Displaying keen perception and great insight.
She's a little bit naughty. She’s a little bit nice.
She calls ‘em like she sees (and hears) ‘em.
Note: This is a past column from September 17, 2010
You can find the current column HERE
Las Vegas - September 17, 2010
Donald Pile & Ray Williams
If you have no interest in the ongoing drama regarding the announced closing of the 31-year-old Liberace Museum, you may want to scroll down past all of this to other subjects that might interest you. For those who haven't heard, on September 10th, it was announced that the Liberace Museum would be closing permanently on Sunday, October 17th. This is very sad news for a number of reasons. In addition to being a tourist and locals attraction, where visitors can ooh and aah while viewing the pianos, automobiles, costumes, jewelry, and other trinkets and treasures that belonged to the entertainer, the Cabaret Showroom, inside the museum, has become, among other things, the home to some amazing talent, including Wes Winters, Philip Fortenberry, Rebecca Spencer, Erich Bergen, Ali Spuck, Kristofer McNeeley, Travis Cloer, Phyllis Bell, Alton Fitzgerald White, Spencer Baker, Valeri Glava, Kaci Machacyk, Susan Haller, Lady "J" Huston, Danny Wright, Christopher Joel Carter IV, a number of RagTag Entertainment productions, and the wildly popular, monthly Composers Showcase. And then, of course, there is the issue of 31 (some paid and some volunteers) more Las Vegans who will be out of work in just a few weeks.
Following our last week's horror story about the demise of the Liberace Museum, we received a number of letters on the subject. Here are a few examples...
Your coverage of the Liberace story is great. I have been sending the link to a bunch of people. This development makes me very sad. I sometimes saw Liberace driving in the museum area in one of his cool cars, like the station wagon with the piano keys all along the side. He picked the location for his museum; who are these jerks to think they should move it? Yes, the neighborhood has deteriorated, but who wants to deal with the hassle of getting to the Strip, parking, etc. if they can visit a location with space and less traffic? The Tropicana CAT goes right past the museum. Did the bright PR people inform the public of that? Tourists use buses to get around and it is not that far from the Strip, with no transfers. It is walking distance from UNLV.
Signed: GDL, Las Vegas
And...Just read your column, GOD BLESS YOU. You tell it like it is and I love it!!!!! The Treniers and Liberace had the same manager, the late Seymour Heller, all those years. I never really got to meet Liberace but I did go to one of the shows where they performed together at the Garden State Art Center in New Jersey. Don said they did three shows there with him.
Signed: Gloria and Don Hill (Don was the sax player with The Treniers for half-a-century.
And this one...
Thanks for your reporting on the Liberace Museum scandal. What a disgrace! And the outrageous errors on those press releases are UNFORGIVABLE!!!
Signed: Bob Policastro, New York City
I wanted to let you know that I so appreciated your THOROUGH reporting of the Liberace Museum fiasco. No other reporter has bothered to investigate beyond the flimsy excuses offered by the Museum's board chair. You're the best!!!!
Signed: KKF, Las Vegas
Donald Pile and Ray Williams, from Kansas City, Missouri, write...
The closing of the Liberace Museum HAS to be one of the saddest events in the history of Las Vegas! We nearly cried when we read it in your newsletter. Even thou we don't know the whole story, we are sure that you are 100% correct about whose fault it was that this has happened. Such a shame!
Donald and Ray are award-winning celebrity travel columnists, whose reports are featured in gay publications from coast to coast. You can read them by going to their Web site at http://gaytravelersataol.blogspot.com/ Check out Pile and Williams' take on Las Vegas, about which they say (and rightfully so), "If you can't have fun in Las Vegas, you might as well stay home for the rest of your life," at
http://purpleroofs.com/gay-travel-blog/2010/07/traveling-in-our-fabulous-gay-world-the-gay-travelers-in-las-vegas.html, and see their column on "the Fabulous Frank Marino" at http://wehonews.com/z/wehonews/archive/page.php?articleID=5252.
UNLV Dean Jeff Koep
If you care about this subject at all, check out John Katsilometes' online story in the Sun on September 10th, and Kristen Peterson's September 16th story in the same paper. Please don't skip the many online Comments left at the end of these columns. There are some space-wasters there, but there is also accurate info that needs to be addressed, a number of excellent suggestions, and questions that need to be answered. One of the short questions asks something like..."The article stated that 450,000 people visited the museum annually in its early years, and is now down to 50,000 folks a year. And, some (including higher-ups within the museum) are blaming the location for the low numbers?" The writer then asks, "Did they move from the 1979 location?" As we have been saying for some time...the location is NOT the problem. Neither is the claim that Liberace's fan-base is dying out and that he is not relevant to the NOW generation. Today, a young Liberace-type could become a star after exposure on an American Idol, America's Got Talent or YouTube. Before there was an Elton John, Lady Gaga (is "she" really a Lad instead of a Lady?), Adam Lambert, Madonna, or John "Prince Poppycock" Quale, there was Wisconsin-born Wladziu Valentino Liberace leading the way for the creative and unique entertainers of this generation.
We will continue reporting on this subject, LOUDLY voicing our personal feelings, responding to quotes and articles appearing elsewhere, and sharing some of the e-mail we get regarding the subject of the Liberace Museum.
LATE BREAKING NEWS!!!
If you find all of this Liberace Museum drama as ugly and disturbing as we do, you may want to join the picket line that will take place on Wednesday, September 22nd from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the sidewalk in front of the Liberace Plaza...that's at 1775 E. Tropicana. Squeaky wheels get the attention that a quiet one doesn't, so some of us are going to squeak. Thanks to local journalists such as the Greenspun Media's John Katsilometes and Kristen Peterson's recent stories, some of the ongoing secrets and lies that have been kept from the public are slowly being exposed. To join the protest regarding the Liberace Museum closure (scheduled for October 17th), show up a little before 11:30. You can make and bring your own signs ( here are the types of sentiments that you might see being expressed and carried around by some mighty unhappy people): I.R.S. Audit this Mess; S.O.S. Save Our Scholarships; I'll Be Seeing You...IN COURT!; DEAN JEFF, CAN'T KOEP (that would be UNLV Dean and Board chair, Jeff Koep, who is being blamed for much of the current state of the museum); Liberace Museum Has NO HOPE with Koep; Resign Rappaport (that would be the grossly overpaid Foundation president, Jack Rappaport); This is a Public Collection ...Not your Retirement Fund; Where's The Money???; HIT THE ROAD JACK; Just say NOPE TO KOEP; Mismanagement = Lost Jobs!; Watch out UNLV - With Koep...You're next!; STOP HIRING THE UNQUALIFIED and Open Your BOOKS!! OR Are you CROOKS??, or just come as you are and hang out. In order to make an impact, we want there to be a good turnout of protestors there on Wednesday morning. Join members of the Liberace Foundation (NOT the Foundation Board, who, for the most part do, and have done, very little to protect the Liberace legacy, but the caring people who give of their time and money), and make your feelings known. Please RSVP to the event organizers at [email protected].
And, on the subject of the Composers Showcase, the co-creator (with musical director for Le Reve at Wynn Las Vegas, Michael Brennan) of the series, Jersey Boys musical director, Keith Thompson, that although the Liberace Museum is closing, the almost five-year-old Composers Showcase will go on and on. The new location will be announced in late October. In the meantime, the last gathering at the museum will take place on Thursday, September 30th, beginning at 10:30 p.m. This final presentation in the venue where it has been for three-and-a-half years (and succeeded with no promotion by the museum), will feature showcase favorites, including Jason Andino, Michael Brennan, Vita Corimbi, Wayne Green, Ira Marlowe, Matt Taylor and Keith Thompson. Vocalists will include Travis Cloer, Christine Hudman and other special guests. Providing the accompanying instrumentation will be Philip Fortenberry, Derek Jones, Mark Pardy, Eric Tewalt and Tyler Williams. The sound is handled by Richard Camuso and Mary McFadden. There is a $5 cover charge at the door (free with Student ID). There is a cash only (no credit cards, please) wine and beer bar, along with a $5 food special at the Café. The Cabaret Showroom, inside the museum, is located at 1775 E. Tropicana, at Spencer, right next door to Carluccio's Tivoli Gardens Restaurant. Next Friday, we will have a more complete list of those taking part in the "farewell to the Liberace Museum" concert. It should be a great night.
Okay. That's the end of the Liberace Museum and Liberace Museum-related rant for this week.
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One of our sharp readers (as we have said before, they are ALL sharp, or they wouldn't be reading) noticed a mistake (What, only ONE?) in last week's column. In the paragraph on America's Got Talent, we called an act in the final four, Defying Gravity. The correct name is FIGHTING Gravity (even Claire Voyant makes an occasional mistake). We were thinking ahead to the announced booking of the Tony Award-winning musical, Wicked, which is FINALLY coming to Las Vegas! Don't get really excited just yet. The Broadway musical, which features the song, "Defying Gravity," is not scheduled to arrive here until August of 2012! The new downtown Smith Center, where Wicked will play, does not open until next March. And, as long as we are confessing to our last week's sins, we misspelled the name of Steven Soderbergh, who is scheduled to direct the upcoming (currently on hold) Liberace biopic. By the way, if any readers spotted this mistake, they kept it to themselves.
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In a surprise to many, on Wednesday night, Las Vegas resident, Michael Grimm, was named the 2010 winner of America's Got Talent. The soulful singer from Mississippi bested the expected favorite (and the finalist that local oddsmakers felt was the one to beat), 10-year-old soprano, Jackie Evancho. We found it quote interesting that the next morning, on the Channel 3 news program, Waking Up with The Wagners, co-anchor, Kim Wagner, must have not been quite awake when she announced that Grimm had won the competition and would be COMING here to perform. He LIVES here, Kim, and has been entertaining regularly at Green Valley Ranch and also making appearances with Santa Fe and The Fat City Horns around the city. (The fact that AGT airs on NBC, the same channel where Ms. Wagner does the news, makes this a little embarrassing, although, her very early hour on TV probably has her asleep during AGT's show time.) When America's Got Talent says that the winner will get a million dollars and a headlining gig in Las Vegas, the truth of the matter is, they don't mean anything like the long-term booking that Terry Fator got at The Mirage. Last season, the finalists on AGT, including winner Kevin Skinner, with Jerry Springer hosting, did an extended run at Planet Hollywood. As part of their around-the-country tour, the current finalists, including Mr. Grimm, will do one night in the Colosseum at Caesars Palace on October 8th. Springer will host this time around as well.
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Trumpet player, Charly Raymond, a Florida transplant, has apparently been discovered by local producer, Ed Matthews. Charly performed, as one of the acts, in Ed's afternoon variety show, Toast of the Town, at Sam's Town last Thursday. On September 30th, also a Thursday, Charly will do Ed's Hit Parade, the 2 p.m. show at the Suncoast, followed the next afternoon, also at 2, with spots in the Gold Coast show, called Variety Cavalcade. Take our word for it, but go see and hear for yourself, Charly Raymond can really blow...and we mean that in a very good way. These shows are free for all B Connected Members.
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News about another possible closing...no, not a hotel, but a long-running show. After many years, word is out that the Riviera Comedy Club is shutting down. Some comics, who thought they had a job at the club, have been canceled and told the venue is out of business. We were informed that the box office has stopped taking reservations past the end of October. Not that many years ago, the Riviera's Comedy Club was frequently named the Best Comedy Club in the city. These nights, attendance is sometimes less than 40 people.
Also, interesting to note that the nationally known mentalist, Kreskin, apparently didn't think his recent gig at the Sahara was very amazing. The 75-year-old, who, some years ago, had his name legally changed to The Amazing Kreskin, was in and out of the Sahara Casbar Lounge in less than a week. To say that the "amazing" one has created controversy over the years, would be an understatement. For example, in 2002, the "Amazing" Kreskin made a prediction that between 10 p.m. and midnight, on June 6th of that year, there would be the largest UFO sighting of the century, taking place in the skies over the Las Vegas casino where he was to be performing that night. Kreskin said he was so sure that this would happen, that he put up $50,000 to be donated to charity if it didn't happen. This promise was well documented on the Art Bell radio talk show. When the event didn't take place as predicted, Kreskin once again returned to the Art Bell Show to admit that the event didn't take place as predicted, and that his original intention was actually only to demonstrate a scenario how an enemy possessing the same skill and abilities as himself might create a mass happening on an even larger scale and over a much greater territorial area. Bell then asked if Kreskin was going to pay out the promised $50,000 to charity, since the event didn't take place as predicted. Kreskin replied that, no, he wasn't going to pay the money, because as news and media technicians were packing their gear, they said they saw a green luminous form slowly passing across the dark sky followed by a second object less than a minute later. Art Bell was so furious, he could barely contain himself, and told Kreskin that he considered what he had done like an act of "deception"...like a "terrorist" act, and that he was now officially banned from ever appearing on his radio show again. Maybe the poor attendance at the Sahara was because folks around here remember the incident.
And speaking of mentalists, Las Vegas' longest running mentalist act, Gerry McCambridge, was spotted at a Starbucks in the south part of the city, where he was deep in conversation with recent America's Got Talent competitors, magicians Antonio Restivo and the dark and goth-looking Dan Sperry (who scared the you-know-what out of germaphobe judge, Howie Mandell). Could McCambridge be considering getting into the AGT competition? We will keep you posted. In the meantime, you can see Gerry at the V Theater in the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood. Shows are at 7:30 p.m., Thursdays through Tuesdays. Call (702) 260-7200 for reservations.
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Wes Winters at Sam's Town
In the meantime, all is not gloom and doom in the comedy world. Brad Garrett's newly opened club at the Tropicana is getting good buzz, and Louie Anderson has launched his new digs at the Palace Station. Garrett, a former Star Search-winner, and star of TV's Everybody Loves Raymond and 'Til Death, gave up a regular gig at The Mirage to have his own place at the Trop. Only time will tell if that decision was a wise one. Louie, moved his act from the Excalibur so he could have more freedom and control over what he did, and when. We wish both of these funny men, good luck.
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Last Saturday, we attended Wes Winters new dinner/appetizer/drinks show at Sam's Town. We think that Wes Winters' 88 Key Club will become a locals favorite. First and foremost, because Wes is such a showman, who obviously loves what he does for a living, and secondly, because there is nothing else like it in the southeast part of the city. For around $35, you can have a very good dinner and see pianist-singer Winters at work (and play). At this point, the former Café in the Park, in the unique Mystic Falls Park area of Sam's Town, is only open on Friday and Saturday nights, but if the interest in the weeks old club continues to build, we have a feeling that those two nights a week will be expanded to three or four nights. Oh, and did we mention that there is patio dining and a dance floor? Check out the latest thing in Las Vegas dining and entertainment. Reservations for Wes Winters' 88 Key Club are suggested.
And speaking of Sam's Town, we are happy to say that we were able to convince Sam's Town Las Vegas' Vice President and General Manager, Mike Garms, that they should reevaluate their unusual check-cashing policy and think of making a change. Mr. Garms listened to our side, said he would do some checking and get back to us. A man of his word, Garms called us two days later (very different from a bad experience we had with a Las Vegas Hilton executive - more on that subject at another time). He had considered what we suggested and decided our thinking had merit. As a result, Sam's Town has changed its rules. Now, customers can cash checks for less than $100 at a pop. Without a card on file (we suggest doing that, and getting a Players Card at the hotel casinos that offer them), Sam's Town patrons can now cash checks for a minimum (not a maximum) of $50. This is a good example of that "squeaky wheel" thinking. Sometimes, it does work. Good going, Mike Garms.
We would also like to give a pat on the back and a rose to Sam's Town's friendly Slot Shift Manager, Debbie Gutierrez, who took enough interest in our complaint about the "old" check-cashing policy (which she was not aware of), and point us in the direction of the right person to talk to about possibly making a change. The right person was Mike Garms.
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On September 4th, a Celebration of Life was held at the German-American Club in Las Vegas for Ireland-born, drummer extraordinaire, Mickey O'Neill. O'Neill, who passed away on June 14th at the age of 61, was a member of Brendan Bowyer's Royal Irish Showband and the Big Eight. The popular Las Vegas groups played at the Stardust, Aladdin and Barbary Coast hotels for more than 35 years. While his longtime girlfriend, Mary Marcella Schwartz, and his son, Alan O'Neill, were in Ireland for Mickey's well-attended and publicized Mass, friends and family in Las Vegas were making arrangements for the "party" at the German-American Club, a venue where Mickey and his bandmates played gigs over the last several years. Carol and Mike O'Brien, and Erika and Gene Gries from the club, put in a lot of hard work to make sure that everything was perfect, from the setup of the room to the delicious fare. Barbara Ciarlantini, Mary's Handy Girl partner, created apropos centerpieces, designed especially for Mickey, with candles, pictures, sparkling ornamental drums and memorial flowers. About 80 people celebrated Mickey's life, while his longtime bandmates, Jimmy Conway, Michael Keane and D.J. Curtin played, minus a drummer. Two other friends, Jack Barnett and Jim Houston, added flair as the "Irish Brass" section. Attendees at the gathering included Alan O'Neill's wife, Rachael, and "old man grandpa's" grandsons, Dyllin and Devyn, Rachael's mom, Ortie, and her husband, John Lawrence, as well as the children and grandchildren of the "lads" Jimmy, D.J. and Michael. Among Mickey's longtime and close friends that were present were (in alphabetical order): Vern Abeldt, Bobby Anderson, Elaine and Peter Benton, Betty and Dave Bishop and Violet McKeon, Tim and Tommy Brady, Jean Burke Carlisle (one of the original dancers with The Royal Irish Showband), Vickie and Michael Carrigan, Robert Colvin, Carmel Conway, Janet Curry, Ann Farrell, Valerie and Jim Fryatt, Betty Haggan, Billie and Jim Harris, Judy and Ron Hohenstein, Tammy Kelsay, Madeline, John and Steven James, Marina Kolias, Alan and Tera Moore, Greg Murphy, Donna Palladino, Bridget and Jim Quinn, Pam Rand and BillyBurke, Dave Rogoff, Frank and Sheila Scott, Alan Taylor and Darlene Warfield. The tribute was also attended by Marshall Allen, Las Vegas Sun reporter, and Leila Navidi, a Sun photographer. On Sunday, the Sun newspaper will include a story in the Hospital Care section, put together by Allen and Navidi. It covers the questionable circumstances surrounding O'Neill's death. As the two only knew Mickey after his passing, they attended the gathering to learn more about his life through shared memories from his family and friends. Photographer/friend, Lisa Kendigian, was there, to capture the celebration via pictures. ClaudiaBrandhorst lovingly read "Let Go and Let God," an amazing poem that Mary found in Mickey's belongings after he passed. Mickey's son Alan gave a heartfelt thank you to everyone that was there in his dad's honor, Frank Keane spun a few Irish "yarns," and well-known piano man extraordinaire Bruce Zarka, a protégé of Louis Prima's, said tearfully that "Mickey was the best drummer he ever worked with." At the end of the night, Kathleen Retke-Emling presented Mary with a bouquet of roses. Kathleen was convinced that they came from Mickey as a token of his love for Mary. To read about the services held for Mickey O'Neill in Ireland, go to (http://www.independent.ie/national-news/showbiz-legends-final-gig-brings-tears-and-laughter-2305051.html).
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Sammy Davis Jr.
Talent agent, Linda Lange, and actress, Beverly Washburn, will sign their respective books, It Is What It Is and Reel Tears, at Borders Books in Town Square, Sunday, September 19th, beginning at noon. Proceeds from the book sales will go to local animal shelters. Town Square is located at 6521 Las Vegas Blvd. So. For additional information, such as how long the ladies will be hanging out at Borders, call (702) 383-6734.
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On Thursday, we were at the Suncoast's private media and VIP party for the debut of the hotel casino's newly refurbished showroom. Beverages and appetizers were served up along with entertainment, by the talented, bubbly singer/actress, Lisa Smith (Shades of Sinatra, Dangerous Curves, and Back to Broadway with hubby, Ron), who was backed by Mike Clark on piano, Gary Olds on drums, Geoff Neuman on upright bass, and Mikole Kaar on saxophone; The Las Vegas Tenors - Bill Fayne, Teddy Davey (on crutches) and Bobby Black; The Scintas; Kelly Clinton Holmes (also among the walking wounded) and her friend, Molly Tennant, wearing a "sympathy" boot that matched Kelly's; multi-threat entertainer, Domenick Allen, and surprise guest, Cloris Leachman (did she really flip the bird to the audience during her champagne toast?). Cloris plays the Suncoast showroom tomorrow and Sunday at 7:30 p.m., not 7 or 8, but 7:30, as she reminded the audience more than once.
And speaking of Domenick Allen, who generated the most applause (from a mostly lethargic summer afternoon audience) with his version of the Anthony Newley/Leslie Bricusse gem, "Tomorrow," from the musical The Good Old Bad Old Days, he makes his solo debut at the Suncoast on October 2nd and 3rd. There is a story about this mostly obscure song, performed by Sammy Davis Jr. in a number of his live shows, that Mr. Allen will share with the audience during his upcoming It's All About the Music concerts. In a unique and smart bit of business acumen, the Suncoast is teaming up with Cadillac of Las Vegas West, who is "sponsoring" Allen's show. To introduce the 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe to potential buyers, the West Sahara car dealership will present a limited number of tickets to customers who test drive the new CTS. Since both of Domenick's shows are, and have been, completely sold out, if you haven't already purchased your tickets, you are out of luck...unless you take one of those snazzy Cadillacs for a spin, and there are still some tickets available. Tell Marketing & Sales Consultant, LJ Harness, that Claire Voyant sent you (it may, or may not, earn you some points.
Congratulations to Jersey Boy, Rick Faugno, and his longtime love, dancer/ choreographer Joyce Chittick, who were married by Richard Walter at the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas on September 2nd. We wish the talented twosome a long and happy life together.
The accompanying photo of the newlyweds was taken by Ed Foster.
Rick & Joyce Faugno, with Richard Walter
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Hey, fellows, if you would rather BE the story, than read it, this might be for you.
RagTag Entertainment is seeking a leading man (vocal range requirements: Baritone to F) to play "Michael," an occasionally overbearing, vaguely chauvinistic, egotist writer who adores his wife, in I Do! I Do!. I Do! I Do!, by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones, the authors of The Fantasticks, is the story of a marriage. It begins with "Michael" and "Agnes" on their wedding day, and traces their life together over a period of 50 years, until the day they leave their house to the next pair of newlyweds. The audience watches the couple go through their wedding night jitters, raise a family, negotiate mid-life crises, quarrel, separate, reconcile and grow old together, all lovingly to the strains of a tuneful, charming score which includes the standard "My Cup Runneth Over."
Rehearsals will begin ASAP, with a cabaret performance in Mts. Edge on Oct 16th and staged performances in the Onyx Theatre in November. Please send headshot and resume to [email protected]. Auditions will be scheduled by the director.
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Some of the upcoming talent on approach to a stage near you (if you happen to be in Las Vegas) are Tony Orlando, who will be tying Yellow Ribbons around a few things at the South Point, September 24th through 26th; Van Morrison in concert at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Sunday, October 3rd; Diva Diana Ross brings her More Today Than Yesterday Greatest Hits Tour into Caesars Palace, for shows on November 12th and 13th (tickets go on sale tomorrow, Saturday, at 10 a.m.); Hitman David Foster and Friends (Charice, Natalie Cole, Earth, Wind & Fire, Kenny Loggins, Martina McBride, Ne-Yo, Seal, and Donna Summer, are among those expected to perform) are at Mandalay Bay, Friday, October 15th.
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On August 25th, the Star-Advertisers' reviewer, John Berger, had this to say about the popular Society of Seven's Hawaiian homecoming...
Rule Number One in show business is that if something works, you don't mess with it.
developed a winning formula for the Society Of Seven
some 40 years ago, and the opening of the SOS's "homecoming" show last night proved that Ruiviviar's formula is still a winner. Old-time nightlifers who remember the SOS from their heyday in the 1970s and '80s can count on embracing this latest production by Waikiki's once-and-forever super show group. Anyone seeing the SOS for the first time is certain to leave a fan. The show contains all the traditional SOS magic: Lots of celebrity impersonations, tightly synchronized choreography, cross-dressing comedy, Broadway classics, and impressive high-impact renditions of contemporary pop hits.
SOS - Bert, Arshiel & Santos are Supreme
Ruivivar and multi-talented Bert Sagum have steered the SOS through four decades of showroom success and enough personnel changes since they opened at the Outrigger in 1969 to field three complete SOS septets. Each time a stellar talent departed for one reason or another - "Little Albert" Maligmat, Roberto Nievera, Jun Polistico, Eddie Ramirez, Terry Lucido and Gary Bautista, to name six - Ruivivar found a stellar replacement and carried on. Santos stands out from the opening number, a high-octane arrangement of Santana's 1971 classic, "Everybody's Everything," on through several show-stopping showcase segments - he thrilled the opening night crowd with a pair of Journey hits, and topped that with a tribute to Pavarotti. Santos also handles his share of the load when Ruivivar introduces the "SOS Stimulus Package" - impressions of entertainers with Las Vegas connections. The cast of characters includes Josh Groban (Santos), Stevie Wonder (Vincent Mendoza), Wayne Newton (Hoku Low) and Kenny G (Wayne Wakai). Sagum has a great time as always playing Little Richard. Ruivivar, Santos and Sagum provide the backing vocals as Low steps forward as Frankie Valli in a tribute to "Jersey Boys" and the Four Seasons. Roy Venturina is the seventh member of the current roster; like Roy Guerzo before him, he spends most of the show supporting the others on keyboards but steps out a couple of times to join in on the choreography. And, as Ruivivar would say, there's more. The SOS is also featuring a "special guest," 15-year-old Farrington High School student Arshiel. "This Will Be," the Natalie Cole hit, provides her with a great introduction. "All By Myself," arranged and sung as a power ballad, is a highlight number for her later in the show. SOS is at the Outrigger Main Showroom, Outrigger Waikiki, 2335 Kalakaua, 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Cost is $45 (Kama'aina rates available); free validated parking at the Ohana East, 150 Kaiulani Avenue (enter parking from Kuhio Avenue). For additional information, call (808) 923-7469.
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Our friend, Rebecca Spencer, who played "Madam Giry" in Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular, takes on a new and very different role in The Full Monty, at Village Theatre in Washington state, where Rebecca now makes her home. Based on the award winning and critically acclaimed movie of the same name, The Full Monty, with book by Terrence McNally, and music and lyrics by David Yazbek, chronicles six men's journey from unemployment, depression, and isolation, through a bold and creative plan to become employed, get out of debt, and patch up the damage done to their various relationships. Sound depressing? Think again! The bold and creative plan is to put together a male striptease act, similar to the Chippendale dancers, in spite of the fact the men are all out of shape and can't dance. But they discover that they can overcome those obstacles, and make the big bucks, if they go for the "Full Monty" - total nudity. Will they or won't they? How can they make sure that their families don't find out? And what do they learn along the way? You'll have to see it to find out. The musical is fun, witty, with a little bit of social commentary thrown in, and promises to be a rollicking good time. The Full Monty has great heart. Nominated for nine Tony Awards, including Best Original Score, this is a feel-good musical with an edgy yet delightfully wicked sensibility. The Full Monty will play in the Village Theatre's Issaquah and Everett location. The dates for the show at the Issaquah location (Francis J. Gaudette Theatre, 303 Front Street North, Issaquah) are through October 24th, Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., and on Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. On selected Tuesdays, there are 7:30 p.m. performances, and on selected Sundays, 7 p.m. shows. Tickets are $20 to $60. At the Everett Performing Arts Center, 2710 Wetmore Avenue, Everett, the show plays October 29th through November 21st, Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. There will also be 7 p.m. performances on selected Sundays. Tickets are $19 to $54. Student and military discounted tickets are available 30 minutes prior to curtain time for any available seat. ID required. Call the Francis Gaudette Theatre at (425) 392-2202, and the Everett Performing Arts Center at (425) 257-8600, for more information.
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The Cast of Nunsense
The other Gary Marshal (the one spelled with only one "l" in Marshal, not Penny's producer brother), will premier his New York Songbook /Songs Sinatra Sang at the E-String Grill, 2731 W. Sunset, on Monday, September 27th, at 7:30 p.m. THIS Marshal, born in England, has national credits, as "Sir Lionel" in the 1967 film, Camelot, starring Richard Harris, Vanessa Redgrave and Franco Nero, and 2003's Intolerable Cruelty, starring George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones; TV's That Girl, starring Marlo Thomas, and The Ugliest Girl in Town starring Peter Kastner. In Las Vegas, where he has lived for many years, Gary was a principal in Donn Arden's Hallelujah Hollywood at the then MGM Grand (now Bally's), and Top Banana at the downtown Union Plaza (now called the Plaza). Tickets are $5 cash at the door. Reservations are suggested. Call (702) 437-8764.
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On Monday, we had the honor of being invited to watch one of the final rehearsals for Nunsense, the fun musical comedy that opened in the Las Vegas Hilton's Shimmer Cabaret on Wednesday. We think the Hilton has a winner in their midst. The Little Sisters of Hoboken (The Jersey Girls?) will sing and dance during 4 p.m. shows, Wednesdays through Mondays. The nuns must put on a benefit show to help raise money because their cook accidentally poisoned 52 of their Sisters. After burying 48, they've run out of money and so have temporarily stored the last four Sisters in the convent freezer. This hysterically funny musical won four Outer Critics Circle Awards, including Best Musical, during its 10-year run in New York. Ticket prices for the award winning, wacky musical comedy, prices range from $19 to $69 (plus tax and service charge). Preview pricing for Nevada residents (through September 29th) is $19 +; Nevada residents (starting September 30th), $29+; General admission is $39+; and Premium seating is $49+. There are also packages that include dining. The Buffet package is $59+, and the Benihana package is $69+. You'll be rolling in the aisles when you treat yourself to an afternoon of Nunsense. We will write more about Nunsense after we see the full production. Please call the Hilton Box Office at (800) 222-5361 for tickets, or click here to book online. It would be a sin to miss it!
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On Tuesday night, we were at the Imperial Palace to see Frank Marino's Divas Las Vegas...without Frank Marino. The head Diva is recovering from recent gallbladder surgery. Filling in for Frank, during last week, was San Francisco resident, Brian Keith. Keith, who until about nine years ago, made his living as a female impersonator, is an emergency room nurse at a Northern California hospital. Brian did a fine job playing host/MC. Frank, who celebrates his 25th anniversary as a Vegas headliner, is planning to return to Divas tomorrow night (we hope he isn't rushing things). Marino has, wisely, postponed the roast that was scheduled to take place on Thursday, until he is feeling strong enough to fight back, as those infamous roasts can get a little rough.
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In last Friday's column, we wrote about Erich Bergen's West Coast cabaret debut that took place last Wednesday at the Magic Castle in Hollywood. The engagement was in celebration of Erich's debut album, The Vegas Sessions, which was available for purchase at the show. What we DIDN'T know, in time for our earlier plug, was that Bergen was backed by a three-piece band, led by our friend, the very talented Michael Orland. In addition to everything else that he does, Mr. Orland is currently the Pianist, Arranger and Associate Musical Director for the hit FOX-TV series, American Idol.
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Claire Voyant's portrait by Charlie Frye