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 March 18, 2011
You can find the current column HERE


Las Vegas - March 18, 2011


Celine Dion

Gilbert Gottfried by Lucas Jackson

After five consecutive years of sold-out shows at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, sheee's back! We are talking about Celine Dion. Following a three-year sabbatical - during which time she embarked on a year-long worldwide tour in 2008-2009, visiting five continents, 25 countries and playing to more than 3 million fans, before taking a year off for family time, which included giving birth to twin sons - Caesars' Queen Celine has returned to the 4,100-seat Colosseum that she launched in 2003. Her new show, which opened earlier this week, offers less Cirque-gimmicks and more Celine. Backed by a 31-piece orchestra, this go-round is more about the music. Caesars Palace is banking on Ms. Dion...and so are other businesses in the city. Tickets are priced from $55 to $250, plus taxes and fees. For reservations, call (877) 4CELINE (423-5463).

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Looks (and sounds) like Gilbert Gottfried, who was appearing in the Shimmer Cabaret at the Hilton, in January and February, as part of the Icons of Comedy series, just killed the duck that laid the golden egg. In a show of tasteless insensitivity, Gottfried chose to make the devastating and horrific earthquake in Japan the subject of his poor attempt at Twitter humor. As the result, Aflac Insurance has fired him as their spokesduck. Gottfried had been the voice of the feathered creature, used in TV ads, for more than 10 years, quacking "Af-LAC!" in the comedian's familiar, loud and annoying, voice. His apology, a few days later, was too little too late, especially when you consider that in the ‘70s, the disability insurance company made its name selling cancer expense policies in Japan, and still derives about three-quarters of its revenue in that country.

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Shortly after we sent off last Friday's column, letting readers know that Dick Taylor was ailing, we got word that the Mt. Charleston resident and gaming pioneer, had passed away the day before. Richard "Dick" Blackburn Taylor, 82, passed away peacefully in the family cabin on March 10th, after a courageous battle with metastatic melanoma. He was born in Quincy, Illinois, graduated from Glendale High School in 1947 and attended Washington & Lee University, University of Southern California, and University of Hawaii. He served in the 4th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army in Hanau, Germany, during the Occupation following World War II. In 1957, he married Charlene Flora Belknap and they had four children. Dick spent his career in the hotel, stock market, security systems, publishing and real estate development businesses. He was an avid author and historian, publishing many historical works. In the mid 1950s, he developed several subdivisions in Mt. Charleston, where he later resided and proudly called "home." He was a long-time member of the LDS 9th ward. The last months of his life were highlighted by being surrounded by his family and friends in his beloved mountain home, receiving a proclamation from the County Commission naming him "Historian Laureate" of Mt. Charleston, and having the mayor proclaim his birthday as "Richard B. Taylor Day." Dick is survived by his children, Mara "Tamara" Leigh Taylor, Russell Taylor, Tina Dyches and Ronald Taylor; and 10 grandchildren. There will be a memorial service tomorrow, Saturday, March 19th, in Palm Springs, California. On Sunday, March 27th, there will be a celebration of Dick Taylor's life in Mt. Charleston.


Dick Taylor

Rick Vittallo (Verde) by Maurice Seymour

We are also saddened to report the passing of Richard "Rick" Vittallo (Verde) Sr. His son, Rick Jr., who, like his father, is a musician, sent along this article from the Los Angeles union paper, The Overture. It was written by Rick Jr's godfather, well-known drummer, Hal Blaine.
In Memoriam: Richard 'Rick' J. Vittallo (1927 -2011)
Editor's Note: Chicago-born guitarist and entertainer Rick J. Vittallo's accomplishments include the muti-million seller RCA hit song by The Three Suns, "Twilight Time," as well as several hit albums. Briefly holding membership at Local 47, he remained a member of Chicago Local 10-208 from 1948 until resigning in 1994. A young musician, on the road with funny hat bands, I used to build and fly model airplanes. I flew them at airport lounges which were always open. One night in Great Falls, Montana, when I was tossing my airplane off of the balcony, I almost hit another model airplane. That was my first meeting with Rick, as we all knew him. He was pickin' and grinnin' and playing his guitar with another funny hat band. That started our friendship of just about 60 years. I went off to school in Chicago where Rick lived. We've been pals ever since that meeting in the airport. Rick was a member of Local 10-208 for 10 years then came to L.A. where he did a lot of side-line work. His son, Ricky Vittallo, Local 47, has taken over the reins and is playing and conducting in Las Vegas.

-Hal Blaine, Local 47 Life Member

This is Rick's bio, in his own words. We are leaving the blanks as he left them, and not editing the salty language. The only tampering we are doing, is putting the proper names in bold type, as we know that is how many of you read these types of columns.

Bio: Chicago, Ill.
1927-1-15 born Richard J Vittallo 1932-Our Lady of Sorrows Grammar School 1940-Graduated Grammar School Accomplishments-school plays-Alexander in Alexander's ragtime band Several elocution musicals Started singing standards of the day Learned dancing. I began visiting my dad's piano store and playing player piano rolls by the hundreds. My dad was a piano builder and repaired pianos with piano rolls. I learned all kinds of songs by heart-ethnic songs, modern songs, classical music, and marches. It actually taught me how to hear and remember a vast repertoire, never realizing how it would all come to play in my future. I joined the Sears YMCA gymnastics, swimming, arts and crafts, some musical plays-sang my first song solo "Deep Purple". I still remember the lyrics. I went roller skating one afternoon at Madison Gardens roller rink and met the girl I would marry-Mary Funteas. She was adorable-it was love at first sight, and I still love her today. Dec. 1941 War-Mother and Dad go to work in factory to help the war effort. Brother Charles drafted. Brother Tony 4-F. Sister Terry worked for FDR's NRA. I floundered-3 high schools. Finally drafter in 1945. Mounted and performed one man show in San Antonio, Texas, Air Force Base. Started singing with Air Force Band-piano roll background comes into play. I knew hundreds of songs in every idiom Discharged in March 1946-attended American Conservatory of Music courtesy of GI Bill. Studied piano and theory-Brother Charles gave me an old Gretch Guitar and taught me a few chords. May 1948. One afternoon I was trying to play those chords in my dad's piano store. A boy from the neighborhood, Tony Bernard, played accordion. He was walking past the store and saw me with the guitar. He stopped in and told me that was supposed to begin an engagement at the "Clubhouse Bar" on Madison and Austin Blvd. He said his guitar player got sick and asked if I would be interested in playing with his group. He said he would give me $50 for Friday and Saturday. I was dumbfounded and told him I really didn't know how to play the guitar, but I could sing and knew a lot of songs. He pleaded with me to take the job. I had a pretty nice personality and decided to try. We played the Friday and Saturday-I sang all night long and fooled around with the customers. The owners were Pat Cerone and John Baldo. The clientele consisted of many shady characters. Because I was funny and knew most requests, they were taken with me and we played for the next 6 weeks. While I was there, one of the their friends, "Joe Bananas" liked me. He came over to me one Friday and said, "Hey kid, Bat ting yer playin' is a piece of junk, Meet me tomorrow morning and I'll by yous a real fuckin' guitar." I met him Saturday morning and I was so naïve when he asked where we should go to make the purchase. I took him to Sears and bought a cheap Harmony guitar and blue and white amplifier. Had I known anything about anything, I could have just as well taken him to Lyon and Healy music and got a Gibson guitar and amplifier. But I was as happy as a lark with my new guitar and really wanted to learn. The following weekend, I wandered into a club called Mont's café. They had live music and the Mont Brothers performed. They were on a break and as I walked by the stage, I saw the most beautiful Gibson guitar. I was awestruck. I stopped to gaze at it and the musician who owned it said, "Hi. Do you play guitar?" I answered, "Well, somewhat, but I've never seen anything like that." His name was Stu Pierce, and he asked if I would like to try it. I freaked out, put the guitar on, and started picking a few notes. A couple minutes later, two guys came up to me and introduced themselves as musicians, Frank Fiore (piano) and Billy Rizzo (drums). I told them I was working at the clubhouse with Tony Bernard whom they knew. I told them it was my last weekend of work. They said they were due to start playing at the Bagdad Club on 63rd street the following week, and their bass player got sick and they needed someone to replace. They asked if I would be interested. The salary was $125 per week. I said yes! We started rehearsing the next day. The name of the trio was the Tripleairs. We laughed, played, sang, and I started doing comedy. Little by little I began loving my guitar and the music business. Within six months, we were one of the hottest trios in town and began harvesting fans all over the Chicago area. Every job was more successful than the last. We were approached by an agent from Associated Booking Agency, Al Dvorin, who later was the agent for Elvis Presley. He began booking us in better clubs for more money. Joe Glaser was head of the agency with Fred Williamson and Joe Musse. They began booking us on the road: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, New Orleans. The band was a success until November of 1949. Billy Rizzo got married and his wife began meddling. She later became Paul Ankas secretary many years later. Billy went to work later for playboy. Fran Fiore became a solo pianist and vocalist and lusted for knowledge of music and the guitar. In December of 1949, I had a trio with Bill Holyoke on base and ____. We were working in Great Falls, Montana, at the Guyon hotel. While there, the weather was cold and snowy. I amused myself by assembling model airplanes I finished my Spad Biplane and expressed the desire to fly it, but where? He suggested I go to the airport after work and said he was sure the people there wouldn't mind if I climbed to the steeple type roof and let it glide down. I did that, and as I released the plane, another plane was released from the opposite side. I was elated, I ran down the stairs to retrieve my airplane just as the other flier got his. We introduced ourselves, and he said he was a musician appearing with a trio called the Diamonds. The next afternoon we met and jammed together. I told him he played well, and he said he wished he could study and learn to read music. I suggested he come to Chicago and study at the Roy Knapp school of music. He said he didn't know how he could do that because he didn't know anyone there. I told him he could come to Chicago and stay with me at my parents' home so he could enroll in the school, find a job, and study. He did that and lived with us for several months. He studied hard and long and became one of my closest friends and one of the most famous drummers in the world. His name was Hal Blaine, godfather to my son, Rick. Until this day, our relationship is as strong as the day we met, and most certainly the warmest and most rewarding.

We offer our condolences to both families.

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Clint Holmes

Regis Philbin

If you haven't made your weekend plans yet, here are some entertainment options...
Clint Holmes returns to the Suncoast Showroom, tomorrow and Sunday, March 19th and 20th, with shows at 7:30 both evenings. Holmes' fans know him as more than just a singer. He's famous for making every performance an original, and captivating audiences with his charisma and signature style. Among his many recordings is the Top 10 hit, "Playground In My Mind (My Name Is Michael)." His album Edges produced many other standout songs, including "Feel Like Makin' Love," the romantic "Shouldn't It Be Easy By Now," the playful "Gotta Get Up" and the thought-provoking "Let My Son See Africa." With a long history of entertaining audiences in Las Vegas, Clint is known for his six-year run at Harrah's. Named Las Vegas' "Best Singer" for four times, and "Entertainer of the Year" three times by readers of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Holmes' fame stretches far beyond Southern Nevada. He was also Atlantic City's "Entertainer of the Year" three times, and starred in Clint Holmes' Sophisticated Rhythms, a dynamic stage show that traveled through music from the 1940s to the present. His 1996 critically acclaimed musical, Comfortable Shoes, which opened in New Jersey, was a poignant and uplifting journey into Holmes' interracial family's struggle to find its identity. In 2002, an updated version of the musical opened at The Royal George Theatre in Chicago. Among the show's rave reviews, the Chicago Tribune called it "a night of fully realized theatrical entertainment." Holmes also continues to partner with long-time friends, Domenick Allen, Susan Anton, and Martin Nievera, for a showcase of solo performances, duets and group numbers as the popular Vocal Soup. In a career that began with an invitation from Joan Rivers to be her sidekick and announcer on The Late Show, Holmes has proven himself as a well-respected performer, even earning the honor of being featured at the Democratic National Convention on the evening of Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential nomination. Holmes was the voice of Lowenbrau Beer for four years. Tickets for Clint Holmes are available starting from $19.95, plus tax and convenience fees, and can be purchased by calling the Box Office at (702) 636-7075, or visiting www.suncoastcasino.com. Save on convenience fees by purchasing the tickets in person at Coast Casinos.

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Tomorrow night, Saturday March 19th, it's Regis Philbin at Star of the Desert Arena at Primm Valley Resorts (at the Nevada-California border, for those not familiar with the area). Tickets range from $46.70 to $59.45, all inclusive. Show time is at 8 p.m.

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While Caesars will have Queen Celine in the spotlight for the next three (or more) years, on Monday, it was announced that "The Empress of Soul," seven-time Grammy-winner, Gladys Knight, will become the new headliner at the Tropicana Hotel, beginning on April 5th. The main showroom, formerly called the Tiffany Theater, will be renamed the Gladys Knight Theater in honor of Ms. Knight's commitment to the south Strip property. Gladys' last ongoing headliner stint was at the Flamingo, where she performed from 2002 to 2005. Joined by four singers and dancers and an 11-piece band, Knight's Tropicana show, called "A Mic and a Light," will showcase fan favorites such as "Midnight Train to Georgia," as well as newer hits including her December 2010 single, "Settle." Original Pip, brother Merald "Bubba" Knight, will also be featured as part of the show. Show times will be Tuesdays through Thursdays at 8 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays at 9 p.m. Ticket prices start at $65, plus taxes and fees, and may be purchased by calling the Tropicana Hotel Box Office at (800) 829-9034.


Gladys Knight

Christopher Peterson as Bette Davis

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Following a successful "test run" in January, female impersonator/entertainer Christopher Peterson's one man, many woman extravaganza, Eyecons, returns to the Onyx in Las Vegas. The show is a 90-minute, hilarious, irreverent and sometimes poignant, look at the great ladies of 20th century showbiz, and a peek or two at some of those shaking it up in the 21st century. Spot on impressions of Marilyn Monroe, Carol Channing, Joan Rivers, Reba McEntire, Bette Midler, Barbra Streisand, Julie Andrews, Lucille Ball, Bette Davis, Liza Minnelli, her mama Judy Garland, and the whitest Tina Turner you ever saw, are all performed live (no lip sync here folks), and all the changes are done right before your eyes. A Dora Award (the Canadian Tony)-winning star for Brad Fraser's hit play, Poor Superman, and a scene stealing Lucy alongside Cuba Gooding Jr. in Jerry Zucker's film, Rat Race, for a decade, Christopher has wowed crowds up and down the East Coast. From sharing a playbill with the likes of Victor Borge and Ben Vereen at the Westhampton Centre for the Performing Arts, to restoring the art of cabaret in Key West, Florida, and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, Christopher has built an extensive fan base. His most recent sold out shows, with the Heartland Men's Chorus of Kansas City, only further served to extend his reach nationally and cement his reputation as the undisputed king, that is queen, of his profession. Don't miss this opportunity to catch the heir to the thrones of such greats as Charles Pierce, Jim Bailey and Craig Russell. Show times for Eyecons at the Onyx are Sundays at 5 p.m., and Wednesdays at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 and $30. Call (702) 732-7225 for reservations. The Onyx is located in The Rack, at 953 E. Sahara, Suite 16B, in the northeast corner of Commercial Center.

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Rick Faugno

President/Dr. Wilfred Krom

Rick Faugno, who stars as Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys, one of the top rated shows in Las Vegas, returns to sing at the Metropolitan Community Church of Las Vegas, 1140 Almond Tree Lane (near Sahara and Maryland Parkway) #302, for the New Song Service, this Sunday morning at 11 a.m. All are welcome. Rick's CDs will be available for purchase at the church.

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Nelson Sardelli reports that the last F.I.O.R.E. (Fun Italians Organizing Ridiculous Events) gathering was "great," and declaring it "one of the better ones." There was great music by President Teddy Kaye, and a bunch of new converts. President Sardelli tells us that, "Most people came with a great attitude and low expectations. They weren't disappointed." Sardelli, goes on to say, "President/Dr. Wilfred Krom was in top form. First class informative stuff." The food was fantastic (can't say the same for the sound system). The next regular non-meeting meeting of the non-club club, will take place at the Italian American Social Club, Thursday, April 14th. Hopefully, Teddy Kaye will be able to make that one. We will have more details on the next F.I.O.R.E. get-together, in a couple of weeks.

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Since LaToya Jackson cleaned up her bad act (created mostly during her marriage to the late Jack Gordon), her brother, Jermaine Jackson, could earn the prize of the most greedy and embarrassing member of the famous musical family. Does anyone remember the bomb of a show that Jermaine did here at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino's 7,000-seat Theatre for the Performing Arts, last October? Talk about delusions of grandeur. Even using Michael Jackson's name to try and sell tickets, didn't really help. We understand that there were lots of giveaways to try and make the theater look respectably full. Now, it seems, Jermaine has come up with another attempt to try and profit from Michael's death, this time by writing a "tell all" book. The book, titled You Are Not Alone: Through a Brother's Eyes, is expected to be released in the fall. It will, supposedly, look at the Jackson family, from growing up in working class Gary, Indiana, to Michael's private life behind the gates of his Southern California Neverland ranch. You Are Not Alone (the name of one of Michael‘s songs) will also will examine his complex relationships with his mother Katherine and father, Joe. Michael, who died of a drug overdose in June of 2009, is probably spinning in his grave. Personally, we can hardly wait to read this.


Jermaine Jackson

Michael Jackson

And speaking of the Jackson family, although it won't take place here until December, tickets for Michael Jackson - The Immortal World Tour by Cirque du Soleil, went on sale March 12th. This "preview," before the production makes itself a permanent part of the Las Vegas Strip, will take place at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, December 3rd through 27th. To purchase tickets, go to cirquedusoleil.com, or call (800) 745-3000. The Legend Lives On.

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On Sunday, March 27th, the Performing Arts Society of Nevada Brown Bag Concerts presents vocalist Lee Hughes, in concert at the Clark County Flamingo Library Theater. The soprano began her vocal training in her hometown of Boston. Her performance resume includes The King and I and 110 in the Shade in New York City. She has also performed with the Norfolk Opera Company and the Las Vegas Symphony. For several years, Lee was concert balladeer in residence at the Rockefeller Foundation's Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia, specializing in ancient English music. She has an extensive background in vocal jazz, and has appeared in jazz festivals and supper clubs throughout the United States. Lee has taught vocal jazz at UNLV and CCSN for several years, and has recorded several albums. Accompanying Ms. Hughes will be Bing Young on piano, Ed Paliotta on guitar, and Geoff Neuman on bass. Young grew up in a small mountain town in Idaho, and started studying the piano at an early age. Though formally educated in geography and law, he has had life-long passion and interest in classical, jazz, folk, Latin, and American popular music. Over the years he has worked with a number of artists as an accompanist, arranger and producer, and has also worked as a pianist and vocalist aboard a variety of cruise ships, in clubs and private venues.


Lee Hughes

Mark Winkler and 2010 Class

Paliotta has been playing guitar for more than 40 years. He graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Music from Berklee College of Music in Boston in 1979. He has played in the musical theater productions of Jesus Christ Superstar, Showboat, Pippin, and Bubbling Brown Sugar. Ed has performed with a variety of celebrities, including Ginger Rogers, Bob Hope, Sergio Franchi, Jane Olivor, Bobby Vinton, Al Martino, Jerry Vale, Connie Francis, Little Anthony and the Imperials, The Diamonds, Merv Griffin, Lawrence Welk, Les Elgart, The Chantels, Fabian, and The Tokens. Ed has performed in virtually all of the Las Vegas resort lounges; Las Vegas show room productions, such as: Jubilee!, Skin Tight, and Branded; and various Nevada beauty pageants. Some of Ed's solo performances include Faneuil Hall in Boston, Boston School of Architectural Design, Jarods Jewelers "Jazz Days" promotions, and many others. In addition, Ed has performed internationally with a number of bands. Neuman is a versatile bassist who plays both electric and acoustic bass. He is a member of The Las Vegas Philharmonic, and has performed with a wide range of artists including Itzhak Perlman, Placido Domingo, Michel Legrand, George Benson, Celine Dion, and Elton John. He is a jazz bassist who leads his own trio, and is also a music educator/conductor. He has conducted at Carnegie Hall, Accademia Saint Ceclia in Rome Italy and other locations. Neuman was music director of the Las Vegas Youth Symphony and Green Valley High School Orchestra. He is currently on the faculty of The College of Southern Nevada. See Hughes and her trio perform outstanding interpretation of songs both old and new, featuring selections from the Great American Song Book. Show time is at 2 p.m. The library is located at 1401 E. Flamingo. Tickets are $15 and are on sale at the library box office one hour before performance. For further information, call (702) 658-6741. The Performing Arts Society of Nevada is a 501 © (3) Not For Profit Corporation.

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Good news (we can use some of that) from Jeanne Bavaro. Jeanne reports that entertainer, Bill Acosta, was out of the hospital less than 24 hours after his recent surgery. He is feeling great. The doctors said it could not have gone better. The surgery, to help stop the shaking associated with Parkinson's disease, was complete in fewer than two hours, taking less time than expected. The electrodes/wires were placed perfectly the first time. The Physicians Assistant said it usually takes a few passes, but they were successful the first time out. Bill is scheduled for part two, the battery implant, on Monday. Our continued good thoughts are with Mr. Acosta and his family.

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Every year, for the last five years, Mark Winkler has been teaching his lyric writing class at UCLA extension. Winkler says, "It's been one of the most gratifying and just plain wonderful things I do all year. I'm proud to say that each year my class is one of the highest rated of their courses." Winkler is a lyricist and songwriter who has written for such artists as Dianne Reeves, Nancy Wilson, Dee Dee Bridgewater, and Liza Minnelli, as well as written or co-written songs for five musicals, including Naked Boys Singing! (currently playing in Las Vegas at the Onyx in Commercial Center), Bark!, Too Old for the Chorus, and Play It Cool. Of interest to beginning as well as more experienced songwriters, this course offers a supportive and inspirational writing workshop environment. Instruction focuses on three equally important and interrelated aspects of songwriting: form, theme, and content. Each week, students perform practical exercises and write lyrics to strengthen their songwriting skills. Exercises are designed to broaden rhyming patterns and add specificity and color to songs. Hit songs by such writers as The Beatles, Avril Lavigne, John Mayer, and Joni Mitchell provide templates for commercial lyric writing. Ultimately, each participant's lyrics are evaluated by the hit song formula: to entertain, to tell the truth, and to connect with your audience. Internet access required to retrieve course materials. Go to YouTube to listen to Tony-winning Broadway star, Lea Salonga, sing Mark Winkler's beautiful "Land of the Loving." UCLA Extension offers Mark Winkler's "Crafting Great Lyrics - A Songwriter's Workshop." Westwood: 217 Extension Lindbrook Center. Classes, March 28th through June 13th. Enrollment deadline: April 11th.
Contact at www.uclaextension.edu or call (310) 825-9971 to sign up today!

And speaking of songwriters...
Hugh Martin, who livened up the Judy Garland movie musical, Meet Me in St. Louis, with "The Trolley Song," "The Boy Next Door" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," died in California on March 11th. A talented lyricist as well as a composer, Mr. Martin wrote the scores for several Broadway musicals, including Best Foot Forward (1941) (which featured the rousing fight song "Buckle Down, Winsocki"); Look, Ma, I'm Dancin' (1948), which was conceived and co-directed (with George Abbott) by Jerome Robbins; Make a Wish (1951); and High Spirits (1964); and did musical and vocal arrangements for the likes of Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and Richard Rodgers. But it was for the lush M-G-M film, Meet Me in St. Louis, a collaboration with his frequent writing partner, Ralph Blane, that he made his most lasting contribution to the American songbook. The movie was made memorable through Garland's ardent, warm delivery of the score. Her take on the bouncy, syncopated "The Trolley Song," became a piece of cinematic history, and the melancholy "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" evolved into a yuletide classic, recorded by hundreds of artists over the years. Hugh Martin was 96.


Hugh Martin

Beverly Washburn & Stephen Michael Shearer

And, while still on the subject of writers...

Author! Author! We spotted two of them, Stephen Michael Shearer and Beverly Washburn, having lunch together at Bahama Breeze on Wednesday. Shearer, visiting Las Vegas with partner Michael Wickman, is working on his third biography...this one on Gloria Swanson. His two earlier tomes are Patricia Neal: An Unquiet Life (2006), and Beautiful: The Life of Hedy Lamarr (2010). Shearer, who lived in Vegas for a period of time (and is talking about moving back), also did a series of 20 celebrity profiles, called Legendary Las Vegas Headliners, that were published in the Las Vegas Review-Journal during 2009. In her biography, Reel Tears - The Beverly Washburn Story (2009), the actress (one of the best crying child stars of all time) tells the story of her childhood, starring with the likes of Jimmy Stewart, Alan Ladd, Danny Kaye, Kirk Douglas, Bing Crosby, Jack Benny, Loretta Young and Dorothy McGuire, in numerous television series, as well as major motion pictures, including Walt Disney's Old Yeller, The Greatest Show On Earth, Hans Christian Andersen and Shane. All three books are available online.

From longtime Las Vegas DJ Larry Taylor, who now lives in Laughlin, comes this news...
The Rainbow Bridge poem came to me just in time, as my 16-year-old Casperina has passed and is waiting for me in that special place. She was two days old when I saw her lying in a circle of five black pups. She was in the middle, just as white as white could be. I told the owner, "That looks like Casper the Friendly Ghost." He said, "that‘s a she," and I said, "good, then I shall name her Casperina and she's mine." Sixteen-and-a-half years of unconditional Love. Thank You. Larry reports that he just did a fundraiser for The Boy's and Girls Club, with more than 2,000 people in attendance. He will be at the MacDonald Ranch Country Club in Green Valley on May 17th, playing for Mac MacDonald's 90th birthday party.


Larry Taylor's Casperina

Mr. Broadway Competitors

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Our friend, Lee Roy Reams (Roger DeBris in the Vegas production of The Producers), will open Monday night's 5th Annual Broadway Beauty Pageant in a special number, "Beautiful Boys," created by Gerard Alessandrini (of Forbidden Broadway fame). The award-winning Tovah Feldshuh will serve as hostess, as Broadway's hottest men compete for the title of Mr. Broadway. Celebrity judges Bruce Vilanch, Rachel Dratch, and Carson Kressley offer their critiques as this year's contestants, Matt Anctil, La Cage aux Folles; Michael Cusumano, Chicago; Raymond J Lee, Anything Goes; Brandon Rubendall, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark; and James Tabeek, Mary Poppins, show their best in talent, interview, and the ever-popular swimsuit portions of competition. Benefiting The Ali Forney Center, NYC's primary housing resource for homeless LGBT youth, the annual show will again be at the Peter Norton Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway (at 95th Street). Conceived by Jeffery Self and directed by Ryan J. Davis, The Broadway Beauty Pageant is musically directed by Christopher Denny, choreographer is Erin Porvaznika. Brian Tovar is the lighting designer This year's event, produced by Wil Fisher, Ryan J. Davis, Jeffery Self and Matthew Oberstein, will be bigger and better than ever! Ticket prices are $150 for VIP (includes gift bag and after party); $50 for Orchestra; and $25 for Balcony, and are on sale at the Box Office and on line at http://www.symphonyspace.org/event/6590-the-5th-annual-broadway-beauty-pageant. For Gala information, please contact Wil Fisher at (212) 400-0282. See the event Web site at http://aliforneycenter.org/beauty/.

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If you are in the neighborhood of McPherson, Kansas, tomorrow, Saturday, March 19th, Rebecca Spencer (former Madame Giry in Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular), and Philip Forte berry (associate conductor for Jersey Boys at The Palazzo), will present a full length concert, From Broadway to Las Vegas, at the newly restored McPherson Opera House. The two consummate pros, Rebecca on vocals and Philip on piano, bring the glitz and drama of Broadway and Las Vegas to the stage of the historic opera house (on the Register of National Landmarks) in a show starting at 7 p.m. Tickets are $30, $25, $20 (students $10). For schedule and ticket information please call (620) 241-1952.


Philip Fortenberry & Rebecca Spencer

Matthew Gray Gubler

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Tomorrow, March 19th, at both 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., the City of Henderson will host King Arthur's Quest at the Henderson Multigenerational Center, 250 S. Green Valley Parkway. Local children, from kindergarten through 12th grade, will star in King Arthur's Quest, a full-scale production, featuring knights, squires, damsels and dragons, and written by the Missoula Children's Theatre. King Arthur's Quest puts an original twist on a familiar story. Set in medieval England, the musical follows the historical legend, King Arthur, on a journey full of surprises. Audiences will be entertained, as their favorite characters from Camelot - Arthur, Guinevere, Merlin and Lancelot - wrestle with the challenges faced by the people of their kingdom. Tickets start at $5 and can be purchased at the door. Cash and checks accepted. For additional information, visit HendersonLive.com, or call the City of Henderson Cultural Arts & Tourism Department at (702) 267-2171.

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On Saturday, March 26th, at 8 p.m., the Las Vegas Philharmonic will perform Pops III: An Evening with Rogers and Hammerstein at UNLV's Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall. Four talented vocal soloists, Lynnette Chambers, Derrick Davis, Larry Morbitt and Joan Sobel, plus the Las Vegas Master Singers, join with the Philharmonic for an evening of hits from the classic musicals of Rogers and Hammerstein - including favorites from The Sound of Music, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, and much more. Tickets are $35, $50 and $75, plus taxes and fees, and my be purchased by calling the Performing Arts Box Office at (702) 895-2787.

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Happy birthday wishes to Pisces (February 20th through March 20th) celebrants with Vegas connections, Jed Allen, Toni Andrews, Tom Arnold, Sean Astin (see some background below), Brent Barrett, Michael Bolton, Jon Bon Jovi, Lance Burton, Don Cadette, Candi Cazau, Tyler Cohen, Dane Cook, Billy Crystal, Fats Domino, Cruz Gallagher, Mickey Gilley, Harry Goldson, Gilbert Gottfried, Matthew Gray Gubler (see history below), Jasmine Guy, Chelsea Handler, Carole Hassell, Debbie Hoover, Marlon Jackson, Al Jarreau, Penn Jillette, Quincy Jones, John Kander, Margaret Kurtz, Michel Legrand, Jerry Lewis, Hal Linden, Bret Michaels, Liza Minnelli, Mike Love, Jay Osmond, Walter Parazaider, Joey Pero, Bernadette Peters, Charley Pride, Corinne Bailey Ray, James Lee Reeves (aka Milo Tremley), Keely Smith, Dee Snider, Tempest Storm, Wanda Sykes, Carrot Top, Tommy Tune, Cherry Wainer, Mary Wilson, and Nancy Wilson (Heart). And happy anniversary greetings to James Lee and Amber Reeves, Robert and Deborah Danielson Allen.

And, for those who don't know, Matthew Gray Gubler, who portrays Spencer Reid on the CBS series, Criminal Minds, is a native Las Vegan. The 31-year-old actor, director, sketch artist, and former fashion model, is the son of attorney John Gubler and Marilyn Gubler, a ranch owner and former chairwoman of the Nevada Republican Party, who were also born in Las Vegas. Matthew's maternal grandfather, Maxwell Kelch, was the first president of the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce. With his wife, Laura Belle Kelch, Maxwell founded this city's first radio station (KENO). Matthew is a graduate of the Las Vegas Academy of International Studies, Performing and Visual Arts, where he majored in acting. He is a graduate of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, where he majored in film directing. He also attended UC Santa Cruz. Among the other attendees of the Las Vegas Academy are R&B singer, Ne-Yo, and Dancing With the Stars pro, Julianne Hough.

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On Thursday, March 24th at 7 p.m., a special jazz event will take place at UNLV's Doc Rando Recital Hall. The Black Mountain Institute presents a night of discussion and performance with guest jazz artists, Ellis Marsalis (father of Wynton Marsalis), Ishmael Reed, David Loeb and Marlena Shaw, with an appearance by the UNLV Jazz Ensemble. This free event, presented with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and with support from Nevada Public Radio, Las Vegas CityLife, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and the Caesars Foundation, is open to the public.



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