Claire Voyant's Las Vegas Gossip Column

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

Claire Voyant  

Note: This is a past column from June 05, 2009
You can find the current column HERE

Las Vegas - June 5, 2009

Vegas Show Business Veterans

On Wednesday evening, we got a call from musician Bruce Zarka, telling us that veteran lounge legend Sam Butera had died earlier in the day. The New Orleans-born Butera was a tenor saxophone player best noted for his collaborations with Louis Prima and Keely Smith. For many years, the band was a Vegas lounge staple. Butera's professional career began right after high school, with a stint in big band drummer Ray McKinley's orchestra. When he was just 18-years-old, Sam was named one of America's top upcoming jazzmen by Look magazine. While still in his early twenties, he had landed positions in the orchestras of Tommy Dorsey, Joe Reichman, and Paul Gayten. When touring slowed down, Butera returned to New Orleans, where he played at the 500 Club for four years. As fate would have it, the club was owned by Leon Prima, Louis' brother. It was this connection that lead Sam to Louis, Keely and Las Vegas. In 1956, they opened at the Sahara. On opening night, the band had no name. In a rather off-handed way, Butera called the group of musicians The Witnesses. The name stuck. Butera remained the bandleader of The Witnesses for almost 20 years, during which time he performed with Louis and Keely on Just a Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody, the Grammy-winning That Old Black Magic, Jump, Jive an' Wail, When You're Smiling, and a number of other Prima/Smith classics. In more recent years, some of those tunes were covered by contemporary artists such as David Lee Roth, Brian Setzer, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and Los Lobos.
Later, Butera began calling the band The Wildest. From 1994 to 1996, Sam and Keely were reunited, performing with The Wildest in the Desert Inn's (now the site of Wynn Las Vegas and Encore) Starlight Theatre. Butera had been hospitalized since January, suffering from Alzheimer's and then pneumonia. Sam Butera, who was 81 at the time of his death, is survived by Vera, his wife of 62 years, and four children. Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.
Accompanying Show Business Veterans photo, circa 2002, features (from left to right): Carme, Sam Melchionne, Nelson Sardelli, Sam Butera, Blackie Hunt, Sonny King and Freddie Bell.

As for Bruce Zarka, the keyboard player from St. Louis had a history with both Louis Prima and Sam Butera. Bruce was only in his twenties when he became a part of the Prima band in 1972. Three years later, he was performing with them in Chicago when Prima collapsed on stage. Louis never recovered, dying in 1978 as the result of a brain tumor. When we came to Vegas, Bruce was a member of The Goofers, playing the Hammond B-3 organ/piano for the group, joining Rolando "Rolly Dee" Di Iorio on bass; Morgan Thomas on alto sax, valve trombone, clarinet, trumpet, flute and piccolo; and Jimmy Vincent on drums.

These nights, you can find Zarka at Bellagio, where he plays piano in both the Baccarat (Tuesdays through Thursdays) and Petrossian (Sundays and Mondays) Bars. Stop by for a listen and to say hello.

* * * * * *

Artie Schroeck

Paul Kozak

Cindy Margolis

If you happen to be hanging around Southern California over the next couple of weeks, you might want to put this information on your calendar. The great Artie Schroeck, will be performing at Vibrato, in Southern California, on Wednesday, June 17th, from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. One of Los Angeles' most exciting new restaurants, Vibrato Grill Jazz ... etc. was conceived by seven time Grammy-winning music icon, Herb Alpert. Vibrato brings together the best in contemporary American cuisine and the free-form wonders of jazz. Opened in 2004, Vibrato is perched atop Mulholland Drive, at 2930 Beverly Glen Circle in Bel Air. It is easily accessible from all points of the greater L.A. area. Once inside its inviting confines, patrons will find a retreat from the city that is both relaxed and sophisticated. This June 17th engagement will mark a special reunion, when Las Vegan Schroeck joins his former Newark Arts High schoolmate, Pat Senatore and the Pat Senatore Quartet. (FYI...Other notable New Arts alumni include Wayne Shorter, Sarah Vaughan, Connie Francis, Woody Shaw, Frankie Valli, Joe Pesci, Melba Moore, Savion Glover, and real live Jersey boy, Bob Gaudio. New Arts, the first public high school in the United States specializing in the visual and performing arts, opened in 1931.) Senatore, who serves as Vibrato's musical director, has quite an impressive musical history. After high school, he attended the famed Julliard School of Music on a partial scholarship. In 1960, he moved to Los Angeles, where he was offered a job with Stan Kenton's band. During his nine months with the band, he recorded two albums for Kenton, Adventures In Blues and Adventures in Jazz for Capitol Records. During that time, Pat's first son, Kenton, was born. He named his other son Scott after his greatest influence and inspiration, bass player Scott La Faro. Over the years, Senatore worked with the Dick Stabile Orchestra at the famed Coconut Grove, and with the Les Brown Orchestra, traveling to Vietnam with the Bob Hope Show. He performed with two weekly television shows, The Bob Hope Show and Dean Martin Show, before joining Alpert and the original Tijuana Brass. With the TJB, Pat recorded nine albums, performed on major network television shows, did five TV specials and numerous world tours, performed for huge audiences as well as Command Performances for President Johnson, the Queen of England, and the King of Thailand. Pat Senatore also toured with Carmen McRae, Buddy Rich, and Anita O'Day.

As for Mr. Schroeck, although he didn't sing with Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio and the other Seasons, he too is an authentic Jersey boy, having been born in Irvington. Artie is a composer, arranger and consummate musician. His impressive credits include working with Lionel Hampton, Louis Prima, Gene Krupa, Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons (writing their hit arrangements for I've Got You Under My Skin and Can't Take My Eyes Off You), Frankie Randall, The Cowsills, Laura Nyro, Kenny Rankin, Jackie & Roy, Paul Anka, The Lovin' Spoonful, Neil Diamond, Kenny Loggins, and, of course, his wife, Linda November (aka "The Jingle Lady"), to mention a few. He has also written hits for Liza Minnelli, Petula Clark, Sammy Davis Jr., Barry Manilow and Frank Sinatra (Here's To the Band). His film and TV credits include The Deer Hunter, The Sunshine Boys, You're a Big Boy Now, The Last Request, Liza in London, and Liza at Carnegie Hall and Radio City. Artie has won a number of Clios (the world's most recognized global awards competition for advertising) for his arrangements and compositions for a number of commercials, among them "Now Is the Time, ABC Is the Place," "Come On Along With ABC," McDonalds "You Deserve a Break Today," Nobody Cares for Your Eyes More Than Pearle," and Dannon Yogurt spots. Schroeck and Senatore. Sounds like a winning combination. For information about Vibrato's, or to get directions, call (310) 474- 9400.

* * * * * *

From Atlantic City public realtions man, Neil Cirucci, comes this e-mail...
"Regarding Human Nature (mentioned in Cousin Claire's last week's column) at the Imperial Palace, I did their PR when they played the Tropicana in Atlantic City last year. They are, hands down, the best casino production show that has ever played AC and soon to be the top drawing show in Vegas. No brag, just fact!"

With recommendations from the likes of Jerry R., and now Mr. Cirucci, we are going to have to get over to the Imperial Palace and check out Human Nature for ourselves. By the way, Cirucci also does PR for comic/magic man Paul Kozak, better known as Kozak the Magician, and "Queen of the Internet," glamour spokes model/actress, Cindy Margolis. Formerly in Dick Feeney's World's Greatest Magic Show at the Greek Isles, Kozak is doing great biz at the Tropicana in Atlantic City, and Cindy is going into production this Monday for Seducing Cindy, a dating reality show for FOX Reality Network. Men from 21 to 60 will compete to get a date with Cindy. These two clients, alone, should keep Neil Cirucci plenty busy.

* * * * * *

Gary Oakes & Lou Garcia

Wild Rose

Last Sunday, we were busy, busy, busy...
In the afternoon, we were at the Clark County Flamingo Library Theatre to see Gary Oakes and Lou Garcia perform. We are sure that there is no one, who has ever seen these two gentleman work, that wouldn't agree, they are, without a doubt, a couple of real pros. And why shouldn't they be. Both Oakes and Garcia have a Broadway background - Gary in Boys From Syracuse, and Lou in Zorba and Illya Darling. After relocating to Southern Nevada, the two went to work for the notorious Donn Arden in the lavish spectacular, Hallelujah Hollywood, at what was then the MGM Grand (now Bally's). Gary and Lou have been performing their annual two-man show for the PASNV for more than 15 years. Each year, they bring something new to the party. Their most recent offering included everything from an Old Songs medley (Shine On Harvest Moon, Ida, For Me and My Gal, and a number called We Love the Old Songs, with music and lyrics by Oakes), September Song/Memory, Put a Little Love In Your Heart, After You've Gone/With a Song In My Heart, and an Eddy Arnold medley (Anytime, Just a Little Lovin', When the Love Bug Bites, Make the World Go Away), to selections from Broadway, including Jerry Herman's Shalom and I'll Be Here Tomorrow, Hey There, Everything Old is New Again, and Hey Look Me Over. A highlight of last Sunday's show was Lou Garcia's turn as a drum major - with hat and baton. He really knows how to twirl and toss that thing! When these two sing There's No Business Like Show Business, they mean it!
Note: We apologize to Gary for leaving the "E" out of his last name in last week's column. It's OakEs, folks!

A real compliment for any performer is when other professionals in the same field show up as audience members (unless, of course, they are coming to steal the act). There was a handful of well-known magicians present in the Suncoast showroom last Sunday night. They were there to see Paul Stone's World Stars of Magic, starring Mark Kalin, Jinger Leigh (who hadn't performed together in Las Vegas for eight years) and Jeff Hobson. We seriously doubt that Criss Angel, Siegfried Fischbacher, Mark Kornhauser, Johnny and Pam Thompson (The Great Tomsoni & Co.), Peter and Coral Reveen, Joaquin Ayala and Tanya, Diana Zimmerman, Hugo, Scott Hitchcock, and Richard McDougall, were there to steal anyone's act, as it would be difficult for any of these visiting performers to look as beautiful, and move as well on stage (she has a dance background) as Jinger, or to fit into Mark's wardrobe. As for Jeff Hobson, we don't think anyone could ever duplicate his hysterical act. An added attraction was the incredible 'Talking Head' that was right outside the Suncoast showroom prior to the show. This illusion generated plenty of buzz. Very clever. Very clever indeed.

* * * * * *

Wild Rose, featuring Jim Belk (Zumanity, PEEPSHOW, Spamalot) on drums and vocals, Christie Copeland (former lead singer in Jubilee!, current lead singer for The Crush, co-star of Marriage Can Be Murder) on vocals, Vita Corimbi (PEEPSHOW, Menopause the Musical, Las Vegas Tenors) on keyboards and vocals, and Tommy Wayne (Superstars of Country, Hank Williams Jr., formerly Country Tonight) on guitar/steel guitar, will perform tonight and tomorrow night, from 5:30 to 9:30, at Roxy's Lounge inside Sam's Town. We have been told that this is the best country band this side of Nashville. Let us know what you think.

* * * * * *

Tom Stevens

Josh Gracin

Marty Allen & Karon Kate Blackwell

We are really puzzled by this one. Singer-impressionist Tom Stevens, who has a regular five times a week gig in the Le Bistro Lounge at the Riviera, is taking off Sundays at the Riv, through the month of June. This is not so that Tom, who we have never seen, can take a vacation. It's so he can work the main showroom at the South Point for a month of Sundays. What we find MOST odd about this is that ticket prices to see Mr. Stevens at the Riviera are $50 plus tax and fees, while at the South Point, tickets are a very reasonable $12.50. Unless you were trapped at the Riviera, without transportation to go anywhere else, why would anyone pay more than $50 to see this Dean Martin look-alike, when they could see him down the road a piece for about $40 less? Mr. Stevens, we would love to know the logic here.

And speaking of the South Point, former American Idol competitor, Marine Josh Gracin, will appear in the showroom there, August 28th, 29th and 30th. Tickets are $25, $30 and $35. Call (702) 797-8055 for reservations.

And still speaking of the South Point...
Next weekend, it's Hello Dere!, starring legendary comedian Marty Allen and singing sensation (and Mrs. Marty Allen), Karon Kate Blackwell. Show times on Friday and Saturday are at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15, $20, and $25. For reservations, call the South Point box office at (702) 797-8055.

* * * * * *

Kelly Clinton's re-launch of her open mic night at that Italian joint on Las Vegas Blvd. So., appears to have been a success. Hosted by the multi-talented/multi-personality Clinton and some of her internal cast of characters, and with piano accompaniment provided by Michael Clark, approximately 30 people shared their creative gifts with an attentive audience during a three-plus hour show. The primary difference between this new talent showcase and the one that Kelly hosted about five years ago, is that this incarnation is more likened to a cabaret/piano bar than a karaoke joint. That ladies man, "Joe Joe Spaghetti Moretti," showed up before the actual show started, and apparently took a liking to Susan Anton (who joined some of the vocalists in song a little later in the evening). Joe Joe flirted shamelessly with the almost six-foot tall blonde beauty, and was heard to say something about "climbing Mount Anton." Security! Among those who displayed their talent for an almost full house on Monday were Mark Giovi, Gayle Steele (Sunny Side of the Street), The Las Vegas Tenors, Joni Illi (You Made Me Love You), Domenick Allen (Let the Good Times Roll), trumpeter Charly Raymond (Sugar Blues), Larry Liso (Night and Day), Michael Cagle (Somewhere), Drew Anthony (Everybody Loves Somebody), along with Kelly and husband Clint Holmes (Suspicious Minds and Love Me Tender). Also displaying a surprisingly good singing voice was Vegas visitor, Stepfanie (yep, that's how she spells it) Kramer. Best known for her co-starring role with Fred Dryer in the TV series Hunter, it turns out that Kramer is a trained mezzo soprano (who knew?). During the height of her television career, Stepfanie showcased her musical abilities on several episodes of Hunter, as well as on a number of Bob Hope specials. She has released two albums, with the most recent being 2008's The Great American Song Book. As for Ms. Clinton, we wish her much success with Monday's ongoing Open Mic Cabaret.

Stepfanie Kramer

Leigh Zimmerman & Jerry Springer

Susan Boyle

And speaking of Domenick Allen...His lovely and talented wife, Leigh Zimmerman, who has appeared on the Great White Way in A Funny Thing Happened On the Way To the Forum, Crazy For You, The Will Rogers Follies, and performed as "Ulla Inga Hansen-Bensen-Yanson-Tallen-Hallen-Svaden-Swanson... Bloom," "Ulla" for short (even though she is tall) in the Las Vegas production of the Mel Brooks Tony Award-winning musical comedy, The Producers, is currently singing and dancing in London's version of John Kander and Fred Ebb's Chicago, where she is playing the murderous "Velma Kelly." This is not Leigh's first time in the musical that tells the tale of "murder, greed, corruption, adultery, treachery � and all that jazz!" On Broadway, Leigh played the role of "Go-To-Hell-Kitty." As Velma, who kills her husband and sister after finding them in a compromising position, Ms. Zimmerman joins the likes of Chita Rivera, Ute Lemper, Bebe Neuwirth, Jasmine Guy and Reva Rice, who starred in multiple productions of Starlight Express (including the Vegas version), Monty Python's Spamalot, Fosse, Smokey Joe's Caf�, and JAM: Just Another Man, who have also played the role of the vaudeville star. In this current West End version of Chicago, in an inspired bit of casting, trash talk show host and former Dancing With the Stars competitor, Jerry Springer is playing the role of "Billy Flynn," a lawyer of questionable ethics (we will refrain from making any obvious comment). Since Chicago first made its debut in 1975, Flynn has been portrayed by an interesting assortment of actors, some who even have a Vegas connection. Both Ben Vereen and Hal Linden played Flynn during Chicago's run at Mandalay Bay. Brent Barrett (the former star of Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular), Wayne Brady, who has his own show at The Venetian, and David Hasselhoff, who played "Roger DeBris" at Paris Las Vegas when the show first opened here, have also played the crooked lawyer. Others who have performed the role (on Broadway, in North American touring companies, internationally, or on film) include, the late Jerry Orbach, George Hamilton (in his Broadway debut), Gregory Harrison, Patrick Swayze, Usher (Raymond), James Naughton, John Schneider, Tom Wopat, Jimmy Osmond, Alan Thicke, Huey Lewis, and, in the Academy Award-winning film, Richard Gere.

About Springer's performance in Chicago, Bloomberg News' theater critic, Warwick Thompson, writes "He's an absolute hoot. Springer communicates an infectious joy at being on stage. Occasionally a wide grin spreads over his face like a sunburst. It's almost entirely innocent of any theatrical purpose, and as irresistible as watching puppies playing in a basket. His sense of rhythm may be a little off, his hand gestures are too flappy, and he's unlikely to win any awards for the depth of his characterization. Who cares? Flynn becomes him. Springer is a lawyer-turned-showman who parades desperate people on his eponymous TV circus. Flynn, his character, is a lawyer-cum-showman who parades his desperate clients in a circus of fabricated courtroom theatricals. Both exist in a world of tabloid journalism. He almost doesn't have to act. It's so neat, it hurts. Plus, Springer's show is filmed in Chicago and he's starring in "Chicago." Could the glove fit more snugly? There's the sheer pleasure of watching a genial TV pundit in a fish-out-of-water situation and having a good time. And who knew that he could sing? Despite a few rhythmical blips in the complicated number, "We Both Reached for the Gun," his delivery is beguiling, his tuning good, and his voice surprisingly smooth. Acting-wise, he substitutes charm for talent. You wouldn't want to sit through his King Lear or Macbeth; leave those to Jay Leno. Here, Springer is thoroughly enjoyable. Kudos to the producers who spotted this fun opportunity and invited him for what should be a successful six-week run. It couldn't hurt that Springer has fans numbered in the millions. If some of them feel like coming to London to see him, I'll wager they'll have a good time. They'll certainly be wowed by the rest of the cast, which is one of the best I've seen in this long-running production. The leggy Leigh Zimmerman is electric as (Roxie Hart's) homicidal rival Velma, and brings a note of vulnerability and weary resignation to the role that I hadn't seen before. The company numbers "All That Jazz" and "Razzle Dazzle" go like rockets. All this, and a Jerry Springer newly turned hoofer too. A great start to the summer.

Rating: ***1/2.

What the Stars Mean:

**** Excellent

*** Good

** Average

* Poor

(No stars)Worthless

Chicago is playing at the Cambridge Theatre in London. Jerry Springer's stint as Billy Flynn, and Leigh Zimmerman's turn as Velma, ends on July 12th. We assume that Chicago, which has been running in London for more than 10 years, will go on, with an ever-changing cast, forever.

* * * * * *

The annual Ribbon of Life stage spectacular is Golden Rainbow's single largest source of funding. Staged each June, Ribbon of Life is an incredible production show featuring hundreds of singers, dancers and other performers from the best shows in Las Vegas. Original numbers are created specifically for each year's show. The performers donate their time and talent to the production. Easily the biggest show of the year, Ribbon of Life is a theatrical event for all ages that leaves audiences breathless, on their feet and cheering for more. This year marks the 23rd annual Ribbon of Life, which is being held at 1 p.m. on Sunday, June 28th at the Las Vegas Hilton. Last year's production raised its largest total ever, with more than $300,000 generated from show ticket sales, the ad book, auction and other money raising sources. The donations to Golden Rainbow are used to support people affected by HIV/AIDS in Clark County. Over the years, stars such as Liza Minnelli, Charo, Loretta Holloway, John O'Hurley, Bob Anderson, Sheena Easton, Billy Stritch, Jimmy Hopper, and comic George Wallace, who spontaneously donated a $5,000 check during his 2008 stand-up performance, which brought the audience to its feet, are among those who have lent a hand to make worthwhile event a success. As of this week's column deadline, all we know is that George Wallace will return, and the cast of Jersey Boys, relative newcomers to the community, will be participating.

* * * * * *

Has Susan Boyle's dream turned into a nightmare? Possibly the most downloaded woman ever (with even more hits than the Internet champ, Cindy Margolis), Boyle, the Britain's Got Talent phenomenon, Dreamed a Dream one more time over last weekend, when she sang the song from Les Miserables that made her a worldwide celebrity virtually overnight. The lady, who seemed almost a shoo-in to be crowned the winner, came in second, being beat out by dance troupe, Diversity. Following the finale, Susan Boyle seemed to have a meltdown and was admitted to a facility in London. Many are blaming Boyle's recent problems on the fact that she didn't win the talent competition. With our vast knowledge of such things, we feel this was inevitable, whether she won or not. In fact, her NOT winning was probably a blessing. At least now, she can retreat for a while. This poor lady, who seems to have led a fairly sheltered life, was totally unprepared for the kind of attention she generated following her first appearance on the popular reality television show. It should have been obvious to those around her, that Susan Boyle is fragile and needed to be shielded from too much too soon. A world tour? People grabbing at her, taking photos, and making demands? Big money? This could get much worse. It probably won't happen, but the best thing for her would probably be to return to her simple life in her small town, surrounded by the folks that knew her before her overnight success. An album, possibly. No tour. No TV cameras. No pressure. It's a sad dark outcome for something that seemed so positive and bright less than two months ago.

And speaking of reality TV, we have to wonder...Is it the lure of money or the seduction of fame that prompts a group of used-to-bes, wannabes, or never weres to sign on to a show such as I'm a Celebrity - Get Me Out of Here? What do you think?

* * * * * *

Bobby Vinton

LaVerne Christie Trio

Billboard magazine calls Bobby Vinton "the most successful love singer of the Rock-Era." Next Saturday, June 13th at 8 p.m., Vinton will perform his greatest songs at The Club inside the Cannery Casino & Hotel in North Las Vegas. Following the release of his first single, Roses Are Red (My Love), which spent four weeks in the No. 1 slot on the Billboard 100 charts, Vinton's magical voice and sentimental orchestral arrangements quickly set the standard for love music. In 1963, Vinton hit No. 3 on the charts with Blue on Blue, and then topped the charts with Blue Velvet, and There, I've Said It Again. The following year, Vinton recorded Mr. Lonely, which also reached No. 1, earning him more hit records than any other male recording artist in the 1960s. Bobby Vinton's timeless love songs are recognized as standards throughout the world, and his music has retained its vitality and relevance throughout the changing eras of the music industry. Tickets start at $14.95, plus tax and fees, and are available for purchase at the Cannery Casino & Hotel's ticket sales counter located at the front desk. Tickets are also available for purchase by calling (702) 507-5757 or (866) 999-4899 (toll free), or online at

* * * * * *

Jimmy Emerson's presentation of Naked Boys Singing! is opening at the Onyx Theatre (located in The Rack inside the Commercial Center at East Sahara and Maryland Parkway) on June 18th instead of June 11th as originally scheduled. Show times are at 10 p.m., Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, through July 4th weekend. The producers are hoping to then go to s six-night week. We are told the cast is excellent...and the boys can actually sing!

And speaking of Jimmy Emerson, his Showstoppers Too opened at the Northern Quest Casino outside of Spokane, Washington, last night. The same company that brought Born Diva's, An Evening at La Cage, Bottoms Up, and the smash hit Showstoppers to the Spokane area, returns with a brand new all Broadway production. "We have gathered together a wonderful group of talented actors, singers, and dancers for our newest project Showstoppers Too", says Las Vegas based Starr Pro President Jimmy Emerson. "Last year's version of the original Showstoppers-Can't Stop the Beat!, which premiered at the Northern Quest, was so well received," he adds, "that the exec's ask for an encore." Emerson, along with Showstoppers co-creator Kenneth Blake and famed "Rockettes" choreographer, Brad Barnes, wasted no time crafting an all new production filled with Broadway's great moments from the theater that are sure to have audience members singing along with the talented cast or humming one of the beloved show tunes featured in this new production as they head home. Like its predecessor, Showstoppers Too is a fun filled compilation of musical theater songs that literally "stopped the show" when they first played on Broadway. Through June 13th, guests can start the evening off with a great pre-show dinner, catch a Broadway production, top it off with a post theater night cap, and all without leaving the comfort of the Northern Quest Casino. This time around Mr. Emerson has decided to change up the format by combining introductions, some of the original dialogue, and the classic tunes from such hits as Funny Girl, CATS, Gypsy, 42nd Street, Mame, Hello, Dolly!, La Cage aux Folles, and other all time favorites from the Great White Way. Showstoppers Too runs through June 13th. Tickets may be purchased directly from the Northern Quest Casino Box Office in person or by calling Tickets West at: 800-325-SEAT (7328) or 509-340-6700 (

* * * * * *

The City Of Las Vegas Arts and Community Events presents the LaVerne Christie Trio at the Reed Whipple Cultural Center, tomorrow June 6th, at 7 p.m. Jazz fans of all ages will enjoy the trios' uncomplicated approach to jazz. Christie's sense of swing and appreciation for Brazilian music are evident in her arrangements. She pays respect to her jazz predecessors, while appealing to new listeners through her interpretation of classic standards on her guitar. Christie is joined by Mark Ruben on bass, and Mike Candito on drums. Tickets are priced at $7 for all seats. The center is located at 821 Las Vegas Blvd. North. For tickets or more information, call (702) 229-6211.

Also sponsored by the City of Las Vegas, the Rainbow Company Youth Theatre presents The Reluctant Dragon at the Charleston Heights Arts Center, 800 S. Brush St. In Kenneth Grahame's story, the village of Guildermere blames the dragon who lives upon the Downs for anything that goes sour in their lives. But this dragon is a peace-loving, poetry-spouting fellow, who would much prefer a cup of tea to a battle. Find out what happens when St. George arrives! Suitable for all ages, performances are tonight, June 5th, and June 6th, 11th, 12th, and 13th at 7 p.m., and June 7th, 13th, and 14th at 2 p.m. Tickets are $7 for adults, $5 for teens and seniors, and $3 for children age 12 and younger. Call (702) 229-6383 for information.

The Reluctant Dragon

* * * * * *

From Nelson Sardelli, who heads up F.I.O.R.E. (Fun Italians Organizing Ridiculous Events), the group of presidents (everyone is a president) that make up this non-club club, comes this official announcement...
Dear Presidents and Friends: Please make note. Henceforth, all regular F.I.O.R.E. meetings will be held on the second Thursday of the month (as stated on our membership application). For some unknown reason we goofed on the last couple of meetings and held them (erroneously) on the third Thursday of the month. Not wishing to be repetitious, redundant, repetitive or say the same thing over and over and over again, let me just reiterate and rephrase this a few more times. All the regular F.I.O.R.E. meetings will be held on the second, notice, on the SECOND Thursday of every month. Capice? Fershtay? Understand? Comprehend? Get it? So the June lunch meeting will be held on Thursday, June 11th at 11:30 a.m. at the Italian American Club, 2333 E. Sahara. Please RSVP no later than June 9th (that's on a Tuesday). Call (702) 499-6919 or 646-1813, or e-mail to [email protected]

Editors note: Good grief! We hope everyone got that straight!!!

The last F.I.O.R.E. gathering at the Italian American Club brought out a lot of presidents, including Peter Anthony, Pete Barbutti, Charlie Callas, Joel Dane, Robert Ensler, Jerry Fink, Don Hill, Chick Hughes, Rolando Larraz, Rich Little, Jerry Lopez, Jim Marsh, Gary Olds, Babe Pier, Cork Proctor, Ronnie Rose, Artie Schroeck, Felix Silla, Bobby Slayton, Lou Toomin, and Allen Tramont. In case you missed it, the June meeting will take place on Thursday, the 11th, at the Italian American Club, 2333 E. Sahara.

* * * * * *

Next Saturday, June 13th, at 7 p.m., Sharon McNight is back at the Starbright Theatre with her Red Hot Mama! The Life and Loves of Sophie Tucker show. Due to the overwhelming success of her sold-out performance last year, Michael Chapman and ChapQuist Entertainment are happy to present the return engagement of Red Hot Mama! The Life and Loves of Sophie Tucker. Sophie Tucker was a powerful presence in American entertainment for nearly 60 years. Not only was she physically imposing, she also had a powerful, distinctive voice. Her particular strength was the naughty song delivered with such gusto, that many commentators began to categorize her as a force of nature. Tucker was a magnificent entertainer, a luckless gambler, a generous friend, a tireless trouper, and an unforgettable character ...truly the last of the Red Hot Mamas. The multi-talented Sharon McNight also has a long and successful entertainment history, including having repeatedly won the San Francisco Entertainer of the Year Award. McNight is also a Tony Award-nominee, for her role in Broadway's Starmites. She recently did two sold out shows at Davenport's, Chicago's premier entertainment supper club. The Tony Nominee/Theater World Award winner was back in Broadway's best form delighting audiences with her wit, wisdom and, of course, the voice that needs no microphone. Sharon was sassy, looked elegant (even with a medical boot on one foot), and wowed the crowds with her evil-but-hilarious "Ursula," from Disney's Little Mermaid. McNight is always a bundle of sarcastic dynamite, and audiences rewarded her with two standing ovations. Sharon loves the road. That's why she traveled from metropolitan Chicago to the Acorn Theater in Three Oaks, Michigan to appear in concert on Sunday, May 31st. Why else would anyone travel to Three Oaks, Michigan? There she performed Ladies, Compose Yourselves!, a tribute to living female songwriters. This is the show for which Sharon received the Bay Area Critics award and was nominated for New York's Best Cabaret Performer award in 2007. Then it was back to the Windy City, where Sharon opeed a concert series at the Hoover Leppen Theater on Monday, June 1st. For this date, McNight did her Songs To Offend Almost Everyone, her award-winning, crowd-pleasing journey through songs, stories and laughs about sex, relationships, sex, non-relationships, sex, politics, sex, religion...and did we mention sex? Sometimes both topics are covered in the same song. Hmmm. During her trip to Chicago, Sharon did seven shows in six venues over a two week period. About her May engagement with Bruce Vilanch at the Rrazz Room in San Francisco's Nikko Hotel, KGO Newstalk Entertainment's radio personality, Jerry Friedman, had this to say in his on air review...

What a combination! Bruce Vilanch together with Sharon McNight. They opened at the Rrazz Room and they are presenting an evening of wonderful comedy and music. Bruce Vilanch, a brilliant comedy writer and best known for Hollywood Squares, delivered some great jokes and one-liners as only he can do. And Sharon McNight sang some funny, bawdy songs that she's famous for. But they've put together and perform together some songs and gags that work perfectly in this intimate cabaret room. It had the crowd in stitches. And there were plenty of clever adlibs that kept everyone laughing, especially due to unexpected street construction that could be heard in the background. It was food for some funny lines. Here's a show that you won't want to miss.

Although Las Vegans DID miss that one, they don't have to miss the show at the Starbright Theatre, 2215 Thomas Ryan Blvd. in Sun City Summerlin on June 13th. Tickets are $15 for Sun City Summerlin residents and $18 for non-residents. For show info, call (702) 240-1301. For credit card orders, call (702) 869-2064.

Sharon McNight

MarQue Munday

Bart Williams

* * * * * *

The Winchester Cultural Center's Theater Boot Camp upped the ante with this summer's program, adding writing, magic and circus to its list of traditional dance and drama skills taught at the camp held at the center, 3130 S. McLeod Drive. Theater Boot Camp begins on June 9th, and is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, with instructional time from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The center is closed Mondays, as well as on the Fourth of July holiday (Friday, July 3rd). Campers can enroll on a monthly or weekly basis. Registration is $225 for June 9th to 26th, $206 for June 29th to July 17th, and $300 for July 22nd to August 14th. Weekly registration is available for $85 per child. An additional $10 will be charged at first enrollment for admission to the end-of-the-summer performance, August 14th and 15th. Students must attend eight weeks of camp - two of which must be the last two weeks of camp - in order to perform in the final show. The show is a musical journey through dance, rock n' roll and magic, where the audience participates in the laughs and fun as the children run off to the circus. Along with professional theater instruction, participants will attend classes in the skills of musical theater, dance, magic and circus skills. Dance classes include tap, jazz and ballet along with acrobatics. Field trip shows include The Lion King, Myst�re, and a magic show on the Strip. Apart from instructional classes, campers also will participate in recreational activities and watch movies. The Theater Boot Camp is lead by Winchester Players Director Susan Swanson and her brother Christopher Swanson. Susan brings Broadway experience from shows such as No, No Nannette, The Pajama Game, and Anything Goes, while Christopher was a long-time performer in Jubilee! at Bally's on the Strip. Those interested in Winchester's Theater Boot Camp can call (702) 455-7340. You can also register online at

Everyone will enjoy the Rainbow Company Youth Theatre presentation of The Reluctant Dragon at the Charleston Heights Arts Center, from June 5th through the 14th. The show is based on the popular children's book of the same name by Kenneth Grahame. Directed by Karen McKenney, the folktale comedy features a cast of 16, including Gabriel Gentile as the dragon, Randy Messaoudi as St. George, and Sean Harasti as Glaston. The one-hour production focuses on the village of Guildermere, which blames the dragon who lives upon the downs for everything that goes wrong in their lives. But this dragon is a peace-loving, poetry-spouting fellow who would much prefer a cup of tea to a battle. Find out what happens when St. George arrives. The production begins at 7 p.m. on June 5th, 6th, 11th, 12th and 13th, and at 2 p.m. on June 7th, 13th, and 14th. Tickets are priced at $7 for adults, $5 for teens and seniors, and $3 for children age 12 and younger. The center is located at 800 S. Brush St. Box office hours are Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. To purchase tickets by telephone, or for more information, call (702) 229-6383. For more than three decades, the Rainbow Company Youth Theatre has trained generations of young people and won numerous prestigious, national awards. Members learn all aspects of stagecraft and participate on stage and backstage in five annual productions. Rainbow Company is a program of the City of Las Vegas Department of Leisure Services. For more information about the company, call (702) 229-6553.

* * * * * *

On Friday nights, The Village at Lake Las Vegas is offering a series of free classic rock concert tribute bands throughout the month of June. From 7 to 10 p.m., enjoy relaxing lakeside ambiance and music from The Man in Black, a Johnny Cash tribute band, tonight; Evenflow, a Pearl Jam tribute band that tours nationally, on June 12th; Billy Joel Tribute, playing hits from American rock icon Billy Joel, on June 19th; and Have A Nice Day, a Las Vegas-based Bon Jovi tribute band, featuring our friend Larry Atello (Larry is also a member of the Tony n' Tina's Wedding cast, currently doing great business at Planet Hollywood), on June 26th. This takes place on The Village lakeside lawn, 15 Costa di Lago. This event is free and open to the public. No coolers please. For the Jazz on the Lake concert series, the Village at Lake Las Vegas provides a relaxing environment for jazz fans to kick back and enjoy Las Vegas' top jazz artists by the waters' edge every Saturday night. Again, no coolers please. All the Jazz Concerts are on Saturday night from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. On June 6th, it's Sid the Kid; and on June 13th, MarQue Munday is featured. An ex-Rockette, MarQue has moved into her second career as a singer of pop and smooth jazz music in the Las Vegas Valley. For more than seven years, she has also been performing her impersonations of Donna Summer and Diana Ross in various Legends-type shows around the country. MarQue stays in physical and vocal shape, as a full-time Pilates instructor by day and a freelancing singer at night.

* * * * * *

Drive a little, see a lot...
Longtime Claire Voyant reader, actor Bart Williams, informs us about the upcoming season at Utah's Tuacahn Amphitheatre and Center for the Arts, located outside of St. George. Described as "Broadway in the Desert," Tuacahn's 2009 season will present Annie, Footloose, and Elton John and Tim Rice's AIDA in the outdoor amphitheatre. About Annie, the New York Times wrote, "An intensely likeable musical. It has a rare kind of gutsy charm." Annie, in which Williams plays President Roosevelt, will run from June 9th through October 16th. The Green Bay Press Gazette calls Footloose, "A cracklin' show...better than the movie." Williams portrays Principle Clark in the production, that will play from June 9th through October 14th. AIDA, the Grammy Award and three-time Tony Award winning musical, will run from August 25th through October 17th. In this one, Williams will understudy the role of the Pharaoh. A Performing Arts High School is adjacent to the theatre. Mr. Williams, who performed in Las Vegas productions of Top Banana, Anything Goes, and Guys and Dolls, starring Jack Jones, Maureen McGovern and Frank Gorshin, states that he would have loved to go to school there. Monday through Thursday adult ticket prices for the 2009 season range from $25 to $39 (children, 12 and younger, $20 to $29). Friday and Saturday pricing is $29 to $49 (children $24 to $39). Seniors and members of AAA save $3.00 per ticket. A $5.00 per show service charge is added to each order. To order tickets for any of the season's productions, call the Tuacahn Box Office at (435) 652-3300, or the Toll Free number at (800) 746-9882.

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

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

Claire Voyant's portrait by Charlie Frye