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.  

Claire Voyant  

Note: This is a past column from April 30, 2010
You can find the current column HERE

Las Vegas - April 30/May 1, 2010

Cousin Claire got hung up yesterday, due to a hangnail.

Michael Buble

Sierra Boggess

Vita Corimbi

Michael Buble fans should be delighted to learn that the young crooner will be making a rare Las Vegas appearance on August 28th, when he brings his Crazy Love Tour to the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Presented by Nordstrom, the multi-Grammy Award-winning artist will perform hits such as "Haven't Met You Yet" and "Crazy Love" on this tour. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m., with the show starting at 8. Tickets are $95, $75 and $55. Prices include 5% Live Entertainment Tax (plus a $7 handling fee). Call (877) 880-0880 for reservations.

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The star of Andrew Lloyd Webber's latest production, Love Never Dies, has some Vegas history. Sierra Boggess, is currently starring as Christine Daae in Love Never Dies, the sequel to Sir Andrew's The Phantom of the Opera, which officially opened at London's West End Adelphi Theatre on March 9th. Sierra, who was born and raised in Denver, Colorado, graduated from Illinois' Millikin University with a BFA in musical theater. Now 27, the young lady began her career as an understudy for Cosette on the U.S. national tour of Les Miserables. She also originated the roles of Binky and Ram Dass in the musical Princesses. Other work includes West Side Story (Maria), The Pirates of Penzance (Mabel), Sweet Charity (Charity Hope Valentine) and The Boy Friend (Polly). Sierra's big break came in June of 2006, when she got the role of Christine Daae in Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular at The Venetian. In 2007, she originated the role of Ariel in the Broadway adaptation of the 1989 film, The Little Mermaid, for which she received critical acclaim. Boggess ended her role as Ariel on May 31st, 2009. Her understudy, Chelsea Morgan Stock, then took over the part. In 2009, Sierra also starred in the Encores! production of Music in the Air, which ran from February 5th through 8th, at the New York City Center.

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We missed Master Magician Lance Burton's appearance on Craig Ferguson's The Late, Late Show last night (Thursday, April 29th), as we were at the Liberace Museum, in the audience at the Composers Showcase (one of our very favorite, very special Las Vegas things-to-do). Thursday's showcase was sensational, with too many high points to mention, although we will try to identify some. Keith Thompson, who along with Michael Brennan, is the founder and guiding force behind the Composers Showcase, opened with one of his originals, "Take Me Back." He was accompanied by a number of musicians and backup singers. Vita Corimbi, always a treat for the mostly show folk audience, accompanied herself on piano doing a number called "I'm Going On a Game Show." Surprise. Surprise. She really IS going to be on a game show! We will let readers know when they can see Vita on Don't Forget the Lyrics, hosted by Sugar Ray's lead singer, Mark McGrath. We really hope she doesn't forget the lyrics. Jersey Boys' Kristofer McNeeley sang a lovely original, "Baby Mine," to his very pregnant wife, singer Ali Spuck. The Lion King's Monique Midgette sang Richard Oberacker's "You Love You" ("It don't matter who you love, as long as you love you"). Pianist Danny Wright played two beautiful original compositions, "Quietly As I Sleep" and "My Miracle." With Philip Fortenberry at the piano, soprano Joan Sobel sang Keith Thompson's inspiring, "Keep Hope Alive," and Kissy Simmons of The Lion King, backed by nine singers, gave a rousing hand-clapping, foot-stomping version of Thompson's gospel number, "I Will Walk with Jesus." It was enough to make a non-believer believe! The May edition of the Composers Showcase will launch the fifth year of one of Las Vegas' best kept secrets...the other being, "Who said ‘yes' to the idea of the profit making (although not for the city or county) Las Vegas Walk of Stars."

Kissy Simmons

Danny Wright

Lady "J" Huston

A showcase newcomer is Danny Wright. Wright, who moved to Las Vegas from Fort Worth, Texas, in December, was only four when he reached up and played the theme from Dr. Zhivago on the piano in the family's living room. Recognizing an exceptional gift, his parents arranged for him to study under the respected professor, Dr. Harris Cavender. Since that time, Danny's life has consisted of his love of music, the piano and his desire to share his gift with others. His warm, outgoing personality, combined with extraordinary talent, has enabled him to touch millions of listeners through his recordings and concerts. Trained as a classical pianist, Wright composes and performs original compositions that are blended with various influences including contemporary jazz, classical and neoclassical. CD Review describes his original compositions as "...fluidly crafted, backed up by exquisite musicianship." Wright also performs his own arrangements of Christian, Broadway and film classics by well-loved composers. When not in the studio recording, Danny performs in concert, both solo and as a guest artist with pops symphonies, and has appeared in concert at top venues from the Berklee Performance Center in Boston, to the Schoenberg Hall in Los Angeles. Many of his titles charted in Billboard Magazine with Danny Wright Healer of Hearts achieving Top 10 status and reaching No. 2 and staying on the chart for months. In 2006, Danny released An Intimate Christmas with Atlantic Records. With 31 recordings and millions of albums sold, it is fair to assume that Danny Wright's music is playing somewhere around the world at any given time. Wright has sold more than five million CDs since his debut album in 1986. He has twice been named by Billboard as a Top 10 artist in his genre. Danny was brought to Las Vegas by the new Aria Hotel in City Center, where he has performed. He has also played in the Petrossian Lounge at Bellagio. Danny will perform at the Liberace Museum, today, May 1st at 1 p.m., and again on Mother's Day Sunday, the 9th, at 6 p.m. On May 16th, at 4 p.m., Wright will perform at Grace in the Desert Episcopal Church, 2004 Spring Gate Lane in Summerlin. We suggest checking out this fine musician.

And speaking of the Liberace Museum, on Saturday, May 15th at 7:30 p.m., singer, songwriter, trumpeter, Lady "J" Huston, will perform there in the intimate cabaret. Originally from St. Louis, and now a Las Vegan, Lady "J" has toured with Blues Hall of Fame Inductee, Albert "Blues Boy "King, and has shared the stage with Bobby Blue Bland, Etta James, B.B. King, Bill Pinkney's Original Drifters and other International acts. Lady "J" has received many accolades, including that as 2009's Best Blues Performer Winner by the Black Music Association (BMA) of Las Vegas. She was part of Season 3's America's Got Talent All Stars which aired on NBC, attracting 25 million viewers in the U.S. and around the world. Lady "J" is referenced in the Marquis Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who in America, Who's Who in the World, and Who's Who in Finance & Business. In addition to her May 15th date at the Liberace Museum, Lady "J" can also be seen in Las Vegas at the Clark County Amphitheater, Saturday, May 1st at noon, and at the Blues Festival at Lake Las Vegas, on the same day at 6 p.m.

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Arshiel Calatrava is a 15-year-old, straight "A" freshman from Farrington High School in Honolulu, Hi. Today, that would be impressive enough, but this young lady might be the new, young voice of the Islands. Arshiel began singing at the age of four, later taking professional lessons to hone her craft. She enjoys playing her favorite instruments, particularly the guitar and piano. She had the honor of performing with the legendary Don Ho, when the late entertainer gave Arshiel the opportunity to sing twice a week at the Beachcomber Hotel in Waikiki. In November 2008, a video of Arshiel was picked for a cameo spot on Oprah Winfrey's "Most Talented Kids." At the celebration of the 50th Statehood in August 2009, this Filipina sensation blew the audience away with her powerful rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner" which was featured on KHNL news NBC. Handpicked by Hawaii's Governor Linda Lingle's office, Arshiel was invited to be the only performer at the International Women's Leadership Conference that ended the ceremony with a standing ovation. Recently she was featured on a new local television show, Entertain Me, on FOX TV network. She is currently working on her debut album. Visitors and locals alike will have the opportunity to see and hear this amazing young talent, when Rosy Cheeks Entertainment proudly presents Arshiel as a special guest with veteran entertainers, Society of Seven, over Mother's Day weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, May 7th through 9th. Shows are in the Gold Coast Casino showroom at 7 p.m. For these three nights, Arshiel joins SOS's seven talented male performers, filling in for American Idol star, Jasmine Trias, who is taking some time off. The family-friendly, high-energy variety show features comedy sketches, celebrity impersonations, dance and live musical numbers, including everything from popular standards and Broadway hits to Top 40 favorites. Tickets start at $34.95 plus tax and fees. For reservations, call the Gold Coast box office at (702) 251-3574.

Arshiel Calatrava

Dick Contino

Jimmy Hopper

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We have to wonder who, for the past number of years anyway, is minding the store or, more specifically, who puts together the print ads for the local San Gennaro Feast. Cousin Claire finds it most interesting that some Italians apparently can't take care of their own. As an example...Accordion virtuosos, Dick Contino, who regularly lends his talent to the annual event, has had his name misspelled in those ads for years. At 80, Contino, often called "The World's Greatest Accordionist," continues to perform at San Gennaro and other Italian festivals around the country. He also appears frequently at the Avi Resort & Casino in Laughlin; is a frequent guest (along with the likes of Pete Barbutti, Julius LaRosa and Deana Martin) in Frankie Randall's That's Italian, the music and comedy revue that has played all around the country, including at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert, Trump's Marina Hotel in Atlantic City, the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Chicago, the Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale, the Cerritos Performing Arts Center in Southern California, and the Foxwood Resort in Connecticut; and performs at places such as the yearly Cotati Accordion Festival. The 2010 festival, the 20th annual, will take place on Saturday and Sunday, August 21st and 22nd. The popular event, held outdoors, under the oak trees of the central Cotati plaza, attracts between two and three-thousand visitors a day. When she was but a girl, Cousin Claire remembers attending the taping (or whatever they did in the early ‘50s) of a radio show out of Hollywood, on which Mr. Contino was a guest. We were very impressed with his rendition of "Lady of Spain." Contino, who first entertained Las Vegas audiences at the old El Rancho in 1950, has called this city his home since 1973. We think he has more than earned the right to have his name spelled correctly.

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Brittany Markarian, former Public Relations Manager at the Tropicana, is now Public Relations & Social Media Specialist at the Three Square Food Bank. If you are a regular reader of this column (and isn't everybody?), you probably already know that Pietra Sardelli, daughter of Nelson Sardelli, is also affiliated with Three Square. Ms. Sardelli is Three Square's On Site Events Manager.

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We took a couple of guesses, in last weeks column, as to where Cirque du Soleil's next Las Vegas production, based on the life and career of Michael Jackson, might turn up in 2012. We named the Luxor, current home of Criss Angel's Believe, and the Monte Carlo, where magician Lance Burton will perform until early September. We would now like to add a third possibility to the mix. We are hearing stories that the Jackson-themed show, could very well find a home at Mandalay Bay, where Disney's landmark musical, The Lion King, now resides...unless the powers that be, whoever they are, decide to keep the King around longer than originally planned. Frankly, we hope that happens.

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Former Las Vegas resident, entertainer Jimmy Hopper, headlines Street Life, the Hansen House Benefit at the Concert Venue at Harrah's Resort in Atlantic City, on Thursday, May 6th, beginning at 7;30 p.m. Hopper also performed at the 2006 and 2007 Street Life concerts. All proceeds from the concert will benefit Hansen House, two, 24-bed residential treatment halfway houses (one for men and one for women) located at 411 Aloe Street in Galloway Township, NJ. A private charitable 501(C)3 non-profit corporation, Hansen House treats the diseases of alcoholism and drug addiction, providing clients with the tools and skills needed to live productive and responsible lives. Street Life is produced by Melanie Rice and Bob Fowler, with well-known Philadelphia entertainer, Eddie Bruce, serving as Master of Ceremonies. In addition to Hopper, other featured Street Life performers include Dane Anthony, Howard Issacson, Patti Balbo, Cibon Jackson, Mia Bergmann, Paul Jost, Patty Blee, Geri Mingori, Eddie Bruce, Kristina Pruitt, Bugzy, Melanie Rice, Bob Fowle, Cathy Rocco (whose sister Connie lives in Las Vegas and is married to sportscaster, Al Bernstein), Kathy Fowler, Gina Roche, Alex Glover, Erika Schiff, Jennifer Hansen, Suze Schneider, Bob Sterling and Bobby Hunter. The inaugural concert in 2005, and the accompanying CDs, were the brainchild of Northfield's Nina Soifer. Tickets for the concert are $25 per person, and $150 for VIP seating which includes a dessert reception with the musicians after the show. Tickets may be purchased online at For more information, call (609) 402-7684. The next night, Friday, May 7th, Jimmy Hopper will perform in a dinner show in the House of Blues Music Hall at Harrah's Showboat in Atlantic City. Enjoy an evening of great food and entertainment. Showboat's culinary staff is sure to delight while Hopper, a favorite Las Vegas performer, takes the stage with his trademark Rock meets Opera, Classical meets Broadway show. Space is limited for this one-night only event. Price is $75 per person, with doors opening at 6:45 p.m. and show starting at 7. For additional information, call (609) 236-BLUE (2583).

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Dionne Warwick

Tommy Thompson & Jeannie Snow

Charly Raymond

Connie Francis and Dionne Warwick, along with producer Eric Floyd, are in New York, today through Friday, where they will make the rounds of radio and television talk shows to promote their upcoming engagement at the Las Vegas Hilton. In a musical first, Warwick and Francis will perform together when they take to the Hilton stage, May 21st through 23rd, in Floyd's Divas of Stage. On Thursday, the threesome will appear on The Joy Behar Show (9 p.m. ET on CNN's sister network, HLN). Joy Behar, for those who live in a cave on a very remote island, is also one of the hosts on ABC's all-girl daytime gabfest, The View.

And speaking of the Divas of Stage, Warwick and Francis will be accompanied by a real live 25-piece orchestra that includes four saxophones, two trombones, three trumpets, guitar, bass, percussion, two keyboards, violin, viola, drums and even a harp. In addition to the ladies' own traveling rhythm sections, some of the local players are, on trumpets, Lance Aguirre, Martin King and Andy Ray; Joey Farina on trombone; Steve Johnson on tenor saxophone; Elaine Thomas, violin; Ed Paliotta, guitar; and Chris Farina playing bass. We will have the names of the Divas' traveling musicians next week.

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Last Sunday, we were busy both day and night. In the afternoon, we made our very first visit to the Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant on Paradise Road. We were there to support statesman, Lou Toomin, who is running for Senate District 15. Lou does not call himself a politician as, "A politician and statesman differ in their connotations; politician is more often derogatory, and statesman laudatory. Politician suggests the schemes and devices of a person who engages in (esp. small) politics for party ends or for one's own advantage (as a dishonest politician), while Statesman suggests the eminent ability, foresight, and unselfish patriotic devotion of a person dealing with (esp. important or great) affairs of state (as a distinguished statesman)." It seems that Statesman Toomin has lots of friends, as the joint was jumping! There was plenty of music, led by saxophone/horn player, Tommy Thompson, with Jeannie Snow (whose first name we misspelled last week) on vocals. Band mates included Gary Olds on drums. Lots of the pros in attendance got up to do a number or two, among them Terrence Forsythe (a member of Only You, opening at Hennessey's in downtown Las Vegas tonight), Ronnie Rose, Janicey "Lady Day" Brar, and trumpet player Charly Raymond among them.

And speaking of Janicey Brar, she will perform at the Catalina Bar & Grill, 6725 W. Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood, with the United Jazz Quintet, this Wednesday, May 5th. If you love Billie Holiday, then you'll love "Lady Day" Brar impersonating one of the world's most legendary jazz artists. Janicey has won numerous awards for her tribute to Holiday, including a BMA nomination for Best Jazz Impersonation. Hear Janicey bring back the sound and aura of Billie Holiday, and hear her sing her self-penned, "Never Felt Love." Tickets are $15, plus dinner or a two drinks minimum required. Doors open for dinner 90 minutes before the first show and 30 minutes before the second show. All ticket sales are final. For more information, including show times, as well as ticket sales, call the Catalina Bar & Grill at (323) 466-2210.

Janicey "Lady Day" Brar

Maggi Albisani

Carrie Underwood

On Sunday evening, we were at Frediani's in Henderson to see and hear singer Maggi Albisani. Maggi, and the musicians backing her - Joe Darro, Jimmy Racey, Robbie Robinson, and Norm Ross - did a fine job, as did some special guest singers, including handsome young San Diegan Jonathan Karrant; Joe LaVigna, "The Singing Chef;" and Victor Moea, but we have some serious issues with the disorganized operation of this establishment. Although any and all of Frediani's promo says to call for reservations, you can call and call until the cows come home (you know how long that can take), and NEVER get a real human on the phone. What you get, instead, is an answering machine. It seems pointless to leave a number in the hopes of getting a return call, as, although we left more than one pleading message, we never heard back from anybody. Therefore, we had no idea that the place would be pretty much filled up by guests who were attending a surprise birthday party for one of the restaurant‘s owners. We have no problem with that, except for the fact, the few open places, for uninvited birthday guests, were in sections where you could hear, but not see, what was happening on stage. Our group of six begrudgingly chose to stay anyway, in the hopes that when some of the party guests departed, we could move to a place where we could see as well as hear what was going on. That's what happened...more than an hour after the show started. There were about two dozen folks who came to Frediani's specifically to see Maggi, billed as "The sultry Italian singer from the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn." Among those people were producer Eric Floyd, his beautiful singer/actress wife, Wanda Dee, and their assistant, Amoura. During the performance, courtesy of the Floyds, Amoura dropped almost $200 in the tip jar in front of the piano. After the entertainment had ended, and the band members had left the building, Cousin Claire made a comment to Maggi about her generous fans making such a large contribution to her evenings' take, only to learn that the featured performer that night, Miss Albisani, had received NONE of the money that was deposited in the jar, primarily for her. We were also even MORE surprised to find out that Albisani was unable to collect her small salary for the work she did that evening. To tell a performer, AFTER, they have done their job, that they will have to wait a few days for their money, is inexcusable and unforgivable. Not that it even matters WHAT kind of a job she did, but we might mention that this lady doesn't just get up on stage and sing easy little ballads. She, to quote Donna Summer, "Works Hard for the Money!" In our eyes, unless there are some drastic changes and immediate improvements made, the handwriting is on the wall for Frediani's. We predict, as we did for both the now closed Caylix Jazz Supper Club and DeStefano's, Frediani's will cease operation within a few months.

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If you wanted to see Carrie Underwood at The Orleans Arena on May 22nd, and you don't already have your tickets for the concert, you won't be seeing her in Las Vegas this time around. American Idol's fourth season winner, Underwood, has completely sold out the 7,500-seat arena. Since her Idol win in 2005, the 27-year-old has become a multi-platinum selling recording artist, a multiple Grammy Award-winner, was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, is a three-time Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association Female Vocalist winner, and the current ACM Entertainer of the year. She is the first ever female artist to win back-to-back Academy of Country Music (ACM) awards for Entertainer of the year (2009/2010). Proves the theory, when you snooze, you lose.

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This Sunday at 2 p.m., it's Kristi Holden, Singing Outside the Lines as she performs in her own show at the Clark County Flamingo Library Theater, 1401 E. Flamingo, just east of Maryland Parkway). Kristi will be accompanied by Philip Fortenberry on piano (Philip, associate musical director for Jersey Boys, is also the musical director for Kristi's show); Don Meoli, also from Jersey Boys, on drums; Jersey Boys' Kevin Stout on guitar; Tyler Williams, from Wynn's Le Reve, on bass and upright bass; and Elizabeth Hedman, in from Los Angeles, on violin. She will be joined by some of her talented friends and fellow Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular cast mates, including Don Bellamy, Bruce Ewing, Ben Hale, Kristen Hertzenberg, Luke Lazzaro, Nicole Pryor, Andrew Ragone, Joan Sobel, and Danielle White, as well as Rick Faugno from Jersey Boys. Renown tap dancer and teacher, Tony Coppola, will be a special guest in Kristi‘s show. A $20 donation is requested, with proceeds going to benefit Family Promise of Las Vegas. For tickets or additional information, call (702) 245-0992, or visit

Kristi Holden

Cork Proctor

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Got a call from Cork Proctor last Saturday night. He was between shows at Bob Kephart's Comedy Stop Café & Cabaret at the Tropicana in Atlantic City. The veteran comic has been sharing the bill with fellow funnymen, Kevin Downey Jr. and Brian McFadden, since Monday the 19th. They closed on Sunday to make room for Michael Yungcho, Alicia Cooper and Jim Carroll, in through May 2nd. Cork describes the Comedy Stop room in Atlantic City as the nicest club he has ever worked...and in his decades long career as an entertainer, he has played in plenty of them.

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Another Reminder...
The historic downtown California Hotel and Casino will celebrate May Day with their 13th Annual Lei Day Polynesian Festival, today, May 1st,
and tomorrow, Sunday, May 2nd, beginning at 9 a.m. both days. The annual Polynesian festival brings together musicians, dancers, artists, craftsmen and food and beverage vendors to showcase the very best of Hawaii. Entry to the two- day event is FREE. Throughout the festivities, a continual flow of Hawaiian and Polynesian musicians and dancers will entertain attendees. Special demonstrations and activities are also planned to highlight Hawaiian culture. Traditional Hawaiian dishes and delicacies will also be available for purchase including kalua pig, lau lau, poi, beef teriyaki sticks and hot malasadas. A special concert will be held this evening at 7:15 p.m., featuring Hawaiian recording artists Darren Benitez and Eric Lee, along with singer, television personality, and American Idol Season 2 Top 36 Finalist, Jordan Segundo. This concert is a paid event and tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the gate. Advanced tickets may be purchased at the California Hotel BConnected Players Club or by calling (702) 388-2705. On Sunday, the annual "Island Fever Block Party," will be held on the festival grounds featuring local bands and non-stop entertainment. This is a free event. Parking is available adjacent to the California Hotel and Casino (at Stewart and Main Street.)

California Hotel May-Lei Day

"Little" Jimmy Scott

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One week from today, on Saturday, May 8th, Jazz in the Park, sponsored by Clark County Parks & Recreation, will present vocalist "Little" Jimmy Scott at the Clark County Government Center, 500 S. Grand Central Parkway in downtown Las Vegas. Scott has Kallmann's syndrome, a genetic condition that prevented him from reaching puberty, leaving him with a high, undeveloped voice in the contralto range, hence his nickname "Little" Jimmy Scott. He first rose to national prominence in the Lionel Hampton Band when he sang lead on the late 1940s hit "Everybody's Somebody's Fool," recorded in December 1949, and which became a top ten R&B hit in 1950. Credit on the label, however, went to a 'male vocalist', a slight to his talent and a blow to his career. A similar professional insult occurred several years later, when his vocal on "Embraceable You" with Charlie Parker, on the album One Night in Birdland, was credited to female vocalist Chubby Newsome. It was Scott's extraordinary phrasing and romantic feeling that made him a favorite singer of fellow artists like Billie Holiday, Ray Charles, Dinah Washington and Nancy Wilson. Show starts at 8 p.m. And here is a bonus. There is no charge to see Jimmy Scott.

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Claire Voyant's portrait by Charlie Frye