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 16, 2011
You can find the current column HERE

Las Vegas - December 16, 2011

Kristen Hertzenberg & Travis Cloer

Mark Nadler

A sharp-eyed California reader called this to our attention…In our story on the death of Wilfred Halliwell, who passed away at the age of 82 on November 18th, at his home in Show Low, Arizona, we neglected to include the fact that he was half of the wonderful comedy balancing act, The Jolly Jovers. Throughout his show business career, Wil and his wife, Fe, worked as duo comedian entertainers, entertaining around the world. They toured regularly with Liberace and appeared on all the major TV variety shows. The Jovers were favorites of Ed Sullivan. Their last appearances in Las Vegas were at the Flamingo, where they performed in Bill Moore and George Arnold productions. The Halliwells moved from Las Vegas to Arizona in 1989, spending the last several years in Show Low. Wilfred, who was born in Darwen, Lancashire, England, is survived by his wife, Fe Florentia Halliwell; and daughter, Wendy Hartmann.

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By the time you are reading this, Clint Holmes' Saturday and Sunday Holiday Special at the Suncoast, will more than likely be sold out. On Monday, we are told, there were only 40 tickets still available. We won't talk it up, as there is no point in trying to convince you to go. But, just in case there is a ticket or two left, call (702) 636-7075.

Don't miss the POPS III Holiday Celebration, featuring favorite Christmas and Hanukkah melodies performed by Kristen Hertzenberg from Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular, and Travis Cloer from Jersey Boys, accompanied by the Las Vegas Master Singers and Philharmonic. Showtimes in the Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall at UNLV are at 2 and an 8 p.m. Tickets range from $34.25 to $78. Call the UNLV box office at (702) 895-2787 (ARTS).

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Santa and Lisa Gioia-Acres would like to remind Claire Voyant readers about the December Las Vegas Media Group lunch meeting, on Monday, the 19th. The gathering will, once again, take place at The Wedding Room, 3601 West Sahara on the southeast corner of Valley View.
If you know where the Gallery of History is (was?) located and/or The Cellar, then you know where it is; Mariana's Grocery Store on one side and Kaplan College on the other. There is a handicap entrance through the alley between the college and The Wedding Room. The phone number for any questions or directions is 362-6712. This month, no speaker is scheduled, so those who attend will have the opportunity to meet new people (and some very interesting folks show up at these monthly get-togethers), and catch up with one another, something they haven't had much chance to do in a while. Maybe there will even be a surprise visitor! You don't have to be a member of the Las Vegas media to attend. An interest in the history of the community is really all that's required. A tasty buffet lunch begins at 11:30 a.m. Cost is $15 a person. RSVPs are a must. If you would like to participate, please contact Lisa at (702) 245-9206, or e-mail [email protected], as soon as possible, so they will know how much food to prepare.

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The critics are loving Mark Nadler's Crazy 1961. So are the audiences! Here is a review by Jonathan Warman for Drama Queen...
Out cabaret star Mark Nadler is one of the greatest showmen of our time, capable of leaping from floor to piano bench, tap-dancing madly, singing and keeping steady eye contact with the audience - all this while playing a complex passage on the piano without even glancing at the keys. He's done it in more than one of his shows. In his latest "Crazy 1961" he doesn't tap dance, but he does play and sing with his usual virtuosic abandon, in a show constructed with his usual passionate intelligence. The result, tap dancing or no, is still pretty stunning.
Nadler packs over 61 songs and 61 newsworthy events into "Crazy 1961," a celebration of the year of his birth. But Nadler doesn't just shower us with random facts. There are always many layers in a Mark Nadler show, ranging from the obvious to unspoken subtext, which gives an "oomph" far, far beyond your typical cabaret show. It doesn't hurt that 1961 was, in fact, crazy: "The Music Man" and "Gypsy" ended long runs on Broadway while the Supremes made their first recording, Streisand her first television appearance, and Garland her legendary comeback at Carnegie Hall - Nadler points out that, for many of those reasons, it was a great year to be gay. This being one of Mark's shows, that off-handed quip ends up reverberating in surprising ways. The show evolves into a complex portrait of the exact place and time that Nadler was born, in exciting and ultimately moving ways. Every single song in the show is from 1961, and he finishes with a truly insane medley of fifty songs from the year. This is as giddily entertaining - and breathtakingly smart - as cabaret gets.

Jonathan Warman is a writer, editor and stage director residing in New York City. He was the exclusive theater critic for the New York Blade. Previous to that, he was Associate Editor of HX Magazine, the original weekly gay nightlife guide, where he was also their exclusive theater critic. Recently, he has done line editing for the Post War & Contemporary and Old Masters departments of Christie's Auction House. In the late 1990s, he was Managing Editor of Western European Stages, the leading American journal of contemporary Western European Theater.

If you aren't in or around New York, but will be in the Las Vegas area in early February...good news! You will be able to see Mark Nadler, AND KT Sullivan, when they perform, Love Is Here To Stay, at the Historic Fifth Street School, located at 401 S. Fourth St., on Saturday, the 4th of February. The concert will feature hits written by Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter, Harold Arlen, Rodgers and Hart, Rodgers and Hammerstein and many more. It's a celebration of classic love songs, just in time for Valentine's Day. Show time is at 8 p.m., with tickets priced at a more than reasonable $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Phone (702) 229-3515.
And please don't ask us why it's called the Fifth Street School, when it's located on Fourth Street.

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This is the last weekend to see the Nevada Conservatory Theatre at UNLV's production of its "back by popular demand" 2009 hit, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol - the iconic Christmas story featuring that famous Ebenezer Scrooge (Bah Humbug!) and the three ghosts who lead him through time to show him the error of his ways. Directed by Brad Carroll, A Christmas Carol is a treat for the entire family. The cast features stage and screen actor Michael Tylo as Scrooge and Jordan Bondurant as Bob Cratchit. Others in the cast include Taylor Hanes, Alan Dronek, Kevin Tomlinson, Martin Gaut, Chris Rosado, Tyler Hastings, Billy Reed, Paris McCarthy, Dhyana Dahl, Melody Wilson, Jade Payton, Chelsea Lockie, Jennifer Bonilla, Andreas Karg, Wes Bernstein, ZaZa Maree, Sean Badidles, Dakota Baker, and Charles Gonzales. Carroll is a recognized director, musical director, composer and educator in the American regional theatre. His work has taken him all over the U.S. as well as to Europe, the UK, and Japan. He is the composer of the new Lend Me a Tenor, The Musical, which recently enjoyed a limited run at the Gielgud Theatre in London's West End. He is co-creating a musical stage adaptation of the animated feature Christmas is Here Again, commissioned by Renegade Animation for a 2013 premiere. He is also writing the libretto for Dreaming Amelia, a new one-woman opera about Amelia Earhart with composer, Larry Delinger. Carroll has enjoyed working in various (and sometimes multiple) capacities for companies including the Utah Shakespearean Festival, Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis, Idaho Shakespeare, Great Lakes Theatre Festival, PCPA Theaterfest, Anchorage Opera, Utah Festival Opera, UNLV, UC Santa Barbara, University of Illinois - Urbana/Champaign and Roosevelt University in Chicago, as well as the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles and Perry Street Theatricals in New York. He has served as a writer/director/arranger for Walt Disney Entertainment International and his musical arrangements/orchestrations have been performed by such prestigious ensembles as the San Francisco Symphony and the Boston Pops. The last few performances are tonight, Friday, December 16th and tomorrow at 8 p.m., and Sunday, December 18th at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20-$30, and on sale at the UNLV Performing Arts Center Box Office. Special rates are available for groups of 15 or more. Performing Arts Center Box Office hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The box office may be reached at by calling 895-ARTS (2787).

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Shea Satterwhite

Woody Allen

Happy birthday to the following Sagittarians (November 23rd through December 21st): Harley Akers, Kenny Kerr, Mark Giovi, Beverly Washburn Radell, Shea Mitchell Satterwhite (daughter of Kristen Hertzenberg and Dana Satterwhite, who just turned three), Linda Lashever, Larry Henley, Mac King, Johnny Pate, Joni Illi, Wes Winters, Skip Trenier, Tim Olsen, Larry "Wild" Wrice, Roger Caldwell, Bill Fayne, George Verbiwski, Gene Balmain, Miley Cyrus, Amy Grant, Rich Little, Tina Turner, Randy Newman, Jon Stewart, Garry Shandling, Howie Mandel, Dick Clark, Mandy Patinkin, Billy Idol, Bette Midler, Woody Allen, Britney Spears, Andy Williams, Wink Martindale, John Rzeznik (Goo Goo Dolls), Little Richard, Jose Carreras, Jim Messina, Steven Wright, Gregg Allman, Sinead O'Connor, Donny Osmond, Gloria Loring, Rita Moreno, David Gates (Bread), Brenda Lee, Jermaine Jackson, Mo'Nique, Taylor Swift, John Davidson, Morris Day, Abbe Lane, Patty Duke, Tim Conway, Cindy Birdsong, Julie Taymor, and Manny Pacquiao. If we missed anyone, we will catch up with them NEXT year.

And happy anniversary wishes to Melissa Miles and Ken Gardner, Dick and Melissa Feeney, and Steven Lee and Brenda Leonard Cowart.

Abbe Lane by Maurice Seymour

Joe Williams

And speaking of birthdays, a number of those born on December 12th seem to be surrounded by music. Connie Francis turned 74 on that date, Dionne Warwick is now 71, and Sheila E. just celebrated her 54th. December 12th, 2011, would have been the 96th birthday of Frank Sinatra, who passed away on May 14th, 1998, at 82. Also sharing the same birth date was the late blues singer, Joe Williams, who was born in 1918. Joe died on March 29th, 1999, at the age of 80. Williams collapsed on a street a few blocks from his Las Vegas home, after walking out of Sunrise Hospital, where he had been admitted for a respiratory ailment. The hospital had reported him missing several hours before his body was found. Actor/coach, Joseph Bernard, was also born December 12th, in 1923. A New Yorker by birth, Bernard taught at the Lee Strasberg Theater Institute in Hollywood, from the late '60s until 1979, when he moved to Las Vegas and opened the Joseph Bernard Acting Studio. Joe happened to be working in Manhattan with Jerry Lewis, preparing Lewis for a part on Law & Order: SVU, when he was stricken while staying at the famed Waldorf Astoria Hotel and died. Due to health conditions, Bernard had been advised by his doctor, not to make the trip, but opted to go anyway. He was more concerned about Lewis being prepared for this role, than he was for his own wellbeing. Too bad that Lewis wasn't as good a friend to Joseph Bernard as Joseph Bernard was to him. The story of what happened after Joe's death is ugly and unbelievable. We wish a surviving family member would spill the beans. For those who think of Lewis as a kind humanitarian, the real story would certainly change their minds. Joe Bernard was 82 when he passed away on April 3rd in 2006.

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Joseph Bernard & Eileen Zillman

Frank Grata

If anyone has been wondering why they haven't seen Frank Grata for a while, it is because he is in prison...on the GOOD side of the bars. The Rodney Dangerfield look-alike reports that he transferred to Ely, Nevada, "truly Gods country," where he is a Senior Corrections Officer. "The producers would like to finish up the documentary they have been filming on my life as a Rodney Dangerfield Impersonator/ Comedian," says Grata. "It's a good story, starting with me working at a Pennsylvania prison, to coming to Vegas and winning the Cloney Award for best comedic impersonator, to moving to Southern Nevada. Things didn't work out the way I planned, so I started working for Nevada Department of Corrections to pay the bills." We wish Frank luck, and look forward to seeing him around Las Vegas...when he gets off for good behavior.

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At the Gold Coast, the current week's line-up of performers for Paul Stone's Vegas Magic Theatre, through Sunday, December 18th, are Farrell Dillon, James Dimmare, Adam Flowers and Ben Stone. Dillon, from Los Angeles, is quickly becoming one of the most sought after magical entertainers in the world. Over the past decade, Farrell has performed for hundreds of thousands of people. He has been seen performing for clients like; The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Pepsi, Coca Cola, and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, just to name a few. You may also have seen him on television, on the show Masters of Illusion or in guest appearances in music videos on MTV. Dimmare will be performing his classic, Internationally renowned, bird act. Flowers is clever, humorous, and mystifying, while Ben Stone, who serves as MC/host, displays both his talent as a singer, as well as his skill as a magician. Showtimes in the Gold Coast Showroom are, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays at 7 p.m., and Saturdays at 5 and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $14.95 plus tax and convenience fees. Join performers in the Showroom Lounge prior to the show for a FREE pre-show presentation of close up magic, card readings and other fun. Showroom doors open one hour before show time.

Farrell Dillon

Sammy Shore

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It would take someone as popular and beloved as funnyman Marty Allen to generate the turn out for last Sunday's tribute. Lena Prima presented the veteran comic with the Louis Prima Award, named for her late father, for "A Lifetime of Laughter." Among the entertainers who showed up to recognize 89-year-old Allen, were vocalist Ingvar Estrada, and comics Louis Anderson, Rich Little, Steve Rossi, and Cliff Lawrence, all of whom did some time on the stage. We have been told that Sammy Shore was absolutely hysterical, generating response from the attendees for calling a spade a spade, and telling it like it is when it comes to the afternoon's host. Music was provided by Gary Anderson and Michael Tramontana. The organization behind this event, which we won't give credence to by mentioning its name, conjures up many questions. Where does the money raised from these types of functions this case, the charge was $45 and $65 a person, "with buffet lunch included" (we should hope so)? What has this, once viable charitable organization, done to help anyone in the past couple of years? Some of the supporters of this questionable operation, appear to have more dollars than sense. Among the friends of Marty Allen in attendance were Siegfried Fischbacher; Tempest Storm; Deputy Constable, Lou Toomin; Dan Roberts, Editor of Vegas Voice; Howard Jochsberger, Dennis Bono, without Lorraine Hunt Bono; Mark Giovi; Kelly Clinton Holmes, without Clint; and Dick Contino (don't know if he was with or without his accordion). The finale offered a very funny tribute to Marty, with all the participants wearing wild wigs to look like him. Just weeks after undergoing hip surgery, Marty, and his musical bride, Karon Kate Blackwell, are back on the road again. Even for someone half his age, this would be pretty amazing.

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Pupi Campo, 91, of Las Vegas, passed away on December 12th. He was born May 1, 1920, in Havana, Cuba, and was a 41-year resident of Nevada. Pupi was a pioneering Cuban bandleader, becoming the first Latino in American TV history featured as a regular artist when he debuted on Jack Paar's "The Morning Show" on CBS in 1954. Campo's band featured a number of legendary musicians, including Tito Puente and Cachao Lopez. In addition to his stint with Paar, Campo appeared on the Ed Sullivan show and "Name of the Game." Campo played most of New York City's great night clubs, including the Paramount Theater, the Capitol Theater and the Chateau Madrid. In 1970, he opened Cleopatra's Barge at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, where he performed for nearly a decade. Campo had four children with his late wife, Betty Clooney, sister of singer Rosemary Clooney. Campo, called the "Ray Bolger of Cuba," was an important figure in the history of Latin jazz in the U.S. He was preceded in death by his wife, Betty; sister, Georgina Millan; and brothers, Mandy and Alejandro Campo. He is survived by his wife, Joette; daughters, Cari, Cathi and Cristi; son, Carlos; 11 grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and sister, Joann Herrera. Memorial services were held this evening at Cornerstone Christian Fellowship, 5825 W. Eldora. Donations can be made to The Dream Center, Los Angeles.

Pupi Campo

Lee Roy Reams, Brent Barrett & Anna Bergman by Stephen Sorokoff

Entertainer Joni Illi, passed along this loving tribute to her sister, Anita, who passed away on December 3rd. With her permission, we are printing it...
Anita Joni Griffin, our beloved sister and mother , peacefully went to the Lord on December 3, 2011, with her family by her side in Las Vegas, Nevada, after a long illness that she endured with great patience, extraordinary courage, incredible strength and her signature sense of humor which we will miss most of all. Born in San Francisco on October 20th, 1934, Anita grew up in Firth and Blackfoot, Idaho. Early on she acquired a taste for show business, as the assistant of her father's traveling magic show known as "Dr. Regor & Atina & The Great London Ghost Show." Being infinitely bitten by the show biz bug and blessed with a great deal of talent, Anita eventually left home at 18 to pursue a career as a singer. But she didn't stop there and eventually as well excelled as a model, dancer and comedian. She extensively toured the country as a performer and in the course of time, she settled in Hawaii before it actually became a U.S. State in 1959. Hawaii became her favorite place and she was fortunate to not only work with such icons as Lionel Hampton and Liberace but to as well become friends with them. Lionel Hampton and his band accompanied her in her show and Liberace, Anita always said, was one of the nicest entertainers she had ever met. Returning back to the mainland, she continued performing in Los Angeles and again was fortunate to sing with such stars as Louis Armstrong, Betty Grable and Harry James. While living in Tinseltown and following in her father's footsteps, she tried her hands at the movies but quickly found that it wasn't for her. After retiring from performing, Anita eventually settled in Los Angeles for good. She married Bob Watkins and had her son, Kevin. In time, she succeeded as well as an entrepreneur and owned and managed two very successful clubs in Los Angeles. Anita was a passionate sports aficionado (baseball, football, tennis) and would have made a wonderful sports caster. She was just a bit ahead of her time as it was impossible in the 1950's for a woman to break into the male dominated field of sports casting. She was extremely fascinated by history in general but particularly intrigued and engrossed by the history of the American Civil War. Her interest and her passion were so vivid, Anita always felt that she might have lived through the 19th century in a previous life. Later in life, Anita became an impassioned animal activist and her love and compassion for especially cats was well known among all the strays in the neighborhood that she eventually would take in until they could find a home. She was just amazing with animals and would rather go hungry so she could feed her beloved pets Taz, Diamond and Fragles. Anita lived with her mother for 12 years in Las Vegas and eventually became her dedicated and loving caregiver until she passed away in February of 2009. She is now reunited with her beloved parents, Roger and Arletta Fenner and her younger brother Ron who passed away in 2006. Left to cherish her beautiful memory are her son Kevin Watkins of Las Vegas, her brother Wiley and wife Archie of Omaha, Nebraska, her sister Miriam and husband Tom of Las Vegas, her youngest sister Marsha of Las Vegas, her sister in law June Fenner of Las Vegas, one granddaughter, two great grandchildren and all her nieces and nephews. She was so loved....we will miss her every day. Services will be held at the Palm Mortuary at Jones and Oakey, tomorrow, December 17th, at 3pm.

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It's been a while since we mentioned our talented friend, Lee Roy Reams. It's not because he hasn't been busy. The man who portrayed Roger DeBris in the Las Vegas production of The Producers always seems to have something going on. On December 5th, the final concert in Merkin Concert Hall's 2011 Broadway Close Up series, celebrates the extraordinary life and career of composer/lyricist Jerry Herman, who is primarily known as the writer of snappy, up-tempo show tunes like "Hello, Dolly!" and "Mame." The concert, which honored Herman's 80th birthday and 50-year career, demonstrated that he is a uniquely versatile and gifted composer and lyricist who may be underrated because he makes it look so easy. The recipient of the Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre, Herman is one of only two composers/ lyricists to have three musicals run more than 1500 consecutive performances on Broadway. The concert will feature some of Herman's early, lesser-known gems (including a duet he wrote, uncredited, for the musical Ben Franklin In Paris) and will celebrate three of his lesser-known shows: Mack and Mabel (Jerry's personal favorite score); The Grand Tour; and Dear World, the 1969 musical based on The Madwoman of Chaillot that contains some of his most moving and sophisticated songs. The cast included some performers who have worked extensively with Herman, like Lee Roy Reams (42nd Street), who will perform a Hello, Dolly! medley, and his own unique version of "La Cage Aux Folles," as well as Karen Ziemba (Contact), who interpreted songs from Mame and Mack and Mabel. Other performers included Donna English (Lend Me a Tenor), Stephen Bogardus (Man of La Mancha), Jonah Kernis and Nora Mae Lyng; cabaret artists Eric Comstock and Barbara Fasano; and the brilliant comic actors, Jason Graae and Christine Pedi (Forbidden Broadway). Herman's longtime collaborator, Donald Pippin, served as advisor to Broadway Close Up Artistic Director, Sean Hartley, on this production. Music Director was Richard Danley.

On November 20th, a host of Broadway and cabaret talent joined forces for a musical celebration to benefit the Actors' Temple. The concert, held at the Actors' Temple, featured the talents of Brent Barrett, Anna Bergman, Jim Brochu, Stephanie D'Abruzzo, John DeMarco, Jackie Hoffman, Lisa Lampanelli, Sue Mathys, Sidney Myer, Jill O'Hara, Brad Oscar, Lee Roy Reams, Steve Schalchin and Rena Strober. Randie Levine-Miller hosted the evening, which featured musical direction by Michael Lavine. A VIP after-party was be held at Tony's Di Napoli Restaurant, 147 West 43rd Street. The Actors' Temple, Temple Congregation Ezarath Israel, located in the heart of Broadway. was founded in 1917 as the West Side Hebrew Relief Association. Its leaders were Orthodox Jews who owned shops in the rough-and-tumble district called Hell's Kitchen, at the time one of the world's busiest steamship ports. The founders borrowed a Biblical nickname for God, Ezrath Israel, "the One who assists Israel," as the name for their benevolent little Jewish community center. Over time a bond formed between the shul and Jews working in another local industry, show business. Talent from vaudeville, musical theater, nightclubs, live television and the dramatic stage made the synagogue a true Actors' Temple. Shelley Winters kept the holy days in the sanctuary. Several of the Three Stooges attended services too. Former members of the synagogue were Al Jolson, Joe E. Lewis, Edward G. Robinson, Jack Benny, Alan King, Milton Berle, Henny Youngman, Eddie Cantor and many others. The building contains memorials to superstars of yesteryear, including Sophie Tucker, who used to headline an annual benefit for Actors' Temple at a Broadway theater. Eventually the nightclubs closed, television went west and vaudeville disappeared. Actors' Temple declined along with the Times Square area, but the proud shul remained to anchor the neighborhood. A stroll through part of midtown today confirms the resurgence of the Theater District and Hell's Kitchen. Block after block has sprouted condominiums, corporate offices, and more theaters. Actors' Temple is resurgent too, adding members and staff, while evolving into a diverse congregation where every voice is heard--and respected.

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Frank Marino in Kiss Boots

Railroad Pass Gingerbread Circus

It Takes A Real Diva To Fill These Boots! As a result, Frank Marino is featured in "These Boots Are Made For Rockin!" campaign. Dubbed "Ms. Las Vegas," Marino's role as Joan Rivers made him a widely recognized icon in female impersonation and the perfect DIVA to strut in the KISS boots. And besides, he walks very well in high heels! Following the announcement about KISS® by Monster Mini Golf®, opening in February, the KISS® boots have been brought to Vegas for a limited engagement throughout the city. KISS® By Monster Mini Golf® is the first of its kind and will include an indoor glow-in-the-dark custom-designed, rockin' 18-hole miniature golf course, a state-of-the-art arcade, the largest KISS® gift shop in the world, A KISS® Gallery, "Hotter Than Hell" Wedding Chapel, a private VIP Room, FANtastic KISS® themed event rooms and the "Rock 'n Roll All Nite" Café. We will have much more about everything KISS, later in January. Divas Las Vegas, starring Frank Marino, can be seen nightly (except Fridays) at 10 p.m. in the Human Nature Theater at the Imperial Palace.
Frank Marino's photo by Erik Kabik.

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Norm Johnson passes along this information...It's holiday time at the Historic Railroad Pass Hotel & Casino. As part of the properties year-long 80th birthday celebration, they are bringing back a tradition from the 1800s with the artistry of Gingerbread Houses. The history of Gingerbread is an interesting story. It first became known as a European staple in 992, when a Monk from Pompeii moved to France, and began teaching Priests and Christians the art of making Gingerbread. By the 17th century, it was popular all over Europe. In 1773, the city of Drayton, in Shropshire, England, became famous for its Gingerbread creations, which were displayed and sold throughout England. In 1812, the Brothers Grimm published the book, Hansel and Gretel, which had a famous house, made of Gingerbread and decorated with various stones and sugar windows. America picked up on the Christmas tradition during the early 1800s, and trumpeted the making of Gingerbread Houses for the Christmas season. "We wanted to display the artistic talents of our locals in Southern Nevada, while making the holiday display available free, 24 hours a day, to the public in our hotel lobby here at the Railroad Pass," Curt Thompson, Director of Operations, said. "We anticipate the Holiday display will be available thru Christmas Day." Thompson pointed out that while admiring each creation, please appreciate the time and dedication each baker put into creating their display. Thompson recalled that many years ago, Las Vegas Strip hotel chefs held Gingerbread House contests for all to enjoy, during the holidays. He plans to make the display an annual tradition at the Railroad Pass.

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Deana Martin

Kristen Hertzenberg & Philip Fortenberry

Looking for gifts for the music lovers in your life? We might suggest giving recordings by some of our favorites. Some are holiday flavored, while others feature more traditional selections.

Deana Martin, Dean's talented daughter, has a new holiday recording called White Christmas. Among the songs on her album are "Silver Bells," "Winter Wonderland," "I'll Be Home for Christmas," and the title track, sung with Andy Williams.

Then, there is Kristen Hertzenberg and Philip Fortenberry's, Holidays from the Heart, which includes "Christmas Time Is Here," Harry Connick Jr's "I Pray On Christmas," "Universal Child," and "Christmas Matters," written by Susan Powell (Miss America 1981), Keith Thompson and Dale Matthews.

Our Phavorite Phantom (and Kristen's onetime co-star in Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular), Brent Barrett's last year's release, Christmas Mornings, adds to the spirit of the season, with "O Holy Night," "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town," "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," and "Silent Night" among the tracks.

Brent Barrett

Martin Nievera

Martin Nievera's My Christmas List, offers "What Child Is This," "Celebrate Me Home," "My Grown Up Christmas List," and, what has become one of our most favorite holiday songs, the beautiful "All I Want (This Christmas)," which we even listen to in August. We hear that Nievera, who works steadily in the Philippines, may be performing here, sometime next month.

Michelle Johnson says, "I have spent a lifetime recording edgy arrangements and complicated projects. But it's Christmas, and I am feeling nostalgic. This year, I decided to go back to something simple and pure, with just a touch of whimsy here and there. My favorite Christmas music ... laid down with just guitar and vocal. Kick back and enjoy this one with your loved ones, by the fire, with a glass of wine or whatever suits your fancy. May this year and every year bring you love, peace, and renewed joy." The result is Simply Christmas, with Michelle on vocals, and Mark Speights on guitar. Among the tracks, "Do You Hear What I Hear?," "Let It Snow," "Mary Did You Know," "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)," and "Ave Maria."

Michelle Johnson & Mark Speights

Paul Stubblefield

Paul Stubblefield's CD is called Romantic Moods. Among the songs included on the recording are "Sentimental Reasons," "Fly Me To the Moon," Foolish Heart," and his show stopping "What a Wonderful World."

Mark OToole calls his CD The Crooner. Among the songs included are "And I Love You So," "Maybe This Time," "You Don't Know Me," "What Kind of Fool Am I," and "If You Remember Me." The only other person we know, who sang "If You Remember Me," one of our favorite, relatively obscure, Marvin Hamlisch tunes, is Ronnie David. He learned the tune, just for Cousin Claire. The Ronnie David Trio entertained in the Cub Lounge at, what was, the MGM Grand in the mid-1970s. Mr. David has been back in Houston for some time, where he still, on occasion, sings (and plays piano) for his supper.

Mark OToole

Mark Winkler

Mark Winkler's Soft Spot includes "Like Young," "On Broadway," But Not For Me," "Their Hearts Were Full of Spring," and the title track, "Sweet Spot." Winkler performed here for the Jazz Society a few years ago. We would like to see him back in Las Vegas one of these days.

From piano man Whitney Phoenix comes this information about his wife, Marianne LeMoine Phoenix's new CD. "We all love stories of Dreams Come True and Prayers Answered. My wife, Marianne, has such a story. As a child, she often dreamed of being able to use her singing voice to make a difference in the world around us, and share a vision of hope and possibility with loved ones everywhere. Her new album, Marianne Singz Lullabies and Other Love Songs, fulfills that dream and tells that story at the same time! Grown-ups will love it! And kids too! I produced all the music on the album, and I'm thrilled to invite you, your friends and your family to join the excitement." The song list includes "Pure Imagination," "Smile," "Baby Mine," "If I Could," "When You Wish Upon a Star," and "Golden Slumbers." Sounds like something we would like to add to our music collection. Whitney appears in the Petrossian Bar at the Bellagio Hotel.

Marianne LeMoine Phoenix

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Don't feel like cooking on Christmas Day? Boyd Gaming restaurants across the Las Vegas Valley will offer special menus on Saturday, December 25. A wide variety of delicious holiday options will be available. Restaurants, locations and menu items include, at the CALIFORNIA HOTEL AND CASINO, 12 East Ogden. In the Pasta Pirate, Christmas Dinner will be served from 5:30 to 11 p.m., for $22.95 per person. Choice of: Soup or Salad; Choice of Roasted Turkey with Giblet Gravy, Traditional Stuffing, Candied Yams with Pecans, Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes, and Green Beans Almandine, or Baked Ham with Bing Cherry Sauce, Traditional Stuffing, Candied Yams with Pecans, Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans Almandine; or Broiled Salmon Filets with Fennel and Leeks, Traditional Stuffing, Candied Yams with Pecans, Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes, and Green Beans Almandine. Choice of Cranberry Bread Pudding with Rum Sauce or Pumpkin Pie. Also serving from regular menu.

Redwood Bar and Grill Christmas Dinner, served from 5:30 to 11 p.m., for $24.95 per person.
Choice of Soup or Salad. Choice of Roasted Turkey with Giblet Gravy, Traditional Stuffing, Candied Yams with Pecans, Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes, and Green Beans Almandine; Baked Ham with Bing Cherry Sauce, Traditional Stuffing, Candied Yams with Pecans, Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes, and Green Beans Almandine; or Broiled Salmon Filets with Fennel and Leeks, Traditional Stuffing, Candied Yams with Pecans, Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes, and Green Beans Almandine, and Choice of Cranberry Bread Pudding with Rum Sauce or Pumpkin Pie. Also serving from regular menu. Reservations recommended. Call (702) 385-1222. FREMONT HOTEL AND CASINO, 200 E. Fremont Street. Paradise Buffet Christmas Brunch Menu, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., for $13.99 with B Connected Card for up to two people, and $14.99 without card. Choice of Roast Pork Loin, Stuffed Sole, Lamb Chops Seville, Belgian Waffles, Omelet and Eggs Station, Salad Bar, Soups, Holiday Desserts. Carving Stations offering Roasted Prime Rib, Baked Virginia Ham, and Roasted Tom Turkey. Second Street Grill, Christmas Day Dinner - 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., from $30.99 per person. Choice of Soup or Salad; Choice of Seafood Newburg - Live Maine Lobster, Shrimp and Scallops sautéed in Lobster Butter and Cream; or Mongolian Rack of Lamb - Baby Vegetables, Pesto Mashed Potatoes, Cabernet Hoisin Plum Sauce; or Filet Mignon - 10 oz. Tenderloin with Baby Vegetables and Maui Onions. Chef's Choice Dessert. Also serving from regular menu.

Reservations recommended. Call (702) 385-3232. MAIN STREET STATION, 200 N. Main Street. Garden Court Buffet, Christmas Day Menu - 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., $15.99 with B Connected Card for up to two people; $17.99 without card. Choice of Roasted Tom Turkey with Giblet Gravy, Rosemary Crusted Pork Loin, Coconut Shrimp, Broiled Lamb Chops, Trout Franchise, Peking Duck, Grilled Salmon Vera Cruz, Tamales, Shrimp Fajitas, Oxtail Stew, Vegetable Lasagna, Salad Bar, Soups, and Holiday Dessert. Carving Stations offer Oven Roasted Prime Rib, and Honey Glazed Baked Ham. Also serving Breakfast from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.; $6.99 with a B Connected Card, $7.99 without card. Call (702) 387-1896. Triple 7 Restaurant and Microbrewery, Christmas Dinner - 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., $12.95 per person. Choice of Roasted Tom Turkey or Baked Ham with Bing Cherry Sauce, Traditional Stuffing, Candied Yams with Pecans, Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes, and Green Beans with Almandine.

Choice of Apple or Pumpkin Pie. Includes one 16-ounce Microbrew. ELDORADO CASINO, 140 South Water Street, in Henderson. Traditional Turkey or Ham dinner, $8.99; or Combination Turkey and Ham, $9.99. Includes Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes with Giblet Gravy, Glazed Yams, Vegetables, Soup and Salad Bar and a slice of Pie. Call (702) 564-1811, or e-mail JOKERS WILD CASINO, 920 North Boulder Highway, in Henderson. Traditional Turkey or Ham dinner, $8.99; Combination Turkey and Ham, $9.99. Includes Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes with Giblet Gravy, Glazed Yams, Vegetables, Soup and Salad Bar and a slice of Pie. Call (702) 564-8100

And speaking of Boyd Gaming...
On Wednesday, the Gold Coast marks its 25th Anniversary with a Public Celebration. On December 21st, 1986, the Gold Coast Hotel & Casino, 4000 W. Flamingo, opened to the public as one of the first local casinos west of the Strip. At 2 p.m., in front of the Showroom, the property will celebrate its anniversary with cake and a champagne toast (must be 21 or older) with remarks by Boyd Gaming Executive Chairman, Bill Boyd; Gold Coast Vice President and General Manager, Kerrie Burke, and LVCVA Host Committee Chair, Oscar B. Goodman.

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Happy Hanukkah

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