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 January 22, 2010
You can find the current column HERE
Las Vegas - January 22, 2010
Society of Seven
Is there a human being alive who hasn't been emotionally touched by the unimaginable tragedy and horror caused by the earthquake in Haiti? We are printing this letter from former president, Bill Clinton, in the hopes that you will contribute what you can to this worthy cause...
Yesterday (January 18th) I traveled to Haiti to deliver emergency supplies, see the conditions on the ground first-hand, and meet with government officials. I wish you could have seen what I saw. Haitians were performing surgeries at night, without lights, with no anesthesia, using vodka to sterilize equipment. It's astonishing what they've been able to accomplish in such devastating conditions. We delivered the first of the supplies made possible by your support -- generators, gas cans, solar flashlights, bottles of water, food, and medicines. You can be assured that your donations are being put to good use. We've already distributed more than $3 million to 12 organizations on the ground. Only with your continued generosity will we be able to sustain these efforts and save more lives. Please make a donation of any size today:
www.clintonfoundation.org/haitiearthquake. Even after this earthquake, I believe Haiti has the best chance in my lifetime to escape its history -- a history that Hillary and I have been able to share in a small way. It's going to take a lot of help and a long time, but they can build a better future if we do our part. Thank you for your compassion and commitment to the people of Haiti,
These are difficult times for everyone, and yet we still urge you to give whatever you can, through the Clinton Foundation, the American Red Cross, UNICEF, or any other legitimate organization. Even one dollar will help. During his recent stint at the Comedy Stop, comic Cork Proctor suggested that everyone with a cell phone, donate a dollar. That would amount to around $270 million to help the Haitians. And you thought Mr. Proctor was always being funny.
FYI...The Clinton Foundation seeks to address some of the world's more pressing challenges - such as HIV/AIDS, global climate change, and extreme poverty - through collaborative and systematic effort. Contact The William J. Clinton Foundation â€¢ 55 West 125th St., New York, NY 10027. (This is not a political message, it's a humanitarian one.)
Tonight, Bonkerz Comedy Club, located inside the Palace Station, is hosting a fundraiser to benefit Haiti. Two shows, one at 8 and one at 10, will donate half of the proceeds to the American Red Cross to assist in relief and development of those impacted by the earthquake of January 12th. Both shows are headlined by Bear, who has performed at numerous comedy clubs and casinos across the country, as well as appeared on CBS' Comedy Night School. She has a fresh outlook on life and jokes about topics such as being gay, teaching and sports. 2411 W. Sahara Ave., just west of the I-15. Bonkerz Comedy Club presents five shows weekly, with one on Thursday at 8 p.m. and two on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Tickets are $29.95 each. Palace Station hotel guests and locals with a valid Nevada ID receive a $10 discount. The club features a rotating schedule with a new headliner and feature act every week. Doors open one hour before show time and guests must be 21 years and older. Tickets can be purchased at any Station Casinos Reward Center, The Fiestas and The Galleria Mall or by calling (702) 547-5300 or log onto www.stationcasinos.com.
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Michael Laygo & Jasmine Trias by Bobby Macabagdal
We have been busy since last Friday. After hitting the Send button on the column of January 15th, we headed for the Gold Coast to see the Society of Seven - Tony Ruivivar, Bert Sagum, Michael Laygo, Hoku Low, Vince Mendoza, Roy Venturina and Wayne Wakai - with special guest, American Idol's Jasmine Trias. A full house of media folk and invited guests were in attendance as the popular group of entertainers re-launched what is hoped to be a long run in the showroom at the Gold Coast. Among the audience members enjoying the music, comedy and tongue-in-cheek impersonations of SOS, were Anthony Gourdine of Little Anthony and The Imperials, Harry Elston of Friends of Distinction, Lamonte McLemore of The 5th Dimension, Serena Henry, Wes Winters, Diane Ellis, the show's director Pat Caddick, Jerry Fink and daughter Jerri Lee, Tom and Joni Illi, Jackie Brett, Norm Johnson and Nancy Barr, Cindy Doumani, Randy Soard, Denny Weddle, Karen Ruivivar and mother, Ed and Carolie Swindle, Mark Giovi, uber-photographer Jerry Metellus, Mike Weatherford, Ben Stone, Mendrei and Cecilia Leelin of Rosy Cheeks Entertainment, Lou Anne Harrison Chessick, Susan Haller, Lonnie Hammargren, Barbara Blair, Dennis Casey Park, and handling the guests Terry Jenkins, Kristy Alward and Jasen Woehrle. Compliments go out to personable Valerian "Val" D'Cruz, Gold Coast Food & Beverage Manager, and gracious Gina Farr, the hotel's Player Development Manager, who both did great jobs at the after-party in the Cortez Room. Show times for the Society of Seven are 3:30 and 7 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets start at $29.95. For reservations, call (702) 251-3574.
On Sunday night, we were at the Sahara, where we took in Sandy Hackett's Rat Pack Show in the Congo Room, at 7 and Bob Kephart's Comedy Stop at 9. Sandy Hackett is the writer, creator and producer of this particular revue, inspired by entertainers Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Joey Bishop and Sammy Davis Jr., while Sandy's wife, Lisa Dawn Miller, is co-producer. Last Sunday, the Hackett's oh so cute almost 4-year-old daughter, Ashleigh, introduced the show. Wearing a tiny white tuxedo, this kid appears to be very comfortable on stage (much like her very talented 10-year-old brother, Oliver). It is Sandy's father, the late comic Buddy Hackett, who sets up the story, when, as God, he sends the members of the Rat Pack back to Las Vegas for one last show (possibly inspired by Forever Plaid?). There is a rotating cast of actors and musicians, but on the night we were at the Sahara, David DeCosta was playing the role of "Frank," Tony Basile was "Dean," Hackett took on the role of "Joey," and Doug Starks was "Sammy." We say "was," because, although no one can take the place of the real Sammy, Starks has some of the same skills that Davis possessed. He sings, dances, does impressions, plays the drums and even does a decent job of twirling some pistols (look out, Nelson Sardelli). We were quite impressed. Lisa Miller sang "Wasn't I a Good Time," one of her late father's (Ron Miller) tunes. Joe Spraker was at the piano and conducting the eight piece band that night, while his proud parents "kvelled" in the audience. We enjoyed the production, and would suggest, that if you have any interest in that era of show business, you see the show. Tickets start at $49.95 plus tax and fee. For reservations, call (702) 737-2515. (The show will be dark on January 24th, 25th and 31st.)
Sandy Hackett's Rat Pack
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Last week, Vegas comedy veteran, Cork Proctor, played host to a couple of funny young fellows, Chris Coccia and Jay Black, at the Comedy Stop last week. We caught them on Sunday, their closing night. All three gentlemen were on top of their games, coving many current topics. Our only criticism was that the room was way too cold. Save on utility costs, folks, and turn off the air conditioning. It's winter, for heaven's sake!
We have to wonder exactly what is going on at the Sahara, anyway. Once one of the stars of the Strip, today it appears to be a property desperately in need of rethinking. Are they getting ready to sell? Are they getting ready to close up? Last month, they did shut down two of their three towers. As for our Sunday night trip to the Sahara, we encountered problems starting before we even got inside of the place. Trying to get to valet parking from Las Vegas Blvd. is a confusing nightmare. Who designed this mess anyway? For those heading for the upstairs Congo Showroom (which is where we were going), they were out of luck if they anticipated getting there by escalator, as the escalator wasn't working. The buffet, also located on the second floor, was dark and empty. If you anticipate having a late supper or breakfast in the Caravan CafÃ© after having some laughs at the Comedy Stop, you can forget it. Why? Because the "24 hour eatery" closes at 11 p.m. You can always hang around till 7 a.m. when the restaurant reopens. If you do that, be prepared for sticker shock. Prices on the menu appear to be higher than in the past. The pickings are slim if you are looking for something to eat at night. The only option is a small space called The Grind. Offering overpriced coffee, donuts, fruit, and some sandwiches in a self-serve setting, doesnâ€˜t cut it. This place is certainly not the Sahara of days gone by. The exterior looks a little flashier, but the place today would have former headliner, Johnny Carson, spinning in his grave. Go for the shows (and the pretty bright-colored drinking goblets). There is really no other reason to be, or stay, at the Sahara.
And speaking of Cork Proctor, he and fellow comic, Jeff Wayne, are providing the laughs at the Comedy Club at the Colusa Casino, outside Sacramento, for one night only, Thursday, January 28th. Show time is at 8 p.m. and tickets are a paltry $10. If you're in the neighborhood...
Colusa Comedy Club
Gary Oakes & Lou Garcia
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For those who saw a photo of Elvis Presley where James Brolin was supposed to be in last Fridayâ€˜s column...sorry about that. The mistake was corrected on Saturday.
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On Sunday, the Performing Arts Society of Nevada presents New York in Music & Song, featuring some favorites of the PASNV audiences - Laurie Caseres, Dangerous Curves, Lou Garcia, Randy Hendrickson, Lee Hughes, Cindy-Lee Mack, Gary Oakes and Wes Winters. There are many songs and musical pieces inspired by the Big Apple. This concert will offer a fabulous sample of popular New York-themed favorites. It all takes place at the Clark County Library Theater, 1401 E. Flamingo, at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 and may be purchased by phone or picked up at the library, an hour before the show. As for Winters, he will have to make a mad dash from the ENVY Steakhouse at the Renaissance on Paradise Road, where he performs weekly at the wonderful Sunday brunches, to get to the Flamingo Library for his closing portion of the afternoon show. For information, call (702) 658-6741.
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Over at The Onyx in Commercial Center, those boys without clothes are still singing up a storm. Naked Boys Singing, has done more than 100 performances at The Onyx. Not bad, considering that when the show opened in June, it was only expected to last for two weeks. Now, risk-taker Michael Morse is bringing in another "Boys" show, this one spelled with a "Z." On January 10th, Altar Boyz ended its New York run after playing 2032 performances, making it the 9th longest running off-Broadway musical ever! Altar Boyz introduces a struggling Christian boy band from Greenville, Ohio, who are on the last night of their "Raise the Praise" U.S. tour and determined to make the big time. The Boyz - Matthew, Mark, Luke, Juan and Abraham (he's Jewish) - are intent on saving souls and raising spirits. Matthew is the hunky leader who holds the group together; Mark is the sweet and sensitive one, who choreographs all the band's signature moves; Luke is the bad boy with an interest in communion wine and driver of the Altar Boyz van; Juan, the Latin lover who's popular with the ladies; and Abraham is not sure how he ended up in the group. With spectacular dance moves and a fully automated Sony Soul Sensor DX-12 to gauge the spiritual well-being of the crowd, the Altar Boyz bring the funk, lift the soul and spread a message about the power of faith, friendship and brotherhood. Starring in the Las Vegas version are Mark White, Nolan Christopher, Aron Shanley, Taylor Hendricks and Christopher Atup. If some of those names sound familiar, it is because three of the fellows - Nolan, Mark and Aron - are also in Naked Boys, along with Allen Merritt, JD Jensen, Wallace Broadnax and Daryl Roth. In addition to performing in both shows, Nolan is the dance captain for Naked Boys Singing and the choreographer for Altar Boyz. Mike Scheneman is director of Altar Boyz, and Vita Corimbi and Michael Dubay are Musical Directors for the new show. Spencer Baker is the Musical Director for Naked Boys Singing. About Altar Boys, Broadway World's Ken Davenport writes...Altar Boyz is the longest running musical comedy to open in New York in years! Full of sharp parody, sinfully spectacular dancing, and irreverent humor, this spoof about a heavenly guy-group is adored by audiences and critics alike. With an extraordinary mix of side-splitting songs "convincing enough to be played on MTV," uncontrollable laughs and lighthearted fun, this award-winning and totally original new musical is "90 minutes of pure delight" that's suitable for all ages and will have "the whole family laughing and singing along." The off-Broadway smash hit will open at the 96-seat Onyx (located inside The Rack, a fetish clothing store in the off-Strip Commercial Center) on February 4th, and play every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., with a Sunday matinee at 1 p.m. Tickets are $30. The Onyx is located at 953 East Sahara #16, just west of Maryland Parkway. Call (702) 732-7225 for additional information or to make reservations.
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For those who have been inquiring about the health of music man, Bill Fayne, here is the situation. On November 23rd, Fayne underwent esophageal surgery at UC Irvine Medical Center in Southern California. With no complications, the patient was expected to be back in Las Vegas around December 3rd. Unfortunately, there were complications, which resulted in Bill having to be put into a drug induced coma for 10 days. He spent 31 days in the California hospital, some of that time on a feeding tube. Bill's 27-year-old son, Jeremy Fayne, made weekly trips from Las Vegas to see his father, even though much of the time dad was not aware that Jeremy was there. Lots of people have been mighty concerned about Bill. Vincent Falcone kept in regular touch, as did Clint Holmes, Jeff Neiman, and many of the other folks Bill has worked with over the years. Fayne even got a note from singer Jack Jones. It will be a while before Bill will be back at the piano with Holmes, or joining his Las Vegas Tenors singing buddies, but he is, slowly and surely, on the mend. We will keep you posted on the progress.
Thunder From Down Under
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It's the eighth (or ninth, depending on what you read) annual Las Vegas Women's Fair taking place at the South Point Events Center, tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. We know that there will be SOME men there, as Thunder From Down Under, the hunky group from Australia who currently keep the ladies screaming during shows over at the Excalibur, will be taking it all (or much of it) off when they perform at noon and 2 p.m. for the Women's Fair. The fair, which is free, is promoted as the place for "all the things that women love." In that case, women love shopping, stripping and soap operas. General Hospital actors, Jason Cook (Dr. Matt Hunter) and Tyler Christopher (Nikolas Cassadine), will sign autographs from noon to 3 p.m. at the Channel 13 booth. The Thunder from Down Under stars will sign autographs between performances. For many the fair is good, clean fun, with just a touch of naughtiness. The first 500 visitors will receive romance bags from Party Gals, an adult toys company. The bags will contain a feather boa, an Albertsons recyclable grocery bag, and Weight Watchers snacks. Inside they'll get glasses of champagne and coupons for free makeovers from Euphoria Salons. Most of the 100 vendors are shopping-related and many have giveaways. Stripper 101 is conducting pole-dancing classes on the demonstration stage at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. for "fitness and possibly to entice your significant other." For those who like to sit at tables, rather than dancing on them, there will be free poker classes every hour at the Las Vegas Poker Parties booth in the center aisle. It will host mini-tournaments with prizes awarded at the end of the day. We have been told that the gals start lining up at 7:30 a.m., so she stresses that early birds will get the worm.
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Singer/pianist, Frankie Randall, who marked birthday number 72 on January 11th, sent along a photo of some of his musical friends who turned out to help him celebrate the occasion. Shown in the accompanying photo are (from left to right): Bill Marx (son of Harpo Marx), Joey English (Palm Springs radio and TV personality), Randall, Keely Smith, Buddy Greco, Lezlie Anders, Jerry Vale and Jack Jones.
Frankie Randall & Friends
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Liberace's showmanship is legendary, but not everyone realizes that he was classically trained for 17 years. One of the ways that the Liberace Museum keeps the Liberace legacy alive is through the annual Liberace Piano Competition. The Piano Competition has evolved over the past 15 years, from what was originally known as the Liberace Play-a-like Contest. The Adjudicator Panel will be selected and chaired by Philip Fortenberry. One of Broadway's most sought after pianists, Fortenberry is an accomplished composer, and an international concert and recording artist. He holds a Master of Music degree in classical piano performance from New Jersey City University, and was an adjunct faculty member in the Steinhardt School of Education at New York University. Fortenberry, who is currently the assistant musical director for Jersey Boys, judged The Liberace Competition in 2007 and 2008, and has agreed to serve in a volunteer capacity as Competition Artistic Director and Chair of the Adjudicator Panel. To learn more about this year's competition, and to receive the Rules & Regulations and the entry application form, please contact Shirley Swift at (702) 798-5595 ext. 16. The application, along with accompanying information, is to be returned to the Liberace Museum no later than April 1, 2010. You can see and hear Philip Fortenberry, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday afternoons at 1 p.m., as he performs Liberace and Me in the Cabaret Showroom at the museum. Tickets are $17.50. The Liberace Museum is located at 1775 E. Tropicana.
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The Las Vegas Hilton has some interesting entertainment coming up in their big showroom. Next weekend, Friday the 29th and Saturday the 30th, it's Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart. Tickets are $79 to $99. On February 14th, Valentine's Day Sunday, America's Got Talent winner, Neal Boyd & Friends, take to the stage, with tickets from $49 to $89. Tony Bennett is in on February 19th and 20th, with tickets from $79 to $109, and funnyman George Lopez shakes it up on March 5th and 6th. Tickets for Lopez are $75 to $119. All shows start at 8 p.m.
Heart's Ann & Nancy Wilson
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The Rainbow Company presents Unsung Characters From Nevada's Past at the Reed Whipple Cultural Center, 821 Las Vegas Blvd. North, February 5th through 14th. The 17th episode of the Nevada Musical Series, paying homage to Las Vegas heroes, is a 50-minute original new musical, appropriate for all ages, that tells stories from the early years of Las Vegas, focusing on the characters of Walter Bracken, Pop Squires, Helen J. Stewart, Roy Martin and Mary Nettles. These characters were important in the development of the city, but many of today's residents have no idea who they were or how they helped Las Vegas grow. Rainbow Company Artistic Director, Karen McKenney, is the playwright and director of a cast of five adults, all of whom play several parts. J Neal, Martha Watson, JP Kentros, Sara Fontaine and Michael Connolly perform in this 17th episode of the Rainbow Company's annual series on Nevada history. The music is by J Neal, with lyrics by Tom Dyer. Sets and props were prepared by Kristopher Shepherd, with costumes by Emily Anderson and lighting design by Jody Caley. Show times are 7 p.m. February 5th, 7th, 11th, 12th and 13th; and 2 p.m. on February 8th, 13th and 14th. Tickets are priced at $3 for children age 12 and under, $5 for teens and seniors, and $7 for adults, and are available by mail, telephone or in person. Call the Reed Whipple center at (702) 229-6211 for tickets and more information. Beginning February 16th, this production will tour local elementary schools on Tuesdays and Thursdays, through May. A few performance dates still are available to interested schools. The nationally recognized Rainbow Company Youth Theatre holds auditions open to both adults and young people throughout the year. The award-winning staff offers classes in all aspects of theatre for ages four through high school at Reed Whipple Cultural Center and Charleston Heights Arts Center, and presents five productions annually that bring the magic of live theatre to family audiences. There is also a spring break workshop and a summer conservatory. Rainbow Company is a program of the City of Las Vegas Department of Leisure Services. For more information about the company, or to book a tour performance, call (702) 229-6553.
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They look like they just stepped out of the â€˜50s. From the minute they hit the stage and the music begins, fans, and those who have come to hear them play, can hardly sit still in their seats. They call themselves the Swingin' Pedestrians, and they play roots rock and roll like you've never heard it before. The Swingin' Pedestrians feature Tony Felicetta of the Fab Four Live, Richard Belgard and Nick White of the Blue Man Group, Michael Bacich of Oingo Boingo, Eric Tewalt of Jersey Boys, and the newest Pedestrian, Shawn Elsbernd from the Toni Braxton Band. They play exclusively at the Freakin' Frog, 4700 S. Maryland Parkway, across from UNLV, just a couple of miles east of the Strip. Dates for upcoming Swingin' Pedestrians performances are on Wednesdays, January 27th, February 24th, March 10th and 24th. Music begins at 9:30 p.m., but go early to get a good seat and enjoy a cold one from the "Largest Beer Cooler On The West Coast." "We have a lot of fun, and enjoy the crowds that come out for us," said front man Felicetta. "We do mostly covers, and we throw in some originals too. It gives us a lot of satisfaction to see the crowd up on their feet and enjoying themselves!" The Freakin' Frog offers great bar food, free admission, and free parking. It is best known for its incredible beer selection (more than 900 imported bottled brews in the cooler) and the Whiskey Attic that's just upstairs from the beer bar (500 + Whiskey, Bourbon, Scotch 250+ Tequilas and hundreds of premium wines from around the globe). Check out "The Hottest Venue For Emerging Bands in Vegas." For additional information, call (702) 597-3237.
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Danny Roque, who has performed in Las Vegas at the Composers Showcase, the Stage Door Theater in Town Square, and at the Clark County Library as part of the Performing Arts Society of Nevada, is at it again, this time at the M Bar at 1253 Vine Street (just south of Fountain) in Hollywood. Calling this time around, Here We Go Again, the performance will take place next Friday, January 29th, beginning at 7 p.m. Come for dinner. Stay for the show.
Singer/comedian Roque presents another night of songs he has written. That's right, he wrote 'em. With his wonderful group of talented musicians and singers, an evening of fun and laughter is guaranteed. Join them and be surprised, and not so surprised, by what you hear. Joining Danny will be Marina Pogosyn on piano, Michael Sims on guitar, Duane Benjamin on bass, Ronald Bruner on drums, Dwain Roque on percussion, and Angelica Roque, Chris Roque, Dina Bennett and Nora Roque on vocals. Special guest will be Gerry Higbie. Reservations are required. You must call the M-Bar at (323) 856-0036 to secure a spot. Confirming is not sufficient, as they are planning to sell-out again. Once itâ€˜s full, youâ€˜re out of luck. Tickets are $15 cash with a $10 food minimum. As Danny Roque suggests, "Come see what the Fool hath wrote!"
Rick Faugno's New CD
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It's Grammy Award-winning LeAnn Rimes at the Eastside Cannery next Friday, January 29th. Tickets start at $59.95 plus tax. Call (702) 856-5470.
Neil Diamond look-alike/sound-alike, Rob Garrett, also known as "The King of Diamonds," plays the Cannery in North Las Vegas, tomorrow night at 8 p.m. At $5 per person, this is probably the best entertainment bargain this weekend (or just about any weekend, for that matter). You can't even buy a Neil album or CD for five bucks. Call (702) 507-5757.
At the Liberace Museum, tomorrow at 3:30 p.m., the Cabaret presents Phyllis Bell and her one-woman-show, All My Laughter. Bell, who began her career as a stand up comic in Los Angeles, has performed in numerous cabarets throughout New York. For this performance, she will be accompanied at the piano by Spencer Baker. Baker is a former Liberace Scholar and was the winner of the 2004 Liberace Piano Competition in the professional division. He has a master's degree in piano performance from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and has performed with the UNLV symphony as a soloist. Tickets are $10.
And at the Starbright Theatre in Sun City Summerlin, also tomorrow, is the Michael Chapman and ChapQuist Entertainment production of Supreme Reflections. The revue is a loving tribute to the most famous female singing group of all time, The Supremes. This trip down memory lane is written and directed by Motown producer and creative consultant, George Solomon, and award-winning producer/director, Michael Chapman, with choreography by Paul Holmquist. Supreme Reflections stars Wendy Edmead, Cheaza Figueroa and Tai Lewis, with a special guest appearance by Solomon. Tickets for the 7 p.m. show are $15 for Sun City Summerlin residents and $18 for non-residents. They can be purchased at Desert Vista, Mountain Shadows and Pinnacle Community Centers. For show info and credit card orders, call (702) 869-2064. You can reach the box office at (702) 240-1301. Please visit www.CHAPQUIST.com for more information.
For the third time, the South Point hotel presents Jersey Boys star, Rick Faugno, in Songs My Idols Sand (and Danced). With accompaniment by Keith Thompson at the piano, the show is at 3 p.m. Sunday. For ticket information, call (702) 797-8055.
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Claire Voyant's portrait by Charlie Frye