Claire Voyant's Las Vegas Gossip Column



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.  
She’s...

Claire Voyant  

Note: This is a past column from July 31, 2009
You can find the current column HERE


Las Vegas - July 31, 2009


Ali Spuck & Tish Diaz

Christopher-Joel Carter

Katrina Loncaric

Shhh. We know a secret. The Cabaret Showroom at the Liberace Museum has become one of the best spots for entertainment in the city. We don't want too many folks to know about it, though, because it's a relatively small performance space, seating only about 80 people. The Cabaret is where Philip Fortenberry (and, when Philip has other commitments, Keith Thompson) plays piano and tells a story of music and musicians, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 1 p.m. It is also the site of the monthly, late night, Composers Showcase and some very special musical programs. On Sunday afternoons at 2:30, for example, Ali Spuck performs her one-woman show called Here I Am. Then, there is VS, a new monthly series featuring the stars of Phantom, Jersey Boys, and other major production shows in Las Vegas, in a unique concept...as in something VS. something else (see more about Ali and VS. below).

Then there are people such as Erich Bergen (Bob Gaudio in Jersey Boys), Nicole Pryor (Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular), Rebecca Spencer (formerly Madam Giry in Phantom), Bruce Ewing (Phantom), Joan Sobel (Phantom), and others, who create their own individual one-person showcases to perform in the Cabaret Showroom. Always different. Always entertaining.

In just the last week and a half, we attended three different performances in the Cabaret Showroom. On Thursday, the 23rd, it was the July edition of the Composers Showcase. Last Saturday night, John Kaye and the Coalition, made up of some of the city's top musicians - onetime Liberace Scholarship recipient, Tony Branco, on piano; Jeff Davis, a current scholarship winner, on bass; and Dana Barry on guitar. Among the folks in the audience for John's performance, we spotted his father, Norman Kaye of the Mary Kaye Trio fame, step-mother, Barbara Meriwether Kaye; singer/actor Don Lance; Liberace's favorite furrier and friend, the still beautiful Anna Nateese; singer Diane Ellis; community philanthropist, Cindy Doumani; and Jim Hodge, former principal production show singer.

On Wednesday, August 5th at 10 p.m., the Liberace Museum will be the site of a new cabaret concept. The idea, which made its debut in May, is called VS, and it's an event produced by performers for performers. Ali Spuck co-created the concept with Keely Vasquez of Ultimate Manilow, and together they host the new monthly cabaret concept to showcase top talent from some of the biggest shows in Las Vegas, including Jersey Boys, The Lion King, Phantom-The Las Vegas Spectacular, visiting Broadway greats, and stars from TV/Film and the LA Theatre scene, plus the Las Vegas-based a cappella group, Mosaic, winner of MTV's "Top Pop Group." It's not an open mic, nor traditional cabaret. Backed by a live house band featuring some of the best musicians in Las Vegas, it's a combination of a rock show and cabaret. Each show has a different theme that will contrast two different concepts, artists, shows, composers, etc. We'll pull from all styles of music - you never know what you'll get to see and hear! Think Hello Vs. Goodbye...Love Vs. Hate...John Vs. Paul...B-Sides Vs. Hits...and the list goes on! This Wednesday's VS theme is 1967 VS. 1987. The cast includes Andrea Bochicchio from High School Musical, Erich Bergen from Jersey Boys, Charl Brown also from Jersey Boys, and Benjamin Hale from Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular. Additional cast members are expected to be part of 1967 VS. 1987. Joey Melotti, who has worked with Michael Bolton, Rickie Lee Jones, Julio Iglesias, Liza Minnelli, and is currently with Barry Manilow, serves as he show's musical director and pianist. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Call (702) 798-5595 ext 13 or send your ticket request to [email protected]

Add Ali Spuck and her Here I Am mini bio-musical act to the current ongoing lineup at the Liberace Cabaret. Ali is a Los Angeles Ovation Award nominated actress and singer. She recently finished the pre-Broadway run of Vanities at the Pasadena Playhouse. Ali's professional work includes Broadway and international workshops of Zorro (London's West End), DreamWorks' Gladiator, and Disney's Snow Queen; the national tours of Jekyll & Hyde, Grease, and Buddy: the Buddy Holly Story; and a variety of new works and regional performances. Ms. Spuck (also known as Mrs. McNeeley, as she is the wife of Jersey Boy, cast member, Kristofer McNeeley), created the role of Jenny in Internet Dating: the Musical, written by 30 Rock's Ron Weiner. She has worked with Neil Patrick Harris, Jason Alexander, Dick Van Dyke, Kristen Bell, Zachary Quinto, Michael York, Alan Menken, Steven Weber, Christopher Renshaw, Steven Blanchard, Lauren Kennedy and Judith Ivey, and has appeared at the Hollywood Bowl, Ford Amphitheatre, and 42nd Street Studios in New York City. Accompanied at the piano by Jersey Boys Tish Diaz, Ali Spuck: Here I Am, features a journey of music and comedy inspired by her experiences, family and friends. Selections include classic Broadway, new contemporary cabaret hits, and romantic Gershwin songs from the golden age of music. Here I Am is produced by Vs. a Rock Cabaret and Principle Productions. Tickets are priced at $15.

Tickets for all Cabaret Showroom at the Liberace Museum entertainment may be purchased by phone 702-798-5595 ext. 14, or in person at the Liberace Museum store cashier. Reservations are recommended. Museum store hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. The Museum, located at 1775 E. Tropicana Ave. at Spencer, is a significant funding source for the Liberace Foundation, created in 1976 by Liberace, and supported solely by private donations from individuals, businesses, fan clubs, and admirers globally. All donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.

FYI...
The above mentioned guitar player, Dana Barry, is the son of Dave Barry - not the syndicated humor columnist, but the stand-up funny man who was Wayne Newton's opening act for more than eight years. A native of Brooklyn, Dave Barry began his career at the age of 16 on radio and throughout the Catskills. He served as an entertainer in the Army's Special Services Unit during WWII. After the war, Barry began a long association with Las Vegas, where his quick-fire comedy act warmed up audiences for many top stars. "I'm the kind of comic who fits here," he once told The New York Times. Dave kicked off his Las Vegas career performing at the El Rancho Hotel. He later appeared in the Desert Inn's (now Wynn Las Vegas) Hello America revue. Although he opened for a number of Vegas headliners, including Frank Sinatra, it was his long association with Newton that garnered Barry the most fans. In the 1950s, Dave Barry provided voices for several Capitol Records children's albums. He also made a featured appearance in the 1959 Billy Wilder hit, Some Like It Hot, and provided voice work for The Pink Panther TV series. In Some Like It Hot, Barry played Beinstock, the balding, owlish manager of the all-girl band Sweet Sue and her Society Syncopaters. "Can't understand it," he tells Daphne (Jack Lemmon) and Josephine (Tony Curtis), "first my glasses disappear, then one of my suitcases!" Soon, in poor Beinstock's stolen glasses, yachting cap and navy style blazer, Curtis is wooing the band's luscious vocalist, Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe), in the guise of a millionaire playboy with the voice of Cary Grant. In the later years of his career, the comic performed his act on cruise ships and appeared in the popular Palm Springs Follies variety show. Dave Barry passed away in 2001 at the age of 82.

And while still on the subject of all things Liberace, the top prize winner of the 2008 Liberace Piano Competition, personable Southern gentleman, Christopher Joel Carter IV of Albertville, Alabama, is currently performing in the Lobby Bar at the M Resort Spa & Casino in Las Vegas. The annual Liberace Piano Competition is presented by the Liberace Foundation to help talented students pursue careers in the performing and creative arts. The Foundation has awarded more than $5.2 million in scholarships to some 2,500 students at more than 120 colleges and universities.

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Also, on Wednesday, August 5th, Katrina Loncaric will perform her one woman show at don't Tell Mama. Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Katrina has been living in Las Vegas for five years, after moving to the city to join the cast of Bally's Donn Arden's Jubilee! as a Vegas Showgirl. After one contract as a showgirl (the showgirls are the tall, pretty ones who mostly "pose"), she become a featured singer. Following a brief stint as a Bevertainer (a singing cocktail server) at the Rio, Katrina was thrilled to be cast as the Pretzel Showgirl and the Ulla understudy in the Broadway company of The Producers. When the multiple Tony-winning Mel Brooks musical comedy opened at Paris Las Vegas, Katrina returned here to become a member of that cast (that, at different times, included Brad Oscar, Tony Danza, David Hasselhoff, Larry Raben, Lee Roy Reams, Bill Nolte and Rich Affannato among others), where she again understudied Ulla (played here by Leigh Zimmerman, aka Mrs. Domenick Allen and the mother of the very talented young Cayleigh Capaldi). Prior to living in Las Vegas, Katrina studied and performed improv comedy at Second City and Upright Citizen's Brigade in New York City. Katrina has been seen in theatre, bands, and dance companies in New York City, Los Angeles, DC, Atlanta, and Montana. Favorite Regional Theatrical roles include Lola in Damn Yankees, Irene in Crazy for You, Jeanie in Hair, among many others. An accomplished voiceover artist and the former promotions voice of TeeNick on Nickelodeon, Katrina is also New York City's Semi-Finalist for Yahoo's Favorite Amateur Yodeler. Katrina holds a B.A. in Communications from The Catholic University of America. She freelances regularly as a singer, voice over artist, dancer, model and actress. What else was a 5'10" long-legged performer from Atlanta supposed to do? Why come to Las Vegas, become a showgirl, and glide down staircases in great big hats, of course! Come join this Las Vegas/Broadway performer, in an evening of stories and songs, on Wednesday, beginning at 7 p.m., when, backed by Michael Dubay on piano, she will perform Katrina Loncaric - Vegas Showgirl at Don't Tell Mama, 517 E. Fremont Street (across from the El Cortez) in downtown Las Vegas. There is a $10 cover charge, plus a one drink minimum, for this show. Call (702) 207-0788.

And speaking of cabaret (and we do, when we can), if you are reading this early enough on Friday the 31st, hurry over to DeStefano's (3430 E. Tropicana, northeast corner at Pecos) and catch one of our favorite chick singers, Diane Ellis. From 7:30 to 10:30 p.m., Diane will join Rochelle Felton and Christine Wiltshire, accompanied by the awesome Joe Darro at the piano. Diane will return to DeStefano's on Friday, August 14th, where she will be singing with the Joe Darro Trio. Ms. Ellis reports that the food at DeStefano's is outstanding and says the tiramisu is the best she has ever tasted. This coming Monday night, at the same place, music lover, Evan Davis, recommends Lynn Ross' Those Marvelous Musicals, celebrating the musicals of stage and screen. Last week, among those sitting in for On With the Show Cabaret, were Susan Haller, Victor Moea, Gary Anthony, Marsha Kay, Joe LaVigna, Joni Illi, Patrick Kavenaugh, Lenice Bolton, comedy of Pamela Appel, and magician Jay Anthony. The Cabaret Band features Darro on keys, Dick Straub on upright bass, and Jimmy Racey on drums. Last Monday, Robbie Robinson and his saxophone sat in. (As these names were provided to us, and we don't know all of these folks, we are going to hope they are spelled correctly.) Reservations for dinner are recommended. Call (702) 364-8424

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Frenchie Davis

Siameze

Dolly Parton

Beginning on Wednesday, August 12th, the Las Vegas Hilton will present five consecutive nights of top talent in their 1,600-seat theater. All of the shows are presented by Eric Floyd of Goddess Empire Entertainment. On Wednesday, the 12th, it's Diva Fever Revue, featuring Broadway and $100,000 Star Search vocal champion winner, Peggi Blu (Tender Moments, Love Is the Magic); Oscar and Grammy Award-winner, Irene Cara (Fame, Breakdance, Out Here On My Own, Flashdance...What a Feeling); soul icon and jazz legend, Freda Payne (Band of Gold, Deeper & Deeper, Bring the Boys Home) ; American Idol and Broadway performer, Frenchie Davis (Rent, Dreamgirls); and International Pop/Dance Diva, Universal Sex Symbol, Wanda Dee & The KLF. Showtime is at 8 p.m. and tickets are $50, $65 and $75. At 8 p.m. on Thursday, the 13th, Diva Fever Revue (Part Deux) features multiple Grammy Award-winners, The Emotions (Best of My Love, Boogie Wonderland); and soul, dance and disco divas, Sister Sledge, featuring Kathy Sledge (He's the Greatest Dancer, We Are Family, My Guy). Tickets are $50, $65 and $75. After a smashing June debut in the Shimmer Cabaret at the Hilton, this Friday night at 8, Siameze, The Godson Of Rock & Soul, returns to the property...this time to the main room! As part of Siameze's show, a special star-studded Michael Jackson song and dance tribute will take place. More than 100 dancers will participate. Tickets are $25 and $40. On Saturday and Sunday nights, at 8 p.m., Eric Floyd's Old School Party will be presented. Featured acts will include Vanilla Ice (Ice Ice Baby, Play That Funky Music), Shannon (Let the Music Play), Sisqo (It's All About Me), The KLF (3 A.M. Eternal), C & C Music Factory (Gonna Make You Sweat, Here We Go, Things That Make You Go Hmmmm...), Carol Douglas (Doctor's Orders), Carol Williams (Love Is You), Taana Gardner (Heartbeat, Work That Body, When You Touch Me), Meli'sa Morgan (Do Me, Baby, Still In Love With You), Technotronic (Pump Up the Jam, Get Up! Before the Night Is Over), Full Force ( I Wonder If I'll Take You Home, All Cried Out), Force MD's (Tender Love), UTFO (Roxanne, Roxanne), and Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam (Head To Toe, Lost In Emotion). Tickets for Old School Party are $65, $95 and $125. For reservations and/or information about any or all of these shows,, call (702) 732-5755 or (800) 222-5361.

And speaking of Freda Payne, the soul, jazz and R&B diva, who has performed in Las Vegas a number of times in the past few years and returns as part of the Diva Fever Revue at the Hilton on August 12th, takes her Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald show into Manhattan's Iridium Jazz Club, Thursday, August 6th, through Sunday, August 9th. Freda, who shot to fame in 1970 with "Band of Gold," will sing selections from the Ella Fitzgerald songbook for eight shows at Iridium - at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. for all four nights. The Detroit-native followed up "Band of Gold" with hits such as "Deeper & Deeper" and "Bring the Boys Home." Payne, who has starred in a number of Broadway shows, including Jelly's Last Jam, Sophisticated Ladies and Blues in the Night, honors "The First Lady of Song" with her renditions of "A-tisket, A-tasket," "Sweet Georgia Brown," "It Don't Mean a Thing," "The Best Is Yet to Come," "The Lady Is a Tramp," "It's Too Darn Hot," "Miss Otis Regrets," "Angel Eyes," and "Mack the Knife," along with other Fitzgerald classics. About the show, the New York Amsterdam News stated, "Payne conjures the spirit of Ella... she's off the charts with Ella-tonian fever. Payne rocketed the crowd up into Ella's galaxy," while Variety wrote, "Payne bears a remarkable resemblance to the legendary singer's sound, and has mastered the wordless scatting style developed by Ella." "Payne makes Ella worth seeing and hearing. Her scatting is a wonder," says the Newark Star Ledger. Iridium is located at 1650 Broadway on the corner of 51st Street. Tickets are $30. Call (212) 582-2121 for reservations.

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Dolly Parton's 9 to 5: The Musical will close on Labor Day weekend after a very disappointing four-month run. The musical, based on the 1980 film starring Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda and Parton, will have played only 148 performances when it closes at the Marquis Theatre on September 6th.

Other Broadway news involves Las Vegan Jerry Lewis. Earlier this month, it was announced that a musical version of The Nutty Professor was heading to the Great White Way for the 2010-2011 season. According to the report, 83-year-old Lewis will direct, and Marvin Hamlisch will write the music and Rupert Holmes will do the book and lyrics. Both Hamlisch and Holmes are Tony Award winners, Marvin for A Chorus Line, and Rupert for The Mystery of Edwin Drood. There are plenty of talented, and hopeful, folks that will verify that saying something is opening on Broadway, and actually having it open, are two very different stories. And having something open on Broadway and be successful (see paragraph above), is yet another story. We will keep an eye on this one.


Justin Hopkins

Jimmy Hopper

Marleen Marino & Michaelina Bellamy

And on the local theater scene...
With no previous acting experience, Justin Hopkins has just landed a leading role in the Las Vegas Little Theatre's upcoming production of Ira Levin's Deathtrap. Nine months ago, Hopkins began studying acting with local teacher, Gerald Gordon. On Wednesday, Justin was cast to play Clifford Anderson in the dramatic thriller to be directed by Shawn Hackler. The 1982 film starred Michael Caine in the role of Sidney Bruhl, and the late Christopher Reeve as Clifford. Deathtrap opens at the Little Theatre, 3920 Schiff Drive (near Spring Mountain and Valley View), on September 11th. For additional information, call (702) 362-7996.

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From one of Jimmy Hopper's many fans, Florence in Wayne, New Jersey, comes a request for information about her favorite singer. A regular reader, Florence is disappointed because she hasn't seen Jimmy's name in the column for a while. That is because we haven't gotten any interesting news about Mr. Hopper in recent months. We know that he works regularly in Newport Beach, California, where (not surprisingly) he has built himself a loyal fan base there, much like he did in Las Vegas. After getting Florence's e-mail, we made contact with Mr. Hopper's spokesperson, the lovely G.G. Conklin, who tells us she will have something newsworthy to report (involving Vegas, we think) about the unique entertainer, within the next couple of weeks. We will keep Florence, and the rest of the Hopper followers, posted. And, yes Florence, we certainly have seen and heard the magnificent Mr. Hopper sing, and, yes, he is wonderful. We're on your team.

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After performances at Feinstein's at Loews Regency on July 22nd and 29th, Jimmy Webb, Glen Campbell's favorite songwriter (and Richard Harris', Johnny Maestro's and the Brooklyn Bridge, Elvis, Isaac Hayes, The 5th Dimension, and Frank Sinatra, who all had great success with Webb tunes), returns to the club on August 5th and 12th for shows at 8:30 p.m. Jimmy, who wrote ("Wichita Lineman," "Up, Up and Away," "Galveston," "The Worst That Could Happen," "Didn't We," "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," and "MacArthur Park," is also a fine singer. Webb and the night club's owner, Michael Feinstein, collaborated on Only One Life, an album released in 2003. We especially liked the CD's title track. And speaking of Feinstein's at Loews Regency, Davis Gaines, who played the lead in Phantom of the Opera on Broadway more times than any other actor, just completed a July 26th and 27th engagement at the same bistro. For those that have been around here for a while, they may remember that Davis (and, yes, it's Davis, not David) played the lead role in Scrooge, the Christmas-inspired musical by Leslie Bricusse, that had a limited run at the Starbright Theatre in Sun City Summerlin in December of 2003. Feinstein's at Loews Regency is located at 540 Park Avenue at 61st Street in New York City. For ticket reservations and club information, please call (212) 339-4095.

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Marleen Marino, who ran the internet Vegas Community Online site, passed away on Monday, following a brief illness. Marleen would have turned 64 next week. She is survived by her husband, Frank. As we approach deadline, no services have been announced.

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Nelson & Mickey Sardelli

Wayne Newton

Marty Allen & Karon Kate Blackwell

When Nelson Sardelli sang the beautiful "You'll Never Know" (You'll never know just how much I miss you. You'll never know just how much I care. And if I tried, I still couldn't hide my love for you...) as his wife, Fledia "Mickey" Sardelli, departed the F.I.O.R.E. Fifth Anniversary Party a couple of weeks ago, the message was not lost on some of the attendees in the Italian American Club audience (especially two of the ladies). If they picked up on it, this was a touching love song/story. Mickey has not been well for some time. Seeing her out for a couple of hours, under the watchful eye of her and Nelson's daughter, Pietra, was a good thing for many of the party participants, especially, Norman and Barbara Kaye. Norman, a member of the famed Mary Kaye Trio, was the best man at Nelson and Mickey's wedding, 46 years ago.

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A couple of news items particularly caught our attention during this last week.
First was the lead story in a local column of July 26th, regarding a possible booking of 67-year-old Wayne Newton at the Tropicana (we will refrain from making any obvious or sarcastic comments on this one). According to the article, Mr. Newton had backed out of a deal with the Tropicana, where he had planned to hold his 50th anniversary as a Las Vegas entertainer. According to a "source" (reliable or otherwise), a press conference was already set for August 3rd, with shows scheduled to kick off on September 3rd." The item went on to say that Newton had a blockbuster deal in place, with the assistance of local businessman, Jack Wishna, but it fell through this month. "He (Newton) wanted a bigger piece of the pie in the deal and tried to reduce Wishna's stake in the deal," said that unnamed source. The newspaper story goes on to say that "the development comes amid reports that Newton has not been paying bills. Two lawsuits were filed earlier this month, one for non-payment of $32,000 worth of hay for his horses and $36,999 remaining on a lease for a 2005 Escalade. Earlier this year, Newton's wages were garnished to the tune of $91,000 from his MGM Grand paychecks after his former pilot, Monty Ward, won a judgment for more than $450,000 in back wages. Wishna had negotiated Newton's Vegas comeback deal in 1999, when he signed with the Stardust for what was advertised as the richest contract in Las Vegas entertainment history - up to 40 weeks a year for 10 years with the potential of $25 million a year. That deal had an exit option after five years, and Newton took it, saying "the time had come to move on to new challenges." Two immediate thoughts come to mind. Cousin Claire wonders, (1) Why would a onetime Vegas headliner, with so much debt, not take any deal he could get to put himself back on a Strip stage and back in the black? And (2), Newton used an "exit option" from his very lucrative Stardust deal (BRILLIANTLY put together by Mr. Wishna) because "the time had come to move on to new challenges"? Let's get real here. It will be interesting to see how this one turns out. If we were advising the Wayner, we would say, "Take the offer," whatever it is! We don't see any other local hotel owners lining up to book Wayne Newton for either a short term or long term deal.

And on our local NBC news, it was reported that (magician) "Steve Wyrick has sued a pyrotechnics supplier over a fire that broke out during a July 4 performance outside Planet Hollywood on the Las Vegas Strip. The complaint, filed Friday in Clark County District Court, claims Pyritz Pyrotechnics Group LLC is to blame for the blaze that injured a crew member and caused the failure of a high-profile "Death Drop" trick." The line we rolled our eyes over was this one. "The suit alleges breach of contract, negligence and defamation because of damage to Wyrick's reputation." OMG!!! In our opinion, Wyrick's reputation was damaged the minute he opened his mouth on stage at the Lady Luck, during his first Las Vegas engagement in the late 1990s. And if THAT wasn't enough to damage Wyrick's reputation, how about his "claim," in 2005, that he might be the father of the late Anna Nicole Smith's baby, Dannielynn? In more recent years, Steve's role as landlord of the trouble-plagued Wyrick Theater certainly hasn't done anything to un-damage that reputation. One of our loyal readers suggests that Mr. Wyrick's best illusion (although it is no illusion) is making tenants, and therefore audiences, disappear. How many chances does this guy get to operate this theater in a fair and honest way? Let's get Mac King, David Copperfield, Amazing Johnathan, Dixie Dooley, Penn & Teller, Lance Burton, Nathan Burton, Cashetta, Dirk Arthur, Criss Angel, and anyone else with magic powers, together, and see if they can make Mr. Wyrick disappear. Perhaps someone with some integrity can make a success out of the performance space in the Miracle Mile Mall. That place needs nothing short of a REAL miracle.

LATE BREAKING NEWS! Rockstar: The Tribute, the latest entry in the Wyrick revolving-door theater, is finished. If you blinked you missed the fact it was even there. The show was to feature musicians from famous rock bands of the '80s and '90s and front them with incredible tribute artists, and at least one well-known lead singer. And another dream is shattered. The saga continues.

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Comic Marty Allen, and his musical/straight woman wife, Karon Kate Blackwell, are currently doing the Catch a Rising Star circuit, with dates at the Hyatt Regency in Princeton, New Jersey, tonight; the Monticello Raceway in Monticello, New York tomorrow night (Saturday, August 1st); and the Forsgate Country Club in Monroe Township, New Jersey, on Sunday. Don't miss the opportunity to see these two work together. Tickets are available at each venue, or on Catch a Rising Star's Web site.

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Donny & Marie Osmond

Rod Russell

Lee Roy Reams

In addition to Donny and Marie (who have just added a couple of more years on to their Flamingo contract), Charo and Bette Midler on the Thursday morning edition of NBC's Today show, we spotted a couple of other familiar faces on camera - Larry "Hot Chocolate" Edwards in Elvis garb, and hunky actor Nathan Ferrier representing Caesars Palace in his Caesar costume.

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On Sunday, Sarann Knight Preddy was to be honored with a music-filled afternoon show at the South Point Casino. Unfortunately, the show was postponed (postponed sounds so much better than that ugly word, "cancelled") a week before the scheduled event. You say you don't know who Ms. Preddy is? That's why we're here...to tell you about the lady. Sarann, who celebrated her 89th birthday on July 27th, was born in the small town of Eufaula, Oklahoma, to Carl and Hattie Childs. Sarann married her first husband, Luther Walker, soon after getting out of high school. In 1942, she and her family moved to Las Vegas, settling in the black community on the Westside. Preddy took her first job at the Cotton Club as a Keno writer, later becoming a dealer. In 1950, Preddy moved to Hawthorne, Nevada, where she was offered the opportunity to purchase her own gambling establishment. She became the first African American woman to own a gaming license in Nevada. Preddy then purchased the Lincoln Bar, which she renamed the Tonga Club. The club was successful in the small booming town, and she operated the establishment until her return to Las Vegas in 1957. Preddy then worked as a dealer until a new ordinance prohibited women from being employed as dealers. During that time, Preddy operated several businesses including a dry cleaner, a dress shop, and a lounge. Once the ordinance was repealed, Preddy returned to work as a dealer at Jerry's Nugget where she remained for seven years. In 1990, Preddy turned her focus to restoring the previous glamour of Las Vegas' first integrated casino; she and her third husband, Joe Preddy, purchased the Moulin Rouge. Despite their best efforts, they were unable to secure the financing needed and eventually sold the Moulin Rouge to a developer. Preddy has made many contributions to the state of Nevada through her involvement in the NAACP. She has worked to preserve the history of the city through her efforts to place the Moulin Rouge on the National Register of Historic Places. Although we don't expect to see this event rescheduled at the South Point anytime soon (or maybe ever), if there is a tribute to Ms. Preddy (who deserves to be acknowledged for her contributions to the community), at least you readers will have some idea of who she is. The program, with tickets selling (or not selling) for $50, $55 and $60, was to feature Phil Flowers, Melanie Moore, Loretta Holloway, and "Chicago's Own, Mr. Lee" as the entertainment.

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One of our favorite musicians, Gary Olds, has snagged himself a real good gig as drummer for the popular Sidro's Armada. Sidro's Armada has been performing in both southern and northern Nevada for about 40 years. We hope to have more about this band, including their schedule and a current photo, within the next few weeks.

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Happy birthday wishes to Leo celebrants, Will Collins, Kevin Spirtas, Rod Russell (who turns the BIG 5-0), Robert Allen, Angelo Tolentino, Sally Porter Coombs, Donna Booth Koger, Toni James, Buddy Greco, Bob Flanigan and Lee Roy Reams.

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In our June 19th column, when we wrote that Buddy Greco's Dinner Club in Cathedral City, adjacent to Palm Springs, was still up and running, if it was true then, it isn't now. The club, now in its third year of operation, is facing foreclosure. In an article written by Debra Gruszecki, here is some of what was published in the July 24th issue of The Desert Sun newspaper...
"Jazz legend Buddy Greco received national attention in May when final photographs of actress Marilyn Monroe wound up in an eBay auction. The owner of Buddy Greco's Dinner Club in Cathedral City appeared on CNN's "Situation Room" with Wolf Blitzer to discuss the snapshots that carried a starting bid of $7,500.
That Kodak moment, taken when Greco was performing at Sinatra's Cal Neva lounge in September 1962, fueled speculation the cozy nightclub Greco owned and operated with his wife, singer Lezlie Anders, was in jeopardy. On Wednesday, the notice of default recorded in Riverside County told the tale. Buddy Greco's at 68-791 E. Palm Canyon Drive is in a stage of foreclosure and carries total indebtedness estimated at $790,926, a legal notice said. The trustee's sale is set for Aug. 11. Riverside County property assessment records show the property formerly owned by Walter Lee Williams and operated as the Triangles Restaurant was acquired by the Grecos through a grant deed transaction in August 2005. At the time, a sales price of $535,000 was recorded against the dinner club. Canyon National Bank issued a variable rate loan in the amount of $755,000 to the Palm Desert couple that was recorded July 13, 2006. It is this second mortgage that is the focus of the notice of default. Another $100,000 loan was recorded against the property by the Katrina B. Henrich- Steinberg Living Trust in January 2007, county records show. Anders said lines of credit were taken to carry the restaurant through the harsh summer months and keep 10 families on the payroll. Compounding matters was the hardship imposed when the interest-only provision on the loan ended, Anders said, increasing the mortgage from $4,000 to $6,200 a month. The Grecos just completed a five week working tour of the United Kingdom. Buddy Greco goes into the Rrazz Room in the Nikko Hotel in San Francisco for two shows, on August 18th and 19th. Fans of music from the 50s, 60s and the Rat Pack era will recognize Greco as a jazz singer and pianist without peer. He played piano with the Benny Goodman Orchestra before going on to top the charts with "The Lady is a Tramp." Known by his colleagues as a "singer's singer" and a "musician's musician," Buddy Greco has sold more than one million records. He is well-known for releasing songs from every genre, from jazz to country to pop music. He has played every major concert hall in the world and is one of the true legends from the golden era of entertainment. Buddy is still a top performer; perhaps the last from what many consider was the Golden Era of Entertainment.


Buddy Greco

Mark Nadler

Eric O'Shea

And speaking of the Rrazz Room, if you are in the San Francisco area this weekend, you can see the very talented Mark Nadler perform there, through Sunday. Nadler's current show is called...His Lovely Wife, Ira - Ira Gershwin with and without George. The show is being endorsed by Michael Strunsky, the nephew of Ira Gershwin's lovely wife, Leonore, and the head of the Ira and Leonore Gershwin Trust. Michael and his wife, Jean, planned to attend the opening night performance. Here's what some critics have said about ...His Lovely Wife, Ira. "Nadler turns names carved in stone into flesh-and-blood creatures with personalities, passions and quirks... perfect -- poignant." - Stephen Holden, The New York Times. "A chance to see one of cabaret's brightest and most inventive stars in peak form." - Michael Dale, BroadwayWorld.com. "Nadler's infectious verve and ready wit are in abundance... A vivid, enthralling theater piece." - Bettina Paley, BroadwayAfterDark.com. "Mark Nadler, a performer so abundantly and insistently talented... the guy's got the goods." - David Finkle, The Huffington Post. And from Roy Sander of the BistroAwards.com, comes this story on Mr. Nadler (we have not cut a word)..."Writing about Mark Nadler over a decade ago, I labeled him quite possibly the world's greatest entertainer. I did not say that hyperbolically. His ability to command an audience's attention and laughter for hours is on a par with Bette Midler and Victor Borge's. In the realm of singer-pianists, his only peer that I know of is the late Danny Apolinar. But there is another side of his talent, one that is less hilarious and less outrageous, but no less impressive: sensitive, analytic and probing, it is Mark Nadler the serious artist. Though brief glimpses of this artistry shone through even in his most irreverent and madcap evenings, for the most part he kept it under wraps-that is, until recent years. It is on glorious display in his latest show, which honors the work of lyricist Ira Gershwin. Nadler explores Gershwin's relationship with his wife, Lenore, and his brother George ("I belong, I see, to the ranks of the brothers of the great"). Through both narration and musical illustration, he analyzes Gershwin's approach to lyric writing. For example, he traces the evolution of "Long Ago and Far Away," which was Gershwin's biggest hit during his lifetime; Nadler's rendition concludes rapturously. And there is a segment that imagines the development of the classic "Fascinating Rhythm"; clearly Nadler is as inventive as was Gershwin. This is not dry, academic analysis; it is a touching celebration of the art of songwriting-and more fundamentally, of the creative process. And there are many numbers that succeed on a purely musical, emotional, or entertainment level. (Nadler the artist is still Nadler the savvy showman.) From Lady in the Dark, "The Princess of Pure Delight" is a charmer, and a pairing of "The Man That Got Away" and "Words Without Music" is deeply moving. Some years ago, I expressed the opinion that "Someone to Watch Over Me" should not be sung by a man with the pronouns changed from masculine to feminine ("I hope that she turns out to be"). While I still believe this to be generally true, Nadler's rendition is so exquisitely vulnerable that he pulls it off; this is gorgeous work. All in all, this is an important show and a memorable evening."

If you are a Gershwin fan, a fan of piano music and classic songs,, we urge you to see Mr. Nadler perform. The Rrazz Room is located in the Hotel Nikko, at 222 Mason Street, in the City By the Bay. All shows start at 7 p.m. Call (866) 468-3399 for reservations to Buddy Greco and/or Mark Nadler.

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Producer Bob Kephart has lined up three outstanding stand up comedians for the Comedy Stop at the Sahara Hotel, during the week of August 3-9. Headlining in the Congo Room is, Eric O'Shea, creator of the You Tube hit, "Elmo," along with Tina Giorgi and Kevin Knox. O'Shea also created the wildly received "Commercial Songs for Products," which got more than three million hits on YouTube, and caught the eye, and received rave reviews from film producer, Steven Spielberg. Eric was asked to come to Hollywood for a screen test by Spielberg, which of course he gladly accepted. He will be performing at the, 2009 Creative Emmy Awards show in Hollywood this September. Eric likes his audiences to sit back, relax and let his clean wit and priceless observations take you on the ride of your life. From embarrassing childhood moments to today's frustrating mishaps, O'Shea's high energy show will have you rolling in the aisle with stomach hurting laughter. He travels the world performing his unique comedy, and is a regular on the campus circuit. Eric was voted the 2007 "Campus Activities Magazine Comedy Performer of the Year." Ms. Giorgi is a former High School teacher in Washington D.C., who credits her comedic skills to staying after school with the students in detention. Reviewers call her the, "Comedienne with a brain." Tina relies on a blend of wit and commentary to charm her audiences, which she does perfectly. She was recently featured at the "Las Vegas Comedy Festival," and was a winner of the "Bud Light Fox 5 Comedy Contest." Giorgi competed and got to the finals, in the National Lampoon Comedy Search. Kevin Knox is well known on the comedy circuit as the "Wildman of Comedy." A reviewer from the Boston Globe once referred to Knox's routine as a, "high energy bag of fun." As Kevin bounces across the stage, he is constantly creating new topics to discuss or bring to the attention of the audiences. Showtime for the Comedy Stop, in the Congo Room, at the Sahara Hotel is 9 p.m., seven nights a week. Nevada residents have a special ticket price of $19.95 plus tax and fees (must show Nevada drivers license), with general admission tickets priced at $24.95 plus. For information or to purchase tickets call (702) 737-2515 or www.saharavegas.com.



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