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 December 03, 2010
You can find the current column HERE

Las Vegas - December 3, 2010

Society of Seven's Elika Santos & Jasmine Trias

Gordie Brown

We took advantage of our Thanksgiving "vacation" to go see some of our favorites at work, taking some of our visiting family members with us for a couple of the shows. We were in the audience at the Suncoast on Sunday night, November 21st, to see the eight talented members of Society of Seven, including newcomer and lead singer, Elika Santos. Joining the seven fellows is American Idol alumni, Jasmine Trias. Always entertaining, this group covers the gamut from wonderful music to sidesplitting comedy. The cast is versatile, whether it's playing musical instruments, displaying great harmonies or wearing outrageous costumes. This is the kind of entertainment that made Las Vegas famous. SOS, as they are often called, returns to Las Vegas for New Year's Eve - this time bringing their talent to the Cannery in North Las Vegas. We will have more on New Year's Eve events in the next couple of weeks.

On the following Saturday, we caught the musical comedy, Nunsense, in the afternoon at the Las Vegas Hilton, and comic impressionist Gordie Brown in the evening at the Golden Nugget. Our Colorado visitors thoroughly enjoyed both shows, agreeing with our thinking that Gordie, like another Brown before him, could be this generations' "Hardest Working Man In Show Business." We highly recommend Gordie and Nunsense to anyone seeking affordable, fun entertainment in this city. Show times for Nunsense are 4 p.m., in the Shimmer (not Shimmy) Cabaret, Wednesdays through Mondays. Tickets run from $39 to $69, plus taxes and fees. Call (800) 222-5361. (Ask about special prices for locals with ID.) Gordie Brown performs Tuesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. in the 600-seat theater at the Golden Nugget that bears his name. Tickets range from $25 to $65, plus taxes and fees. Call (702) 386-8100 for reservations.

Nunsense Cast

Anthony Ruivivar as Alejo Salazar

Martin Nievera

We might mention that Tony Ruivivar, the guitar playing/singing leader of Society of Seven, and his lovely wife Karen, are mighty proud of their actor son, Anthony Michael Ruivivar. Although the show appears to have been canceled, Anthony had a recurring role in the new ABC legal drama, The Whole Truth. The series, executive produced by Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, and Golden Globe-winning Jerry Bruckheimer (The Amazing Race, the CSI franchise, Top Gun, Beverly Hills Cop, Pirates of the Caribbean), premiered on September 22nd, and stars Rob Morrow (Northern Exposure) and Maura Tierney (ER) in the lead roles. Hawaiian-born, 40-year-old Ruivivar, who portrayed paramedic Carlos Nieto in TV's Third Watch, plays multiracial, openly gay attorney, Alejo Salazar in the series. At this time, it is unknown how many of the 13 ordered episodes will be aired. Check the TV listings for schedule of The Whole Truth.

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Next up at the Suncoast is one of our favorites, Martin Nievera. Known in the Philippines as "The Concert King," in Las Vegas, in addition to his own shows at both the Golden Nugget and the Wyrick Theater (now David Saxe's place), Martin was a member of Society of Seven (along with Lani Misalucha) during part of SOS's run at the Flamingo, and is a member of the musical group, Vocal Soup (Clint Holmes, Domenick Allen and Susan Anton are the other main soup ingredients). Martin performs next weekend, Friday, December 10th, through Sunday, the 12th, in shows at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $29.95 plus tax and convenience fees Save convenience fees by purchasing tickets in person at the Suncoast, or reserve by phone. Call the box office at (702) 636-7075, or (877) 636-7111.

And speaking of Susan Anton, the singer/actress, with credits in the local production of Hairspray, has now joined the cast of Menopause the Musical, currently playing at the Luxor. Shows are at 5:30 p.m., Wednesdays through Mondays, and 8 p.m. on Tuesdays. Tickets are $49.95 and $65, plus taxes and fees. Call (702) 262-4400 for reservations.

Susan Anton

Domenick Allen

Mark Winkler & Dolores Scozzesi

And speaking of Domenick Allen...
On Saturday, December 11th, the Hard Rock Cafe Las Vegas on the Strip, in partnership with Cadillac of Las Vegas and Lier Entertainment Group, will host a live Toys For Tots Benefit Concert, featuring Allen, with special guests, including Rick Faugno (Jersey Boys), Billy Hinsche (Dino, Desi and Billy, and The Beach Boys), Cat Hickland, Chris Phillips (Zowie Bowie) and Heidi Thompson. Formerly of the band Foreigner, Allen will take the Hard Rock Cafe Las Vegas stage to perform his classic show VINYL. Vinyl is made up of musicians Lorrie Lustre on keys, Marcus Vann on bass, John Wedemeyer on guitar, Brian Czach on drums, and Mike Robb, Eric Sande, Mike Turnbull, Jeff Jordan and Jim D'Arrigo on horns.

As part of the event, guests are encouraged to bring a new and unwrapped toy to be donated to Toys for Tots, the United States Marine Corps Reserve's program that collects toys and distributes holiday gifts to needy children in the community. Members of the United States Marine Corps, as well as local celebrities and program supporters, will be in attendance at the event. There will be a Red Carpet ceremony from 6 to 8 p.m., with the show running from 8 to midnight. Admission is $20 or a donation of one new, unwrapped toy. Must be 18 or older to attend. The Hard Rock Cafe on the Strip is located at 3771 Las Vegas Blvd South. Tickets may be purchased online at or at the Hard Rock Cafe box office. For further information, please visit, or call (702) 733-7625. We will have more on this next Friday.

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If you happen to be in Southern California tonight, Friday, December 3rd, and are reading this early enough, might we again suggest Mark Winkler and Dolores Scozzesi at the M-Bar, 1253 N. Vine Street (at Fountain) in Hollywood. 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, for him, material such as "On Broadway" and "Like Young." There will be duets, surprises - and who knows - when two friends combine forces for their first musical evening together.

Champagne is served! The two vocalists will be backed by the Stuart Elster Quartet, with Stuart Elster on piano, Tim Emmons on bass, Steve Barnes on drums and Kim Richmond on sax/flute. Show runs from 8 to 9:30 p.m. (doors open at 6:30). There is a $20 cover at the door. Call (323) 856-0036 for reservations. This should be a really great show.

And, if you are in Southern Nevada, the Performing Arts Society of Nevada is proud to present A Jazzy Christmas, at the Clark County Flamingo Library Theatre, 1401 E. Flamingo, this Sunday, December 5th at 2 p.m. (doors open at 1:30). The girls of Dangerous Curves (Karen Michaels, Lisa Smith and Margaret Menzies) have gathered together a few of the best vocal groups in Las Vegas to kick-off a 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 audience members with their favorite Christmas tunes done in a completely new and Curvy way. Like an assorted box of Christmas chocolates, there's a delicious something for everyone. With special guests, Fifth Avenue (Rob Hyatt, Jerry Jones, Bryce Robinson, Jeff Celentano), the Swing City Dolls (Robin Berry Vincent, Natalie Carson, Connie Murray) and a few extra special surprise guests. This is a "put you in the mood" show that you do not want to miss. Tickets are only $15 and can be purchased at the library theater box office an hour before show time. "It's the most musical time of the year!"

Dangerous Curves

Jeneane Marie

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As regular readers know, Claire Voyant is always more than happy to promote a legitimate fundraiser, put together by trustworthy people for a good cause. On the other hand, she also calls a spade a spade, with warning notices about anything that doesn't sound, or smell, quite right. This week, we are dealing with a dilemma. We have known Jeneane Marie, a veteran entertainer with Las Vegas roots, for decades. In fact, we were one of a handful of observers in the lounge at the, now but a memory, Frontier Hotel, one afternoon, almost three decades ago, when she auditioned for Walter Kane. For those who are not familiar with the name Walter Kane, he was not only a right-hand man for Howard Hughes, he also handled most of the entertainment duties for the eccentric billionaire. Jeneane, in a low-cut, very form-fitting ensemble, knocked it out of the park with her version of "Over the Rainbow." Needless to say, Kane hired her, resulting in her becoming a regular performer at the Summa/Hughes properties for many years. Since the late '70s, Marie has been giving to Las Vegas through her personality and talent. Besides doing her own show, she has been the opening act for Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Don Rickles, and toured with Wayne Newton, and The Funk Brothers. She has also guest starred in countless shows, including, most recently, Larry Hart's Praise, and the musical comedy revue, I Know I Came In Here For Something. Marie now needs the community's support and assistance from fellow performers. She has Avascular Necrosis, causing constant and severe pain, along with possible life threatening blood clots. Hip replacement surgery is required. Like many entertainers, Jeneane has no medical insurance and, as she has been unable to work, very little money. Entertainers such as Steve Rossi, Rich Little, Clint Holmes, Babe Pier, Denise Clemente, Laurie Caceres, Grant Griffin, Paris Red, Laurie Cook, Lani Misalucha, Herb Rawlings Jr., Steve Connolly and the Gary Anderson Band are lending their support. A PayPal account has been set up for donations. Please follow the Link to, and indicate your contribution as a Gift. Jerry Lopez, Jack Ashford (The Funk Brothers), Jimmy Hopper and Nelson Sardelli are among those contributing financial assistance directly into the ailing lady's account. Yesterday, we learned that Southern Nevada auto dealer and Skyline Casino owner, Jim Marsh, will match every dollar raised for this cause, up to $6,000. This will definitely help to reach the hoped for goal of $25,000. We think Mr. Marsh is a real "Mensch."
It is our suggestion that if you wish to contribute to help defray Jeneane's medical expenses, you do NOT do it through that downtown venue, the venue owner who has probably never done a truly humanitarian thing in his life (and we always thought that Philadelphia was supposed to be The City of Brotherly Love), or the questionable organization that he leads. Using the PayPal account (see Link above) makes it more likely that the funds will get to Jeneane Marie, without having things like display ad costs and musicians salaries deducted, with whatever is left over maybe getting to the recipient. Of course, we very much want this lady to get the medical care that she desperately needs. What we definitely do NOT want to see happen, is another Dave Swan "benefit" disaster.

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Last Tuesday night, the Stratosphere Casino, Hotel & Tower and the producers of American Superstars, provided free show tickets for 30 Wounded Warriors. See the accompanying picture, provided by Cashman Photo.

Wounded Warriors & American Superstars

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In Las Vegas, when a big budget show opens to less than stellar reviews (Celine Dion's A New Day, Le Reve and Cirque du Soleil's Zumanity and Criss Angel's Believe, for example ), the folks behind the projects call them "works in progress," and work to fix them (interesting that they never say that when a show opens to good press). We have to wonder how they will fix Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, Broadway's newest musical extravaganza. After some delays, costing a few million dollars in ticket revenue and rehearsal expenses, anxious theatergoers got their first peek at the much anticipated show last Sunday night. Called the most expensive show in Broadway history, at $65 million, or more than twice as much as the previous record-holder, Shrek the Musical, Spider-Man previewed before more than 1,900 paying theatergoers, reporters, and some of the musical's nervous producers and investors.

Spider-Man is the most technically complex show ever on Broadway, with 27 aerial sequences of flying characters, and pieces of moving scenery, some of which are among the biggest currently on a New York stage. The result of Sunday night's public debut? Headlines such as, "Spider-Man left hanging on Broadway," and "Spiderman on Broadway has a Disastrous Opening." Critics went on to say things like, "Opening preview of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark was beset by series of technical glitches. How do you convert the whizz-bang acrobatics of Spider-Man – easy to draw in a Marvel comic and almost as easy to put on the big screen via digital technology – into a live Broadway show? With difficulty, judging by last night's preview show. Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark lived up to its reputation as one of the greatest gambles in musical history when it gave its first public performance to a packed audience of 1,900 at the Foxwoods theatre in Manhattan. The problem was that its record-breaking budget of more than $65m was not enough to prevent some pretty glaring glitches. The show – directed by the award-winning creator of The Lion King, Julie Taymor, and with music by Bono and The Edge of U2 – had to be stopped five times to correct faulty technical equipment. The dramatic cliff-hanger at the end of the first half, in which Spider-Man saves his girl Mary Jane and then flies through the air across the auditorium to make an exit ground to a halt when Reeve Carney, playing the superhero, was left swinging helplessly above the audience. It took stage hands almost a minute to catch Carney by the feet to drag him down, and later there was some heckling. The convention of Broadway has traditionally been to maintain a blackout on all previews to give shows time to iron out their wrinkles before opening to a blaze of publicity on press night. That's particularly important for a show like Spider-Man that has been beset by funding problems, technical nightmares and multiple delays. But in the age of Twitter and blogging, and with huge interest revolving around the first preview, there was no way that the producers were going to keep chatter at bay until opening night on 11 January. Several of the New York papers were in the audience, breaching the agreement over treating previews as non-events. The New York Post's Michael Riedel, who has taken delight at bating the hapless production over many months, declared the preview "an epic flop, with dull score, baffling script and confusing plot." OUCH! The film producer, Ira Deutchman, tweeted that the set pieces were spectacular and that the flying looked genuinely dangerous, "but the music isn't good enough to hold it together. Definitely needs work in the 6 weeks until it opens. It's incoherent, a pageant of Taymore imagery." Valerie Warrington wrote, "The show had to be stopped several times to work out kinks, including rescuing Spiderman from dangling in the air above audiences. Broadway's most expensive production ever, "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" was a flop. Not even Spiderman himself could save the disastrous performance, full of $65 million equipment going awry, a bad script, and complaining audiences. Over the stage wires dropped on the audience. Some of the scenery appeared to be missing pieces. One of the show's stars was left swaying helplessly over audiences midair. The stage manager called over the loudspeaker, "Give it up for Natalie Mendoza, who's hanging in the air!" Even Spiderman got stuck in midair as three stagehands leaped up to try and grab him and pull him back down to the ground. When Spiderman's love interest was supposed to be saved from the top of the Chrysler Building, part of the building was missing and Mary Jane was nowhere in sight. According to the New York Post, the show had to be stopped four times in the first act alone. The production dragged on for three and a half hours. During the last ten minutes, the show had to be completely stopped to work out kinks." Yikes!

Spider-Man the Musical

Hanukkah Menorah

Kristen Hertzenberg

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On Wednesday night, a giant indoor menorah lighting was held at the M Resort Spa Casino to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, the "Festival of Lights." Assistant Rabbi Leonard Zukrow, of Congregation Ner Tamid, lead the lighting and prayer. The ceremony marked the beginning of this 8-day holiday. One light, or candle, is kindled on the first night of the festival and an additional light is added on each of the successive seven nights. An extra light, called the "shamash," which means "guard," is used to light the other lights on the menorah. Children received chocolate coins and toy dreidels at the lighting. The community was also invited to bring non-perishable food items to the ceremony. The items were donated to Jewish Family Services. The menorah will be displayed in the main lobby of the M Resort, 12300 Las Vegas Blvd South, at St. Rose Parkway, until the last night of Hanukkah, Thursday, December 9th.

Downtown Las Vegas offered a similar menorah lighting ceremony on the Fremont Street Experience, also held at sundown on Wednesday. For our readers who celebrate the holiday, Happy Chanukah, Happy Hanukkah, or however you spell it.

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On December 11th, the Las Vegas Philharmonic Pops II Concert, directed and conducted by David Itkin, presents A Christmas Celebration. The Philharmonic is ready to fill your hearts and your ears with the sounds of the holidays. Join the annual Christmas Celebration with two Pops concerts for a magical event that is not to be missed. The symphony orchestra's holiday program will include performances by Broadway vocalists, Bruce Ewing and Kristen Hertzenberg, the Las Vegas Master Singers and the University Children's Chorale. Ewing and Hertzenberg are currently appearing in Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular at The Venetian. Take the whole family to see the Christmas Celebration and enjoy popular hits including "Let It Snow," "White Christmas," "O Holy Night," and more. Show times are at 2 and 8 p.m. in the Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall on the UNLV campus. Tickets are available online, or by calling the UNLV box office at (702) 895-2787. Three price levels for seating are available: $35, $50 and $75 per ticket. The Las Vegas Philharmonic provides a shuttle service from Summerlin's Starbright Theatre and Henderson's Anthem's Independence Center, for convenience. Bus passes, available for $15, can be purchased at the box office when buying concert tickets.

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Actor Leslie Nielsen passed away on November 28th at the age of 84. In the late 1970s, we attended a sneak preview at the long gone Boulevard Theater on Maryland Parkway. The, at the time, unknown, unreleased movie was called Airplane! We were hysterical, laughing through the entire picture. This film was different than anything we had seen before, and we told our friends to watch for it when it turned up at their neighborhood movie house. It took a while before that happened, but, in 1980, when it did, the spoof was a big hit. Nielsen was one of the stars of the flick, joining a cast that included, among others, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Barbara Billingsley, Lloyd Bridges, Peter Graves, Julie Hagerty, Robert Hays and Robert Stack. Leslie Nielsen played a similar bumbling character in the TV series Police Squad and the Naked Gun movies. In addition to Nielsen, Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear, also featured longtime Las Vegas resident, the late Robert Goulet.

Leslie Nielsen

Jennifer Grey & Derek Hough

Neil Diamond

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In a collaboration between the Green Valley Ranch resort and residents of Sun City Anthem in Henderson, a special event on Tuesday, December 7th, will honor local military families coping with the absence of loved ones who are deployed overseas, mostly in combat areas such as Afghanistan and Iraq. The event will bring together at least 100 local military family members at Green Valley Ranch, where they will be treated to a buffet lunch at noon, followed by entertainment inside the Ovation Lounge by a group of talented members of the Sun City Anthem Performing Arts Club. Guest performers at the show are expected to include the cast of Nunsense, playing at the Las Vegas Hilton, along with the Swing City Dolls. Diane Ellis, who plays the Reverend Mother in Nunsense, will do a solo before introducing three of her cast mates, who will perform a number dressed in Andrews Sisters-style military garb. The Swing City Dolls, which includes Nunsense performers, Robin Berry Vincent and Natalie Carson, will then perform a military medley. In addition, Santa Claus will make an appearance to distribute holiday gifts to the children. "It occurred to me that while we honor the patriotism and dedication of our servicemen and women who give of themselves in the name of freedom, we often overlook the sacrifices made by their families," said David Berman, a Sun City Anthem resident and U.S. Air Force veteran who organized the event. "Unless we have gone through the experience ourselves, most of us cannot appreciate the economic and social pressures they face, especially as temporary one-parent households. This is a small way to thank them for their own sacrifices and to let them know they are appreciated," said Berman. He also expressed his appreciation for the participation of Yvette Weigold, lead Family Assistance Specialist for the Army National Guard, who is working with colleagues in the area's military branches to compile the invitation list. "When David proposed this event, we definitely wanted to partner on it and show our appreciation and support to all the families of our brave servicemen and women," said Green Valley Ranch General Manager, Don Richardson. For additional information, contact: David Berman [email protected] (702) 617-8672.

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"Baby" is definitely "out of the corner." It is unfortunate that Patrick Swayze, her co-star in the film, Dirty Dancing, wasn't around to see Jennifer Grey, with her professional partner, 25-year-old Derek Hough, take home the Mirror Ball Trophy, as winner of the 11th season of ABC TV's Dancing With the Stars. This was Derek's third win. Who WAS there to witness his 50-year-old daughter's victory, was Jennifer's proud father, actor/dancer/singer, Joel Grey. If they gave awards for "Most Improved," Bristol Palin could have been the winner, but the fact that she beat out some much better dancers to make it into the finals, seems a bit unfair. But, then again, who ever said that life would be fair?

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We wonder if there is any truth to the rumors that Neil Diamond may be the next star to take on the Caesars Palace Colosseum. If Mr. "Song Sung Blue" does decide to become a regular or semi-regular Vegas headliner, it would be a real change from his feelings about Las Vegas, following his first experience in this city. We were there when Neil launched the, then, Aladdin's (now Planet Hollywood) brand new 7,500-seat Theater For the Performing Arts, July 4th weekend of 1976. At the time, Neil vowed that he would not perform in Vegas again. Why he felt that way? We have no idea. Obviously, he changed his mind and, over the past 34 years, has performed here at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, a number of times. If Mr. Diamond does sign on for a Caesars Palace run, he will be at least 70-years-old when he starts his engagement (Neil turns 70 next month).

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We know that lots of trained entertainers read this column, so this is for you. The original artistic director of Cirque du Soleil, Franco Dragone (O, Mystere, Celine Dion's A New Day, Le Reve), is conducting auditions in Las Vegas, December 7th, 8th and 9th, for his latest project, the International touring show, Kung Fu Panda, produced by Dreamworks Animation. Dragone is searching for Po and The Furious Five,and an Awesome Supporting Cast of Kung Fu Warriors. Not surprisingly, this will be a show featuring supreme talent and exciting kung fu action. For this production, Dragone is seeking professional level male and female athletes and performers, including Multi-talented Gymnasts; Aerialists; Cradle, Rope, Tissue/Silk, Swinging Trapeze, Fixed Trapeze, Cloudswing, etc.; Contortionists; Chinese Acrobats; Equilibrists; Circus and Specialty Performers; Kung Fu Fighters and Wushu Artists; Beauty and Strength Acro-dancers. Lead characters include "Po" (Clown/Actor, Loves Kung Fu, Struggles with Self Confidence, A Dreamer, Comically Clumsy); "Master Shifu" (The Master, Teacher, Wise and Venerable Fluidity and sophistication); and "The Furious Five" (A quintet of supremely skilled martial artists trained by "Shifu"). Awesomeness a plus! To schedule an audition, contact [email protected]. "Be a part of the Creation of a New Masterpiece," says Joanie Spina. "WOW US!"

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Greg London

Michelle Johnson in Nunsense

Oliver Liam Richman

We understand that impressionist Greg London will be winding up his gig at the Riviera on the 19th of this month. During his six month run at the hotel, London not only changed his show times but also the name of the revue as well, going from Greg London Icons to Greg London Impressions That Rock. We think this was confusing to potential customers, whether returning or first timers. No announcement as to what will fill his spot at the Riv.

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Michelle Johnson, who plays Sister Mary Hubert in Nunsense at the Las Vegas Hilton, has lived in several countries and speaks a number of languages, including French and Arabic. She is recognized as an international vocalist, having appeared in numerous countries and singing in more than seven languages. She has performed for many Heads of State, and has been seen in film, on television and at major supporting events. She sings the national anthems of a multitude of nations and has performed in a variety of international showcases and themed events, singing opera, jazz, world music, musical theater, pop and rock. Her unique voice and impressive range have made her a hot commodity in the music recording and touring industries. In Las Vegas, where she currently resides, she is also a headliner in her own right, having performed in French at the Paris, in Italian at the Bellagio, and in English and German at several other local venues. Michelle still performs in New York City and overseas as well. Her versatility as a vocalist (rock, jazz, opera, Brazilian, etc.) and her affinity for languages has served her well over the years. Born to diplomat parents, she grew up primarily in Cairo, Egypt, and Hong Kong, and then attended Yale University where she earned a degree in English Language and Literature. She then moved to New York, where she began moonlighting as a vocalist in jazz clubs, while maintaining a paralegal job by day. Her original path to Harvard Law School took a different route when her passion for the entertainment industry eventually won out. After a wonderful stint on the Broadway stage, alongside fellow actors Nathan Lane, Frances Conroy, and Elizabeth Shue, Michelle gave up her day job. She did some more musical theatre work, and quickly became a sought after vocalist who toured and/or recorded with major artists, including Paul McCartney, Elton John, Slash, Paul Rogers, Neal Schon (of Journey) and PM Dawn, for several years. You can hear Michelle's signature sound on numerous television and radio jingles, both nationally and locally. She is the voice of "UNLV Tickets" jingle among other popular spots. Michelle has appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, the Arsenio Hall Show, Soul Train, and many international television shows in Asia and Europe. In Las Vegas, Michelle has sung backup and toured with David Cassidy, the legendary Gladys Knight, and '80s pop icon, Sheena Easton, who regularly featured Michelle in a duet in her long running show at the Las Vegas Hilton. Ms. Johnson has also shared the stage with David Foster, Josh Groban, Spyro Gyra, Wynonna, Vince Gill, and Cher. She was contracted as a vocal arranger and the featured soloist opposite Whoopi Goldberg, Billy Crystal, and Robin Williams, in the opening number of HBO's Comic Relief, a live television special which is currently in syndication. Recently she also performed with Sugarland at the AMC Awards, which aired on CBS Television.

Throughout her years of touring, Michelle naturally fell into a leadership role of coordinator, section leader, tour manager, travel coordinator, and so on. She has since become a full-fledged entertainment producer and event coordinator, often coordinating the very acts she had worked with as an artist. Upon moving to Las Vegas in 1995, Michelle began her own entertainment production company, Diva Las Vegas Productions. With years of performing, traveling, and contracting under her belt, her direct access to headliners and talent in the US and abroad has put her in the forefront of the convention business in Las Vegas. She is a recommended vendor with the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, and her reputation is stellar. She is on a first name basis with the people who "get things done" in every hotel and casino in Las Vegas, and unlike the sometimes impersonal approach of large talent agencies, she avoids the cookie cutter "show in a box" approach and prefers to pull together customized talent for every event she works on. Her unique talents as both an entertainer and a producer have led her to work with a myriad of well known recording artists, television and film studios, Fortune 500 corporations, and meeting planners and destination management companies all over the world. Michelle has been contracting talent, directing, and coordinating entertainment for large-scale events for over fifteen years. In addition to her production skills, she is a bandleader, music arranger and producer, composer, actress, writer, creative producer, and director. Michelle's work as an entertainment producer and coordinator takes her across the country and around the globe several times a year. Her hands-on approach, and her unusual left brain-right brain balance has made her invaluable to clients who need both a "creative type" who is comfortable on a stage or behind the scenes working directly with talent, and a "corporate type" that can communicate with corporate clients, prepare proposals, and get things done on budget and on time. Her international corporate clients include Mercedes, Washington Mutual, Toyota, IBM, AT&T, Bayer, to name a few. Michelle has worked with many well known actors, and has directed several charity galas and stage productions. She also contracts talent, from individual musicians or backup vocal sections, to dance troupes and 100-piece gospel choirs for major television and stage productions and celebrity tours. Past clients include HBO, MTV, the NBA, the Righteous Brothers, and countless other recording artists.

Michelle is a member of Actors' Equity Association, the International Special Events Society (ISES), the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, the Las Vegas chapter of the Musicians Union (Local 369) and the National Association of Women Business Owners and is an active advocate for women in business on both a local and national level. In her spare time she mentors other women who are seeking careers in entertainment, production, and public speaking. An accomplished singer songwriter, she is in the process of recording a new compact disc. She is also an coauthor of the inspirational book, Power of the Platform, and is in the process of writing her own book about the music industry, entitled The Chick Singer Bible. Her passion is uplifting people through the power of music, and she is in the process of creating a non-profit music therapy foundation called Music Medicine WoRX.

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Young Oliver Liam Richman, son of Lisa Dawn Miller and Howard Richman, and stepson of Sandy Hackett, has a busy December schedule looming. Tomorrow, the talented 10-year-old will sing the National Anthem for the LA Derby Dolls in Los Angeles. On the 8th, he will appear on FOX 5's More show in Las Vegas, while on the 9th, he will perform at Sam's Town Live with Steve Rossi, Sandy Hackett and Lisa Dawn Miller. December 18th, Oliver will sing "One Little Christmas Tree," written by his late grandfather, Ron Miller, and originally recorded by Stevie Wonder, when he joins Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds, Eric Benet, Melanie Fiona, Janelle Monae, and his mother, as part of Stevie Wonder's 15th Annual House Full of Toys Benefit Concert at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles. To see and hear Oliver sing this lovely holiday song, go to The beautiful little girl in the video is Ashleigh Hackett, Oliver's four-year-old sister. To purchase tickets for the House Full of Toys Benefit, go to or call (800) 745-3000. We predict a great show business future for this young man.

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Breck Wall & Friends

Russell Thompkins Jr. & The New Stylistics

Producer Dick Feeney sent this message and photo in response to our November 19th segment on the late Breck Wall...
Very nice piece on Breck. Bottoms Up also played the Riviera in the '90s. The longest continuous run, however, was the four year run at the Flamingo, where I proudly was Breck and Patrick Mae's partner. Patrick was one of the classiest producers, businessmen and partners I ever had. Breck was a joy and someone I loved and admired. We would spend hours in the dressing room after the second show and he would tell me story after story about his career, Jack Ruby, and showbiz experiences. His energy, enthusiasm and love for showbiz was endless. He was a true legend.

We will have information on plans for a memorial service for Wall, who died on November 15th at the age of 75, in next Friday's column.

Shown in the accompanying photo (from left to right): Darlene Ryan, Kristy King, Breck Wall and Barbara Kramer.

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Russell Thompkins Jr. and The New Stylistics have opened at the Clarion Hotel (formerly the Paddlewheel, Debbie Reynolds and Greek Isles) for an indefinite run. The Philadelphia-based Stylistics band was formed in 1968, with Thompkins as lead singer. Producer Thom Bell made The Stylistics one of the most successful groups of the '70s. Their hits include "Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart)," "You Are Everything," "Betcha By Golly, Wow," "I'm Stone in Love With You" and "You Make Me Feel Brand New." Those were the early years when the group played to sold-out audiences in Caesars Palace's Circus Maximus Showroom. They recorded "You're a Big Girl Now" in 1970 for $400, and the song became a regional hit for Sebring Records. It climbed to No. 7 on the mainstream pop charts. The hits weren't only in the U.S., but were well received in Europe. The Stylistics' smooth sound found an easier path to adult contemporary airwaves than other soul artists, and the group made Billboard Magazine's Easy Listening singles chart 12 times from 1971-1976. Bell was a driving force in recognizing Russell Thompkins Jr. gifted voice. Their big No. 1 hit oddly enough came in the UK in 1975 with "Can't Give You Anything (But My Love)." Russell left The Stylistics in 2000, and started The New Stylistics in 2004. The members include Raymond Johnson (who has been with The Stylistics since 1980), James Ranton and Jonathan Buckson. The Best of the Stylistics I and II albums hit No. 1 in the UK. Thompkins voice earned them seven gold albums, five gold singles, eight platinum singles, one double platinum single, four platinum singles and a Grammy nomination in 1973 for "You Make Me Feel Brand New." In 2002, he released a solo album entitled A Matter of Style, and in 2004, Russell was inducted into the Vocals Hall of Fame. He has a star on the Walk of Fame in Center City Philadelphia. You can purchase tickets at the box-office at (702) 463-8186. General admission is $69.95 plus taxes, VIP is $79.95 and VIP plus dinner is $99.95 plus taxes.

Shown in the accompanying photo (from left to right) is Jonathan Buckson, Russell Thompkins Jr. and Raymond Johnson. Photo courtesy of The New Stylistics

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The world's longest running celebrity tribute show, Legends in Concert, brings the spirit of the season to the Strip, with the return of the holiday version of the dazzling production at Harrah's Las Vegas. The 90-minute spectacular will showcase superstar impersonators of past and present, singing the chart-topping hits that launched their careers into superstardom, as well as heart-warming Christmas classics. The special holiday song selection features Elton John singing "Feliz Navidad," Faith Hill and Tim McGraw doing a special duet of "Run Run Run Rudolph," Michael Jackson performing a high-energy version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," Aretha Franklin belts out a moving version of "Oh Holy Night" and Elvis croons the holiday classic, "Blue Christmas." To round out the holiday show, the band performs an instrumental version of "Christmas Eve Sarajevo," and the entire cast comes to together in the spirit of the season to sing " It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year." The show features a live band, 10 talented back-up singers and dancers, and an extensive multi-media presentation. This year marks the fourth annual holiday version of Legends in Concert. Tickets for the show are $69 and $59. For reservations, call (702) 369-5111, (800) 392-9002 or visit The show performs Thursdays through Tuesdays, and is dark Wednesdays. Contact the box office for show times.

Legends In Concert

Clint Black

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Although we left our boots and Stetson in Tucson when we left Arizona in 1966, we can't ignore the cowboys and cowgirls that travel to Las Vegas for the annual National Finals Rodeo in December. This is the 26th year for the activities that draw the crowds to our city. Of course, much of this month's entertainment is scheduled to appeal to the rodeo lovers. Among the acts booked are Clay Walker (December 3rd and 4th), Ronnie Millsap (December 6th), John Michael Montgomery (December 7th and 8th) and Clint Black (December 9th and 10th), all at the Golden Nugget. Garth Brooks is at Wynn's Encore Theater Saturday at 8 and 10:30 p.m., and Sunday at 8. Lee Greenwood performs at The Orleans, on Sunday, December 5th. For more info, check the tourist magazines.

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