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 November 19, 2010
You can find the current column HERE


Las Vegas - November 19, 2010


Frank Marino & Diana Ross

Karen Mareck Grundy

Kelly Clinton-Holmes in Nunsense

Female impersonator Frank Marino received his birthday present a little early. The star of Divas Las Vegas at the Imperial Palace, turns 47 tomorrow, but he got his birthday wish a week ago, when he not only got to meet the MAIN diva, but also got a picture of the two of them together. "I have met just about every star in the world but Diana Ross," said Marino, "and she's my idol." Determined to get the photo, "even if it killed him," he didn't have to give up his life for the opportunity, he just had to be in the audience at the Caesars Palace Colosseum last weekend, for Ross' first Vegas show in some time. We think that wearing a Diana Ross T-shirt helped, but chances are, it would have happened anyway. Marino is very determined and usually gets what he goes after. Frank Marino's Divas Las Vegas plays at the IP, at 10, every night but Friday. Call (888) 777-7664 for reservations.

* * * * * * *

We first became aware of dancer Karen Mareck years ago, when she was barely, if even, into her teens. She was one of a handful of local youngsters who took part in a Channel 10 children's variety TV pilot called Pepper's Little People. We were the talent coordinator of that project. The "Pepper" in this case was Pepper Davis (birth name, David Asner), a former jazz drummer and tap dancer, who, with partner Tony Reese, became half of a well-known comedy act, under the name Davis and Reese. The duo appeared together on just about every major TV variety show, before Pepper went solo. Among other things, he played "Manny the Mechanic" on the TV series, Vega$, starring Robert Urich. Pepper Davis died in 1990 at the age of 66. In addition to Karen, the "Little People" consisted of, among others (we can't remember them all as it has been decades ago), Danny Falcone, Romano Frediani, Charisma Carpenter, Michelle Johnson, and Jimmy Murphy. Anyone who spends any time around here probably knows what happened to Danny Falcone. Being the son of pianist/ musical director, Vincent Falcone, it is fair to say that, in this case, the apple didn't fall far from the tree. Since the age of 18, trumpet player Danny is a much sought professional, working with (excuse us for name dropping) Paul Anka, Patti Austin, Tony Bennett, Toni Braxton, George Burns, Vince Gill, Tom Jones, Alicia Keys, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Ricky Martin, Bette Midler, Rita Moreno, Martin Nievera, Don Rickles, Neil Sedaka, Frank Sinatra, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Frankie Valli, Andy Williams, Mary Wilson, and productions including Enter the Night, Hairspray, Jersey Boys and Santa Fe and The Fat City Horns. As for Romano Frediani, he is also from a talented gene pool of many generations. Like his father, Nino Frediani, Romano is a world class juggler, working as a specialty act in production shows and on some of the country's top cruise ships. Las Vegas born Charisma (named for a perfume by Avon) is now an actress, who portrayed "Cordelia Chase" on both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spinoff, Angel, and recently was in The Expendables with Sylvester Stallone and Mickey Rourke. Karen was born and raised in Las Vegas, where her dance training began at the age of three. At eight, she began studying modern dance with Ronnie Greenblatt who trained under the famed Martha Graham. As a youngster, Karen's extensive classical ballet and jazz training was under the direction of Inez Mourning and Belinda DeBecker. Grundy's love of contemporary ballet was discovered in working side by side with L. J. Ballard as a dancer and as an assistant choreographer. Karen has been a member and featured dancer in various dance companies including Opus Dance Ensemble, New Works Project, and Ballard's Cafe Dance Co. She performed in here for 11 years as a featured and lead dancer in shows such as Legends In Concert, Melinda, the First Lady of Magic, Luck Be A Lady, Comedy Cabaret, and David Wright's Bare Essence, Hot Rock'n Country, Exposed and Extreme Scene, as well as working in television. During that time, Karen was fortunate to work closely under the direction of Ron Lewis, director and choreographer for Liza Minnelli. As an accomplished adult, using her married name, Karen Mareck Grundy has taught master classes throughout the country and served as an assistant for choreographer Tiger Martina. In 2000, Karen was brought to Columbia, Missouri, to teach at Columbia Performing Arts Centre, where she taught for nine years. She has trained dancers who have gone on to the Juilliard School, Lines School, Dance Kaleidoscope, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, and Broadway! Her dream was always to have her own company, and in 2006, following her stint as the Artistic Director for Cedar Lake II, she started Missouri Contemporary Ballet. Grundy has created a style that is fresh and innovative, by maintaining her classical ballet, modern training and adding a twist from the productions of Vegas, making her work accessible to all. Karen is thrilled to be able to create her vision while collaborating with artists of all genres, and the many supporters of dance in Columbia, across the state of Missouri, and throughout the country. "I have many fond memories of Pepper's Little People, and thank you for jump-starting what has been a long career for me," says this talented lady. The pleasure is all ours.

* * * * * * *

Our rundown of the talented cast of Nunsense continues this week, with a bit about Kelly Clinton-Holmes who plays Sister Amnesia. Like the above mentioned Karen Mareck Grundy, we have been fans of Kelly's since she was barely legal and performing with her own band in the lounge at the Flamingo Hilton. Kelly had a bad break (actually, a bone in her foot), and was unable to participate in the revue when it opened at the Las Vegas Hilton in September. In her absence, Janien Valentine had been covering for Kelly until Ms. Clinton-Holmes was healed enough to join the rest of the cast members, Diane Ellis, Michelle Johnson, Kathryn Arianoff, Robin Berry Vincent and Natalie Carson. That happened about a week ago. Kelly has been described as "a kaleidoscope of talent." No matter which performing direction she turns - singer, actress, comedienne, impressionist, television personality, MC or events host - her charismatic rays always shine through. Clinton has long headlined at the exclusive Las Vegas Stirling Club at Turnberry Towers where she also serves as entertainment director. Being an "entertainers' entertainer" Clinton draws many of Las Vegas headliners and performers to her shows. Saturday nights often turn into an old Vegas-style jam session with Clinton sharing her stage with the likes of Bill Medley, Jack Jones, The Scintas, Gordie Brown, Mary Wilson and other Strip entertainers. Growing up a big fan of Carol Burnett and Lucille Ball, Clinton's show is an eclectic presentation of song, comedy, dance and characters. "I always identified with Burnett and Lucy's style of sketch comedy and didn't worry about any glamour. I was always going for the humor, mimicking family members and trying for a laugh. I also always love to sing and dance. I never, even to this day, could make a decision on what I favored most." In our opinion, Kelly shouldn't have to make a choice, as she does it all so well, as proven by her one-woman shows. The New Jersey-born performers' television credits include Vegas Live, alongside Sheena Easton and Kelly's husband, Clint Holmes. She was the perfect comedy foil for the two entertainers. Additional television credit's the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon and many appearances on popular national TV shows with Wayne Newton and Engelbert Humperdinck, who Kelly traveled with for many years as a backup singer. Clinton is also a comedic impressionist whose work was featured in a Harrah's Hotel show for two years. She also starred in dinner shows and Vegas lounges during her professional career. She has her own production company and is the creator/producer of Shades of Sinatra, a musical tribute to Frank Sinatra. The show has had successful engagements at many Vegas venues. The "Shade" recently opened for Don Rickles. Kelly Clinton Productions also plans, coordinates and books special events and promotes talent. You can see this busy lady, Wednesdays through Mondays at 4, when the award-winning Nunsense provides afternoon entertainment in the Shimmer Cabaret at the Las Vegas Hilton.

* * * * * * *


Christopher-Joel Carter IV

Breck Wall, June 2010

Betty Bunch

For the second year in a row, pianist, Christopher-Joel Carter IV, provided the entertainment for yesterday's 22nd annual Festival of Trees and Lights event at Paris Las Vegas, benefiting the Down Syndrome Organization of Southern Nevada. The Festival of Trees and Lights is a holiday display and community celebration benefiting the Down Syndrome Organization of Southern Nevada. It features beautifully decorated trees, wreaths, baskets, stockings and Hanukkah displays available for bidding by attendees during the silent and live auctions. This unique holiday celebration has become known as a premier Las Vegas holiday event of the season and, more importantly, is the largest fundraising event for the Down Syndrome Organization of Southern Nevada. It is a black-tie optional gala including dinner and entertainment. The personable Mr. Carter originally hails from the city of Albertville, Alabama. As a child, he was exposed to the music of his area (Sand Mountain), and to the music that his parents and family played nonstop (everything from Southern Gospel to Funk). He is known for his mastery and easy adaptations of myriad genres of music, this which he attributes to his musically broad childhood, and classical training. Christopher was nominated three consecutive times as the Alabama All-State Pianist, and landed his first "real job" as an accompanist to the former Gerhart Children's Chamber Chorus in which he composed his "Sanctus" for children's chorus and string quartet. At college, he also became an organ performance major and has been also a professional organist for over nine years. Christopher's style and taste in music is reflective of most everything he hears. He is an avid fan of the "cocktail-piano" style that was so huge in the '40s through the '60s - a style that blends grace and virtuosity altogether. To add to the mix, he is also a fan of southern rock music, and techno music. "Each thing that I hear, that has soul, I become a fan of and explore what makes that music special, and I learn from that, and add it to my styles." A fan of Liberace since around the age of five, Christopher has focused on being a pianist of Liberace's caliber. In September, 2008, he won first place in the Liberace Piano Competition, showmanship division in Las Vegas. Since winning the competition, he was the featured pianist for three months at the brand-new billion dollar casino, The M Resort. In May, Christopher Joel-Carter IV was guest performer during the Liberace Birthday Celebration week, held at the now closed Liberace Museum. This Sunday morning, at 9 and 11, Christopher will be returning to the Metropolitan Community Church, 1140 Almond Tree Lane, Suite 302, in Las Vegas, to inspire with his piano stylings. The Liberace Museum may be gone, but the legacy of Liberace lives on through the talent of this amazing musician. All are welcome to attend. For additional information, call (702) 369-4380.

* * * * * * *

On Monday, November 15th, Bottoms Up creator/producer, Breck Wall, who had been dealing with Alzheimer's disease for a few years, passed away at Chancellor Gardens, an assisted living facility at West Sahara and Durango in Las Vegas. Wall was born Billy Ray Wilson in Jacksonville, Florida, on November 21st, 1934, and was raised in Freeport, Texas. He spent one year at the University of Texas before moving to New York City for a brief time. He created Bottoms Up with friends in 1958. The comedy revue was first staged in Dallas nightclubs, before moving to the Adolphus Hotel where it ran for two years. In 1964, Bottoms Up opened at The Castaways in Las Vegas, where it was a late night favorite before becoming an afternoon show at the Thunderbird. Over a more than 45 year span, the burlesque/vaudeville-type show would play almost every hotel in Las Vegas, including the Aladdin, Harrah's, MGM, Caesars Palace, Hacienda, Sahara, Circus Circus, Mint, Sands, Flamingo, Bally's, and Fitzgeralds. The last performance of Bottoms Up took place at the Harmon Theater in 2007. Wall gained some notoriety in the early 1960s as a roommate of Jack Ruby, the man who fatally shot Lee Harvey Oswald after Oswald assassinated President John F. Kennedy. Wall's connection with Ruby led to his being called to testify before the presidential commission investigating the assassination in 1964. Wall had no survivors. As per his wishes, he was cremated. A memorial/roast will be held sometime after the first of the year. When we know exactly when and where, we will print the information.

Upon learning of Breck Wall's death, reader Jerry Vann e-mailed...
I just heard a long time friend to Las Vegas and the entire entertainment world has passed.
"Breck Wall has left the stage." He gave laughter and amusement to many. God bless him.

Betty Bunch, a onetime Vegas dancer and later a BU cast member, knew Breck since the time he was called Billy Ray Wilson. With her permission, we will print some of her memories in our December 3rd column.


Suzanne Buhrer

Jimmy Emerson

Michael Darrin

The multi-multi-talented, singer/actress/writer/comic Suzanne Buhrer, is a former Bottoms Up cast member. Now making her home in San Antonio, she had this to say about Breck...
Breck Wall gave me my first professional job. I was 18 and had no idea I could be funny. He was a complex man who lived his life for Bottoms Up. His single-mindedness kept the show alive for decades, and if he hadn't been so damned stubborn about change, it might still be running. Some of the best times of my life were spent with the BU family, even though Breck's demons touched us all. One casual word could incur his silent wrath for years, which only drew us all closer together. Thank you, Breck, for luring me to Las Vegas, for giving me a steady job whenever I wanted it, and for surrounding me with such wonderful creative people. I will miss you.

Thank you, Suzanne, for not making Breck sound like a saint. He wasn't. He was spiteful and mean if he didn't like you...even if he couldn't recall WHY he didn't like you. After years of not talking to people who he had removed from his "friend list" (for whatever reason), he might just welcome you back into the fold. No explanations. No apologies. Talented? Yes. Complex? Very. Probably the best thing that can be said about Breck is that he knew talented people when he saw and heard them. The large BU family proved that. In addition to Suzanne and Betty, over the more than half century that the often risqué revue played in a bar or showroom, other cast members included (alphabetically) Nancy Austin, Rob Barron, Robert Beal, Ray Benington, Aiko Berge, Peggy Blow, Joe Danova, B.J. Doolan, Jimmy Emerson, Bill Fanning, Ann Fletcher, David Harris, John Hukaba, Catharine Johnson, Rick Kelly, Jim Lash, Cary LaSpina, Lee Lewis, Ron Lewis (yes, THAT Ron Lewis), Karl Lovett, Sue Motsinger, Joe Peterson, Carrie Proffitt, Darlene Ryan, Read Scott, Wes Selek, Sunny Smith, Jan Sutton, Shon Vaughn and Shelley Werk. (There are probably a few unintentional omissions and a few unintentional misspells. We hate when we have to depend on other people for proper name spellings.) Of course there was also the late Patrick Maes, Breck's business partner, and the brilliant choreographer/costume designer, Emmy-winner Michael Darrin, who died in 2008. Without those two - Patrick handling the business end, and Michael responsible for the beautiful costumes and unique choreography - Bottoms Up might have been just another comedy show.

* * * * * * *

On November 11th, Veterans Day, Nevada's first USO Lounge in the state opened at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. The 2,830-square-foot lounge, located just outside the airport's A and B gates, is expected to serve an estimated 55,000 troops who pass through the facility annually on their way to and from assignments. A wall-sized photo of the famous "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign will greet traveling military personnel when they enter the new USO rest stop. The lounge has a snack bar, computer stations with Internet access, high-definition televisions with video game consoles, and a movie theater. Troops arriving after the center closes at midnight can stay for free at a nearby motel.

* * * * * * *


Joan DuKore

Donny & Marie Osmond

Last Monday night, we had the opportunity to get a sneak peek at a brand new one-woman-show called Les-B-Ann Diaries. When Lesley Wolf decides to come out, she comes all the way out! The Les-B-Ann Diaries, featuring Joan DuKore, is a spicy new comedy about the uproarious escapades of a small town girl who inherits her late aunt's New York apartment. Lesley is brash. She's bold. She's ready to take on New York City and declare her preference for same-sex relationships. This theatrical workshop explores the humorous side of today's lesbian lifestyle. DuKore, who is best known as a magician, does an excellent job in her 65-minute tour de force role. Written and directed by Carl Butto, and produced by Robert George Allen, the show opens to the public this week. The intimate theater is located in Suite 10 in the Liberace Plaza, at 1775 E. Tropicana (along the west side of the complex). Tickets to Les-B-Ann Diaries may be purchased online at www.VegasExplorers.com, or through the Toll Free Ticket Broker at (866) 218-4935.

* * * * * * *

Beginning on December 9th, Donny and Marie Osmond will switch stages, taking some time off from their Flamingo engagement to head for Broadway and a Christmas show at the Marriott Marquis Theatre. The show, titled Donny & Marie - A Broadway Christmas, marks the first time the siblings have shared a Broadway stage. Backed by a live band, they will be singing favorite hits and holiday songs. Donny starred in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in Toronto for six years, and made it to Broadway as Gaston in Beauty and The Beast. Marie made her Broadway debut in 1997, as Anna in The King and I, and also toured as Maria in The Sound of Music. The 12-performance New York run ends on December 19th.

* * * * * * *

From fellow columnist and Las Vegas Israelite Entertainment Editor, Frank H. Lieberman, comes this note...
One name you left out of Artie Butler's accomplishments was The Carpenters. You are right, Mr. Lieberman. We did leave out The Carpenters name. But you are wrong when you say we left out ONE name. Due to limited space and limited steam, we left more than just one name out of the talented Mr. Butler's list of arranging accomplishments. In addition to The Carpenters (personal favorites of ours), we also omitted mentioning Joe Cocker ("Feelin' Alright"), Paul Revere and The Raiders ("Indian Reservation"), Maria Muldaur ("Midnight At the Oasis"), The Jaynets ("Sally Go 'Round The Roses"), The Drifters ("On Broadway" and "Up On The Roof"), Vicki Lawrence ("The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia"), The Dixie Cups ("Chapel of Love"), Mark Lindsay ("Arizona"), The Ad-Libs ("The Boy From New York City"), The McCoys ("Hang On Sloopy"), Andy Williams ("I Don't Remember Ever Growing Up," written as well as arranged by Artie), and Barbra Streisand ("Here's To Life," which was also written by Mr. Butler, and Phyllis Molinary). Butler can also take credit for other Barry Manilow arranged tunes, beside the one we mentioned last week, including "Even Now" and "Can't Smile Without You." He arranged "Cherry, Cherry" for Neil Diamond, and "Neither One Of Us Wants To Be The First To Say Goodbye" for Gladys Knight. We are sure there are others we have left out of our lists, not intentionally, and for that we are sorry. We are big fans of Artie Butler's, and certainly want to give him all the credit he deserves, but we are only human and, although HE doesn't, we do have our limitations. Frank goes on to inform us that Rafael, one of the stars of Triumph, opening at the Las Vegas Hilton's theater on Monday, November 22nd, was a member of The Flying Palicaos that opened Circus Circus in 1969. At this point, we admit that we know nothing about the stars of Triumph. You can bet that, when we do, we will share the information with our readers. Thanks for reading, Frank...and for writing.


Artie Butler

Lisa Smith

Katrina & Takis Chliaras

* * * * * * *

Lisa Smith e-mails to inform us that she, Karen Merstik-Michaels and Gret Menzies, known as the vocal group, Dangerous Curves, will perform A Jazzy Christmas at 2 p.m. on Sunday, December 5th, at the Flamingo Library Theatre, 1401 E. Flamingo. The girls have gathered together a few of the best vocal groups in Las Vegas to help kick-off the swingin' holiday season and set the mood for a sparkling New Year! Polished and brighter than ever, from vintage standards to contemporary jazz, this show will inspire and reacquaint you with all your favorite Christmas tunes done in a completely new and Curvy way. Like a box of assorted Christmas chocolates, there's a delicious something for everyone. Joining the ladies will be special guests, Fifth Avenue (Rob Hyatt, Jerry Jones, Bryce Robinson and Jeff Celentano), the Swing City Dolls (Robin Berry Vincent, Natalie Carson and Connie Murray) and more. This is a show you do not want to miss. Presented by the Performing Arts Society of Nevada, tickets are a more than reasonable $15. Call (702) 702-658-6741 for reservations, or purchase tickets at the library box office an hour before show time.

* * * * * * *

Congratulations to Katrina Loncaric and Takis Chliaras who were married on November 6th in Las Vegas. Katrina, a singer, dancer, actress was a cast member of The Producers at Paris Las Vegas before taking to the sea to perform on a cruise ship. While sailing, she met and fell in love with Takis, a handsome Greek gentleman who was Financial Controller on the ship. They married in an evening ceremony at Vegas Weddings. A reception at Carluccio's Tivoli Gardens in the Liberace Plaza followed. "The wedding was wonderful, and Carluccio's did a fantastic job with the reception. It was everything we hoped it would be, " said the happy bride, "and I know it's because Liberace was smiling down on us." Katrina recently was hired as a concierge at Mandalay. We wish the newlyweds much happiness.

* * * * * * *

Reminders...
The Performing Arts Society of Nevada Brown Bag Concert Series presents New Things, with pianist/arranger/conductor, David Richardson. The talented Mr. Richardson was the musical director/conductor for HATS!; and A Rio Christmas Spectacular, starring Jeff Trachta. He has performed and conducted for Hairspray, Mamma Mia!, Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular; The Producers; We Will Rock You, and with Clint Holmes. Dave is currently performing with The Lion King at Mandalay Bay. His program will consist of an original Suite for Piano, some spontaneous compositions and some standards. Guests will include Derek Jones, double bass; Larry Esparza, guitar; Philip Wigfall, alto saxophone, and vocals by Kissy Simmons (The Lion King) and Jerry Lopez (Santa Fe and The Fat City Horns). Show time is this Sunday afternoon, November 21st, at 2, at the Clark County Flamingo Library Theater, 1401 East Flamingo Road. Tickets are $15. For further information, call (702) 658-6741. Tickets may be ordered by phone or purchased at the library box office, one hour before the performance. The Performing Arts Society of Nevada is a 501 ©(3) Corporation.


Dave Richardson

Mystic Falls Winter Wonderland

This weekend, the popular Society of Seven, with guest Jasmine Trias, returns to the Suncoast. Produced by Paul Stone, the multi-talented Hawaiian ensemble performs in 7:30 p.m. shows through Sunday in the newly refurbished Suncoast Showroom. SOS puts on the kind of show that made Las Vegas the Entertainment Capital of the World - a mix of music, comedy and choreography, with costumes and props added for good measure. The seven male cast members - Tony Ruivivar, Bert Sagum, Hoku Low, Vince Mendoza, Roy Venturina, Wayne Wakai and newcomer and lead vocalist, Elika Santos - are multi-threat entertainers, playing instruments as well as singing and acting. Jasmine Trias is probably best remembered as a former American Idol competitor. Tickets start at $29.95, plus taxes and fees, and may be purchased by calling (702) 636-7075.

* * * * * * *

From November 24th through January 2nd, the Western pioneer-themed Mystic Falls Park, located inside Sam's Town Hotel and Gambling Hall, will once again transform into a popular winter wonderland for the holidays. Upon entering Mystic Falls, guests will be greeted with festive garland streams, whimsical snow covered lampposts and more than 50 glimmering trees adorned in lights. A dazzling 30-foot professionally decorated Christmas tree is sure to inspire holiday cheer. As the holiday show begins, three new polar bear scenes and a river scene with two fishing polar bears come to life in their snowy surroundings. Like in the Western snowy mountains, snow floats from the sky capping the waterfall and mountain range. All the while, light images and shooting water dance to traditional holiday music including "Frosty the Snowman," "Let It Snow" and "The Nutcracker," placing guests in the middle of a magical winter wonderland experience in the heart of the Boulder Strip. The free 15-minute winter show will take place at 6 p.m., 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. nightly. Starting on November 24th, Sam's Town will also accept donations of used mobile phones for the Cell Phones for Soldiers program in partnership with Nellis Air Force Base. Each phone donated to the Massachusetts-based nonprofit organization helps a solider talk for an hour with family members. Guests who donate used phones at the B Connected Club at Sam's Town, between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. on the 24th, will receive a coupon for a free hot chocolate, courtesy of Java in the Park.

On Friday and Saturday nights, through November 27th, you might plan to combine a visit to Mystic Falls with dinner, music and dancing at Wes Winters' 88 Key Club, located in Café in the Park - the Park being the location of Mystic Falls. Wes Winters entertains from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. After the 27th, Willie & Jose's, the popular Mexican restaurant at Sam's Town, will take over the Café in the Park location. Winters, who is doing business that delights Boyd Gaming execs, will either move to another space at that Boulder Highway property, or to another Boyd Gaming establishment. Details to follow.

* * * * * * *

The city of Las Vegas invites everyone to the Las Vegas Senior Center and the Mirabelli Community Center for their annual holiday craft sales. Admission is free for shoppers. This is the senior center's 20th annual Holiday Craft Fair, featuring unique handmade objects, including ceramics, knitted and crocheted items, artwork, quilts, holiday decorations, woodworking, and much more, on Friday, December 3rd, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Las Vegas Senior Center, located at 451 E. Bonanza Road. Call (702) 229-6454 for more information. At Mirabelli Community Center, located at 6200 Hargrove Ave., the Holiday Craft Show is scheduled for Saturday, December 4th, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Everything offered for sale will be handmade, including beaded jewelry, quilts, wooden doll furniture, kitchen linens, knitted and crocheted items, food and much more. Call (702) 229-6359 for more information.

* * * * * * *


Mark Winkler

Danny Wright

Mark Winkler and Dolores Scozzesi call their Friday, December 3rd show at the M Bar, Together Again For the First Time! Mix the rich bouquet of Dolores' chilled cabernet, with the fizz of Winkler's Peach Snapple (diet, if you please), and you'll have a special evening of swing and high spirits! Dolores will be celebrating the release of her new Rhombus CD, A Special Taste (produced by Mr. Winkler), and Mark will be doing lots of favorites, like "Hungry Man" and "Till I Get It Right," but mixing in a jigger or two of new material, such as "On Broadway" and "Like Young." There will be duets, surprises - and who knows - when these two friends combine forces for their first musical evening together. Champagne will be served! Backed by the Stuart Elster Quartet, show time is at 8 p.m. (doors open at 6:30). There is a $20 cover.

M Bar is located at 1253 N. Vine St. (at Fountain), in Hollywood. If you happen to be in Southern California, and you are a lover of jazz vocals... For reservations, call (323)856-0036.

For more information on Mr. Winkler, check out his Web site at www.markwinklermusic.com. To learn more about Ms. Scozzesi, go to www.doloresscozzesi.com.

* * * * * * *

Tomorrow night, Saturday, November 27th at 7 p.m., Danny Wright takes to the stage at the Starbright Theatre in Sun City Summerlin. Experience the passion, performance, and perfection that is the brilliantly talented pianist, Wright, who has sold more than six-million CDs since his debut album in 1986, and has 34 recordings to date, as well as 12 player piano discs. Danny has been acclaimed by Billboard Magazine, ASCAP, and the National Association of Record Merchandisers, and has been a Steinway Artist for 26 years. He earned a Grammy nomination, and his "Going For the Gold" was featured in the Opening Ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Wright travels the world, performing for concerts and symphonies, and is currently a guest artist at Bellagio Hotel and Casino. Danny Wright will be performing his festive holiday pieces, including selections from Danny Wright Christmas, as well as his critically acclaimed originals and arrangements, in a Thanksgiving weekend concert. Tickets are $15 for Sun City Summerlin residents, and $17 for non-residents. All shows at the Starbright Theatre are first come, first served with no limit on the number of tickets purchased. Saving seats is prohibited. Be sure to get your tickets early so you don't miss out. If an event does sell out, every attempt will be made to provide additional show times if possible. Tickets may be purchased at Desert Vista, Mountain Shadows and Pinnacle. All ticket prices include Live Entertainment Tax, and are non-refundable. Starbright Theatre shows are open to everyone ages 12 and over. All ticket sales are check or cash (exact change required). No credit cards accepted. For up-to-date information on Starbright Theatre shows, call (702) 240-1301.

* * * * * * *


Lee Greenwood

Jimmy Wilkins

For more than two decades, Lee Greenwood has created and embodied the sound of America. Most well known for his single, "God Bless the USA," Greenwood will be performing traditional Christmas songs in Lee Greenwood's Tennessee Christmas at The Orleans Showroom for one-night-only, Sunday, December 5th. With more than 20 albums and countless hit singles like "I.O.U," "It Turns Me Inside Out," "Somebody's Gonna Love You" and "Dixie Road," Greenwood's distinctive voice, insightful lyrics and unparalleled showmanship, has earned him countless honors, including two Male Vocalist of the Year awards from the Country Music Association. While growing up on a farm near Sacramento, California, Greenwood began studying music at a young age, learning to play an astounding 10 instruments. After finishing high school, he began to play shows in Las Vegas, where he became one of the most popular entertainers on the competitive casino circuit. As he matured and honed his craft, he was discovered by Larry McFaden, who brought him to MCA Records Nashville, skyrocketing his solo career. In 1982, Greenwood burst onto the country music scene with his first gold album, Inside Out, cementing him as a star with hits such as "Ring on Her Finger, Time On Her Hands" and "She's Lying." A year later, he released his platinum album, Somebody's Gonna Love You, with popular singles, "Hearts Aren't Made to Break (They're Made to Love)," and "Going, Going, Gone." On his album You've Got A Good Love Comin' in 1984, Greenwood penned "God Bless the USA," which today is the most recognizable patriotic song in America. Other hit Greenwood albums include, Love Will Find Its Way To You, This Is My Country and American Patriot. Today, Greenwood continues the tradition of songwriting as he embarks on two new recording projects. Having recently completed a collection of pop standards in Proven, including Ray Charles' "I'm Busted" and Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time," he has proved he is a versatile musician. Greenwood is staying true to his country roots as he works on a new album that will introduce him to younger mainstream country fans. Showtime at The Orleans is 8 p.m. Tickets are available starting from $29.95, plus tax and convenience fees (save on convenience fees by purchasing the tickets in person at any Coast Casino). They can also be purchased by calling the Box Office at (702) 365-7075, or visiting www.orleanscasino.com.

* * * * * * *

The award-winning Rainbow Company Youth Theatre will present, You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown, December 3rd through 12th at the Charleston Heights Arts Center, 800 S. Brush St. The musical, appropriate for all ages, brings the famous Charles Schulz "Peanuts" characters to life on stage, bringing holiday cheer to all. Show times are at 7 p.m. December 3rd, 4th, 9th, 10th and 11th, and 2 p.m. December 5th, 11th and 12th. Tickets are priced at $3 for children age 12 and younger, $5 for teens and seniors, and $7 for adults. Tickets may be purchased online at www.artslasvegas.org or by calling the Charleston Heights Arts Center at (702) 229-6383. The production is directed and choreographed by Rainbow Company Artistic Director, Karen McKenney, with musical direction by Joseph Cottone. The cast of 19 includes Josh Stackhouse as Charlie Brown, Caitlyn Cypher as Lucy, Gus Reynolds as Linus, James Guinn as Schroeder, Angela Yang as Patty and Alec TerBerg as Snoopy.

The nationally recognized Rainbow Company Youth Theatre holds auditions open to both adults and young people throughout the year. The award-winning staff offers classes in all aspects of theater, for ages four through high school, at Reed Whipple Cultural Center and Charleston Heights Arts Center, and presents five productions annually, bringing the magic of live theater to family audiences. There are also spring break workshops and a summer conservatory. Rainbow Company is a program of the city of Las Vegas. For more information about the company, or to book a tour performance, call (702) 229-6553.

* * * * * * *

Here's a chance to see and hear the Jimmy Wilkins' New Life Orchestra just the way it should be seen and heard...live, dressed-up and swinging on the stage at the beautiful Clark County Flamingo Library Theater, 1401 E. Flamingo. The program, Duke Ellington Meets Count Basie, will be the kick-off event of the Ira Aldridge Theatre Company's 2010-2011 season, on Sunday, November 28th, at 2 p.m. Joining the New Life Orchestra is the West Side Las Vegas Performing Ensemble, and special guests The Soprano Sisters, Anthony "Satchmo" Brady, and tap dancer, Lindell Blake. Choreography is by Stephan Reynolds. Jimmy Wilkins' impressive portfolio includes 36 years fronting a big band in Detroit, and countless sessions with Motown artists such as Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight and Junior Walker. On the jazz side, trombonist Wilkins has worked with Clark Terry, Count Basie and Dizzy Gillespie. Noted theatrical director Walter Mason, Jr. is the founder and artistic director of the Ira Aldridge Theatre Company, Inc. Walter was born on January 26, 1926, in Detroit, Michigan. He graduated from Detroit's Northwestern High School and attended Wayne State University where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in theater and business administration. He later attended the Detroit College of Law. Mason played the role of "Bigger Thomas" in a 1952 production of Native Son. Mason served as a producer, director and artist for The Good Book Sings on WJR Radio, and appeared on WXYZ-TV's, Showtime at the Apollo, as the master of ceremonies. He directed actor James Earl Jones in The Emperor Jones and also played the leading role in a 1958 production of the play. In 1961, Mason worked with choreographer, Alvin Ailey, as the musical and production manager of African Holiday. He also worked as a private speech coach for many public figures and a drama coach to both film and television performers, including Sammy Davis, Jr., with whom he toured throughout the world for nine years. In addition, Mason served as the production manager for Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra, Liza Minnelli, Jimmy Durante, Diana Ross, Dionne Warwick, Ella Fitzgerald, Lola Falana, Jackie Gleason and Gladys Knight and The Pips. Mason has also portrayed "Othello" in seven separate productions, and "Caliban" in two productions, of The Tempest. He was both a performer and a manager for Broadway productions such as Purlie Victorious, The Moon Besieged, The Yearling, Golden Boy, The Long Dream and A Streetcar Named Desire. Mason worked as an Associate to the Dean of Yale University School of Drama at both Yale and on Broadway. In 1983, Mason produced and directed a theatrical presentation for The National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, featuring aspiring young actors from black colleges and universities, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The following year, Mason directed the production of the Pulitzer Prize winning play, A Soldier's Play, at Detroit's Fisher Theater. Mason is the former entertainment director at the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel. Tickets for Duke Ellington Meets Count Basie are $10 for adults and $6 for students. For additional information, call the Ira Aldrich Theatre Company at (702) 516-4309.


Walter Mason

Leigh Zimmerman

Paul Campanella

On a personal note...Some years ago, we saw Walter Mason and the late Joseph Bernard co-star in a local production of Herb Gardner's I'm Not Rappaport. We knew that Joe Bernard was an actor, but we had never seen Mason on stage. We were quite impressed.

* * * * * * *

In his November 16th online blog, Robin Leach, that fellow of 'champagne wishes and caviar dreams," called Leigh Zimmerman "the hottest housewife in Las Vegas," going on to say, that "...leggy Leigh Zimmerman is enjoying a triumphant return to Broadway in the cast of Chicago. Leigh and husband Dominick Allen, of Foreigner fame, commute between Las Vegas and New York with their family on alternate weekends to ensure weekly get-togethers. Leigh began her current New York run as Velma Kelly in Chicago on October 8th. She has played the role in the original Broadway company 14 years ago, as well as twice in the London West End production. Dominick continues with his own solo headline engagements around the world, and as part of Vocal Soup, where he teams up with Clint Holmes, Susan Anton and Martin Nievera, for their shows. In our December 3rd column, we will have news about upcoming local engagements for both Domenick and Martin Nievera.

* * * * * * *

Las Vegas based actor, writer and producer, Paul Campanella, announces that Russell Boast has joined his production team to launch Paul's recently completed screenplay titled, Power Play. Power Play is a martial arts action/adventure genre film, with the undertones of a modern political thriller. Campanella and Boast hope to have a director attached very soon. Paul is currently starring in Tony 'n Tina's Wedding at Planet Hollywood, and Russell is a producer and casting director with Pagano/Manwiller Casting in Los Angeles.

* * * * * * *

Don't feel like cooking for Thanksgiving? Let Hash House a Go Go, the home of Twisted Farm Food, do it for you, with Thanksgiving Day specials at both the Imperial Palace and M Resort locations for Thanksgiving Day Brunch and Dinner. Select from their regular Brunch or Dinner menus, or choose one of the chef's special Thanksgiving Day offerings, including Pumpkin Bisque, with sea-salt toasted almonds ($5.95); Roasted Turkey Breast with rosemary gravy, fresh mash, old school stuffing and baby green beans ($20.95); Grilled Pork Tenderloin, with bbq cream, brown sugar mashed yams and fried leeks ($22.95); Linguine pasta in Pumpkin Cream, with grilled Big O shrimp, asparagus and roasted pumpkin seeds ($17.95), Fresh apple cobbler ($7.95) and Pumpkin bread pudding (7.95). Brunch is from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and dinner from 5 to 11 p.m. Thanksgiving specials available from 11 a.m. Limited Thanksgiving Day reservations are available by calling the M Resort at (702) 797-1500, or the Imperial Palace (702) 254-4646. The West Sahara location will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, but will be offering "Turkey To Go Go" packages, with reservations accepted until Monday November 21st.

* * * * * * *


Happy Thanksgiving!

We wish all of our readers a peaceful and Happy Thanksgiving, spent, hopefully, with those they love and care about.

We are taking next Friday off, and will return with a new column on Friday, December 3rd.

 



Have a question about Las Vegas? Want to make a comment (be nice, now)?
If so, drop an e-mail and ask. Click Here
Cousin Claire will do her best to find the answer for you.
You can find Past Columns HERE


     Like to be notified when Claire Voyant's next column is available?
Then join Claire Voyant's announcement mailing list!
Enter your email address below, then click the 'Join List' button:
   

Claire Voyant's portrait by Charlie Frye