maintained his dignity through numerous setbacks, including serious troubles with the IRS. On April 12, 1981, Joe Louis died at Desert Springs Hospital following a heart attack. His death came just hours after his last public appearance, where he attended the Larry Holmes-Trevor Berbick heavyweight championship fight at Caesars. President Ronald Reagan waived the eligibility rules for burial at Arlington National Cemetery, and Louis was buried there with full military honors on April 21, 1981. His funeral was paid for in part by former competitor and friend, Max Schmeling.
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We prefer to keep our political opinions to ourselves, BUT...we think Nevada's already embattled governor, Jim Gibbons, was an idiot, no, make that an ass, to not be present to greet president Barak Obama when the president arrived in Las Vegas on Tuesday. No Las Vegan was thrilled with the remark the leader of the free world made regarding our city, but it had been done. The way for a state, that depends on gambling for much of its revenue, to win, would be to play the game smart, and that doesn't mean snubbing the president of the United States. "Smart" may be the operative word here. Gibbons hasn't done anything smart in quite a spell (remember the McCormick & "Schmuck" incident?). Jim needs to build up his low approval rating, and this sure isn't the way to do it. Doesn't he know that you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar? Hell, even Cousin Claire knows that. Personally, we don't think Obama's reference to Las Vegas was done as a slam to our city. On the contrary. We think he was trying to make a point when, in February, in reference to companies that received bailout money, he was suggesting that corporate heads were not going to be able to give out those big bonuses until the taxpayers were paid back. "You can't get corporate jets. You can't go take a trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayers' dime. There has got to be some accountability and some responsibility, and that's something that I intend to impose as president of the United States.'' Makes sense to us. During his stay in Las Vegas, Obama participated in a glitter-filled fundraiser for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Obama, Bette Midler, Sheryl Crow, and Clint Holmes, took the stage at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace - although, we assume, not at the same time. It was estimated that the event would raise $2 million for Reid and the Nevada Democratic Party,
And as long as we are being politically "something" (take your pick), we vote for giving Steve Bornfeld a Pulitzer Prize for Journalism, thanks to his Las Vegas Review-Journal story on Alicia Jacobs. If you don't know who she is, that's probably a good thing. And although we may be criticized for giving her any more publicity than she has already gotten for herself, via her "relationships" with the Davids, both Hassellhoff and Foster, magician Criss Angel (whose best Vegas trick may have been making Jacobs disappear), American Idol's Nigel Lythgoe (who bought Alicia a $10,000 dog), and a few others we may have forgotten; her "expertise" on anything to do with beauty pageants or pageant contestants; and her cloying, embarrassing "reporting" on the death of her friend, Danny Gans, we have to express our opinion. The only criticism we have on the Steve Bornfeld piece, was that he was too kind. "Juice" helped get this lady on TV. What will it take to get her off the air? We think she is awful. The way she stands. The way she talks. We could go on and on...BUT, "Back to you guys."
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We have a busy day on Sunday. During the day, we will be at the Clark County Flamingo Library (1401 E. Flamingo) to see the Gary and Lou Show, that's Gary Oaks and Lou Garcia, local favorites. The singing and hoofing duo will do their annual turn for the Performing Arts Society of Nevada, much to the delight of their many fans. Tickets are $15, and may be purchased at the library an hour before the 2 p.m. show time.
Las Vegas Seance
On Sunday night, we will be at the Suncoast for the 7:30 show of World Stars of Magic. Produced by busy, busy, bi-costal/world traveler, Paul Stone, the show features the husband and wife team of Mark Kalin and Jinger Leigh, and the hysterically funny lovechild of Liberace and Paul Lynde, Jeff Hobson. Tickets start at $19.95, plus taxes and fees. For reservations for World Stars of Magic, call (702) 636-7075.
And speaking of magic, and all things strange and mysterious...Entrepreneurial Robert Allen, he of the Haunted Vegas and Mob Tours, now has a third business up and running. It's called Las Vegas Séance. The séance experience provides a spine tingling look into the dark and mysterious side of the afterlife. This intriguing presentation invites you to experience the thrill of a live séance and perhaps grab a glimpse of the "Other Side." Producer Allen presents, an evening of ghostly entertainment that recreates the mystery of the classic séance with a modern day twist. Guests participate in paranormal 'Living or Dead" experiments with spirits, witness common objects move by unseen forces, and communicate with the dead. You may even contact someone from your past. Allen says, "The possibility of communicating with the dead has fascinated people for centuries, with mankind's spiritual mortality being the source of great debate. Is death the final end or just a curtain that can be swept aside? Is contact really possible or just a magician's trick? Either way, it makes for exciting entertainment." Your senses will feel the eerie excitement as your medium summons forth the spirit world and guides you through 90 minutes of fascinating supernatural phenomenon designed to manifest ghosts from the other side. Last Friday, a woman purchased nine tickets to the séance show. Allen assumed it was a family gathering, or bachelorette party, or something similar. When he entered the Séance room, there sat magicians David Copperfield, Mac King, Chris Keller, and Jason England, along with prop and illusion designer/builder Bill Smith, Homer Liwag (David's artistic director), and three woman. Talk about pressure! Following the show (and a few laughs) the VIP guests all said they liked the concept and, although it needs some work, it has great possibilities. It was a very exciting night! The Las Vegas Séance runs every evening at 10 p.m., excluding holidays. The actual experience lasts approximately 90-minutes. General admission tickets are $64.90 per person. Minors 16 years and older are permitted to attend, but anyone under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. For additional information, available séance dates, and to order tickets, call (866) 218-4935 toll free. Sorry, no alcoholic beverages may be consumed during the séance, and the taking of still photos or videos is not allowed during the séance. Las Vegas Séance is conducted for entertainment purposes only!
And speaking of the Suncoast (and we frequently do), we have it on good authority that the fabulous Society of Seven will be returning to the hotel/casino's showroom on July 10th, 11th and 12th. Early reservations are suggested, as this musical/comedy ensemble is sure to be a sellout. We will have more on the SOS engagement in a few weeks.
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Pianist/vocalist Joe Darro, who has been around these parts since Nevada became a state (okay, not quite that long), wants us to remind our readers that every Thursday, from 7:30 to 10:30, DeStefano's is hosting an "open mic" night. (No rock and rollers, please.) Anyone who wants to be heard (and can hopefully sing or play on key), is invited to drop by and join in the fun. "A singer's singer" is a term reserved for the likes of Mel Torme, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra. But who did those "singer's singers" like to listen to, besides each other? None other than Joe Darro. During his career (we mentioned it was a long one, didn't we?), Darro has appeared with some of the greats in entertainment, including Vic Damone, Sammy Davis Jr., Shecky Greene, Frank Sinatra Jr., Louis Prima, Kenny Rogers, Jack Jones, Joe Williams, The Four Freshmen, Mickey Rooney, The Smothers Brothers, and Debbie Reynolds, to name just a few. In 1998, Joe was selected to open the Bellagio Hotel. Go check him out.
Also at DeStefano's...Tomorrow night, for the first time in many years, pianist/singer, Bruce Westcott, with award-winners, Dick Straub on bass and Joe Locatelli on drums, will be taking the stage to play and sing the Great American Standards in his own unique way. Expect some drop-in guests to possibly join the trio for a song or two on Saturday, beginning at 7:30 p.m.. DeStefano's, which has a very nice dinner menu and a bar, is located on the northeast corner of Tropicana and Pecos.
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Happy birthday to Geminis Tom Gallagher, Rich Affannato, Sarasue Essenpreis, LaToya and Rebbie Jackson (the sisters share May 29th birthdays), Diane Ellis, Marvin Hamlisch, Bill Nolte, Sam Harris, Michael LaRocca, Nicholas Pomeranz, Grace "Bambi Jr." Coronel, Kenny Mazlow, Sharon Holmes Mandel, Eric Floyd, Dick Feeney, Dan and Elizabeth Pero, Mel Carter, Gordie Brown, Nate Tannebaum, Joe LaVigna, Sandy Hackett and Merrick Wolfe.
And happy anniversary to Gerry and Kim McCambridge, who are celebrating their 11th, and Jim and Jan Seagrave on their 30th.
And speaking of Gerry McCambridge, we would like to remind readers that, two years after he opened there, Gerry has left Hooters Casino on East Tropicana, and taken his show to a new venue, and no, it's not to O'Sheas on the Strip, it's to the V Theater adjacent to the Planet Hollywood Resort. We suspect there might be some confusion here, and we sure wouldn't want that. Gerry, who is billed as The Mentalist, is going to have to deal with someone calling himself Mental. This guy must be "mental" to come up with a name so similar to that of someone who has had national television exposure - including his own NBC special, a stint on the reality show, Phenomenon, and impressive guest spots on the Today show - as well as has established himself as a Las Vegas headliner. In his May 21st Las Vegas Weekly story, Top 10 Vegas Shows You Absolutely Have to See, journalist Steve Friess names The Mentalist, Gerry McCambridge, as No. 7 on his list. About The Mentalist Live (that would be McCambridge), Friess says, "One weekend a while back, I was dragged to see star Gerry McCambridge when he was at Hooters. I'm usually right about what I'll hate-the Scintas, Steve Wyrick, Elvolution and Criss Angel Believe are recent wastes of my time-but McCambridge turned out to be entertaining and original. There's this sequence where he grabs numbers out of the audience and somehow they end up in a sealed box or some such, and, well, I just don't understand how it's possible. And that's a good thing." For those of a curious nature (and you wouldn't be reading this if you weren't curious), here is Steve Friess' lineup of Top 10 Vegas Shows You Absolutely Have to See (or send your visitors to see). And the winners are...No. 10, Donny & Marie at the Flamingo; No. 9, The Mac King Comedy Show at Harrah's; No. 8, Rita Rudner, also at Harrah's; No. 7, Mr. McCambridge as already mentioned; No. 6, Jersey Boys at The Palazzo; No. 5, Bette Midler's The Showgirl Must Go On, recurring at Caesars Palace; No. 4, Barry Manilow - Ultimate Manilow: The Hits, recurring at the Las Vegas Hilton; No. 3, anything at the Onyx Theatre (located in the off-Strip Commercial Center); No. 2, Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular at The Venetian; and (drum roll) No. 1, Cirque du Soleil's KA at the MGM Grand. To see Freiss' very funny commentary for yourself, check out http://www.lasvegasweekly.com/news/2009/may/21/winners/.
Kim & Gerry McCambridge
Judy Thorburn & Waxy Johnny Depp
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We are always willing to admit when we make a mistake (since we make so few), especially when someone who is an expert on the subject corrects us. Therefore, we are sharing this e-mail from fellow entertainment writer Judy Thorburn, known as one of the Internet "Flick Chicks" (the other being Jacqueline Monahan). The very astute Ms. Thorburn reminds us that Judi Dench, make that DAME Judi Dench, mentioned in last Friday's column, did not win a Best Actress Oscar for her role in Shakespeare in Love (that went to Gwyneth Paltrow). What the Dame DID win was Best Supporting Actress for her role as Queen Elizabeth I in that film. Incidentally, Shakespeare in Love won seven Oscars in 1998, including that for Best Picture. Congratulations to Judy and Stephen Thorburn who celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary on May 6th, and to Steve who turned another year older on the 18th of this month.
And still on the subject of mistakes...Apparently, when we weren't looking, Unified Tribe (who we wrote about two weeks ago) made some fairly recent personnel changes. Let's see if we can give credit where credit is due. The correct (we hope) and current lineup of talent consists of Magic (founder, lead and background vocals, keyboards, guitar, bass and drums), Harmony (lead and background vocals, keyboards, violin and mandolin), Merrily (lead and background vocals, keyboards and acoustic guitar), Kal-El (background vocals, trombone, guitar and bass), Jessi (lead/background vocals), Kay (lead/background vocals, guitar), Kathy (lead/background vocals, keyboards), Rochon (bass), Greg (drums), and Orin (trumpet). Watch for Unified Tribe's name on a marquee, album (or CD) cover, or anywhere else that good music turns up. Sorry, folks.
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Last week's memorial service for the late Danny Gans attracted a host of familiar faces, including Louie Anderson, Criss Angel, Gordie Brown, Carrot Top, Jerry Fink, Siegfried Fischbacker, Clint Holmes and Kelly Clinton Holmes, Roy Horn, Shawn (Mrs. Larry) King, Robin Leach, Gerry McCambridge, siblings Donny and Marie Osmond, Rita Rudner, Earl Turner, George Wallace, Mike Weatherford, Wes Winters and Mayor Oscar Goodman, who declared May 21st Danny Gans Day in Las Vegas. On occasion, Gans would close his show with Sol Weinstein's The Curtain Falls, a song sometimes used by the late Bobby Darin to end his show. The final lyrics of The Curtain Falls say...Your cheers and laughter will linger after, They've torn down these dusty walls. People say I was made for this, Nothin' else would I trade for this, And just think I get paid for this..."Goodnight ladies and gentlemen and God love you, thank you."
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We recently attended another actor's showcase, featuring the students of drama coach Gerald Gordon. We have lost track of exactly how many of these "graduation classes" we have been to (being an audience member is by invitation only). There are always new scenes and usually new actors (except when the class is made up of intermediate or advanced students). One thing is always consistent. There are always some surprises. There are always participants who give outstanding performances and a hint of what their future as actors might be. And it is always very exciting to know that you might be seeing the very beginning of someone's successful career. After all, Academy Award-winner Adrien Brody (The Pianist) was one of Mr. Gordon's Los Angeles students. Time and space (and our advancing age) prevent us from going into too many details - such as naming all the theatrical scenes, telling who did what and how well they did it - so we will provide a brief synopsis of the afternoon. The latest program opened with Lysander Abadia (who recently did a great job in A Taste of Shakespeare at the Springs Preserve) and our friend, Paul Hansell, delivering Invocation and Instructions to the Audience, thanks to Stephen Sondheim and his clever and funny lesson in theater behavior from The Frogs. Performances of scenes from playwrights Tennessee Williams, John Guare, Jules Feiffer, William Inge, Eugene O'Neill, Murray Schisgal and others were well delivered by Jeffrey Bentz, Jennifer Brown, Michael Cassano (who, along with Abadia, also emoted in A Taste of Shakespeare), Erica Dilanjian, Jay He, Christopher Hirmiz, Justin Hopkins (who brilliantly delivered an "f-bomb" laden monologue from David Benioff's 25th Hour), Mercedez Jeffrey, Shelley Krawchuk, Alexandra Schmid, Michael Spadoni, Jason Tillmon, and Olga Verchinina. Scott Crookston handled piano duties, while David Brocard was in charge of lights, and Hopkins served as stage manager. The gracious hosts were former Gordon students, Luke Jones and Domenica Castro. A number of the actors were performing or speaking lines on stage, and in front of an audience (that included professional actors such as Kristi Holden from Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular), for the very first time. Quite impressive. Congratulations, one and all.
Latest update...Following the May 16th showcase, Justin Hopkins was signed by Vegas' eNVy Talent Agency. On June 9th, Gerald Gordon will be taking Hopkins and Michael Cassano into Hollywood, where they are scheduled to meet with casting agents, Craig Campobasso and Bruce H. Newberg (The Class TV series, starring Jason Ritter and Sam Harris; The Closer, with Kyra Sedgwick). In addition, both Justin and Michael will have a photo session with top photographer, Michael Helms. We will keep you posted on these two talented fellows.
And also speaking of former Gerald Gordon students...Kenny Harlow, who was in the Toni Braxton show at the Flamingo, can be seen (look closely) in the new Wayans family film, Dance Flick. Directed by Damien (yes, Damien) Wayans, in addition to actors Shawn, Marlon, Kim, Keenen Ivory, and Damon (yes, Damon) Wayans Jr., Dance Flick also features David Allen Grier, Amy Sedaris and Chris Elliott.
Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend
Fremont Street Experience
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The annual Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend will take place at The Orleans Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, from Thursday, June 4th, through Sunday, June 7th. The world's top showcase for international burlesque entertainers and enthusiasts, the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend attracts outstanding artists, both exotic and mainstream. Scheduled to appear: Miss Exotic World 2008, Angie Pontani ("NYC burlesque's reigning star" - New York Post); Immodesty Blaize (Miss Exotic World 2007, star of British stage and TV), Whitney Biennial artist Julie Atlas Muz (Miss Exotic World 2006, Law and Order), Michelle L'amour (Miss Exotic World 2006, America's Got Talent); Dirty Martini (Miss Exotic World 2004), Kitten DeVille (Miss Exotic World 2002, Auto Focus); and over 100 of the world's top neo-burlesque acts. "Burlesque has become a truly worldwide phenomenon, and the performers that make it to our show are the sexiest, most unique and talented entertainers on the planet" says Burlesque Hall of Fame representative, Luke Littell "It's the only event of its kind, featuring both today's brightest new stars and the living legends of yesterday." Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend also includes a Striptease Reunion, now in its 52nd year, at which newer performers can learn tricks of the trade from surviving superstars of the 1940s, '50s and '60s. "The living legends love to be there with all the wonderful girls who come from all over the world to celebrate an American tradition!" says Hall of Fame curator, Dixie Evans, herself a retired dancer (she was dubbed "The Marilyn Monroe of Burlesque" by legendary promoter Harold Minsky), "Burlesque is much more than striptease, it combines the whole live experience of dancers, comedians and music." Among the many activities slated for 2009 are Friday's "Titans of Tease" Burlesque Reunion Showcase, and Saturday night's main event, the 19th annual Burlesque Competition. Called the "Striptease Olympics" by the London Daily Mirror, it is the most prestigious competitive burlesque event in the world; drawing bump 'n' grind's best of the best, year after year, from Tokyo to Toronto. Titles up for the taking include: "Best Debut," "Best Troupe or Duo," "Best Boylesque," new category "Best Variety Act," and of course 2009's "Reigning Queen of Burlesque." But wait, there's more! The weekend is also full of fabulous music, including sets by the world's hottest Go-Go, Garage, Rockabilly, Lounge and Exotica DJs; a live performance by the weekend's co-emcee El Vez, the Mexican Elvis, along with his band, the Memphis Mariachis. Additional events include a weekend long Burlesque Bazaar, featuring contemporary and vintage burlesque/pinup-inspired wares; a display of unique items (costumes, props and other historical ephemera) on loan from the Burlesque Hall of Fame; the Barecats Invitational Bowling Tournament; the 4th annual Pinup Safari and Cheesecake Camera Club; Texas Tease 'Em Poker Tournament; Burlesque Hall of Fame Finishing School Master Classes and an all-star Dr. Sketchy's live drawing event, hosted by Vegas' own Cha-Cha Velour. Weekend passes are $150 for general admission, and $200 for VIP passes. The weekend passes include admission to all showroom activities. Individual tickets may be purchased for Friday, Saturday and Sunday night, and are $35 in advance for Friday and Sunday, $45 in advance for Saturday. Tickets and passes are available by phone at the Orleans Box Office, (702) 365-7070, or online at www.orleanscasino.com/whats-new/events/burlesque-hall-of-fame-weekend. The "Titans of Tease" Burlesque Reunion Showcase (on Friday), the 19th Annual Miss Exotic World Pageant (Saturday), and the Closing Gala featuring El Vez and the Memphis Mariachis (Sunday), will all take place in the Orleans Showroom at The Orleans Hotel and Casino, 4500 West Tropicana Avenue. Doors for all shows open at 7 p.m., and shows begins at 8. All three shows are open to individual ticket and Weekend Pass holders. Other Weekend events, including the Opening Night Burlesque Bash (Thursday) and the Mimosa Beach Pinup Pool Party (Sunday), are open only to Weekend Pass holders. The Burlesque Hall of Fame is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization. Their mission is to establish a permanent, first-rate tourist attraction and research/exhibition space for the unique collection, in hopes of inspiring, educating and entertaining the public and fostering an appreciation for the unique history and heritage of American Burlesque; including but not limited to the art, artifacts and personal histories of the art's biggest names and brightest stars. For a complete schedule of events or more information about Burlesque Weekend or The Burlesque Hall of Fame, please visit the Web site at www.burlesquehall.com.
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For those who weren't in downtown Las Vegas on May 22nd, you missed an exciting Experience on the street called Fremont. Taking their lead from the T-Mobile ad, filmed in Liverpool in January (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQ3d3KigPQM), and the Antwerp Central Train Station, 200+ group of "performers," for the Sound of Music video filmed in March (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EYAUazLI9k), Nancy Hardy assembled a "cast" of volunteers to do the Vegas version of a big "impromptu" dance-off. Judging by the large crowd this attraction collected, the launch for the Summer of '69's Age of Aquarius was a big success. To see the Vegas production, check out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztGhJ_XCFPg&feature=channel.
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Claire Voyant's portrait by Charlie Frye