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 February 19, 2010
You can find the current column HERE


Las Vegas - February 19, 2010


Mike Corda

Robert Goulet

Jon Peterson

Longtime Las Vegan, Mike Corda, passed away last Saturday, February 18th, at the age of 88.
He attended the New York College of Music and proudly served in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II. The award-winning ASCAP composer, musician, bandleader, music producer and publisher, began his career as a musician on Broadway. In the late 1940s, he played bass in the original orchestra for Kiss Me, Kate. As a writer, Corda's body of work includes musical productions and several hundred songs, including those written for Bill Haley and The Comets, Sammy Davis Jr., Nancy Wilson, Lou Rawls, Mickey Rooney, Robert Goulet, and Wayne Newton. Among Corda's many writing collaborators were Academy Award-winning lyricist, Paul Francis Webster ("Secret Love" from Calamity Jane, "Love Is a Many Splendored Thing" from the film of the same name, and "The Shadow of Your Smile" from The Sandpiper; Johnny Mercer (who won Oscars for "Moon River" from Breakfast at Tiffany's, "Days Of Wine and Roses," "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening" from Here Comes the Groom, and "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe" from The Harvey Girls), and Johnny Burke ("Pennies From Heaven," "Polka Dots and Moonbeams," "Swinging On a Star"). After moving his family to Las Vegas in 1963, Mike enjoyed many years as a musician at the Sands, the Dunes (where he was the bandleader), the Landmark and many other Strip hotels. As an ex-Marine, a personal high point came in 1995 when the lyric to his patriotic tune, "America I Love You So," was recited by Senator Harry Reid and included in the Congressional Record. On his 80th birthday, Mayor Oscar Goodman declared "Mike Corda Day" in the city of Las Vegas. Until recently, music lovers could catch Corda at Charlie Palmer Steak at the Four Seasons, where he played piano every weekend, performing great standards as well as his own songs. Those who have been around Las Vegas since the '70s, probably remember when, in the wee small hours of the morning, KLAS-TV Channel 8 would go off the air for a few hours. As they signed off for the night, a beautiful song, "The Green Years of Love," sung by the late Robert Goulet (also a longtime Vegas resident) would be played. That song was a Mike Corda tune. Some years ago, Mr. Corda gave Cousin Claire a CD called Saddam's Lament (I'm Rotten and Other Famous Songs), described as "A Tribute To Our Freedom Fighters." The tunesmith's talent touched each of the numbers. Among the selections on the recording were "You Perfect Stranger," sung by the late Jimmy Hassell; "The Usual Thing" by Michael Dees; "Buffet," by Jeneane Marie; "The Rotten," by Eric Michael Gillett; "The Devil, The Damned & Demon Rum," by Billy T (Tragesser); and "We Are the Dreamers" (in collaboration with Webster), by Dyanna Whitman. As far as we know, this CD was never marketed to the public. Mike is survived by his wife, Helen Corda; daughters, Dr. Betty Donskoy, Julie Corda and Nikki Corda; sister, Estelle Abrams; and grandchildren, Natalie Donskoy, Peter Rakow, Alexa Rakow, Alexander Donskoy and Nolan Rakow. A memorial service was held for Mike Corda, yesterday at the Stirling Club.

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Multi-talented, multi-award-winning song and dance man, Broadway veteran Jon Peterson, brings his extraordinary show, Song Man, Dance Man: A One Man Show About the One Man Shows, to Las Vegas for an afternoon performance at the Clark County Flamingo Library on Sunday, February 28th. Song Man, Dance Man is a tribute to the great song-and-dance men who inspired Peterson - Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor, who each brought their unique excellence that revolutionized the movie musical; George M. Cohan, who invented the song and dance man; Bobby Darin, a consummate entertainer whose meteoric rise to stardom ended too soon; Sammy Davis Jr., considered by many to be the ultimate showman; and Anthony Newley, whose eccentric, Cockney brilliance shook the musical world. These men stood alone and defined their craft. This intimate, one man musical revue is merely an acknowledgment of that greatness. The London-born performers' credits include co-starring in Half A Sixpence at Goodspeed Opera House, the national tour of Cabaret (as the emcee), George M. Cohan Tonight! (as George M) at Irish Rep, The World Goes Round (as Man #1), The Rocky Horror Show (Frank 'n' Furter), A Chorus Line (Paul) West End and UK national tours, The Sound of Music (Rolf) with Petula Clark, Have a Heart (Henry), Dames At Sea (Lucky), She Loves Me (Bus Boy), Sophisticated Ladies, Cavalcade (Joey), Whooop-Dee-Doo! (revue), On Your Toes, Cats (Skimbleshanks/Mistofolees) and BLITZ! (Georgie). Feature films include Anna Ballerina, Mail Order Wife, Surviving Picasso, and Chish 'N' Fips, and TV credits include The Bill, Inmates and Out On Thursday. Jon has made cabaret and concert appearances with Ruthie Henshall, Michael Ball, Bonnie Langford, Stephen Brinberg, and Chita Rivera, and in solo shows, Comes Love and Skidoo! Peterson may be heard on the CD The Johnny Mercer Jamboree (Original Cast Records) and, of course, on the cast album of George M. Cohan Tonight! (Sh-K-Boom Records/Ghostlight Records). He is a Drama Desk Award nominee, Drama League honoree, National Broadway Theatre Award nominee, and Back Stage Bistro Award winner. Peterson's Song Man, Dance Man is creative and innovative in a manner rarely seen in a cabaret setting. If singing and dancing have thrilled you, and the rush that you get from that rare creature, the all-round entertainer, gives you chills, this show is made for you. This is a special event by one of today's most talented and dynamic entertainers. The Detroit News wrote, "Peterson is a phenomenon. He devours the stage. He vamps, slithers and burns energy like a comet plummeting to earth." And now, thanks to the Performing Arts Society of Nevada, Las Vegans can see Jon Peterson for themselves. At 2, next Sunday afternoon (February 28th), he will perform at the Clark County Library Theater, 1401 E. Flamingo, just east of Maryland Parkway. Tickets are only $15, and may be purchased by calling (702) 658-6741 or e-mailing to [email protected]. Tickets may also be bought at the library box office, an hour prior to show time, although, in this case, they may be sold out by then. In other words, make your plans sooner than later.


Anthony Newley

Jason Alexander

Elaine Stritch 2009

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Tony Award winner Jason Alexander will perform in The Donny Clay Experience at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino's Chi Showroom, Thursday, the 25th, through Sunday the 28th, and again March 4th through 7th and the 11th through 14th. Alexander, best known for his role as "George Costanza" on the long-running TV series Seinfeld, will portray the character "Donny Clay," the world's fourth-best motivational speaker. The show is an interactive, partially improvised comedy romp that promises to be "full of comedy, music, self-help, and partial nudity." Alexander is currently the artistic director of L.A.'s Reprise Theatre Company. He won the Tony Award for Jerome Robbins' Broadway. Additional Broadway appearances include Merrily We Roll Along, The Rink, and Broadway Bound. For tickets, priced from $60.50 through $99, call (702) 785-5000, or (800) 745-3000. We have a feeling (and, after all, we are Claire Voyant) that these one person shows may become more prominent on the Las Vegas scene. Lily Tomlin, who made her first Las Vegas appearance in Not Playing With a Full Deck at the MGM Grand, is returning to Vegas for encore performances from March 11th through 17th...this time at Caesars Palace's Colosseum. Will actor Chazz Palminteri, who did his one person show, A Bronx Tale, over a 10 day period at The Venetian in October, be back for round two? And if these shows prove to be saleable and successful, can Billy Crystal's Tony-winning 700 Sundays be far behind? And, how about Martin Short in Fame Becomes Me, or, the now, 84-year-old Elaine Stritch in her Tony and Drama Desk Award-winning, At Liberty?

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Proud father, Arnold Pierce (and, NO, he did not add a new member to his family), the new music teacher at Lewis E. Rowe Elementary School in southeast Las Vegas, wanted to let those in the community (and elsewhere) who didn't already know, that his oldest son, David Pierce, is the Music Director for the Vancouver Olympics. ALL of the pre-recorded and live music that you have heard, or will hear, for the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as the medal presentations, was composed and/or arranged by David. You may have even seen him conducting the symphony. Several weeks ago, David told his father that he had just completed 500 hours of conducting the Vancouver Symphony in both rehearsals and recording sessions. He also informed his dad that this year's ceremonies will have a greater variety of music (fiddlers, big band, etc) than in the past. During the summer, Mr. and Mrs. Arnold Pierce had the privilege of watching their son at work in the recording studio as he prepared for this major event. As a Christmas gift, David generously gave his parents two tickets (at $1200 each) for the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics, so they could experience it all, live and in person. If you looked very closely, you may have seen the smiling Las Vegans waving to the cameras.

And speaking of the Lewis E. Rowe school, a number of local personalities, including comic magician Mac King (afternoons at Harrah's), Gary Waddell (longtime KLAS-TV Channel 8 news anchor), and the ladies behind the Handy Girls concept, Mary Marcella Schwartz and Barbara Ciarlantini, will be among those lending their voices to share with the students the importance of the written word, when they take part in Nevada Reading Week next month. We will have more about this worthwhile project, including the names of other readers, in a few weeks.


Mac King & Neil deGrasse Tyson

Mark Winkler by Martin Kreloff

And speaking of Mac King, on February 11th, the comedy-magician was interviewed by renowned American astrophysicist, director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York, Neil deGrasse Tyson, at Harrah's Las Vegas. The interview will air in an upcoming episode of the PBS series, NOVA scienceNOW. King has been recognized with numerous accolades including "Favorite Male Las Vegan," "Best Bargain Show" by the Las Vegas-Review Journal 2009 Best of Las Vegas readers' poll, "Funniest Act in Magic Today" by Magic Magazine, "Magician of the Year" by The Magic Castle, and "Entertainer of the Year" by the Las Vegas Weekly "Readers Choice Awards." King, one of today's brightest and most talented magicians, takes the stage at Harrah's Las Vegas Showroom Theatre, twice daily, Tuesday through Saturday, at 1 and 3 p.m. Tickets are $24.95 plus tax. Additional information on The Mac King Comedy Magic Show can be found by visiting www.mackingshow.com.

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We had a delightful time at the Summerlin Library Theatre last Sunday afternoon, where we saw platinum award winning singer/lyricist, Mark Winkler, and jazz performer/recording artist, Judy Wexler, in a program called, appropriate for the date, My Funny Valentine. Backed by the outstanding David Loeb Trio, with David Loeb on piano, Derek Jones on bass, and John Abraham on drums, Winkler, who has written songs recorded and/or sung by Dianne Reeves, Randy Crawford, Liza Minnelli, Bob Dorough and Lea Salonga, performed some of his own works ("Till I Get It Right," "How Can That Make You Fat?," "Cool," with Wexler, and "In a Lonely Place"), as well as familiar favorites, including "I'm Old Fashioned/Our Love Is Here To Stay," Steve Allen's "Spring Is Where You Are," and from his Bobby Troup CD, "Hungry Man" and "The Three Bears." Among the songs Ms. Wexler sang were, "It Might As Well Be Spring," "Hum Drum Blues," "Love Is a Necessary Evil" and "My Foolish Heart." Among those enjoying the program, presented by The Vegas Jazz Society, we spotted artist Martin Kreloff, who did the artwork for the back of Winkler's Tales of Hollywood recording (see accompanying photo).

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Look for a big feature story on F.I.O.R.E. (Fun Italians Organizing Ridiculous Events) in this Sunday's edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Nelson Sardelli, who started this whole thing, and does his level best to keep the non-club club organized, feels that after this article hits the streets, some of the Presidents (all the men in F.I.O.R.E. are Presidents) may have to go, as the group may become too classy (sorry, guys). Sardelli offers a big thank you to R-J reporter, John Przybys, whose byline accompanies the F.I.O.R.E. tale. In gratitude, Nelson thinks we should get Przybys some vowels for his last name, asking "If anyone has Vanna White's phone number, to please let him know."


Nelson Sardelli

Don Rickles

George Bugatti

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Comedian, Don Rickles, will launch his 51st consecutive year as a Las Vegas headliner when he brings his one-of-a-kind humor to the 827-seat Orleans Showroom, tomorrow and Sunday. This engagement marks his third consecutive year of performances at The Orleans. Rickles took his first step toward national fame in 1957 when Frank Sinatra wandered into the small Hollywood nightclub where Rickles was performing. The still-unknown Rickles eyed Sinatra and said, "I just saw your movie, The Pride and the Passion, and I want to tell you, the cannon's acting was great. Make yourself at home, Frank. Hit somebody." Sinatra doubled up laughing and became one of Rickles' biggest boosters. Rickles soon became the "in" comic among Hollywood stars, who flocked to his nightclub engagements to become the targets of his insults. As a star-struck kid in New York City, Rickles aspired to share the big screen with such greats as Clark Gable and James Cagney. His wish came true in 1958, when he appeared in Run Silent Run Deep, starring Clark Gable. Rickles went on to receive critical praise for his villainous performance in 1960's, The Rat Race. During a period between acting assignments, Rickles tried and succeeded at stand-up comedy. Audiences laughed harder at his impromptu insults than at his prepared material, and Rickles' legend as the king of insult comics was born. Rickles has also starred in films and television shows, including Casino, Kelly's Heroes, Gilligan's Island, The Andy Griffith Show, Get Smart, Toy Story and Toy Story 2, and most recently, the CBS hit series The Unit. Rickles won two Primetime Emmy Awards, including the 2008 HBO special Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project for Best Individual Performance in a Variety or Musical. Opening for Rickles is singer/musician/recording artist, George Bugatti. Discovered by the late Steve Allen, while he was performing at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills, Bugatti became The Tonight Show host/songwriters' protégé and friend. Allen even produced Bugatti's first CD, Oh, What A Night For Love, and then invited him to appear in the stage version of the old Tonight Show, along with original cast members, Jonathan Winters, Louie Nye, and Bill Dana, at venues like the House of Blues in Los Angeles, and the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts. Bugatti made his concert debut in Los Angeles with the legendary Tony Bennett, who, in an unprecedented gesture, pulled the young singer out of the audience to perform three songs. Bugatti started studying music at the age of five, and later attended the prestigious High School of Performing Arts in New York, followed by the highly competitive Julliard College where he honed his skills as a classical pianist, a complex gift which today deepens his interpretation of jazz music. Bugatti had been performing at the Peninsula for seven years - from the hotel's grand opening in 1991 to 1998, when Las Vegas hotel casino owner, Steve Wynn, another Peninsula guest and Bugatti fan, invited Bugatti, along with Michael Feinstein and John Pizzerelli, to open Wynn's Bellagio Resort in Las Vegas. After two years as a featured performer at Bellagio, Bugatti recorded Bugatti Live on the Strip, which was released in 2000 on Paul Anka Productions. In 2001, Bugatti's next move was to headline with his big band at the Sands in Atlantic City. In 2002, George received critical acclaim for his December 12th New York City debut at Carnegie Hall, where he performed again on May 14th, 2003. His latest CD, A Night for Romance, distributed by Universal, was produced by Nigel Wright, former music producer of the FOX TV show, American Idol. George has been featured in Rolling Stone and Los Angeles magazines, the Los Angeles Times, and Entertainment Weekly. National Television features include, EXTRA, Hardcopy, and NBC and CBS news in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. George, who in addition to singing standards, also performs songs from the '50s, '60s and '70s. He has also starred in

Wizard - The Musical Story of Oz Composer Harold Arlen, which has toured around the country. His business partner, Sam Arlen, composer Harold Arlen's son, also stars in this Broadway-bound show (
www.wizardthemusical.com). George is the Founder and Vice President of the Harold Arlen Foundation www.haroldarlenfoundation.org. Tickets for Don Rickles, and special guest George Bugatti, are available, starting from $74.95, plus tax. Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Box Office at (702) 365-7075 or visiting www.orleanscasino.com.

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On March 6th, the showroom at the Suncoast will be the site of a variety show to raise funds for Bill Fayne. Over the past 30 years, Fayne has been musical director of more than 50 musical theater productions, operas, and TV shows. He has appeared as a guest conductor with the Atlanta, Columbus, Delaware, and even his home town, Buffalo's, symphony orchestras.
As an arranger, Bill has worked with Clint Holmes, Suzanne Somers, Gloria Loring, Ann Jillian, Hal Linden, Mickey Rooney, and Kathie Lee Gifford. Bill has appeared on television in Bob Hope specials, Dick Clark productions, on the Tonight Show and the Joan Rivers Show, among others. His musical association with Clint Holmes spans 24 years. They have a friendship that goes back to their college days, where they first met. The pair has traveled the world making music, creating shows, and sharing some very wonderful experiences. Together, Bill and Clint have created production revues for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and Trump Plaza in Atlantic City. They collaborated on a musical, Just Another Man, based on Clint's life. Fayne spent 10 summers in Monte Carlo as musical director for the famed Sporting Club. He and Jean-Peirre Reggiori conducted and co-created 16 shows for full orchestra and with a cast of 25 singers and dancers. Bill has written theme songs for television shows, including the NBC series Jennifer Slept Here and Ann Jillian. Bill is also the founder and member of the Las Vegas Tenors. Fayne has been unable to work since November, when he underwent esophageal surgery at UC Irvine Medical Center in Southern California. With no complications, Bill was expected to be back in Las Vegas around December 3rd. Unfortunately, there were complications, which resulted in his having to be put into a drug induced coma. He wound up spending 31 days in the California hospital. Although he is now back in Las Vegas, Fayne is not yet able to return to work. Needless to say, although the income stops, the bills don't. We hope to have more details on this gathering of talented friends in next week's column.


Bill Fayne

Bob Anderson

Jerry Ritholz-Jarvis & Ray Jarvis

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Reminder...
Society of Seven and American Idol star Jasmine Trias have discontinued their 3:30 shows and are now performing at 7 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in the Gold Coast Showroom. The very entertaining high-energy variety show combines comedy sketches, celebrity impersonations, dance and live music performances, featuring popular standards, Top 40 and Broadway numbers interpreted by a cast of show business pros. Tickets start at $29.95, plus tax. To purchase, call the Gold Coast Box Office at (702) 251-3574 or visit
www.goldcoastcasino.com. The Gold Coast is located at 4000 W. Flamingo Road. We strongly recommend SOS for those seeking a reasonably priced 90-minutes of fun, good old-fashioned entertainment.

Also, as mentioned in our January 29th column, it's a Bob Anderson and Tony Bennett weekend in Las Vegas. Bob will be at The Cannery in the north part of the city, and Bennett performs east of the Strip at the Hilton. Tickets for Bennett range from $79 to $109, plus taxes and fees. Tickets for Bob Anderson are $10, period. The one catch with the bargain priced ticket is that there are no reservations. It's first come, first served. In other words, if you want to see singing impressionist, show up EARLY. His Friday and Saturday shows start at 8 p.m.
For Tony Bennett reservations, call (702) 732-5755.

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When we wrote about the Celebration of Life to honor the memory of the late Ray Jarvis in our February 5th column , we left out some names of folks who should have been mentioned. We will do that now, as well as include a nice photo of Ray and his life partner, Jerry Ritholz-Jarvis. Among those missing from the first list (a number who traveled a great distance to be here) were Clyde Atkisson and Max Gray (it was Max who collaborated with Jerry on the preparation of a commemorative DVD, honoring Ray and given to the party attendees and mailed to friends around the world); John and Rosey Brockhouse, Bill Burdsall and Mike Wirick; sisters, Patty and Kathy Kersey; Kirk Campbell; Ron and Ingy DeBouver; Mary Demos; Rene Diamond; Phil and Adele Engel; Bobby and Geri Engel; Jerry Fertaw and Buddy Spater; Jan and Beverly Frazier; Dale Gayan and Marvin Coughlin; George and Dori Gilbert; Richard Grappone; Warren Hayes; Muriel Ives; Sally Magneson and Richard Weisbroad; Avril Melton and Janice Jang; Edna Miner; Connie Solazzo; Jerry and Jeannie Parker; Jack Plevo; John and Lillian Skerratt; Don Watson and Noel Orr Watson; Wayne Weiswasser and Steve Pound; Robert Wolff; and Dr. Russell and Lisa Gollard. Ray, who had been an entertainer, died in July, following a 14-year battle with cancer.

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It's that time of the month again (no, not THAT time), when the musical community gets together to celebrate the incredible creativity of the composers and songwriters in our community. On Thursday, at 10:30 p.m., it's February's Composers Showcase night at the Liberace Museum. Among the locals whose works are being featured in this month's showcase are Bryan Chan, Dennis Edwards, Amos Glick, Larry Hart, Jon Peterson (here from New York for his show at the Flamingo Library Theatre, as mentioned elsewhere in this column), Phillip Seaton, Keith Thompson, William Waldrop and Robert Williamson. Vocalists will include the talented song stylings of Raymond del Barrio, Kristen Hertzenberg, Sarah Lowe, Rebecca Spencer and Nikka Wahl. Supplying the always top-notch instrumental accompaniment, are the amazing Dan Falcone, Philip Fortenberry, Don Meoli, Kevin Stout, Matt Taylor, Eric Tewalt and Tyler Williams. The sound technicians are Richard Camuso and Mary McFadden. There is a $5 cover charge at the door (free admission with student ID), a cash bar (no credit cards, please), and a $5 late night special at the Liberace Café. The mission of the Liberace Foundation is to help talented students pursue careers in the performing and creative arts through scholarship assistance. The Liberace Cabaret Showroom is located at 1775 E. Tropicana (and Spencer) next to Carluccio's Tivoli Gardens Restaurant.


Dan Falcone

Wayne Newton

Kathryn Grayson 1966

And speaking of Rebecca Spencer and Philip Fortenberry, the original "Madame Giry" in Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular who now makes her home outside of Seattle, Washington, and Mr. Fortenberry, the associate conductor for the Vegas production of Jersey Boys, will perform a concert on March 13th called Broadway Passages at the intimate Blue Heron Art Center on idyllic Vashon Island. Philip, Rebecca's longtime collaborator and Music Director/Pianist, will be flying in from his "day job" to join her onstage. Tickets for the 8 p.m. performance are priced at $15 and $17, and include complimentary champagne and desserts. Seating is limited and no one under 21 will be admitted. Tickets may be purchased thru Brown Paper Tickets at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/99610. In addition, Becky and her husband, Jim D'Asaro, Executive Director of Seattle's Broadway Bound Children's Theatre, will be hosting an "after party" at their Quartermaster Harbor home. To get to Vashon Island, one (or two or three) takes the Ferry from Fauntleroy (15 minutes south of downtown Seattle). Ferries heading to the Island leave at 4:20, 5:20, 6 and 7 p.m. The trip takes 20 minutes across the Sound. After the show, ferries returning to Fauntleroy leave at 10:45 p.m, 12:05 and 1:20 a.m., stopping in Southworth on their way back. There are some delightful bed and breakfast spots on the island, many of which are offering off-season discounts. So make it a mini "staycation" if the idea appeals to you! The Blue Heron Art Center is located at 19704 Vashon Highway SW. For more information, call (206) 463-5131.

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The public is invited to attend the Las Vegas Perspective: Reflections of the African-American Artist exhibit, which opened last Friday at the Bridge Gallery in Las Vegas City Hall, located at 400 Stewart Ave. This exhibit is free and open to the public. The exhibit features artwork from the following local artists: Abraham Abebe, Dayo Adelaja, Harold Bradford, Sylvester Collier, Lolita Develay, Vicki Richardson, Lance Smith, Mario Smith and Joseph Watson.

The exhibit runs through April 23rd, and is presented by the city of Las Vegas. Abebe was born and raised in Ethiopia. He came to the United States at the end of 2003. He received an Associate of Art degree at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, in 2007. In 2010, he will receive his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at UNLV. Adelaja received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Graphic Design from West Virginia University in Morgantown. He received his Master of Arts degree, also in Graphic Design, at California State University in Los Angeles. He presently works as an art specialist with the Clark County School District.

Bradford was born and raised in New Orleans. He began his interest in art at age three. He earned both Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts degrees. He has worked both as a commercial designer and fine artist and has spent more than 28 years as a designer in the sign industry, including seven years as an art director. Collier was born in 1931 in Dallas, Texas, and is now a resident of Las Vegas. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with an emphasis in painting and printmaking from UNLV and his master's in education from Lesley College in Cambridge, Mass. He taught secondary art with the Clark County School District for many years. He has been in numerous exhibits over the past 35 years. Develay was born in the small California town of Pearblossom, the daughter of a Tuskeegee airman and a homemaker. She spent 20 years in the advertising industry before committing to her true passion of painting. She currently resides in Las Vegas and will receive her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at UNLV in December 2010. Richardson received her undergraduate degree from Fisk University in Nashville and her master's degree from the University of Chicago. She is owner and director of the Left of Center Art Gallery. Richardson has been a resident of Las Vegas for 28 years and a teacher in the Clark County School District for 18 years. Lance Smith was born in 1988 in Dayton, Ohio. Presently he is working toward his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at UNLV. Since 2007, he has exhibited his work in approximately 24 group/ invitational exhibits. Mario Smith is a native Bahamian and was raised in the Bahamas and Holland. As an artist, he is primarily self-taught. His art is based on his experiences living in different cultures and his imagination. Watson grew up in Gardena, Calif., a small city south of Los Angeles, but now resides in Las Vegas. In 1994, he received a degree in commercial art at Los Angeles Trade Technical College. Since then, has earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Illustration from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif. The Bridge Gallery is located on the second floor of City Hall, near the information desk. Visitors may enter through the breezeway from the second floor of the parking garage, which is on the southwest corner of Fourth Street and Stewart Avenue. Parking is by paid meter only. The gallery is open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and closed Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Call (702) 229-1012 for more information.

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For those who wonder why, at almost 68, Wayne Newton would want to work on a fulltime basis (he is currently at the Tropicana in Las Vegas), based on these recent news stories, we would say it is more than just ego in play here. recent Las Vegas Sun article states that a lawsuit has been filed against the singer, claiming he is behind on a $3.3 million loan. The suit is asking to foreclose on the Vegas property which Newton named Casa de Shenandoah. It states that Newton asked for help securing the loan and said it would be secured by the property and Newton's private jet. Not too surprisingly, the singer could not be reached for comment. And from the "Queen of All Media," Perez Hilton's Web site, comes this report...Earlier this month, we told you about Wayne Newton abandoning his plane at a Detroit-area airport after leaving it there for work over three years ago and then failing to pay for its storage, owing a total of about $30,000. And now to make matters worse, Mr. Las Vegas is facing foreclosure! Newton's former friend, Las Vegas Motor Speedway executive O. Bruton Smith, is suing the performer for a delinquent loan on $3.35 MILLION! According to the suit, back in March 2006 Newton asked Smith to help guarantee a $3.75 million loan from Bank of America, which was later was modified to a $3.35 million loan. Newton wanted to refinance some existing debt and used his 38-acre ranch and a $2 million private jet to secure the loan. However, the loan needed to be repaid by May 30, 2009, but the Newtons didn't live up to their end. And according to the suit: "Defendant Newton informed plaintiff Smith that he considered Smith's personal guaranty of the loan as a formality and that the Newtons and Desert Eagle would sell personal assets to pay off the loan before allowing B of A to pursue Smith for repayment of the loan." So Smith then purchased the loan from BoA last October and then in November sent notice to Newton to repay him. The suit claims at the time of the loan, Newton knew he wouldn't be able to repay it even with his assets, so Smith is claiming intentional fraud. The Tropicana better give him a pay raise or he needs to find a second job. But pay up!"

And from the Detroit Free Press, in an article written by Melanie D. Scott and posted on February 5th, comes this...Airport: Newton owes $61,000 on moldy jet - Boarding fees go unpaid for 3 years. Entertainer Wayne Newton is being accused of abandoning his private jet at the Oakland International Airport in Waterford three years ago and racking up more than $61,000 in boarding fees. A lien has been placed on Newton's Fokker-F28, but it would cost the airport about $30,000 to get rid of the aircraft, which has been parked outside and now is rotting and filled with mold, said Joe Borgesen, president of the airport. "You can't just park a plane and let it sit for years," he said. "The engine has to run at least once a month." Although Newton initially paid parking fees ranging from $600 to $700 monthly, officials said he stopped after the airport underwent renovations about two years ago. That's when parking fees increased to about $5,000 a month. Newton could not be reached for comment. A public relations firm listed on his Web site said they no longer represent him. The airplane was flown into the airport five years ago, but spent two years at a nearby shop undergoing $2 million worth of repairs and interior renovations. After disputes involving the renovations were settled, the plane was moved to the airport, Borgesen said. Newton's representatives had prospective buyers look at the plane 10 months ago, and it was discovered that the jet was rotting, he said.

"I like to believe the best in everybody and take people at their word, but we're fed up," Borgesen said.
Personally, we have always found it interesting, in a "this just doesn't sound right" kind of way, that, although Newton's 1992 bankruptcy seriously impacted a number of small businesses and their owners, it didn't appear that the entertainer's lifestyle changed in any way. (Maybe having a wife who is an attorney helps.) He still had the big estate in southeast Las Vegas, high profile vehicles, his own plane and many other "toys" usually associated with great wealth (we don't know what became of the helicopter that used to sit in his front yard). That Chapter 11 bankruptcy listed more than $20 million in debt. A few years later the onetime "Mr. Las Vegas" signed a new contract with the Stardust Hotel which reportedly paid him more than $25 million per year for performing at the hotel, 40 weeks a year for 10 years. In August of 2005, the Review-Journal reported that Newton then owed the Internal Revenue Service more than $1.8 million in taxes and penalties, according to court filings in Washington, D.C. The IRS says Newton and his wife owe for, among other things, failing to report the sale of an Arabian horse and wrongfully claiming losses on antique car sales. The IRS said Newton failed to report all income and took improper deductions from 1997 through 2000. The federal agency outlined its claims in an April 13 notice of deficiency that prompted Newton to file a 32-page response July 6 in Tax Court in Washington. Lavar Taylor, one of the entertainer's tax lawyers, disputed that Newton owes the government. If anything, Taylor said Monday, "We believe the IRS owes him money." Taylor declined to say how much the IRS owes Newton or why. The government has 60 days to file an answer to Newton's response. "That's when we will find out who the government attorney is and we're hoping they are realistic," Taylor said. Taylor declined to comment on Newton's reactions to the IRS claims. Newton's publicist could not be reached after hours for comment Monday. This is not the first time Newton has had to deal with the IRS regarding a tax dispute. In 1992 he filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to reorganize an estimated $20 million in debts, including a $341,000 Internal Revenue Service lien for back taxes. The IRS claims in its April filing that Newton and his wife owe $104,965 in taxes and $20,993 in penalties for 1997, $576,874 in taxes and $115,374.80 in penalties for 1998, $324,658 in taxes and $64,931.60 in penalties for 1999, $512,065 in taxes and $86,342.40 in penalties for 2000. Among its claims, the IRS charges Newton failed to report $200,000 he received for the sale of an Arabian horse in 2000. Newton also should not have claimed a $51,950 loss the same year on the sale of two antique cars, the agency said. The IRS also claims the entertainer and his wife, Katherine, did not report dividends received from Newton's company, Erin Miel Inc., in 1999 and 2000. The agency said the dividends totaled $396,113 in 1999 and $536,532 in 2000. "The payments were made for the personal benefit of yourself and your family, so they are taxable as gross receipts," the IRS document said. The IRS alleged Newton wrongfully listed personal and family expenses as business costs -- $90,899 in 1997 and $143,881 in 1998. For the four years ending in 2000, Newton listed automobile and truck expenses totaling $67,344. The IRS disallowed the entire amount, claiming Newton did not establish the costs as "ordinary and necessary" business expenses. Newton listed interest expenses of $750,411 for the four years ending in 2000. The IRS claims the total should have been $75,034. Meals and entertainment expenses of $6,416 Newton listed in 1999 were disallowed because of inadequate records. The agency also said Newton overstated expenses for salaries, wages and payroll taxes for security guards and maids at his residence.
For those that question how someone of Wayne's apparent wealth could find himself in such a situation, we say it's simple mathematics. If you earn $25 million a year, and spend $50, these things can, and do, happen.

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Kathryn Grayson, whose beauty and lilting soprano voice brightened such popular MGM musicals of the 1940s and '50s as Anchors Aweigh, Show Boat and Kiss Me Kate, died on Wednesday at the age of 88. Other Grayson musicals included Two Sisters from Boston, Ziegfeld Follies, Till the Clouds Roll By, That Midnight Kiss, The Toast of New Orleans, Lovely to Look At, The Desert Song, and So This Is Love. In the late 1960s, Kathryn Grayson and her Showboat co-star, Howard Keel, appeared in Las Vegas, performing in the Fiesta Room of the Fremont Hotel. She later performed at the Sahara and Riviera hotels here. Some years ago (probably in the mid-1980s), Ms. Grayson was scheduled to appear at the Dunes, where she was to co-star with a Mario Lanza-style singer. For unknown reasons, she never did that engagement. Instead, comic Jackie Vernon shared the bill with the male singer.

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February 12th New York Times Music Review by Stephen Holden for This Thing Called Love...

Flowing Along With Love's Chemical Forces
Although it has its share of lovey-dovey moments, "This Thing Called Love," Eric Comstock and Barbara Fasano's Valentine's Day show at the Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel does not succumb to the usual seasonal clichés of throbbing hearts and flowers and kissy-poo cuteness. The program is a witty, his-and-hers exploration of romantic chemistry by a couple whose musical portrayal of their five-year marriage goes out of its way to celebrate each partner's individuality. A suave bistro performer in the Bobby Short mold, Mr. Comstock is so at ease at the keyboard that his pop-jazz pianism and understated vocals fuse into a civilized, erudite musical stream of consciousness, which at Tuesday's opening night show was ably abetted by Sean Smith on bass. Even a song like "Tonight," from "West Side Story," that is usually done operatically, was toned down so that you could actually consider the words. Ms. Fasano might be described as a friendly Lena Horne. She has many of Ms. Horne's mannerisms but not her hauteur and seething anger. If Mr. Comstock shuns melodrama, Ms. Fasano allows just a little. At once anxious and dreamy, her rendition of "Joey, Joey, Joey," from "The Most Happy Fella," evoked premarital wanderlust and youthful naïveté that are a subtheme of the show. Mr. Comstock joked that while he was growing up in the "mayonnaise belt" of northern New Jersey his junior high school years were lonely because his peers didn't share his precocious enthusiasm for Mr. Short, Mabel Mercer and Noel Coward. "The Great City," a little-known jazz song by Curtis R. Lewis, epitomized his quaintly glamorous fantasy of a big bad New York, in which "you're caught in whirlpool of East Side cafes where love is a cocktail of beards and berets." Ms. Fasano, who grew up on Long Island the youngest of four children, recalled making a trip to San Francisco when she was 21, and the Joni Mitchell song, "Cactus Tree," was her credo. As she sang a slowed-down jazz arrangement of Ms. Mitchell's portrait of a young woman who is "so busy being free" to marry any of her multiple suitors, she allowed a shade of disapproval to seep into her interpretation; that was then, this is now. Not one of the show's 20 songs --- some of them standards, others not --- received a rote performance. The final number, Philip Springer and Carolyn Leigh's Sinatra standard, "How Little We Know (How Little It Matters)," summed up the show's attitude of joyful mystification: "How little we understand what touches off that tingle/That sudden explosion when two tingles intermingle."


Eric Comstock & Barbara Fasano

Zero Gravity

Eric Comstock and Barbara Fasano will appear at the Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel, 59 West 44th Street, in Manhattan, through March 6th.
Comstock and Fasano photo by Christian Johnstone.

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If you want to get high, without breaking any laws, this might be one way to do so. On February 27th, Zero Gravity Corporation's (ZERO-G), G-FORCE ONE will take off from LAS Airport, offering fliers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to defy the laws of gravity. Guests will have the unique opportunity to float freely in complete weightlessness during ZERO-G's flight, the first and only FAA-approved provider of commercial weightless flights. Flying ZERO-G is a rare opportunity that only a select few have experienced, calling it amazing and life-changing. The Weightless Experience is an extraordinary and exciting luxury travel experience. It is the only opportunity on Earth for the general public to experience true "weightlessness" without going to space. ZERO-G guests will receive, Pre-flight training to maximize their ZERO-G Experience; Private transportation to/from McCarran Airport; ZERO-G flight suit and patch; Personal photography by a world-class photographer; Post-flight re-gravitation party; Weightless flight award certificate; Branded ZERO-G gifts and the chance to experience the rare and exalted state of weightlessness. The weightless flight is a journey that offers guests the chance to float like an astronaut. The exceptional adventure allows guests to fly like Superman, flip like an Olympic gymnast, and enjoy 10-times more hang-time than the world's best basketball player. It's not simulated; ZERO-G replicates the same levels of weightless-ness enjoyed on Mars (1/3-gravity), the moon (1/6-gravity), and zero gravity. It's an experience unlike any other. Martha Stewart, Joey Fatone, Ozzy Osbourne, Rob Dyrdek, Beatrice of York, Professor Stephen Hawking, Billy Bush, Gavin Newsom, Burt Rutan, Miles O'Brien, and cast members of The Apprentice and The Biggest Loser, are just a few notable passengers who have flown with ZERO-G and proclaimed it to be one of the most thrilling experiences of their lives. This is the identical weightless flight experience used by NASA to train its astronauts and used by Ron Howard and Tom Hanks to film Apollo-13. Flights last approximately two hours and deliver 15 separate weightless experiences, each lasting about 30 seconds. The ZERO-G Experience is offered at a price of $4,950 per seat plus tax. Zero Gravity Corporation (www.GoZeroG.com) is a privately held space entertainment and tourism company whose mission is to make the excitement and adventure of weightlessness accessible to the public. ZERO-G is based in Vienna, VA and is the first and only FAA-approved provider of weightless flight to the general public, as well as the entertainment and film industries; corporate and incentive market; non-profit research and education sectors; and government. Founded in 1993, ZERO-G is led by a world-class team of veteran astronauts and experienced business leaders. The company was co-founded by X PRIZE Chairman and space visionary, Dr. Peter H. Diamandis; veteran astronaut, Dr. Byron K. Lichtenberg, and NASA Engineer Ray Cronise. The team spent more than a decade working to bring the marvel of weightless flight to the public. Since launching the ZERO-G Experience in September 2004, the company has conducted more than 225 weightless flights and flown over 6,000 members of the public, including celebrities and media personalities, corporate charters, science and math teachers, and individuals age eight to 93. ZERO-G operates under the highest safety standards as set by the FAA (Part-121) with its partner Amerijet International of Ft. Lauderdale Florida. Aircraft operations take place under the same regulations set for large commercial passenger airliners.

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Woody Woods

Lina Koutrakos

Hey Music Lovers, check this out! It's the 17-piece Woody Woods Orchestra, featuring Ms. Mickki Brown and Ms. Sophia Lelis, with some of the best musicians in the city. It's a dance and show and it's tomorrow at the historic Fifth Street School, 401 S. 4th Street. The fun starts at 8 p.m., and it's free. Go early for a good seat. The Cats will cooking, and they promise to 'knock your socks off.' You can dance, listen and/or sing along. Woody says, "I would love to see your face in the place."

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Lina Koutrakos and Rick Jensen return to Las Vegas on February 23rd, 24th and 25th, to facilitate the second annual three day Performance Connection Intensive focusing on the art of song performance. Tim Schall is producer for the event. "We are thrilled to be able to present our workshop at The Cabaret at the Liberace Museum", says Schall. "This Las Vegas landmark provides the perfect place for our daytime working sessions and our evening performances for the public." Koutrakos' and Jensen's Performance Connection workshops bring the finest in song performance coaching to your city. These award winning New York Cabaret artists have been traveling to cities such as Chicago, Santa Fe, Washington DC and Boston, successfully offering high end professional development to singers in their hometowns. Don't pay for transportation and lodging to study with the country's best, let us come to you! Between them, the teaching team of Koutrakos and Jensen are the recipients of 9 MAC Awards, honoring excellence in New York cabaret, in addition to numerous other awards. They have been teaching ongoing advanced performance workshops in Manhattan for over a decade and have guided countless performers through the creation of solo cabaret shows. Both have served on the faculty of The Cabaret Conference at Yale University, The Eugene O'Neill Cabaret Symposium, The St. Louis Cabaret Conference and together have taught three day performance intensives in Chicago, Boston, Santa Fe, Washington, DC. and Las Vegas. Jensen is one of New York's most sought after musical director/arrangers and Koutrakos added two more MAC awards to her credit in 2007 - Best Major Female Artist and Best Director. The core of the three days will focus on performance coaching led by Koutrakos as director/performance coach and Jensen as music director/coach. Singers will prepare at least five songs that are memorized and ready to work. Participants receive individualized performance feedback in the following areas: connection to material, physical choices, song selection, interpretation, arrangements, audience connection and internal/ external focus of song. Other topics covered in the three days include constructing a show, working with your musical director, the importance of the arrangement and developing patter. The weekend culminates on Thursday evening, February 25th, with a Participant Showcase. There will also be a special performance featuring Koutrakos, Jensen and Schall on Tuesday evening, February 23rd. Both evenings are open to the public. Cost for the workshop is $675, and includes one ticket to the performance with Koutrakos, Jensen and Schall. Times are approximately 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the 23rd, 24th and 25th. Workshop space is limited. Workshop location and the showcase site is in the Cabaret at The Liberace Museum, 1775 E. Tropicana Avenue. For further information, or to register, please contact Tim Schall at (314) 359-0786, or email [email protected]. To inquire about separate, private one-on-one sessions with Koutrakos and Jensen, please contact Tim Schall. Chicago's KT McCammond says, "I highly recommend working with these two in any capacity when it is possible ...," while Jerome Elliott of Palm Springs states, "... great insight, energy and, above all, love for the art of cabaret."



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