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 12, 2009
You can find the current column HERE

Las Vegas - June 12, 2009

Trina Johnson-Finn

Marty Allen & Karon Kate Blackwell

Steve Tyrell

Trina Johnson-Finn, who had been imprisoned in a South American jail since early March, was released last Friday, and, as of Wednesday, is back home in Las Vegas. Trina was accused of posing as Toni Braxton at a concert in Suriname, where she was pelted with trash and booed offstage. Prosecutors requested that she serve a one-year sentence with nine months of it suspended, meaning that even if she receives the full sentence, she will have already served the three months. After fleeing the area, and leaving Johnson-Finn behind, Angel Ventura, the concert promoter, said Trina was not involved in the scheme that charged up to $53 per ticket for the February 28th concert in Suriname's capital. A crowd of about 3,000 threw bottles and beer cans at her in what has been dubbed the "Phony Toni" concert. The real Braxton won six Grammys and is best known for the hit "Un-break My Heart," as well as appearances on ABC's Dancing With the Stars. Braxton also had a two year stint at the Flamingo from 2006 to 2008. Prosecutor Duncan Nanhoe alleged that Johnson-Finn likely came to Suriname as an impersonator but later decided to play along. "She had several opportunities to pull out of the scam, but she did not," he said. "She could have decided not to come on stage when Toni Braxton's name was announced, but she came on." The entertainer's husband, Raymond Finn, says that his wife was duped by the concert promoter Ventura. Ventura, and his girlfriend, Signet Sampson, are expected to stand trial in July. Ventura initially said that Johnson-Finn knew about the scam from the beginning, according to police. He later said she was not involved in the scheme. Johnson-Finn, a onetime back up singer for Barbra Streisand and MC Hammer, has augmented her 20-year singing career by impersonating various artists.

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Don't forget, it's funnyman Marty Allen and his talented musician/straight woman wife, Karon Kate Blackwell, at the South Point, tonight and tomorrow night. Show times are at 7:30, and tickets start at $15 and are available at the South Point box office, or by calling (702) 797-8055. See you there.

And, as long as we're giving friendly reminders, you can also catch Steve Tyrell in the Gordie Brown Showroom at the Golden Nugget. The Grammy-winning singer is filling in for vacationing Gordie Brown, through Monday.

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While the Sin City Bad Girls take some time off from their gig in the Shimmer Cabaret at the Hilton, Siameze Floyd (called "The Godson of Rock and Soul" - his parents are Eric Floyd and Wanda Dee) will take over the late night spot, this Tuesday through Saturday. On the 16th (Tuesday), there will be a special 7 to 9 p.m. showcase. Show times, Wednesday through Saturday, will be from 10 to midnight. Backed by the Alley Catz, an 11-piece, multi-cultural, all-star group of veteran musicians, including some who have worked and/or toured with acts such as Lenny Kravitz, The Temptations and Foreigner, Siameze has been compared to Prince, Michael Jackson and James Brown, among others. Effortlessly switching between high energy funk, dance and rock, to soul stirring originals, sets this boy wonder apart from anyone currently performing in Las Vegas. In addition to two percussionists, two guitar players, two keyboard players, two bass players (something not normally practiced since Little Richard himself), and a horn player that doubles on alto/tenor sax and flute, there are two remarkable background vocalists (both lead singers in their own right), who Siameze refers to affectionately as his Sweet Infiltrations, in homage to Elvis Presley's Sweet Inspirations.

Although he's only 22, Siameze is already a stage veteran - dancing and singing backup with his mother 10 months a year, all over the world. This limited engagement at the Hilton will be his major Vegas casino headlining debut. Although all shows are free and open to the public, it is requested that all press, casino/ label executives and fellow performers, RSVP as quickly as possible to [email protected] to arrange special VIP seating on the night(s) they will be attending

Siameze Floyd

Babe Pier

Jerry Herman

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Funny man Babe Pier is back at that Italian joint on the south end of Las Vegas Blvd., tonight and tomorrow night, from 9:30. The impressionist will have a slew of "guests" on stage with him, all created in the mind of Mr. Pier. The guy is a longtime pro. Catch him if you can.

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For Cousin Claire, Sunday night's Tony Awards offered some special moments, including when Broadway's writer of show tunes (most often, both words and music), Jerry Herman, was named as the recipient of the 2009 Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre. Herman's award was presented by Angela Lansbury, who had won her fifth Tony earlier in the evening, for her role in Noel Cowards' Blithe Spirit. He graciously accepted the well-deserved honor with a touching, from the heart speech. (Lansbury, by the way, starred in the 1966 TV special, Mrs. Santa Claus, and Broadway's Dear World and Mame, all with music written by Herman.)'s James Sims had this to say about the 77-year-old legendary composer...There is never an evening when, somewhere in the world, the music and lyrics of Jerry Herman are not being sung by a lady in a red headdress, or a lady with a bugle, or a middle-aged man in a wig and a boa. Hello, Dolly!, Mame, and La Cage aux Folles are home to some of the most popular, most-often performed and most successful musical heroines of all time, and have given Jerry the distinction of being the only composer-lyricist in history to have had three musicals that ran more than 1,500 consecutive performances on Broadway. When Dear World opened in 1969, Jerry became the only composer-lyricist in history to have three productions running on Broadway simultaneously. His first Broadway show was Milk and Honey (1961), followed by Hello, Dolly! (1964) Mame (1966) Dear World (1969), Mack & Mabel (1974), The Grand Tour (1979), La Cage aux Folles (1983), Jerry's Girls (1985) and "Mrs. Santa Claus" (1966), a CBS TV special starring Angela Lansbury. Showtune, a revue of his life's work, is performing in regional theatres around the country and around the world. His string of awards and honors includes multiple Tonys, Grammys, Drama Desk Awards, the Johnny Mercer Award, the Richard Rodgers Award, the Oscar Hammerstein Award, the Frederick Lowe (sic) Award, the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Theatre Hall of Fame. Two of his classic songs are the emotional highlights of the hit Disney-Pixar film Wall-E. A revival of La Cage aux Folles is currently playing in London's West End, and recently won the Olivier Award for Best Revival, as well as the London Critics' Circle Theatre Award for Best Musical. Jerry Herman was the subject of the 2008 PBS documentary, "Words and Music by Jerry Herman."

Regarding Jerry Herman, the man also created the, as yet, unproduced Miss Spectacular. In 1999, the musical, with a Las Vegas background, was written for the Mirage, at the request of hotel mogul Steve Wynn. For whatever reason, even though he had many theater spaces where he could have put the production, Wynn never used it. There is a concept album available, though, featuring the voices of Christine Baranski, Michael Feinstein, Davis Gaines, Debbie Gravitte, Steve Lawrence, Karen Morrow, and Faith Prince, singing some terrific Jerry Herman songs. And in another Herman/Las Vegas connection...In October of 2006, Herman's longtime conductor, Donald Pippin, Jason Graae, Karen Morrow and Las Vegas' own Paige O'Hara, came to Las Vegas as part of the New York Stage & Beyond series, where they performed in Hello, Jerry! at UNLV. Although he was expected to be here, Herman's health at the time prevented that. The rest of the cast not only put on one heck of a show, they came in a couple of days early so they could conduct some master classes in musical theater performance at the university.

It was also nice to see our community represented by Rick Faugno, who portrays Frankie Valli in the Las Vegas production of Jersey Boys, now at The Palazzo. Faugno joined four other actors who play Frankie Valli, in the Chicago company (Dominic Scaglione, Jr.), the Toronto company (Joseph Leo Bwarie), the Broadway production (who we could not identify, sorry), and the national touring company (Courter Simmons), to perform a medley from the musical story of Frankie and The Four Seasons.

We thought the acceptance speeches by the three very excited young winners in the Best Performance (Performances) by a Leading Actor (Leading Actors) in a Musical - David Alvarez (14), Trent Kowalik (14), and Kiril Kulish (15) - for their roles as "Billy" in Billy Elliot The Musical, were natural and charming.

Three Billy Elliots

Neil Patrick Harris

As for Tony Award host, Neil Patrick Harris, we thought he did a great job. As a result of Barak and Michelle Obama taking in August Wilson's Joe Turner's Come and Gone in New York earlier this month, it was Harris' suggestion that Broadway "go presidential," with shows such as Barack of Ages, Phantom of the Oprah (she's near presidential), and Obama Mia! Mr. Harris closed the show with one of the best performances of the evening. His witty and well-sung parody of Tonight from West Side Story, and Luck Be a Lady from Guys and Dolls, with special lyrics written by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, cleverly working in the names of the night's winners, ended the award ceremonies on a high note. Neil never missed a beat. Who knew Doogie Howser was so talented? We do have to wonder, though, why was the sound so awful throughout much of the evening??? Especially when they, more than likely, had Tony-nominees for sound in the house! And why didn't they show close-up photos and names of the members of the Broadway community that died during the last year? The way that portion was (mis)handled, left viewers asking "who?"

And speaking of musical theater...The talented Tony-nominee (for 42nd Street), Lee Roy Reams, who played "Roger DeBris" in the Vegas version of The Producers, sends this news...I am heavy into rehearsals with 42nd Street at the MUNY in St. Louis, with Dee Hoty and Bob Cuccioli. We open June 15th. In August (11th through 24th), we'll be on the Crystal Line's Baltic Cruise to Stockholm, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Berlin and Copenhagen, ending in Dover (London). Some of the stars, presented by the Theatre Guild and sailing with Reams on the Crystal Symphony, will include Patricia Neal, Susannah York, and Patricia Routledge (PBS' Keeping Up Appearances). Lee Roy also reports that he will be singing with the Cincinnati Pops on July 4th.

Lee Roy Reams

Patricia Routledge

Mark Nadler

And, while still in a New York State of Mind (thank you, Billy Joel)...The multi-talented (he sings, he dances, he plays piano, he's witty, and he has an incredible mind and memory) Mark Nadler is presenting His Lovely Wife, Ira at the Metropolitan Room, Thursday nights through June 25th. If you are in the Big Apple (why do they call it that?), don't miss the chance to see Mr. Nadler, one of cabaret's brightest and most inventive stars at the top of his game.

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Next Saturday, June 20th, starting at 7 p.m., Paul Campanella presents his Good Times! revue at the Starbright Theater in Sun City Summerlin (2215 Thomas Ryan Boulevard). Like Mr. Nadler (mentioned above) Campanella is a multi-talented entertainer. He is an actor/singer/comedic performer/musician/ published songwriter and show producer. In August of 2006, Paul began appearing as "Anthony Nunzio Sr." in the hit show, Tony n' Tina's Wedding, currently doing great business the at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. In 2007, he was asked by the show's director to take an additional role as "Sal Antonucci" the photographer. His hilarious interpretation of the character even had fellow cast members cracking up, showing his versatility as an actor. Paul has performed as a singer/entertainer and actor in showrooms, lounges, and clubs all across the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean. He has shared the stage or co-starred with stars such as Barry Williams ("Greg Brady" on The Brady Bunch), Joey Ganniscolli ("Vito" from The Sopranos), Rowdy Roddy Piper, Tiffany, Kato Kaelin, Jackie "The Jokeman" Martling, Rich Little, Charlie Callas, Pete Barbutti, Nelson Sardelli, Clint Holmes, and many others. He has appeared on national television singing the American and Canadian National Anthems for the HBO event, Night of the Young Heavyweights, in 2003. Good Times! at the Starbright is just that. It's a music/comedy variety show, built on a blend of classic favorite songs from Motown, Memphis Soul and Delta Blues with material from The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Jackie Wilson, B.B. King and many others. Campanella is backed by a real live band, made up of his son, Paul Campanella Jr. on drums (currently with Jump Street at the Top of The World lounge at The Stratosphere), Gret Menzies of Dangerous Curves on vocals, Tim Scott on bass and vocals (he's with the Cordle/Scott Band), Dean Reichart on guitar (also with the Cordle/Scott Band), and Todd Rogers on keyboards (formerly with Yellow Brick Road). The audience can't help but feel good after this dynamic performance. Sprinkle in a little quick hit comedy and audience participation, and you have a winning formula for a great time. In the words of B. B. King, "Let the Good Times Roll!" Some of the comments regarding Campanella's talents include, from the Las Vegas Tribune, "A bundle of energy, talent and charisma...absolutely captured his audience with his dynamic performance." And from fellow entertainer, Diane Ellis who stated, "Paul is terrific...he's got the moves!" Tickets are on sale at Desert Vista, Mountain Shadows and Pinnacle community centers. The price is $10 for Sun City Summerlin residents, and $15 for non-residents. All shows at the Starbright are first come, first served with no limit on the number of tickets purchased. Saving seats is prohibited. All ticket prices include Live Entertainment Tax. Tickets are non-refundable. Starbright Theatre shows are open to everyone ages 12 and over. All ticket sales are check or cash (exact change required). No credit cards accepted. For up-to-date information on Starbright Theatre shows, call (702) 240-1301.

Paul Campanella

Danny Gans

Kalani Kokonuts

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Here we go again. In the late 1990s, Michael Flatley's Lord of the Dance, without Flatley, was the headlining entertainment at New York-New York in Las Vegas. The Irish step-dancing revue, which generated buzz around the country, thanks in part to national TV exposure for Riverdance via PBS, lasted a few years at NY-NY. A stint in 2002 at The Venetian didn't last quite as long. Now they are back, for what is described as a "Limited Engagement." On June 25th, Lord of the Dance (once again, sans the Chicago-born Flatley) returns to Las Vegas...this time going into the trouble plagued Wyrick Theater in the Miracle Mile Mall at Planet Hollywood. We think a Miracle is what it would take for this production, even in a limited run, to succeed at the House of Wyrick. Lord of the Dance is scheduled to run through August 16th. We'll see.

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Regarding the May 1st death of entertainer Danny Gans...We have had readers asking what could have happened to an apparently healthy 52-year-old man to cause his very unexpected and shocking death. Until a few days ago, we didn't know. On Tuesday, Clark County Coroner, Mike Murphy, announced that Gans died as a result of suffering a toxic reaction to the painkiller Dilaudid, an opiate similar to morphine. Murphy said Gans was taking the pain medication to treat chronic pain syndrome. He refused to use the term "overdose," as it's not a medically applied term used in the cause of death. It turns out that Gans was not as healthy as he appeared, suffering from hypertensive cardiovascular disease and a condition known as polycythemia, described by Murphy as a red blood cell disorder that has the opposite effect as anemia, with the person suffering an abundance of red blood cells. Murphy said Gans had toxic levels of hydromorphone (sold under numerous names, including Hydal, Sophidone and Hydrostat) in his system when he died. He also said that Gans had a toxic reaction to the drug because of an existing heart condition. Some people have suggested that this information still leaves many unanswered questions. Who prescribed the drug, and when? How long had Gans been using pain killers, and in what amounts? The public may never know the answers to these questions. The key issue here is that a family is without its husband and father, and the community has lost a talented performer and citizen. Rest in peace, Danny Gans.

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We are pleased to report that the May 17th benefit at The Orleans, to raise funds for the victims of the April Abruzzo Earthquake in Italy, raised more than $35,000. Congratulations to Nelson Sardelli and the hardworking group of volunteers and entertainers. In these tough economic times, and with other worthy events taking place on the same day and time, this event managed to pull off what seemed almost an impossibility. Who says Las Vegas has no heart? Surely not us!

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From reader Grant Philipo comes this e-mail and photo...
Boys and girls, drum-roll please. So nice, she won twice! Kalani Kokonuts is the Reigning Queen of Burlesque 2009 (formerly called Miss Exotic World...and she did it wearing a Grant Philpo creation. Grant has unbelievable respect for the judges, Dixie Evans and Luke Littell and Laura Herbert, who made people like him, who doesn't necessarily believe in dreams coming true, a believer! He applauds the decision makers for their fine taste and great sense of talent. Not only did Kalani become this year's queen, she also won Most Dazzling. Philipo says, "Wow! My faith in the Burlesque Hall of Fame (held at The Orleans the weekend of June 4th) has been restored."

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Okay, all you voyeurs and those of just a curious nature...from June 18th through the 27th, those Naked Boys will be up (no pun intended) and singing, and they are doing it in public! Naked Boys Singing! The title says it all! Caution, and costumes are thrown to the wind in this outrageous musical revue featuring a group of buffed and butt naked guys, with camera-ready bods and perky personalities to match, sing and dance their way through 16 musical numbers dedicated to stripping you of your inhibitions in a glorious celebration of the altogether. I'll be darned if they don't succeed. After the initial shock wears off, you get so accustomed to the nudity that it no longer gets in the way of the entertainment. The effect is strangely liberating. It's only 90 minutes long, and by the time it is over, you'll feel overdressed in a tank top. The New York production is now in its ninth year! No need to go to New York, though, as starting on Thursday, you can see NBS right here in Las Vegas. Produced by Jimmy Emerson and Michael Morse, the boys are directed by Jimmy's brother, Hank Emerson (currently with Criss Angel's Believe at the Luxor). Brad Barnes, of Rockettes fame, is the choreographer. Musical direction and piano accompaniment is by Spencer Baker. Back Stage Manager is Neal Patalion. The Las Vegas cast of NBS is made up of Nolan Christopher, from the Chicago cast of NBS and currently in Tony n' Tina's Wedding at Planet Hollywood; Ivan Hardin, UNLV singer; Mitch Johnson, Tony n' Tina's Wedding; Allen Merritt, Madame Tussauds actor; Paul Pratt, previously in the Chicago production of Naked Boys Singing!, and a member of the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago; Daryl Roth, who has a musical theater background; and Mark White, a singing gondolier at The Venetian. The performances will take place at the Onyx Theatre, inside The Rack in the Commercial Center (at east Sahara and Maryland Parkway). Naked Boys Singing! offers a fun, unique outing for singles, couples, bachelorette parties and groups! Show times are at 10 p.m. and tickets are $30. Call the Onyx Theatre at (702) 732-7225 for reservations.

NOT Vegas Naked Boys Singing

Kenny Rankin

Sharon McNight as Sophie Tucker

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Kenny Rankin, who we mentioned in last week's column in conjunction with our story on musician Artie Schroeck, died on June 7th of complications related to lung cancer. Rankin was an acclaimed New York-based singer-songwriter who contributed guitar to Bob Dylan's 1965 classic, Bringing It All Back Home. Rankin penned songs like Peaceful, a hit for Helen Reddy, and Haven't We Met, which was recorded by both Carmen McRae and Mel Torme. Signed to a contract with Decca Records while still in his teens, Rankin soon moved over to Columbia Records, where he was recruited to join in on the recording sessions for his label-mate Dylan. Rankin went on to have a notable solo career in his own right, beginning with his 1968 album Mind Dusters, and peaking with 1976's The Kenny Rankin Album, which was recorded live with a 60-piece orchestra. Kenny appeared on the Tonight Show With Johnny Carson more than 20 times. Carson was such a big fan, that he wrote the liner notes for Rankin's Mind Dusters. Rankin also recorded a version of the Beatles' White Album ballad, Blackbird, for his own 1975 album Silver Morning. The cover version was so revered, Paul McCartney asked Rankin to perform the song at the ceremony where McCartney and John Lennon were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Kenny Rankin was 69.

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Entertainer Sharon McNight brings vaudeville singer, Sophie Tucker, to life with her Red Hot Mama! tribute at 7 p.m. tomorrow at the Starbright Theatre in Sun City Summerlin. Due to popular demand, this is McNight's fourth visit to Las Vegas. Ms. McNight has repeatedly won the San Francisco Entertainer of The Year Award, and has also been honored with a Tony Award nominee for her role in Broadway's Starmites. Tickets are $15 for Sun City residents, and $18 for nonresidents. Tickets can be purchased at the Desert Vista Community Center, 10360 Sun City Blvd.; the Mountain Shadows Community Center, 9107 Del Webb Blvd.; and the Pinnacle Community Center, 2215 Thomas Ryan Blvd. For credit card orders, call (702) 869-2064. For general information, call (702) 240-1301 or visit

And more Summerlin news...Things will heat up (more) in the west side community on Sunday night, when the ladies of Dangerous Curves - that would be Margaret Menzies, Karen Merstik-Michaels and Lisa Smith - raise their voices in song at Grace in the Desert Episcopal Church. Girl Talk! features the songs of yesterday and today, with gorgeous harmonies and heartfelt solos; including songs made famous by the Andrews Sisters, Judy Garland, Linda Eder, New York Voices, and MORE. A part of the "Hot Summerlin Nights" guest artist series, there will be one performance only, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Grace in the Desert church is located at 2004 Spring Gate Lane. A $10 donation is suggested. For bookings and other information, please contact The Girls directly at (702) 777-0328

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An Evening with Frankie & Sherry, the story of Frankie Valli and Sherry and their journey from break-up to make-up. Saturday, June 13th, fro m 8 to 9:30 p.m. at the Italian American Club, 2333 E. Sahara. Tickets are $22 per person (includes one well drink). For $10 more, get an optional buffet, served from 6 to 8 p.m. Call (702) 459-0199 or 457-3866 for reservations or additional information.

And speaking of the Jersey Boys (sort of), Thursday's Composers Showcase (the brainchild of Michael Brennan and Keith Thompson, musical director for Jersey Boys), at the Liberace Museum, turned into quite a night. The short list of participants we printed last week, grew into an impressive couple of hours, with songs by some of the city's top songwriters. Among the talents contributing were, Jason Andino (who looks very much like Adam Pero, another young local musician), Erich Bergen, Michael Brennan, Jason Martinez, Kristofer McNeeley, Richard Oberacker, Sharon Paquette, Keith Thompson, William Waldrop and Robert Williamson. Singing the original material were John Ambrosino, Kelli Andino, Jen Cantorna, Jason Forbach, Leslie Goddard, Ben Hale, Kristen Hertzenberg, Christine Hudman, Greg Kata, Judy Lombino, Monique L. Midgette, Andrew Ragone, Lauren Tartaglia, Tina Walsh, Alton Fitzgerald White, and other special guests. Contributing instrumentally were Jim Belk, Andrea Bensmiller, Glen Colby, Philip Fortenberry, Keith Hubacher, Mike Neufeld, Kevin Stout, Matt Taylor, Eric Tewalt, Tyler Williams and Drew Zingg. We will write more about the June edition of the Composers Showcase next week.

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Music fans of all ages will enjoy the free Jazz on the Green concert on Saturday, June 13, at 7 p.m. in the Centennial Hills Park Amphitheatre. The Bill Trujillo Quintet and the Las Vegas Academy Jazz Ensemble will perform, presented by the city of Las Vegas. A top saxophone player with big bands, then a performer in the show bands of many Las Vegas casino/hotels, Bill Trujillo continues to perform popular jazz music with his own band. The Las Vegas Academy band, led by well-known professional percussionist Patrick Bowen, earned top honors as Outstanding Nevada High School Ensemble at the University of Nevada Reno Jazz Festival this April. Concert and park admission are free. Bring blankets, folding chairs and picnics, but no pets or glass containers, please. The park is located at 7101 N. Buffalo Drive. For more information, call (702) 229-1087.

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Teddy Davey

Brandon Albright

Entrepreneurial Jeanne Bavaro, is back in show business again (the lady just can't help herself). Her company, BavaroETC, Exclusive Talent Concepts, will produce To Italy with Love.....A Classic Dinner Show, a summer series of talent and taste sensations with Chef Roberto Perotti of La Scala Ristorante, located at 1020 E. Desert Inn, on the street level of the Mark I Tower. Perotti will create a different entr�e selection each month during the series. This will serve to remind repeat customers of why La Scala is one of their favorite eateries, and entice first time diners to become regulars. To launch the series, Teddy Davey, of The Las Vegas Tenors, will perform two shows, one at 4 p.m. and the other at 7 p.m., on both June 14th and 28th. "Davey's voice is great and, for me, when he sings in Italian, you don't want to breathe for fear you'll miss one of the perfectly pronounced vowels of the romantic language," states producer Bavaro.
Upon arrival at La Scala, guests will be greeted by two beautiful showgirls, a BavaroETC standard welcome, and offered their choice of a glass of champagne or wine to enjoy on the festive and quaint cooled and decorated Italian style patio. Once inside, they will dine amongst friends and then be treated to a one hour performance by Davey. Teddy will be accompanied by well-known pianist, Tommy Deering. It was friend and restaurant expert, Carlo Medicina, that contacted Bavaro to put their energies together and present this exciting "Lucky 13" event. The inclusive dinner show price will allow for an extraordinary, intimate and affordable experience. Simply reserve one of each of the 12 optional dinner show times, and receive the August 30th show free. That's your Lucky 13th dinner show. The price is $ 50 per person, including tax and tip. On July 14th, and again on the 19th, singer Denise Clemente will perform two shows each night. The presentation will, of course, include a bit of Italian in keeping with the theme of To Italy with Love. Clemente has been a locals favorite since the late 1970s. If you have not seen and heard her before, this will be your opportunity to do so. If you have had the pleasure already, we are sure you will want to experience Ms. Clemente again, so treat yourself and reserve now for July. The talent selection and menu for August will be announced at a later date. Call (702) 367-9805 for more information and reservations. Seating is expected to be extremely limited.

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Pack a picnic, bring a blanket, take a jacket (really - it can get quite chilly when the sun goes down), and take a short drive to the west. Super Summer Theatre's first musical of the 2009 season is right around the corner at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park (8000 Blue Diamond Road). Brandon Albright plays the lead in Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story, Wednesdays through Saturdays, ending on June 20th. Gates to the park open at 6 p.m., and the show starts at 8:05 p.m. (Hey we just print the information, we don't determine it.) Seating is on the lawn, or you can rent a chair for $1. Advanced tickets are $10 ( or pay $15 at the gate. Children under 5 are admitted free. Have we mentioned that Mr. Albright is a former student of drama coach, Gerald Gordon.

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A couple of weeks ago, we had a nice phone conversation with Tom Saitta. Tom is getting ready to open a beautiful restaurant/lounge in Pahrump. The place is called Tommasino's Fine Italian Dining and All That Jazz! In addition to excellent cuisine, prepared by world class chef Michael Parascandolo (Wolfgang Puck's at the MGM Grand, Nana B's Trattoria in Las Vegas, and Sfuzzi's in Costa Mesa, California), Tommasino's will feature live entertainment. Among the pros expected to fill Tommasino's with music are Joe Darro, Tommy Deering, Autie Goodman, Dennis Mellen, and April Spain. Saitta, himself, is a fine musician, who sings and plays the trumpet and flugelhorn (although not at the same time). He loves quality music including jazz, swing and "old standards." Tom has been in the automobile business for more than 43 years, and has owned three well-known dealerships in Las Vegas. He and his wife Alice are longtime residents of Southern Nevada, having lived many years in Las Vegas, and for the past six years in Pahrump, where they are partners with Don and Tamara Trudeau in Saitta Trudeau Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge Inc. Tommasino's is expected to open within the next few weeks. We will keep you posted.


Diane Ellis

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On Thursday, June 18th, from 5 to 9 p.m., it will be songstress Diane Ellis at the mic, with jazz vocalist/pianist Joe Darro (mentioned above) and sax and flautist Steve Golden accompanying, entertaining at Wolfgang Puck's Cafe inside the Springs Preserve (behind the Meadows Mall on the corner of Valley View and Meadows Lane). Entry to Wolfgang Puck's is free. If you purchase an entr�e in the caf�, a visit to any of the museums or galleries is also free (saving yourself $13). The caf� offers beer, wine and specialty drinks, but must be ordered with food, as the caf� has a taverns' license. Ellis states that she has had the pleasure of working with both Joe and Steve many, many times, and feels that they have a great blend. We have heard these folks before, and we can attest to the fact that they have a great blend! You never know who might stop by and grace the stage with Ellis, Darro and Golden.

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The Greatest Show On Earth, that would be the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus, takes over the Orleans Arena, from June 18th through the 21st. Calling this edition Zing Zang Zoom, show times are at 7;30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, the 18th and 19th, and 11:30 a.m., and 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The Orleans Box Office number is (702) 284-7777.

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A memorial service for musician Sam Butera, who died on June 3rd at the age of 81, will be held tomorrow (June 13th) at noon, at St. Viator Catholic Church, 2461 E. Flamingo at Eastern.

We are saddened to report the death of music man, Tim Ballard. Tim passed away on June 8th in Dallas at the age of 61. Ballard became a professional musician at the age of 15. He attended Warrensburg College of Music in Kansas City before receiving a four-year contract with Capitol Records. Tim, a smooth jazz master (vocal, saxophone, piano), appeared with many well-known artists, including Bobby Vinton, Tina Turner, Redd Foxx, the Brothers Castro and the Harmonicats, just to name a few. He was ranked as the number one male vocalist in Texas for three years by the readers of Texas Jazz magazine, and was inducted into the Kansas City Music Hall of Fame. In 1990, Tim moved to Las Vegas. During the years he lived here, Tim's name graced many hotel and casino billboards, including Bally's, Mandalay Bay, Caesars Palace, Bellagio, Flamingo Hilton, the historic Desert Inn (where he served as associate musical director), and the MGM Grand. Tim was also a main attraction at the former Hotel San Remo (now Hooters) for a number of years. He is survived by his wife, Patricia Stampley Ballard of Allen, Texas; daughter, Kathryn Shut of Denver; stepdaughter, Jaci Stampley; granddaughter, Ashley Swelling; and great-grandson, Caden Swelling, all of Las Vegas; brothers. Seldon Ballard of Ponca City, Okla., and Lance Ballard of Florida. A funeral service was held yesterday in the Chapel at Fellowship Bible Church in Dallas, with Rev. Gary Brandenberg officiating. Interment followed at White Rock Cemetery in West, Texas. To convey condolences or to sign an online registry, please visit In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, P.O. Box 4486, Houston, TX 77210-4486, (713) 792-3450, or at

Tim Ballard

Rebecca Spencer & Philip Fortenberry

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Back Stage Bistro Award-winning vocalist, Rebecca Spencer, will return home to New York to make her debut at The Castle in Tarrytown on Sunday, June 14th at 8 p.m. This will be the first New York appearance for Rebecca in three years. She will be joined by her musical director Philip Fortenberry, Broadway's most sought after pianist, and current conductor for the Las Vegas production of Jersey Boys. From Broadway to Las Vegas is a romantic evening filled with a rainbow of sensual art songs and inspired selections, surrounded by lively anecdotes from Rebecca's experiences as an original cast member of Broadway's Jekyll and Hyde, to the gala 30th Anniversary celebration for Las Vegas' Liberace Museum. Rebecca will bring her elegant repertoire to the intimate stage at The Castle to offer collaborations heard on her concept recordings, Wide Awake and Dreaming, and her Red Hat Lady-inspired Fair Warning. Rebecca debuted as a solo concert headliner with Fortenberry during her two year run in Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular. Las Vegas Life Magazine chose Rebecca's concert as the city's top pick of the month. After being chosen by Hal Prince to premiere the role of "Madame Giry" in this newly conceived production, Ms. Spencer was embraced by the Las Vegas press, including The Las Vegas Review-Journal, who, in naming Phantom the Top New Production on the Strip in 2006, noted: "There's lots of talent on display at 'Phantom -- The Las Vegas Spectacular,' but the person I can never stop watching is Rebecca Spencer. The actress gets to show her sensuous side in a new CD, Fair Warning, and it's difficult to believe that this passionate vocal performance comes from the same body and soul as our Madame Giry." That same year, Rebecca was applauded as a leading cabaret artist in the international publication Entertainment Divas, Cabaret, Jazz Then and Now, compiled by musicologist, Maximillion DeLayfette. In this encyclopedia of artists, Mr. DeLafayette noted "She redefines romanticism, vocal virtuosity and human warmth for the contemporary cabaret." In awarding Rebecca the Back Stage Bistro Award, John Hoglund noted she is "an artist on the verge of a serious breakthrough." Rebecca has performed in concert as a guest soloist with the Syracuse, New Haven and Detroit Symphonies, and the Florida Orchestra, and with the Indianapolis and Naples Symphonies conducted by Keith Lockhart of the Boston Pops. She has also been guest soloist for composer Marvin Hamlisch. In New York, she has been featured at Lyrics and Lyricists, the Ira Gershwin Centennial at Carnegie Hall, recorded for PBS, and has appeared in five Encores! Concerts at the City Center. She was featured at the Mabel Mercer Foundation's 2004 and 2005 NYC Cabaret Conventions, and has recorded for numerous record labels. From Broadway to Las Vegas will be performed at The Castle on the Hudson, 400 Benedict Avenue in Tarrytown, NY, on Sunday, June 14th at 8 p.m. For dinner and concert reservations, as well as more information about this event, call (914) 631-3646, or visit

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