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 May 20, 2011
You can find the current column HERE


Las Vegas - May 20, 2011


Vintage Four Freshmen

Bob Flanigan

The lead voice of the famed Four Freshmen musical ensemble has been stilled. Vocal jazz and trombone icon, Bob Flanigan, passed away at his Las Vegas home at 9:59 on Sunday night, May 15th, the victim of congestive heart failure. He was 84. Robert Lee Flanigan was born on August 22nd, 1926, in Greencastle, Indiana. Following a stint in the Army, where he served in Germany during World War II, he enrolled at Butler University in Indianapolis. There he connected with a barbershop-type musical group, started by his cousins, Ross and Don Barbour. When classmate Hal Kratzsch joined the Barbour brothers and Flanigan in 1948, they became known as the Four Freshmen. In the early 1950s, a friend of big band leader Stan Kenton's, urged him to see the group because it had developed a reputation of having a vocal sound like that of his band. He promptly connected the Freshmen with officials at his record label, Capitol, which signed the group and soon released its first hit, "It's a Blue World," in 1952. That was followed by Duke Ellington's "Mood Indigo" and "Day By Day." The group's early albums include Voices in Modern, Four Freshmen and Five Trombones, Voices in Latin and Voices in Love. Over the past 60-plus years, the jazz harmony group recorded more than 50 albums and received six Grammy-nominations. The Freshmen were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2001. In addition to his vocal duties, Flanigan played bass guitar and trombone in the band. "Flanigan's voice was indestructible," said Ross Barbour. "He could drive all day and all night without stopping between gigs, and when our voices were on the edge, Bob was still in full form." Ross, who is 82 and lives in Simi Valley, California, is now the only surviving original member of the Four Freshmen, as his brother died in a car crash in1961, and Kratzsch passed away in 1970. Although none of the group members graduated from college, in 2008 Butler awarded Flanigan and Ross Barbour honorary doctorates. The Four Freshmen's elegantly intricate jazz-rooted singing had a profound influence on The Beach Boys mastermind, Brian Wilson, as well as The Lettermen, The Manhattan Transfer and numerous other vocal acts. "Bob Flanigan and the Four Freshmen were my harmonic education," Wilson said Monday through his manager. "I saw them at the Coconut Grove in Hollywood in 1958. My dad and I went backstage and met the Freshmen. I was nervous because they were my idols. They were so nice to me. I was just 15 years old. I'll forever miss his friendship." Wilson has long cited the Freshmen as one of the two most important influences on the Beach Boys' sound, the other being the exuberant guitar-driven rock of Chuck Berry. Tony Butala, founding member of The Lettermen vocal trio, was similarly impacted by the music of the group. "The Freshmen were my heroes when I was in high school," Butala said. "We became friends, and he didn't so much take me under his wing, but he was very much helpful. We always argued, jokingly, that (the Lettermen were) the Four Freshmen without doing all the modern harmony." Flanigan often credited Kenton as being the key influence on what the Freshmen wanted to achieve, a sound built on more sophisticated harmonies than typical of the male vocal quartets that preceded them. "I always thought of singing as if I were playing trombone with Stan," Flanigan told the Los Angeles Times in 1991. "We think like horn players. The way we blend is due to our approach as instrumentalists. Also, we use no vibrato, because Kenton's trombones didn't." All members of the Four Freshmen also played instruments, which made them unique among close-harmony vocal groups of the era. In addition, Flanigan's exceptional vocal range allowed him to take the melody above the other three voices, which also opened new vistas in male quartet singing. From an early age he was enthralled with the sound of jazz, especially big-band singer and trombonist Jack Teagarden and bebop saxophonist Charlie Parker. The original Freshmen, whose singers all doubled on at least one instrument, enjoyed immense popularity in the 1950s and early '60s. Though the group was most often called a jazz ensemble, its musical style transcended category, encompassing elements of barbershop, jazz and pop. The group is widely described as the longest continuously performing vocal quartet of its kind in the United States. Flanigan, who retired from performing with the group in 1992, continued as its manager, maintained the band's name, and was responsible for the group's changing cast of performers, until shortly before his death. Last Friday, May 13th, though suffering and failing from congestive heart failure, Flanigan insisted that he be moved from hospice to his home to die. The following Sunday, at 2:30 in the afternoon, with his family and entertainers Pete Barbutti and Cork Proctor in attendance, former Freshmen member, Rod Henley, arranged for an octet of trombonists and former band member, Greg Stegeman (supplying keyboard bass), to play a final concert for Bob at his bedside. The trombonists - Henley, Walt Boenig, John Tyler, Mike Turnbull, James Nelson, Randy Crawford, Sonny Hernandez, and Ralph Pressler - played "Their Hearts Were Full of Spring," "Just As I Am," "You'll Never Walk Alone" and "It's a Blue World." Bob perked up and conducted during the finale of "Blue World," gave a wink, a smile, and a knowing parting nod. Later that night, surrounded by his family, and with his favorite music playing softly in the background, Bob peacefully passed away. As per his wishes, there will be no funeral. However, the Four Freshmen Society will be holding a memorial tribute at the South Point Hotel/Casino. As soon as the date is determined, we will inform readers. Bob Flanigan is survived by his second wife, Mary, whom he married in 1963; two children from his first marriage, Stephen Flanigan and Debbie Muria; four children from his second marriage, Scott Flanigan, Julie Maple, Jill Flanigan and Jennifer Turner; a sister, Maxine Thomas; 15 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. Also surviving is his cousin, Ross Barbour. Now in its 22nd lineup, the group's current members - Brian Eichenberger, Curtis Calderon, Vince Johnson and Bob Ferreira - performed at the South Point last July. They will return to entertain there again this July, the 29th through the 31st. We have to say, "It's a Bluer World" without Bob Flanigan in it.

We are also saddened to report the death of Margie Toledo Sands, who, with her husband, Ken Sands, worked with acts such as The Treniers and Liberace protégé, Vince Cardell.


The Las Vegas Tenors

And speaking of boy bands...
The new Las Vegas Tenors, with special guest stars, the critically acclaimed a cappella group, Mosaic, will perform at the South Point, tonight, May 20th, at 7:30 p.m. The Las Vegas Tenors, around since 2006, have reformed under the leadership of original member and co-creator Bobby Black. Black has recruited two new vocalists - Chris Riggins and Corwyn Hodge. Backed by talented and veteran musicians, the Las Vegas Tenors will also feature the Bella Electric Strings - an all female string section. Bobby's musical talents have deep Southern Gospel roots. He has been singing at his local church since he was three-years-old. Bobby sang with The Zion Brothers, a national touring Southern Gospel Quartet for seven years as a featured soloist. He has since toured the world as a solo performer before forming the original Las Vegas Tenors. Chris has been featured in the LA Music Awards, received an Independent Superstar Of The Year Hollywood F.A.M.E. Award, as well as toured the world with his solo act. Chris has also performed with Wynonna Judd, Jordin Sparks, Melinda Doolittle, Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith. Corwyn, originally from Louisville, Kentucky, holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. Some of his show credits are, The Lion King, Jesus Christ Superstar, Children of Eden and Once On This Island. He is also a former member of Mosaic. He has performed with Prince, The Black Eyed Peas, The Pussycat Dolls , George Wallace and Jay Leno. Tickets for the South Point show are $25/$20/$15. Call (702) 797-8055 or (866) 796-7111 for reservations.

As for Mosaic, the vocal group that served as opening act for comic headliner George Wallace at the Flamingo, and also gained attention on TV's America's Got Talent, has landed a multi-month residency at the newly renovated Veil Pavilion at the Silverton. The first performance for the five-man lineup is Friday, June 3rd. They will also perform at the Silverton on August 20th and October 22nd. Show times are at 8 p.m. and tickets are $15, plus tax and applicable fees. Guests must be 18 years or older. To purchase tickets, call (866) 866-6868 or visit www.silvertoncasino.com.


Mosaic

Idaho! the Musical

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The Forestburgh Theatre Arts Center at the Forestburgh Playhouse announced that it will open its Main Stage 2011 season with the original musical IDAHO!, winner of the Best of Fest Audience Prize at the New York Musical Theater Festival in 2008. Starring Austin Miller (Grease: You're The One That I Want), Jessica Hershberg (Little House on the Prairie), and Paul Vogt (Broadway's Hairspray, MadTV), IDAHO!, with a book and lyrics by Buddy Sheffield and music by Sheffield and Keith Thompson, will run at the Forestburgh Playhouse, promoted as "The Best of Broadway in the Catskills," from June 1st through 12th. IDAHO! will be directed by Matt Lenz (Associate Director of Broadway's Hairspray and Catch Me If You Can). Tater country is turned spud-side-up when a mail-order bride comes to town and falls in love with the wrong man. Born (out of wedlock) from the golden age of musical comedy, comes a new love story...a twisted tale of wife stealin', spud peelin' and double dealin' at a time when men were men and Aunt Pearlie carried the shotgun. Oklahoma! meets Spamalot in IDAHO!, a new musical comedy - with the accent on comedy. "I think my love of theatre, especially the musicals of the 'Golden Age,' is what really shines through in IDAHO!," said Sheffield. "Sure, I make a lot of jokes at the theater's expense, but at the root of it, IDAHO! is a love letter to the great musicals, the great composers and anyone else who ever did a hitch kick, belted a high C, painted a flat, manned a dimmer board, sewed a bustle - or anything else - that helped to bring a big, lusty, story-driven musical to the stage." Joining Miller, Hershberg, and Vogt on stage in IDAHO! is a cast of 16, including Belinda Allyn, Austin Babin, Romelda Teron Benjamin, Grace Flaherty, Meggan Herod, Alle-Faye Monka, Susan Mosher, Max Nussbaum, Elliot O'Rourke-Peterson, Zoe Raphael, Jay Rogers, Dustin Smith and Will Taylor. Choreography is by Michele Lynch (Everyday Rapture, The Coast of Utopia), with set design by Michael Carnahan (The Marvelous Wonderettes), costume design by David Withrow (Perez Hilton Saves the Universe), and sound design by Lewis Mead (Urinetown). The Forestburgh Playhouse is currently in its 65th year, making it the oldest professional summer theatre in New York state. For the past 20 years, Norman Duttweiler has served as Managing Director. IDAHO! marks the very first time the Forestburgh Theatre Arts Center at the Forestburgh Playhouse is presenting a brand new, original musical as part of its summer season. "We've never done anything like this at the Playhouse before - that is, present a new musical, something that has not already been a hit on Broadway," said Duttweiler. "But IDAHO! is just irresistible and so very funny, and I think it will particularly appeal to our patrons who love classic Broadway musicals." Tickets for IDAHO! go on sale May 21st, and are available through the Forestburgh Theatre Arts Center at the Forestburgh Playhouse box office (39 Forestburgh Road, Forestburgh, NY), by phone at (845) 794-1194, or by going to www.FBplayhouse.org online. The schedule for is Tuesday through Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees on Wednesday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. IDAHO! is produced by the Forestburgh Theatre Arts Center at the Forestburgh Playhouse (Norman Duttweiler, Sarah Norris). Richard Winkler, Sharon A. Carr, and Janet Pailet / P2 Creations serve as consulting producers. For more information on the Forestburgh Theatre Arts Center at the Forestburgh Playhouse, go to http://www.fbplayhouse.org/.

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All you REAL cabaret lovers...Look for an exciting announcement here in the next week or two. For those, like Cousin Claire, who have hoped for East Coast-type entertainment, we can hardly wait to share the news with you. All we can say, for right now, is that the fun will start in August. Stay tuned!

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Hash House A Go Go Griddled Meatloaf Sandwich

Wes Winters

Congratulations to Jim Rees and company on the opening of their fourth Nevada Hash House A Go Go. In addition to the three restaurants in Southern Nevada - 6800 W. Sahara, inside the Imperial Palace on the Las Vegas Strip, and the newest location at the M Resort - Hash House A Go Go at Harrah's in Reno is now operating on a 24/7 schedule. A favorite among locals, tourists and celebrities alike, Hash House A Go Go offers a unique style featuring "farm fresh food with a twist." The atmosphere is just as tasteful as the menu, with country-style décor mixed with an urban flair. From the vintage black and white farm photos, to relaxed booths and the comfortable bar area, feel at ease in a homey, yet sophisticated setting. Favorite breakfast items include the sage-fried chicken bacon waffles, homemade biscuits, the fried chicken benedict, the hot sticky granola and meatloaf hash. Hash House features a generous lunch menu with winning tastes. The famous stuffed burgers are every meat lovers' dream-come-true. Two huge ½ pound beef patties are stuffed with items like apple-smoked bacon and mashed potatoes, crumbled bleu cheese or hardwood smoked bacon, avocado and cheddar. Other delectable dishes include the fresh ahi tuna melt, the "Kokomo" griddled meat loaf sandwich and the roasted chicken potpie. Try the award winning Crispy Pork Tenderloin Sandwich or the Hash House Famous Stuffed Quesadilla. Healthy and delightfully tasty salads are also available and if you're in the mood for breakfast at lunch that's available too! Hash House A Go Go also features irresistible dinner selections. No matter what your mood Hash House a Go Go has a selection for you. Dinner items include everything from Fresh Swordfish or an 18 ounce bone-in ribeye steak to a "Grazing Menu" of specially selected smaller plates, the famous one pound burgers, farm fresh sandwiches and even their most popular breakfast choices such as the Corned Beef Hash or the Tractor Driver Pancake Combination. Other delectable dinner options include sage-fried chicken penne pasta in a porcini mushroom cream sauce, grilled pork tenderloin with caramelized pecans and black skillet chicken on pumpkin mashed with smoked bacon, charred tomato and asparagus. Whether it's breakfast, lunch or dinner, make sure to stop by and enjoy this one-of-a-kind eating experience. Best known for: Sage Fried Chicken with hardwood smoked bacon waffle tower, with hot maple reduction and fried leeks. The Harrah's establishment is located on the 2nd floor of the West Tower next to Starbucks. www.hashhouseagogo.com

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There is lots going on this Sunday, May 22nd. We call these dilemmas, "Too many choices. Too little time."
As we mentioned last Friday, Wes Winters will be taking time away from the piano at ENVY this Sunday, to entertain the followers of the Performing Arts Society of Nevada's Brown Bag Concert series. Wes will be joined by young violin prodigy, 14-year-old Ariella Nounna-Holton, at the Clark County Flamingo Library Theatre, 1401 E. Flamingo, for a 2 p.m. show. Obviously, pianist and singer Winters is doing something right, as this will be his 22nd time performing for PASNV audiences. The cost of tickets is $15 (cash or check-no credit cards). They can be ordered by phone at (702) 658-6741. The library box office will open at 1 p.m., and the theater doors open at 1:30 p.m. It is open seating, but fear not. The state-of-the-art theater has 399 seats, with the furthest seats only nine rows from the stage. In other words, there isn't a bad seat in the house.


Diane Ellis

Michelle Johnson

And, as we have also mentioned before, songstress Diane Ellis will once again fill in for Wes Winters at the ENVY The Steakhouse's fabulous Mimosas & Music Brunch, while Wes is performing at the Flamingo Library. Diane will be accompanied by Paul Stevenson at the piano. ENVY is located inside the Renaissance Las Vegas Hotel at 3400 Paradise, between Desert Inn and Sierra Vista. Prices for what many call "The Best Sunday Brunch in Las Vegas," serving from 11 a.m. tom 3 p.m., is $29.95 per person, including unlimited beverages (tax and gratuity not included). Prices may vary on holidays. Reservations are suggested. Call (702) 784-5716.

At the same time that Diane Ellis and Paul Stevenson are entertaining brunchers at ENVY, and Wes Winters and Ariella Nounna-Holton are entertaining audiences at the Flamingo Library Theater, Michelle Johnson and the Desert Angels will be doing the same thing at the Fiesta Rancho, 2400 N. Rancho Drive in North Las Vegas. This Sunday, the hotel casino will introduce Gospel Brunch at Fiesta Rancho, featuring the soaring vocals of Ms. Johnson and the Desert Angels. The gospel brunch tradition began in 1985 in New York City, when owners of Lola's restaurant in Manhattan hired gospel singers from churches in Brooklyn and Queens to entertain brunch diners. The experiment worked, with the brunches becoming so popular, that Lola's added more seating to accommodate crowds. Restaurants in Harlem soon following suit. Before long, the gospel brunch became a nationwide sensation. President Barack Obama celebrated his inauguration with a celebrity gospel brunch in Washington, D.C., that featured BeBe Winans, Yolanda Adams and Carole King. Gospel is a uniquely American music, born out of a deeply personal and universally inspiring African-American form of worship. For decades, gospel has touched hearts both inside the church and out in the world. The gospel brunch offers everyone a chance to join the celebration. The $15 admission includes an all-you-can-eat buffet. Doors open to Club Tequila at noon, and the performance will run from 1 to 2:30 p.m. For tickets or information, call (702) 631-7000, or (888) 899-7700, or go online for tickets at www.stationcasinos.com. Audience members must be 21 years or older. The brunch may continue each month, however, at this time, no future event dates have been solidified.

Coincidentally, both Diane Ellis and Michelle Johnson are cast members in Nunsense, the musical comedy playing afternoons in the Shimmer Cabaret at the Las Vegas Hilton.

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Domenick Allen

Howard Jochsberger

Next weekend, Domenick Allen, formerly with the multi-platinum group Foreigner, leads 10 of Las Vegas' finest musicians to shake the walls and rock the house by giving his unique interpretations of classic rock's most popular songs in VINYL, the Ultimate Classic Rock Show. VINYL utilizes video, powerful laser lighting and effects, and state-of-the-art sound design to bring the ultimate celebration to the Suncoast Showroom on Memorial Day week-end, Saturday, May 28th and Sunday, the 29th. VINYL is a high-energy performance of some of music's greatest anthems, first recorded by Foreigner, The Beatles, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Journey, The Rolling Stones, The Allman Brothers, The Eagles, Aerosmith, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Bon Jovi, The Doobie Brothers, Blood Sweat & Tears, Rush, and, of course, Ludwig van Beethoven. VINYL is not a tribute band. VINYL is not a group of impressionists. VINYL is great music powerfully performed by great musicians. VINYL is a Celebration of what makes Classic Rock CLASSIC! Show times are 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $15.95, plus tax and convenience fees. To purchase, call (702) 636-7075, or (877) 636-7111. You can also purchase tickets at the Suncoast Box Office, open daily from noon to 8 p.m. See you there.

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Darcus

Harvey Goldson

Happy birthday to Taurus celebrants (April 21st through May 20th) Brenda Leonard Cowart, Babe Pier, Lucy Shropshire, Denny Scott "Tarzan" Miller, Arlene Bates, Howard Jochsberger, Dori Kotzan, Rebecca Spencer, Gloria Hill, Nancy Archer, Wes Davis, Clint Holmes, Darcus Speed, Brittney Porter, Harvey Goldson, Grant Philipo, Stephen Thorburn, Peter Gordon, Emerson McNeeley, Patti LuPone, Tony Danza, Glen Campbell, John Waters, Peter Frampton, George Lopez, Shirley MacLaine, Barbra Streisand, Jay Leno, Cedric the Entertainer, Kelly Clarkson, Bobby Rydell, Sheena Easton, Jerry Seinfeld, Ann-Margret, Carnie Wilson, Andre Agassi, Cloris Leachman, Willie Nelson, Merrill Osmond, Judy Collins, Rita Coolidge, Tim McGraw, Engelbert Humperdinck, Lesley Gore, Larry Gatlin, Pete Seeger, Frankie Valli, Christopher Cross, Nick Ashford, Jackie Jackson, Oleta Adams, Randy Travis, Bob Seger, George Clooney, Thelma Houston, Don Rickles, Toni Tennille, Enrique Iglesias, Burt Bacharach, Stevie Wonder, Jason Graae, Trini Lopez, Lenny Welch, Lainie Kazan, Chazz Palminteri, Janet Jackson, Cher, Craig Ferguson and Sugar Ray Leonard.

And anniversary greetings to Phil and Sharon Holmes Mandel, Stephen and Judy Thorburn, and Whitney and Marianne Phoenix.


Emerson McNeeley

Lesley Gore

Regarding birthday girl, Emerson McNeely, who celebrated her first birthday on May 16th, her parents, entertainer Ali Spuck and Kristofer McNeeley, have been back in Southern California, since the beginning of the year. Ali, a singer actress, performed her own one-woman cabaret act, Ali Spuck: Here I Am, in the showroom, at different times, at the Liberace Museum. Kristofer played Hank Mejewski and other roles in the Las Vegas company of Jersey Boys. He also did a musical act, Holding the Space, in the Cabaret at the Liberace Museum. The reason for that title? Kristofer was "holding the space" for Ali, as she took a hiatus from her show at the museum, to await the birth of their daughter. Ironically, little Emerson's May 16th birth date, is the same as Liberace's. Kristofer reports that Emerson is doing fantastic, "learning and growing ever day." Ali is doing voiceover work and spending some time working with Disney and a new all ladies a cappella group with one of the singers from Barry Manilow's band. Kristofer is focusing on film and TV work. Special events for Jersey Boys recently took him to Berlin, and in July he will be in Morocco. Perhaps show business will bring the McNeeleys back to Las Vegas one of these days.


George Clooney by Martin Kreloff

Mark Nadler

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On Thursday, May 26th at 9:30 p.m., for one performance only, Mark Nadler goes Crazy 1961 at Manhattan's Laurie Beechman Theatre. The year 1961 gave us songs like "Crazy," "Moon River" and, appropriately, "It Was A Very Good Year." Just as JFK was being sworn in as President, The Beatles gave their first public performance, Judy Garland did her historic concert at Carnegie Hall and Barbra Streisand made her first TV appearance. The first man in outer space, (not to mention the first monkey), the Freedom Riders and the erecting of the Berlin Wall are just some of the events of this extraordinary year. The airwaves were filled with artists like Elvis Presley and Ray Charles. In Europe, Jacques Brel and Edith Piaf were at their peak. And 1961 saw the births of Princess Di, Barack Obama, George Clooney and, oh yes... the multi-talented Mark Nadler. Mark Nadler is one of the world's most highly acclaimed cabaret artists and has performed everywhere, from nightclubs to Carnegie Hall. Add to that his numerous awards and accolades and you begin to understand the power and charisma that is Mark Nadler. Celebrate Mark's first half-century, with him, by reliving the songs and events of the year in which he arrived on planet Earth. Mark Nadler and KT Sullivan were recently nominated for the prestigious 2011 MAC (Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs) Awards in the Celebrity Artist category for their show Gershwin...Here to Stay at the Oak Room at the Algonquin. About Nadler, The Advertiser stated, "The particular mayhem caused by Mark Nadler makes beautiful cabaret." Located in the West Bank Café, the charming and comfortable 100-seat Laurie Beechman Theatre boasts state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems. For more than 30 years, the venue has been the home of some of the hottest Broadway and Cabaret performers. The West Bank Café is located at 407 W. 42nd Street. There is a $25 cover, and a $15 food and beverage minimum. The show is suitable for audiences 18 years+ (strong coarse language). Call (212) 695-6909 to make reservations, or go to beechmantheatre@westbankcafe.com.

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Rebecca Spencer, who recently co-starred in the Seattle productions of The Full Monty at The Village Theatre and Follies at the Moore Theatre with the Showtunes Theatre Company, has been invited to be a featured performer in a dazzling new performance event, entitled Burlesco Notturno, 8 p.m. Saturday, May 21st, at the Open Space for Arts and Community, 18870 103rd Avenue SW, on Vashon Island, in Washington state. In the nouveau burlesque tradition, that harkens back to Gypsy Rose Lee, Burlesco Notturno brings some of the Northwest's most extraordinary burlesque and performing artists together for an evening of exotic entertainment. The nouveau burlesque tradition is firmly rooted and celebrated in Seattle, and the evening promises "a saucy, sexy soiree." Hosted by the infamous Mme X, and Teatro ZinZanni star, Kevin Kent, Burlesco Notturno also features international burlesque stars Inga Ingenue and Miss Indigo Blue, aerialist Esther Edelman, renowned cellist Jami Sieber, and Seattle band The Zebra Kings. Rebecca was invited by Janet McCalpin, the visionary behind the event and a founding member of the internationally acclaimed Umo Ensemble, to explore a new side to Ms. Spencer's more sensual art song arrangements featured on her celebrated recordings. The evening will reveal three newly conceived and enhanced orchestrations created just for this event by Philip Fortenberry, Broadway's most sought after pianist and Rebecca's long time musical collaborator. They will include their haunting arrangement of the standard, "A Taste of Honey," Jerry Herman's "The Man In the Moon Is a Lady," with a wink to Mozart, and the meditative Vangelis melody arranged as a vocalize entitled "A Prayer." Rebecca's two solo recordings are Wide Awake and Dreaming, which earned the Back Stage Bistro Award for Outstanding Achievement in a Recording and Fair Warning, a collection of theatrical art song- inspired arrangements honoring the ladies of the Red Hat Society. Both recordings, distributed by Allegro Music, were conceived with Las Vegas and Broadway conductor and concert pianist, Fortenberry, currently the Associate Conductor for Jersey Boys in Las Vegas. She is an accomplished actress whose diverse work has been seen on Broadway, off-Broadway, internationally and regionally. Ms. Spencer is an original Broadway cast member of Jekyll and Hyde. She premiered the role of Madame Giry in Phantom-The Las Vegas Spectacular and starred as Carlotta in Hal Prince's Hamburg, Germany, company of Phantom of the Opera. Rebecca made her Pacific Northwest concert debut, Broadway Passages, at the Blue Heron Art Center on Vashon, produced by Vashon Allied Arts. She can be heard on several original Broadway cast albums. Her Web site is www.rebeccaspencer.com. Burlesco Notturno is a one-night-only event for adults 21 and older. Tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets at www.brownpapertickets.com, or by calling (206) 838-3006. For more information, visit www.openspacevashon.com.


Burlesco Notturno

Wes Davis

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As we have mentioned before, we love stories with happy endings. As such, we are pleased to report that the two adorable kittens that we featured in last Friday's column have found a home. Sibling felines, Ferrante and Teicher, have been adopted by a cast member from one of the local Cirque shows. We are delighted that the brother and sister "Kittens on the Keys" will grow up together, and remain in show business.

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Well it finally happened! Amazon has published Wes Davis' new cook book. Aunt B's Bordello and Boardinghouse - An Eclectic Collection of Great Recipes [Kindle Edition] is a collection of recipes for the Kindle. Written specifically for the Kindle and digital media, Aunt B's recipes cover a wide range of different dishes. As S.R. Perry from Portland, Oregon, said, "I am impressed! These are recipes that I will use." Another review stated, "Such fun to read that I did so in one sitting. Loved the anecdotes and now look forward to trying my favorite dishes. I found the recipes to be quite friendly and know my family will love them." Some other readers state, "5.0 out of 5 stars. The stories are as good as the recipes." And, "I enjoyed thumbing through the pages and reading the stories about the recipes as much as trying some. I really laughed at the recipe for cooking hot dogs. But, wait 'til you see what a difference it makes. Good value, too, with LOTS of recipes! No Table of Contents, but that is probably because it is written for the Kindle, and it is easier to just search. But I do enjoy perusing a TOC for ideas." Originally from Pocatello, Idaho, author Davis has lived in Southern Nevada for more than 35 years. He started working in kitchens when he was 14. He managed several restaurants, from fast food to fine dining; worked as a Catering Chef for Marriot, and owned his own catering company. He also worked as Sous Chef for several local restaurants, including Memory Lane, and created a Sunday Brunch for the Gazebo Café. Wes was the first Executive Director for AFAN (Aid for AIDS of Nevada), and worked at Bridge Counseling in Las Vegas, and Monterey County Health Department in California. Davis just retired from 17 years as a realtor. This blog grew out of his book, Aunt B' s Bordello and Boardinghouse. If you read the book, you will understand the name. You can find it on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/BORDELLO-BOARDINGHOUSE-Eclectic-Collection-ebook/dp/B004VN3N0G. The mission here is to have fun and enjoy cooking using the new media of the Kindle. If you do not have a Kindle, you can download a free reader for your computer. Enjoy the Blog and contribute by asking questions or making comments. Bon Appetite!

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From Allen Tramont, 1st Vice President of Las Vegas UNICO, comes this invitation...
Please join us on Sunday, May 22nd, from 1 to 4 p.m., at the Italian American Social Club, 2333 E. Sahara, for a buffet and entertainment filled afternoon. This is a fundraiser for the John F. Miller School for multiply handicapped children. The students at John F. Miller are eligible for Special Education services as multiply handicapped; which by definition in Nevada requires some level of "mental retardation," in addition to other disabilities. All but two of the students are in the profound range of mental retardation. The students are the most medically fragile in the district. All students range in age from 3 to 21 years of age. The nurses conduct over 110 scheduled medical procedures every day, plus numerous emergency procedures each month. Approximately 95% of the students are non-ambulatory, 80% have a seizure disorder, 99% are non-verbal, and 75% have some type of visual impairment. All students at John F Miller require total adult support and care in all aspects of their lives. To most outsiders, the school might seem like a sad and depressing place, but thanks to the wonderful staff and generosity of others like the Las Vegas chapter of UNICO, it is a warm and hopeful place. The Italian American Club will host the buffet. Cost is $20 per person. Kids 10 and under eat free. There will be a Silent Auction and Raffle Event. Entertainment will be provided by Tramont and John F. Miller's music teacher and former band member of the new Glenn Miller Orchestra, Megan Phillips. The Italian American Club will donate a portion of the afternoon's proceeds to UNICO Las Vegas, who in turn donates to their charity, John F. Miller School for multiply handicapped children. Go hungry and ready for some fun! RSVP to mjlister@cox.net. UNICO was founded in Waterbury, Connecticut, in 1922. It is an Italian American service organization engaging in charitable works, supporting higher education and performing patriotic deeds. The UNICO motto is, Service Above Self.



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Claire Voyant's portrait by Charlie Frye