Displaying keen perception and great insight.
She's a little bit naughty. She’s a little bit nice.
She calls ‘em like she sees (and hears) ‘em.
Note: This is a past column from September 11, 2009
You can find the current column HERE
Las Vegas - September 11, 2009
Looks like very serious problems between The Rat Pack Is Back! co-producers, Sandy Hackett and Dick Feeney. Now in its 10th year and at its fourth Vegas hotel (Desert Inn, Sahara, Greek Isles and Plaza), the tribute to Frank, Sammy, Joey and Dean has managed to survive legal battles involving David Cassidy (who, with Don Reo, produced the first of the Rat Pack tribute shows at the Desert Inn in 1999) and the Frank Sinatra family. Will this latest problem be the poison that kills the cash cow? According to what we have heard and read (we have a copy of the Cease and Desist letter from Los Angeles attorney, Howard E. King, who is representing Hackett), Feeney has ousted Hackett from his own show! Sandy, who not only wrote the show and portrayed Joey Bishop (who he knew since his childhood) in various versions of the productions (there are touring casts and shows), but whose father, the late Buddy Hackett, provides the voice of "God" in the revues' opening set up. How can he be banished from something he created? Anyway, we think this could get really, REALLY ugly. Stay tuned.
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Although a local entertainment writer says that Earl Turner will be back in the Las Vegas Hilton's Voices show when he returns from a two week gig at sea, we hear that hasn't yet been decided. We had been told (by those folks known as "reliable sources"), as we wrote last week, that Turner would not be returning to the Shimmer Showroom, and that the talented Lani Misalucha, formerly with the Society of Seven, would carry on, doing her own show and featuring alternating guests. So...once again, we wait for a final decision. As we go to press, Lani, who was supposed to debut her solo show tonight, will now go on next Thursday night instead. We suggest checking with the Hilton before planning your evening, as, right now, everything seems very iffy. Call (702) 732-5755.
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So Labor Day 2009 has come and gone and so, thank goodness, has the annual Muscular Dystrophy Association telethon (the 44th) and what's left of Jerry Lewis' career. Have we ever mentioned how much we dislike Jerry Lewis? The answer is, "yes," we have. We want to say that we STILL dislike him. In fact, at 83-years-of-age, we dislike him even more than we did 50-some years ago, when he and Dean Martin went their separate ways! This obnoxious man has had decades to perfect his rudeness. His success in this area of his life shows up in a number of ways, one being the fact that the televising of this year's telethon did not attract a large audience to the South Point. Yes, a lot of money is raised for a worthy cause but we feel Jerry has very little to do with that success. If not for our longtime friend, Eddie Foy III, and the talent he assembles to perform (often in the middle of the night) during all those hours, there would be no reason to tune in to this showcase. Lewis' next award should be given for "Bad Behavior by a TV Host." During the short periods that we tuned in, we were happy to see the high energy Charo (too bad Mr. Lewis had to demean her generous and voluntary performance by suggesting that the men in the audience had erections as a result of her number), Charlie Frye and Company and Ronn Lucas on the show. Oh, and by the way, $60.5 million was raised last weekend...that's assuming that everyone who made a commitment comes through on their promise. On former Las Vegan Jimmy Kimmel's Tuesday night show, both Kimmel and guest comic Jeffrey Ross had a good time, at Lewis' expense. Ross told about the success of the telethon when he stated that on Monday, a 7-year-old kid got up out of his wheelchair and walked for the first time...to the television to turn off the Jerry Lewis Telethon. We think we love Jeffrey Ross!
Frank Marino's Divas Las Vegas
After performing three different numbers for the telethon, Charo took a fall as she was leaving the South Point, requiring a trip to emergency at Sunrise Hospital. The next day, suffering very painful injuries and a possible broken ankle, Miss Cuchi Cuchi was transported to a Southern California hospital for further treatment. Her well reviewed show at the Riviera has been put on hold. We wish Charo a very speedy recovery.
And still on the subject of Labor Day weekend...We know about the Battle of the Bands, but Labor Day weekend in Las Vegas saw the Battle of the Broads...well, sort of. After seven months away from the Vegas Strip, female impersonator Frank Marino, with a cast of famous "ladies," took over the showroom at the Imperial Palace for four nights, from Friday through Monday. Host/emcee Frank, channeling Joan Rivers for his monologue, and becoming Glamarino as he, in some fabulous fashions, introduces "Lady Gaga" and "Britney Spears," portrayed by ABC's The Next Best Thing and NBC's America's Got Talent competitor, Derrick Barry; "Liza Minnelli" (Sammy Gonzales); "Diana Ross" (Crystal Wood); "Madonna" and "Dolly Parton" (Kenneth Blake); "Wynonna" (Jimmy Emerson); "Bette Midler" (Coco Vega); "Celine" and "Cher," (both played by Steven Wayne); and "Beyond Beyonce" and "Donna Summer" (Larry Edwards). Then, there are the Brad Barnes and Gary Thomas choreographed Frank Marino Dancers, made up of six really talented men - Jonathan Arsenault, Jeremy Butcher, Michael Cammarata, Stephen Lowry (Tony 'n Tina's Wedding), Jason Mackenzie and Paul Pratt (who is also one of the stars in Naked Boys Singing! at The Onyx in Vegas). Marino is not only the star of Divas Las Vegas, he is also co-producer with Adam Steck and Alex Schechter of SPI Entertainment. Word has it that the eight shows (two a night for the four nights) attracted about 5,000 people. We think the IP would be missing the boat if they didn't bring the Divas in as a permanent attraction. We suggest Matsuri, the Japanese muscle musical in the afternoon for family viewing; the Australian singing group, Human Nature, in the early evening; and Frank Marino and company at 10 p.m. No charge for our advice.
And on Monday night, it was longtime Las Vegas favorite Kenny Kerr, joined by female impersonators, Tim Dunn as "Dionne Warwick" (absolutely amazing!) and Ryan Zink as "Reba McEntire," at Goodtimes on East Tropicana. Kenny, too long away from Vegas, was in top form with his adult-type humor and vocals (no lip-synching for him). The SRO showroom contained lots of old friends and fans, including Howard Jochsberger, Paul Hansell, The Edwards Twins (Anthony and Eddie Edwards), Grant Philipo, and Anne Davis Mulford, also known as the world famous "Princess Anne," Marvin Nathan, Wes Winters, Rod Russell, and hypnotist Ken Owens, to name but a few. We have it on good authority that, beginning on October 2nd, Kenny Kerr, who now makes his home in Palm Springs, will be traveling to Las Vegas to perform at DeStefano's on Friday and Saturday nights.
Tim Dunn as Dionne Warwick
Naked Boys Singing!
And speaking of those Naked Boys...After taking off for Labor Day weekend, the Boys are back onstage at The Onyx, undressed and raring to go. If you haven't seen the Naked Boys Singing! (or dancing, or acting), get your bad selves over to The Onyx Theatre inside The Rack in the northeast corner of Commercial Center. Join the Red Hat Ladies, the fellows from Flex, your 5-year-olds' kindergarten teacher, those wild and crazy bachelorettes, and your pastor, for an afternoon (Sundays at 3) or evening (Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 10) of music and fun. Tickets for the Jimmy Emerson and Michael Morse production are $30 each. Call the Onyx (953 E. Sahara) at (702) 732-7225.
And speaking of Jimmy Emerson...On Wednesday, September 16th, the longtime comedy lead in the Riviera's An Evening at La Cage, Mr. Oh So Busy (he just finished portraying Wynonna in Frank Marino's Divas Las Vegas at the Imperial Palace), will serve as MC/host at the Monday night Divas Off the Strip at Goodtimes in the Liberace Plaza; is co-producer, with Michael Morse, of Naked Boys Singing! at The Onyx Theatre in Commercial Center; and, as Starr Pro Productions, is just winding up a 10 night engagement of Vegas Nights at the Northern Quest Casino outside of Spokane) will host A Tribute to the Fabulous Billie Duncan at the Avant Garden Arts and Entertainment venue, 411 Westheimer in Houston (that's Texas, y'all). Who is Billie Duncan, you ask? The lady ran talent showcases in Houston for many years, producing and supporting some of the finest acts the city has ever known. For the past several years, Ms. Duncan has been working for a Las Vegas production company, most recently writing specialty material for comedian Rip Taylor. Billie has had a long and varied career as an author, reporter, entertainer, photographer and political activist, and, although she has been in a wheelchair since 2003, she managed to earn a master's degree in English and return to creating art. Her art is digital collage (her own photography, drawing and painting with scanned images and iconic photos) combined with architectural elements. Duncan's 8 p.m. art show at Avant Garden is about the hope for peace in universes of destruction. The Houston Poetry Slam Showcase will take place outside at 7:30 p.m., with Poetry Readings from 8 to 9 p.m. Live entertainment, featuring David Fahl, Mary Allen, John Gorman, Fyrst Tryp, Jim McCrindle, The Unknown Magician, 61 Cygni and Hillary Arwen, will take place from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Of course, it is hoped that the Fabulous Ms. Duncan will also perform at some time during the night. And, by the way, it's Billie Duncan's birthday! If you happen to be in the Longhorn state...
And speaking of birthdays, Bonnie Saxe and JoAnn Toranto were inadvertently left off of last weeks list of Virgo celebrants. We wish both ladies a very happy and healthy year.
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As we expected her to do, Kelly Clinton once again charmed and entertained a full house last Saturday at the Starbright Theatre in Sun City Summerlin. With special guests Elisa Fiorillo as Barbra Streisand to Kelly's Neil Diamond, Bill Fayne as Sonny Bono to Kelly's Cher, and Michelle Johnson who did a beautiful solo on "What the World Needs Now," and then joined Kelly in a duet of "For Good," from Broadway's Wicked, Ms. Clinton kept the audience in the palm of her hand from beginning to end in her tour de force performance. Whether as Wayne Newton, with whom Kelly sang back up some years back, or "Kelvis" in a blue jumpsuit and cape, there are always unexpected surprises for the audience. Ms. Clinton's created character, Joe Joe Spaghetti Moretti, shows just how good she is at improv. Although some of the dialogue is repeated from show-to-show, there is always something new and fresh and clever. Last Saturday, we especially liked Joe Joe's bantering with the Capaldi family - entertainers Domenick Allen and Leigh Zimmerman and their daughter, Cayleigh. Another favorite moment involved the "rain curtain" effect in the Wayner's "MacArthur Park" number.
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Nina, Joni, Susan - The Divas
It seems that DeStefano's Italian Supper Club, located in southeast Las Vegas, is becoming a popular hangout for those who like to get their entertainment fix away from the Strip. There is something going on at the restaurant on East Tropicana at Pecos just about every night. For example, tomorrow night, it will be The Divas - made up of vocalists, Nina Bjornstad, Susan Haller and Joni Illi - from 7:30 to 10:30. Two beautiful blondes and a "sassy" redhead, backed by the Joe Darro Trio, team up for an evening of Broadway, standards and original cabaret.
Joni will sing some love songs and standards from her CD, Susan will do some gospel, some funny stuff and perhaps a couple of original tunes, while Nina, the Baby Diva, will do some theater selections with her trained voice. Together, the ladies will do "Sentimental Journey" and "Big Spender" among others.
Also happening at DeStefano's...On Monday night's, from 7:30 to 10:30, it's Life is a Cabaret with host Lynn Ross. This week's theme is a Tribute to Frank Sinatra. DeStefano's is located 3430 E. Tropicana at Pecos. Phone (702) 436-3275.
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On Sunday, beginning at 8 p.m., Wes Winters, will create a real party atmosphere in the Celebration Lounge of the Tropicana Hotel. If anyone can put a crowd in a party mood, it's this fun-loving piano man. The new lounge has a South Beach feel, so wear your bright tropical colors to the party. There is no cover charge and no drink minimum. Come ready to dance!
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Michael Kessler & Melinda Jackson
Michael Kessler and Melinda Jackson are back at the Charleston Heights Arts Center by popular demand. Next Saturday, September 19th,, at 2 p.m., they will premiere their new show, Dance With Me - Love Songs & Dances & Backstage Stories, with members of the M&M American Dance Theatre. Featuring Music Director, Keith Thompson of Jersey Boys, M&M presents an intimate look at the creation of original song and dance numbers, from Great American Songbook classics, including Gershwin, Porter and Berlin, to contemporary tunes by Ben E. King and Tim McGraw. Dance With Me combines great music, dynamic, romantic, partner dancing, and zany humor, resulting in 90-minutes of fun. Michael and Melinda's performances have been called "Genuine romance... top notch entertainment," by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and "...lively...acrobatic...elegant...an evening of fun...skillful craftsmanship," in the New York Times. Tickets are $10, and $8 for seniors and students. The Charleston Heights Arts Center is located at 800 S. Brush Street, near W. Charleston and Decatur. Call (702) 229-6383 for reservations, or purchase at the door.
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As we mentioned last Friday, Paul Stone's variety show, Britain's Top Talent, is in the 800+ seat theater at The Orleans, tonight through Sunday night. Featuring international performers - Arron Sparks from the UK, a young who does amazing things with yo yos; Paul Zenon, a well established top UK TV magician and game show celebrity; England's new rising singing star, Ben Stone (accompanied by a live band); and The Overtures, Sir Elton John's favorite '60s Tribute Band From New York comes special guest, Nathalie Enterline, who does some amazing things with a hat and cane, and, from Las Vegas, it's the hilarious comic magician, Jeff Hobson (the love child of Liberace and Paul Lynde) serving as emcee/host. The Shows are supporting MagiCaresTM The Magic Charity, and there will be a special pre-show VIP reception on Saturday, September 12th, featuring the British Micro Sculptor, Willard Wigan, who produces incredible sculptures all inside the eye of a needle or on a pin head. ( Check out his website www.willardwigan.com ). Willard Wigan supports only two charities, MagiCaresTM, and the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund. Paul Stone launched MagiCaresTM with Siegfried & Roy ( who are Honorary Trustees ) at the London Palladium Theatre last September. The MagiCaresTM reception at the Orleans will benefit Opportunity Village and Siegfried & Roy's SARMOTI (Siegfried and Roy, Masters of the Impossible) Foundation. Wigan, who appeared on the Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien on August 12th, created a sculpture of Siegfried & Roy, which will be auctioned off at The Orleans event on September 12th. Tickets for Britain's Top Talent are $29.95, $39.95 and $49.95 plus taxes and fees. Call (702) 365-7075 for reservations to this all family show.
A special guest will be in the audience this weekend, thanks to the generosity of Paul Stone. Young James Dunn, a teenager who suffers from the rare disease, EB, has come from England with his parents to see Britain's Top Talent. James is a big fan of magic, and is a great admirer of Siegfried & Roy. He had the opportunity to meet the magicians at an event at the London Palladium last year. He hopes to have the chance to see them again during his Las Vegas visit. We have a feeling that will happen.
And speaking of Paul Stone, his popular Variety Live will return to the Suncoast for shows on November 28th, 29th and 30th, and his World Stars of Magic returns to the hotel casino on December 11th, 12th and 13th.
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Prominent conductor Edwin Outwater is joining the Sgt. Pepper Live project once again to lead the full symphony orchestra for "Sgt. Pepper Live" featuring Cheap Trick at the Las Vegas Hilton. He was the guest conductor at both "Sgt. Pepper Live" shows at the Hollywood Bowl and will be guest conducting the Las Vegas Hilton shows, Sept. 13-15, 17-19 and 21-23.
Edwin Outwater is currently the music director of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony in Ontario, Canada. Prior to his current position, he served as resident conductor of the San Francisco Symphony and held the post of music director of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra. In both capacities, he worked closely with Michael Tilson Thomas, accompanying the orchestra on tour and conducting numerous concerts each season. He made his subscription debut in 2002, with Kurt Masur conducting Britten's "War Requiem," and has collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma, Evelyn Glennie and many others. Outwater has appeared with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the Adelaide Symphony, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and the National Youth Orchestra of New Zealand. He was awarded the Leonard Bernstein award for excellence in educational programming, and the MET LIFE award for community outreach. Outwater is a Harvard University graduate with a master's degree in conducting from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Cheap Trick is best known for its classic singles "I Want You To Want Me" and "Surrender." The band recorded the album All Shook Up in 1980 with Sir George Martin and Geoff Emerick, producer and engineer of The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Emerick will continue to be in charge of the audio production for "Sgt. Pepper Live." He received Grammy awards for the engineering of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and "Abbey Road." Shows for "Sgt. Pepper Live," featuring Cheap Trick at the Las Vegas Hilton, are at 8 p.m. on September 13th, 14th, 15th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd. Tickets are priced at $65, $80 and $95, plus tax and fees. A portion of the proceeds for each show's ticket sales will be donated to the Grammy Foundation and MusiCares. Tickets can be purchased at the Las Vegas Hilton box office or by logging onto www.lvhilton.com, , www.ticketmaster.com or by phone at (702) 732-5755 or 1-800-222-5361. For more information on "Sgt. Pepper Live" featuring Cheap Trick, please visit www.LVHilton.com, www.CheapTrick.com or www.BillEdwardsPresents.com.
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Brass Roots Quintet
The City Of Las Vegas Cultural Arts & Community Events presents the Brass Roots Quintet Concert, tomorrow at Reed Whipple Cultural Center. Everyone is invited to enjoy a Special Tea Saturday concert at 2 p.m. These professional musicians perform an exciting, eclectic mix of music that ranges from classical to contemporary. Enjoy great music and light refreshments, including hot teas. Trombone player and group leader Walt Boenig toured with the Glenn Miller and Harry James orchestras, and played in Las Vegas showroom bands since 1975. Tony Scodwell played trumpet in several big bands, and toured with Doc Severinsen, James, Buddy Rich, and the Stan Kenton and Dorsey orchestras. Rocky Lombardo (trumpet) has performed professionally in Denver, San Francisco and Las Vegas, and is included in many television specials and the "Casino" movie soundtrack. Bryce Nakaoka teaches French horn and plays in the Las Vegas Philharmonic, at UNLV and in live music shows on the Las Vegas Strip. Stephen Kunzer (tuba) has a master's degree in tuba performance from the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. He currently is the tuba and euphonium professor at UNLV. General admission tickets are priced at $5. Call (702) 229-6211 for tickets and information.
The Reed Whipple Cultural Center is located at 821 Las Vegas Blvd. North.
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Our sympathies go out to Diane Ellis on the loss of her father, who passed away in Boston earlier this week. Diane had been scheduled to perform at the Captain's Cove Bistro, 2902 Lake East Drive, last night. Instead, she is with her family in Boston. Our thoughts are with all of them.
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Tonight, September 11th, through September 27th, the Las Vegas Little Theatre will present Ira Levin's Deathtrap. How far will someone go to have a hit play? With hidden motives and shocking plot twists, this two-thirds thriller and one-third devilishly clever comedy holds the record as the longest running comedy-thriller on Broadway. "It is a classic thriller, a genre with a style, a manner and an audience of its own. If you like thrillers, do see it," wrote the New York Post. "Suspend your disbelief and be delighted. Scream a little. It's good for you." Cue Magazine. Directed by Shawn Hackler, Deathtrap features Gary Lunn as Sidney Bruhl, Eleny Rose as Myra Bruhl, Justin Hopkins as Clifford Anderson, Barbara King as Helga Ten Dorp, and Ed Knutson as Porter Milgrim. Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets range from $16 to $22. Call (702) 362-7996 for reservations. The LVLT box office hours are Mondays, from 4 to 8 p.m., Wednesdays, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to noon.
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The Sharpe Family
As someone who has called Las Vegas home for more than three decades (we wouldn't want to live anywhere else), it is always interesting to get a take on the city from visitors. This min-review came to us from the Sharpe family - Nick and Sherri, and their children, Amber and Ethan - who live in Hampshire, England. On Las Vegas In General...We always have a great time and this was no different! Even though we had heard that visitor numbers were down it wasn't apparent when we were sight seeing. Its hard to beat cruising down the Strip in a convertible on a balmy LV evening! We hadn't seen Encore before and thought that looked superb inside and we also look forward to the opening of the new City Center complex, the scale of the development is quite staggering. On Le Reve at Wynn...Absolutely stunning! We had seen this previously and greatly enjoyed it but the new updated version was truly superb. The whole production was just spectacular. Grace, athleticism, excellence and beauty everywhere. The music, the lighting and the visual spectacle were entirely captivating. Our children were entranced by the production and it is a show I would not tire of seeing. It will be my over-riding memory of the entertainment we experienced on this trip and I would recommend this show unreservedly to anyone visiting LV. Regarding the Playboy Club at the Palms ...We had seen that there was a new Playboy Club at the Palms and were keen to experience the "Playboy" atmosphere and spot some bunnies !! When we visited on the Saturday night we encountered huge queues in the lobby but were given some great advice by one of the security guys who mentioned that you could buy wristbands in the gift shop for $60 each and this would get us priority entrance to the Playboy club, the Ghost bar and the nightclubs at the Palms. This seemed to be great value compared to paying separate cover charges for each bar/club and it really did take you to the front of the line. I must admit the club was something of a disappointment as it was really just "another" nightclub admittedly with some spectacular views. There was no Playboy feel to the place, no visible Playboy branding and we couldn't find the gaming tables either. The place was packed and very lively but we were a little deflated. We wondered if the club metamorphosed into something different for the week-end clubbing crowd ? Also (a first for us) was that you had to queue to get out of the club due to the volume of people waiting for the elevators!! And lastly, Once on This Island - at Spring Mountain Ranch...We have been to productions at Spring Mountain Ranch on a few occasions but this was undoubtedly the most professional, polished performance we have seen. The show started with a slightly overlong, silent passage and it was initially hard to engage with the story. However once the dialogue started it quickly became apparent how accomplished the actors were and how well designed the stage was for this production. The show is a vibrant Caribbean tale of love and ultimately death, full of wonderful, singing, dancing and acting. The female soprano and male lead dancer were particularly impressive and the our children especially enjoyed the fact that there was a child in a key role. The ending was a little unsatisfying but that is probably more to do with the fact that we have become "programmed" for happy endings !! All in all it was a well rounded performance with a talented cast.
Thank you for sharing, Sharpe family.
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The Comedy Stop announces the upcoming line up of stellar comedians that will perform in the legendary Congo Room at the Sahara Hotel & Casino, September 14th through 20th. Scott Bruce's style of comedy is somewhere between emcee and high-energy stand-up comedian. Bruce is known for his infectious laugh, engaging personality and his ability to ad lib as well as delivers his special brand of personalized humor. He has opened for such acts as Three Dog Night, Warren Zevon, Todd Rundgren and Dave Mason. Originally from Pittsfield, Mass., Karen Rontowski started her comedy career in Southern California where she was a regular at both the Comedy Store and The Improv. Rontowski has opened for such show biz legends as Bob Hope, Ray Charles and The Monkees. She is a regular on the Bob and Tom nationally syndicated morning radio show, and has been seen on Comics Unleashed with Byron Allen, and Comedy Central's Live at Gotham. Most recently, Rontowski finished shooting her acting debut. She will play the lead role in the upcoming movie, Return to Sender. Dan Grueter is one of the fastest rising young stars on the comedy horizon, packing excellent stage presence with impeccable timing, making him one of the most requested comedians on the comedy circuit. Some of his television appearances include The Late Late Show, Comedy Central, and BET's Comic View. The Comedy Stop performs at 9 p.m. seven nights a week inside the the Sahara's Congo Room. Tickets are $24.95 plus tax and fees for standard seating, $29.95 plus tax and fees for Golden Circle seating, $34.95 plus tax and fees for VIP seating, and $19.95 plus tax and fees for Nevada residents with valid ID. Guests must be 21 years of age or older. For more information or reservations call (702) 737-2515.
And for more laughs, head south on the Strip to the Riviera, where Nick Lewin headlines the award-winning Riviera Comedy Club, September 14th through the 20th. Nick has been featured on HBO, Showtime and Comedy Central with his unique blend of stand-up comedy, variety and magic. His appearance on Wise Guys Tonight earned Nick a nomination for cable television's ACE Award. After a five-year run at the Maxim in Las Vegas, Lewin produced his own nationally syndicated radio show entitled "The Entertainment Files. The show combined celebrity interviews with movie reviews and was one of the first radio shows to be available as a downloadable Internet broadcast. Joining in on the fun is fellow funnyman Vinnie Coppola. Vinnie is a founding member of The Comedy Zone in Jacksonville, Florida, and has toured the comedy club circuit extensively, including gigs at San Francisco's Punchlines, Jesters in Atlantic City and Cocomo's in the Bahamas. He has made several appearances on Comedy Central and the Nashville Network. Gary Caouette got his start in stand-up in New England where he quickly rose through the ranks from host to feature act to headliner. He won the Comedy Connections Funniest Professional Contest and has appeared in the film "The Boonedock Saints" as well as a feature role on "Nippon TV's Astonishing News." Show times for the Riviera Comedy Club are 8:30 and 10 p.m. Tickets are $24.99 plus tax and fee. Ask about our dinner/show combinations. For more information call the Riviera Box Office at (702) 794-9433, or go to www.rivierahotel.com. All guests must be at least 18 years of age.
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Since we can't be EVERYWHERE and see EVERYTHING, it helps to have friends that will take the time to make some notes and give a report on something we missed. From singer Joni Illi comes this synopsis on Las Vegas Celebrates the Music of Michael Jackson, held in the Palm's 2,500-seat Pearl Concert Hall August 29th, on what would have been the King of Pop's 51st birthday. Following some videos on the sides of the concert hall, accompanied by Michael Jackson music, Erich Bergen opened the show with a very cool white curtain silhouette of MJ. The audience began to scream. Erich, a Jersey Boy, sang "The Way You Make Me Feel" very slow and then sped it up a bit. At that point, dancers and Holly Madison, (who, personally, I think is a talentless big boobed blond, who couldn't even walk in time to the music most of the time) from Peepshow, walked out and started strutting across the stage. Holly acts as though she is trying to get away from Erich in a flirty way, but not very much in time with the music. All in all, Erich did a great job of dancing as did the chorus line. They went on with the show but, after the last act, Bergen asked everyone to stay seated so they could redo the opening. The duo of Zowie Bowie were beautifully dressed. They sang "Rock With You," one of my favorites, in a big band arrangement which I didn't like at all. It was actually hard to tell what the song was. They changed the beat too much and she was flat. It was obvious, that the girl was pretty much in the dark about the arrangement. Next were cast members from Peepshow. One of the dancers, I swear, looked pregnant, and they were mediocre at best. Scantily dressed for an audience of a lot of kids. Black shorts riding up their you-know-what. The worst was the pole dancer. Did the kids in that audience ever get an education! Splits aimed at the audience, butt in the air with splits to the side, the whole ball of wax. I'm no prude but when there are children present, that's not right. The other group of dancers, in black sweats, outdanced these girls by a landslide. I felt that the entire production was not appropriate. After all, the money raised was going for education, not stripping and pole dancing. Sad thing is, I was so distracted with everything going on that I didn't even catch the song that they were doing, sorry. Ventriloquist/vocal impressionist Terry Fator was unbelievable, as you might guess. He had his Paul McCartney puppet and did his voice like Paul and then did Michael Jackson. It was spooky, almost eerie. Fator, in a perfect falsetto, sang "She's Mine" with great back up singers. His second song was "You've Got a Friend in Me," singing a line in Paul's voice then bouncing back to Michael Jackson's voice. It was truly amazing! Also performing was Human Nature, the singing group from Australia, now at the Imperial Palace. They did a MJ medley of "Give Me One More Chance," "I Want You Back" and "ABC." They were very good and really got the audience going and then the Jersey Boys came out and literally blew us away. They are amazing. Travis Cloer is fantastic!!! They sang "I'll Be There" and one more song, but I was so enamored with them, I forgot to write it down. Rick Faugno danced and sang "They Don't Care About Us." He was great. I sure look forward to seeing his show at the South Point on the 20th. Travis also sang "Farewell My Summer Love" and "Got To Be There." I was swept away, it was so beautiful. Earl Turner and Lani Misalucha sang "You Are Not Alone" and "Scream," while Turner danced just like Michael Jackson. They were both wonderful. The Sirens of TI made the Peepshow girls look like ordinary housewives. They did "Dirty Diana." (I wonder what Michael was thinking when he wrote that song?) One of the few acts all day that did not receive a standing ovation!
This was the 30th anniversary of the album, Off the Wall." Two singers from Zumanity, who were both wonderful, sang one of my favorites, "She's Out Of My Life." It was so beautiful and incredibly touching the way the girl sang. A local band sang, "Love Is A Feeling." Mosaic was fabulous, with beautiful harmonies. They sang, "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'." Clint Holmes and Kelly Clinton sang "I Just Can't Stop Loving You," and Clint sang "Human Nature" alone. They were both, of course, amazing. This was fantastic...Four kids from the Spring Valley High School played a beautiful song whose name I can't think of. From The Lion King, 10-year-old, Elijah Johnson, blew us away with his incredible singing and dancing, just like Michael Jackson. He had all the moves and personality down perfect. People roared and gave him an immediate standing ovation. But again I was so enthralled with him, I forgot to write down his song, sorry. Steve Friess one of the producers, (it was produced by he and Erich Bergen), said he had absolutely no talent and he thanked the Palms and all the tireless wonderful volunteers. He announced that the money raised was over $100,000. This money will provide for students who cannot afford instruments and lessons. The crowd cheered. Steve said that we celebrate Michael Jackson's legacy. Erich Bergen came out and announced that singers from Phantom and Jersey Boys, will be singing together with, the Las Vegas Mass Choir (I think that was their name). Their pastor was their director. A young girl stepped forward and sang the lead to "Man In The Mirror." They announced the band quickly. The only name we recognized was Tish Diaz, and that was only because my husband, Tom, remembered her from Ali Spuck's show at the Liberace Museum.
Thank you, Joni. With all the note taking, we're surprised that you got to see ANY of the show!
Other things going on in The Pearl Concert Hall at the Palms...All you Mariah Carey fans, gather round and break open the piggy bank or dig your credit card out of its hiding place, cause your girl is in town. She performs in The Pearl at the Palms tonight, tomorrow and on October 9th and 10th. The Pearl is Las Vegas' premier concert theater, boasting seating for up to 2,500 ticket holders. The Pearl offers the utmost in intimate viewing of your favorite acts. The theater features a stage just four feet from the floor, with the farthest seating area being a mere 120 feet from the stage. Private and semi-private skyboxes are located on each side of the venue, offering private bars, lounges and restrooms. The Pearl is a marvel of modern technology using only top quality sound and video equipment throughout. Hard wired to The Studio at The Palms, The Pearl allows artists to create a cost-effective live album with efficiency and without additional venue set-up. Doors will open at 7 p.m. and show time is at 8. Ticket prices are $129, $179, and $254. Box office is open from noon to 7 p.m. daily. The Pearl is home to Miller Lite Live, sponsored by Citi; for more information on upcoming concerts, please call (702) 942-6888. For more information, please visit www.palms.com.
And speaking of the Palms, Mike Cardella Jr., whose "real" job is at the Palms, also has another life...that of an actor and comic. Mike is the son of the late comic, Pudgy!, so it isn't too surprising that he has an interest in stand up comedy. He also is very involved with improv, both as a student, and as a performer. With his partner in crime, er, comedy, Mike and Anthony Owliaie call themselves The Last Men On Earth. The duo will put on two shows at The Onyx Theatre inside The Rack in Commercial Center (the same performance space where Naked Boys Singing! get naked!), from 8 to 10 p.m. on Monday, September 14th, and then two weeks later on Monday the 28th. Tickets are only $7. Cough up the dollars and go have some fun with The Last Men On Earth. We might also mention that we have seen Mr. Cardella do some fine dramatic work. We think he has a bright future in show business, whichever route he decides to take.
The Last Men On Earth - Anthony Owliaie & Mike Cardella
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The Pointer Sisters bring their timeless collection of pop and R&B hits to The Club at the Cannery Casino & Hotel on Saturday, September 12th at 8 p.m. The Grammy® award winning trio will be performing several of their popular hits such as "He's So Shy," "I'm So Excited" and "Jump (For My Love)," songs that are sure to keep the crowd up and doing the "Neutron Dance." The Pointer Sisters recorded a string of popular R&B and pop tunes in the '70s and '80s that made them perennial chart toppers during that era. The singing group debuted in 1973 with their self-titled album and achieved early success with such hits as "He's So Shy," "Slow Hand" and the cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Fire." Their 1983 album, Break Out, was certified triple-platinum, making it the biggest selling album of the Pointer Sisters' career. In 1984, the Pointer Sisters released four Billboard top 10 singles in a row with "Automatic," "Jump (For My Love)," "I'm So Excited" and, from the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack, "Neutron Dance." The success of the album earned the sisters two Grammy Awards and two American Music Awards. Tickets start at $14.95 plus tax, and are available for purchase at the Cannery Casino & Hotel's front desk. Tickets may also be purchased by calling (702) 507-5757 or (866) 999-4899, or by visiting www.cannerycasinos.com.
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And because she would never forgive us if we didn't mention this...
For Susan Meinhold Sobel and the millions of other Van Morrison fans, let us remind you (as if they would forget) that the legendary singer songwriter comes into The Joint at the Hard Rock, on Friday, September 25th. Call TicketMaster at (800) 745-3000 for prices and reservations for the concert.
Also, it's the Supreme Mary Wilson at the Silverton, tomorrow night at 8. Tickets are $27.50, all inclusive. Call (702) 914-8557.
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Tomorrow, at 2 and 7 p.m., Clark County Parks & Recreation presents Magic: A Night of Deception at the Winchester Cultural Center, 3139 S. McLeod (north of Desert Inn). Magicians Paul Draper, Tyas Frantz, Scott Hitchcock and Chuck Lane, who have performed at the Hard Rock, Venetian and Caesars, will amaze, amuse and astound audience members when they display their skills on Saturday afternoon and again Saturday evening. General admission is $10. Tickets may be purchased online at www.accessclarkcounty.com or in person at Winchester. For additional information, call (702) 455-7340.
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Claire Voyant's portrait by Charlie Frye