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 January 06, 2012
You can find the current column HERE

Las Vegas - January 6, 2012

Las Vegas Strip New Year's Eve

On New Year's Eve, more than 300,000 people traveled to Las Vegas, jamming the closed off Las Vegas Strip, and downtown's Fremont Street Experience, to welcome in 2012. Four miles of Las Vegas Blvd. - from Sahara on the north, to Russell on the south, was shut down to vehicles, while revelers watched an eight-and-a-half minute, half-million dollar spectacular fireworks display that started at midnight. Eight Strip properties - Tropicana, MGM Grand, Aria, Planet Hollywood, Caesars Palace, Treasure Island, The Venetian and Stratosphere - participated in the show, launching the dazzling displays from their rooftops. For a weekend, Las Vegas did not look like a city in distress.

Fremont Street Experience New Year's Eve

* * * * * * * *

Here's a handy little new year hint from Cousin Claire. When making out checks to pay off credit cards used to cover holiday expenses, write the year, that would be 2012 for the next 12 months, in FIRST. It becomes such a habit, you may find yourself still doing it in December of 2012. You're welcome.

* * * * * * * *

These are the kind of stories we like to hear (and write about), especially at this time of year.
A Greenwood Village, Colorado, found two unmarked Caesars Palace envelopes at Las Vegas' McCarran Airport before getting ready to board a flight for home. He didn't look inside the envelopes until he got home to Colorado. It turned out there was $10,000 in cash in the envelopes. Honest Samaritan, Mitch Gilbert, said he returned the money to the owner, a man from El Paso, Texas, who had reported the missing envelopes, because he wanted to show his children it was "the right thing to do." The man from Texas had won the money gambling and had, unknowingly, dropped it while running to catch a flight.

Monkey see, monkey do (in a very good way). When word got out about a Secret Santa, who paid off the Christmas layaways of some K-Mart customers, the idea seemed to spread. As a result of the initial publicity, similar things happened in Walmarts, and other large stores around the country, that were offering layaway programs. It made for many grateful and very happy families. That's the spirit.

* * * * * * * *

Ben Stone & Vegas Magic Theatre Audience Member

Murray SawChuck

Last night, it was invited guests only, for the "official" opening of the Gold Coast's new show, Paul Stone's Vegas Magic Theatre. Entertainment was provided by singer/magician and show host, Ben Stone; America's Got Talent finalist, Murray SawChuck (recognize him from the hair, remember him for the illusions) and his assistant, Lefty; classy magician, Mike Douglas; world class comedy juggler/unicyclist, Michael Goudeau; clever Adam Flowers; and special guest, American Idol's Jasmine Trias. In the crowd, enjoying the talented performers, a buffet spread, and a meet and greet, we spotted Siegfried Fischbacher, Lance Burton, Mike Weatherford, Adam Steck, comedian Kathleen Dunbar, Robin Leach, Lin Stone and son Danny, Jackie Brett, Stephen and Judy Thorburn, Ginger Tafoya, Jennifer Prosser, Erwin Flack, Penny Levin, Barry Berlin, and Ken Owens (there were many others - we should have taken better notes). Among the Boyd Gaming reps in attendance were, Bill Boyd, Kerrie Burke, David Strow and Terry Jenkins. Vegas Magic Theatre features a cast of award-winning magicians, masters of illusion and outstanding variety and specialty acts from around the world, who will mystify and amuse. Hosted by Ben Stone, Vegas Magic Theatre seamlessly blends the exceptional abilities of three to four acts into a fast-paced 70-minute showcase of skill, guaranteed to amuse and confuse. Every week, Vegas Magic Theatre presents a completely new line-up of creative, trend-setting international acts, creating an original experience for audiences. One hour prior to show time, audiences are invited into the Magic Lounge in the front of the Theatre to enjoy superb close-up magic performed by sleight-of-hand artists, adding a unique twist to the Vegas Magic Theatre experience. Show times are Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays at 7 p.m., and Saturdays at 5 and 7:30 p.m. Tickets for Vegas Magic Theatre, "Disappearing Weekly," are $14.95, plus tax and convenience fees, and can be purchased at any Coast Casinos box office, the Gold Coast Gift Shop, by calling (702) 367-7111, or by visiting

And speaking of magic...
Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino headliners, Penn & Teller, were greeted by Princess Anne after their appearance on the Royal Variety Performance in Manchester, UK on December 5th. The show was broadcast on ITV, and was viewed by more than 10% of Britain's population. Also on the bill were Barry Manilow, Andrew Lloyd-Webber, Cee Lo Green, Nicole Scherzinger and Tony Bennett. Penn & Teller, Las Vegas' "Bad Boys of Magic," were brought on stage as the orchestra played "Viva Las Vegas"!

And, speaking of Penn Jillette, the talking half of the magic team will be one of the competitors on Season Four of Donald Trump's Celebrity Apprentice. Joining Jillette will be Clay Aiken, Michael Andretti, Tia Carrere, Adam Carolla, Lou Ferrigno, Debbie Gibson, Teresa Giudice, Victoria Gotti, Arsenio Hall, Lisa Lampanelli, Dayana Mendoza, Aubrey O'Day, Dee Snider, George Takei, Paul Teutul, Sr., Cheryl Tiegs, and Patricia Velasquez. In addition to Penn, a number of the other folks have Las Vegas connections. We do have to admit, though, we have no idea who some of these people are. Celebrity Apprentice returns to NBC on Sunday, February 12th.

Penn & Teller Meet England's Princess Anne

Smokey Robinson

* * * * * * * *

The first F.I.O.R.E. (Fun Italians Organizing Ridiculous Events) meeting of the new year will take place, beginning at 11:30 a.m., at the Italian American Club next Thursday, January 12th.
F.I.O.R.E.'s genial host, Nelson Sardelli, tells us that there will be a surprise guest speaker..."or the surprise of having none." He also tells us there is good and bad news regarding the January gathering. The bad news...The annual dues of $25 are now due (a mere pittance for the enjoyment these fellows get for their money), and the cost of the monthly luncheons has gone up by a couple of bucks. Lunch will now set the boys (a few times a year, on special occasions, the ladies are invited to participate) back $22 (a mere pittance for the delicious buffet). Sardelli shares this very good news, asking..."Do you recall the beautiful and extremely well-endowed lady who attended one of our special evening meetings? The one that all the men present were drooling over? I'm taking her to Pahrump tonight!" Bada bing!!!
The Italian American Club is located at 2333 E. Sahara. RSVPs are necessary for food preparation purposes. Please contact Gene Vitale at [email protected].

* * * * * * * *

As of Tuesday, the 42-year-old Paradise Road property, formerly known as the Las Vegas Hilton, and before that the International Hotel, became the Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. To confuse visitors (and probably, some locals), the initials LVH will be used on much of the signage, causing some to think it is still the Las Vegas Hilton. Okay. That's what's going on outside the hotel. We wonder what changes will take place on the inside. Only time will tell.

* * * * * * * *

Upcoming entertainment options around the Valley include Smokey Robinson at the Eastside Cannery events Center, for one show only, 8 p.m., on lucky Friday, January 13th. Robinson is a singer-songwriter, record producer, and former record executive. He is a primary figure associated with Motown, second only to the company's founder, Berry Gordy. Smokey's creative contributions to the label earned him the title "King of Motown." He was an original member of Motown Records' first vocal group The Miracles, and as a solo artist, Robinson delivered many U.S. and U.K. Top 40 hits between 1960 and 1987. As a solo artist, Robinson had numerous hits, including "Being With You," "Get Ready," "Just To See Her," "Cruisin'," and "One Heartbeat." In 2006, Smokey Robinson, who turns 72 next month, was a Kennedy Center honoree. Tickets starts at $49.95, plus taxes and fees. For reservations, call (702) 856-5470.

It was Milton Berle who said "Laughter is an instant vacation." If that be the case, Comedy Night, at Sun City Anthem's Freedom Hall Theatre on Friday the 13th, should be a happy getaway, and you don't have to deal with luggage or airports. Presented by Mistinguett Productions, the evening will feature comics Cork Proctor and Chris Pendleton (we are sure the fact that both of the entertainers have the same initials is just a coincidence). Proctor, a Las Vegas comedy icon and featured entertainer during the Rat Pack era of the Las Vegas Strip, will be performing his renown and award winning stand-up routine. Proctor has opened for some of the biggest names in showbiz, including The Supremes, B.B. King, Joe Williams, Lee Greenwood, and Mel Tillis to name just a few. Cork was a regular on such television shows as "Vega$," and "Crime Story," and received rave reviews for his one-man appearance on "Dick Clark's Live Wednesday" television show. Cork's notoriety has taken him around the globe, playing world class venues. Proctor is a legend, having appeared at the famous Dunes Hotel, in Las Vegas, and such clubs as the Comedy Stop (both Las Vegas and Atlantic City), The Comedy Room at the Gold Coast, The Hilton Hotel, Clearwater Beach, Fl., and the Stirling Club at Turnberry Place (Las Vegas). He was also a featured comedian on the Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Caribbean Cruise Lines for a number of years. In addition to his comedic skills, Proctor has appeared in many theatrical productions, including: "Natalie Needs a Nightie" at the Union Plaza. Cork also volunteered for the Peace Corp, serving for nearly two years in Suriname, South America. A favorite on comedy and improv stages, Chris Pendleton is also a familiar face to TV audiences. Her numerous appearances include Comic Strip Live, An Evening at the Improv, Comedy On the Road, Girl's Night Out, and Stand-Up Spotlight with Rosie O'Donnell. Show time is at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12 for residents (through tomorrow), and $15 for non-residents, and are available at the Freedom Hall box office, located at 2450 Hampton Road in Henderson. For additional information, call (702) 614-5864.

Comic Chris Pendleton

Jay Rogers

* * * * * * * *

If you are in or around New York City...
Tomorrow, Saturday, January 7th, at the Hilton on 53rd and 6th Ave., Philip Fortenberry, associate conductor for Jersey Boys in Las Vegas, will be showcasing with a 15 minute solo show at the Association of Performing Arts Presenters. APAP, based in Washington, D.C., is the national service and advocacy organization with nearly 2,000 members worldwide, dedicated to developing and supporting a robust performing arts presenting field and the professionals who work within it. Members represent the nation's leading performing arts centers, municipal and university performance facilities, nonprofit performing arts centers, culturally specific organizations, foreign governments, as well as artist agencies, managers, touring companies, and national consulting practices that serve the field, and a growing roster of self-presenting artists. As a leader in the field, APAP, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, works to effect change through advocacy, professional development, resource sharing, and civic engagement. APAP is governed by a volunteer board of directors and led by CEO Sandra Gibson. In addition to presenting the annual APAP|NYC, the world's leading forum and marketplace for the performing arts (this year, from January 6th through the 10th), APAP continues to be the industry's leading resource, knowledge and networking destination for the advancement of performing arts presenting.

On Monday, January 9th, longtime friends and award-winning musical collaborators, Keith Thompson and Jay Rogers, reunite for a one night only, all stops out, no holds barred, evening of fun, including new, never before heard original songs along with some of their favorite classic comic numbers. Calling the show Back From the Abyss, the twosome will team up for a performance, beginning at 7 p.m. at Manhattan's famed Metropolitan Room. Keith is currently the musical director and conductor for the Las Vegas production of Jersey Boys. He also conducted for the first national tour of Mamma Mia!, and was the musical director and winner of the 2000 Dora award for the first national tour of Cabaret. He is the composer/lyricist of Kooky Tunes, a revue of original comedy/novelty songs. He composed the off-Broadway revue, White Lies, with playwright Douglas Carter Beane, as well as God Lives in Glass, based on the book of the same title, with author, Robert J. Landy, and the comedy-musical, Idaho! The remarkable and very funny, multiple MAC and Bistro Award-winning entertainer and Drama Desk-nominee (When Pigs Fly), Rogers, has appeared on Broadway, off-Broadway, in nightclubs and cabaret. In Las Vegas, he performed in Thompson's Kooky Tunes in Conzert, and a reading of Idaho. He also appeared as Uncle Fate in Idaho at Forestburgh Playhouse in the Catskills. The comedy musical won "Best of the Fest" at the New York Musical Theatre Festival in the 2007 season. Prior to that, Jay understudied the lead, Mr. Charles, in Paul Rudnick's comedy, The New Century at the Mitzi Newhouse Theatre at Lincoln Center. Other off-Broadway roles he created include Mignon Mullen in fellow-Mississippian John Epperson's smash hit, My Deah; Roscoe in Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens; as well as playing himself in both of the fantabulous revues by Howard Crabtree, Whoop De Doo! and When Pigs Fly. Jay has garnered several Manhattan Association of Cabaret and Bistro awards for his one-man, musical-comedy solo shows, Yes! This Is My Real Voice; Broccolihead; Sucker; A My Name Is Mary; and Eat, Drink and Be Mary, all in collaboration with Keith Thompson. These shows led to the jolly revue, Kooky Tunes. Other award-winning cabaret revues include, Monday In the Dark With George; Here's To Our Friends, and Nashville Live! The Music From Robert Altman's Nashville. Jay was on the faculty of the International Cabaret Symposium at Yale in 2009, where he also performed Eat, Drink and Be Mary! He has been a guest artist at the Tony Award-Winning Eugene O'Neill Theater Center for the last four summers. A native of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, for the past three decades, Manhattan has been THIS Mister Rogers' neighborhood. The Metropolitan Room is located at 34 W. 22nd. Admission to Monday night's Back From the Abyss, with Jay Rogers and Keith Thompson, is a $20 cover, plus two drink minimum. Reservations are suggested. Call (212) 206-0440.

The following night, Tuesday, January 10th, at 9 p.m., Philip Fortenberry, Franc D'Ambrosio (the star of Broadway's The Phantom of the Opera for six years), and Jeri Sager (Grizabella in CATS), will perform at the Laurie Beechman Theatre, at West Bank (407 West 42nd Street NYC - NW corner of 42nd St and 9th Ave) in New York City. The sensational trio of Broadway's finest performers take to the cabaret stage for an unforgettable evening of music. Piano virtuoso Fortenberry first gained fame as the musical director of the long-running Forbidden Broadway and has since gone on to a distinguished career as a solo recording artist, concert pianist and musician-conductor for shows in New York and Las Vegas. Powerful singer and actor, Franc D'Ambrosio, is "The Iron Man Of The Mask," having held the title "World's Longest Running Phantom" for more than a decade. He brought more than five million theater goers to their feet during his six-year run in that show. Today, traveling with his one-man show, Franc is still receiving standing ovations. A veteran stage performer, Jeri Sager's Broadway debut was in the Tony Award-winning, 25th Anniversary production of Fiddler on The Roof. Her signature roles include, among others, Eva Peron in Evita, Fantine in Les Miserables and Grizabella in Cats. Her golden voice and infectiously joyful stage presence gives her a broad audience appeal.

Franc D'Ambrosio

Jeri Sager

How can Thompson and Fortenberry take time away from Las Vegas to do gigs on the other side of the country? Because they have some off time. Jersey Boys, the award-winning musical production they were/are both associated with, closed its run at Palazzo on December 31st. The show will reopen on March 8th in the Paris Las Vegas theater (former home of The Producers, which Thompson and Fortenberry also were part of, and Barry Manilow).

Also, through January 8th at Feinstein's at Loews Regency, 540 Park Avenue, is the return of Lucie Arnaz and her current offering, Latin Roots. In an eclectic celebration of her musical heritage, Lucie playfully wends her way through pop south of the border sounds, enduring American standards, enhanced with a Brazilian accent or a Bossa Nova beat, and takes on some of the fiery Latin classics of her father, Desi Arnaz. "She captures the energy and spirit of her father's music and puts her own inimitable stamp on it. She's an original and a treasure!," says the club's proprietor, Michael Feinstein. Box Office Hours: Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 6 p.m. (closed New Year's Day). Use code Lucie12 when making a reservation and receive general admission seats for $35 with a one drink minimum. Call (212) 339-4095, or (212) 339-4045.

Note: We have mentioned this before, but that won't stop us from mentioning it again. In the 1980s, we saw Lucie Arnaz at the Hilton as an opening act for "can't remember who." The lady has talent, and can sing. What she needed at the time was an act - a professional to put together a show for her. Maybe Latin Roots is that act. We felt the same way about Lorna Luft (Judy Garland's "other daughter"), when we first saw her perform in Vegas some years ago. When she came back here, with Songs My Mother Taught Me, she had something special to share with the audiences. Oddly, in the show we saw 20-some years ago, Lucie never even mentioned her mother (Lucille Ball). It was, and apparently still is, all about her father. Maybe not everyone loved Lucy.

And speaking of New York
Mona Finston, from Cabaret Hotline, had this to say about entertainer Mark Nadler's latest musical creation...
Mark Nadler's "Crazy 1961, at the Laurie Beechman Theatre - 407 West 42nd Street, NYC - 10036 (located in the West Bank Café) Mr. Nadler sings and plays piano, accompanied by Scott Johnson on guitar, Mark Lopeman on reeds, Robert Sabin on bass and Sherrie Marcie [sic] (should be Maricle) on drums. I already knew that I was in for a good time at Mark Nadler's show, since I'd seen him perform a couple of songs as part of the Beechman's Simply Barbra show earlier this year. I was prepared for his particular brand of inspired, energetic and laser focused insanity. What I was not ready for was his genius. OK, I said it. Genius. An over-used term, perhaps, but one that fits. There are so few performers who fall into that category, whom you see and think, " This person belongs on the stage. This person was born to be there and there's absolutely nothing else they should be doing." There is an in-the- moment, in-your-face intensity to this show that is breathtaking. OK. I'm gushing, I know. Crazy 61 is an ingenious musical memoir that touches on the events of 1961, the year of Mr. Nadler's birth. Through the patter and the songs, we get a sense of the popular music; the Broadway hits and misses, as well as politics of the era. Nadler's clever juxtaposition of song and history is often chilling. (Listen for "Love Makes the World Go Round" and "Sail Away" for example). There's an abundance of humor, history and deep emotion here and Nadler keeps it moving, varied and connected. And he plays to the back row of the theater- a theater blocks away on Broadway. He knows how to amp it up and bring it down. I especially liked his version of "Dedicated to the One I Love," a song I've heard so many times that I'd stopped listening to it. Nadler made it new again. Mark Nadler is in full command of the stage and is always the captain of his ship. During the performance I saw, he pulled off a feat that others rarely can. He stopped a song not once, but twice, until it was done to his satisfaction. (Would the audience have known there was a problem? Highly doubtful.) But Nadler is a perfectionist. When I've seen other performers do the same thing - it leaves the audience nervous and uncomfortable - but not this time. You simply had to appreciate his control of the situation and his desire to get the song done right. This show was like a musical in which Nadler played all the roles, each character fully explored. He doesn't just sing a group of songs but fully embodies the characters that sing those songs. He is a long drink of water, with a big voice that can be as powerful and pointed as a melodious jackhammer, and conversely, as lush and emotional as a contented purr. In addition to being a remarkable musician, who created all the tasty musical arrangements for the show, he is a terrific physical comedian. He does so many things, in fact, that I mentioned to some friends in the audience that I was fairly sure Mr. Nadler hailed from some far off planet and was sent here to educate and entertain the mere mortals of earth. And, by the way, if you're incredulous about the possibility of fitting 61 songs into a 60+ minute show- all I can say is - please do buckle in.

From Bistro Awards by Kevin Scott Hall...
Mark Nadler "Crazy 1961"
Laurie Beechman Theatre - December 1, 8, 11, 18, January 15, 22, 29
Boisterous pianist and singer Mark Nadler has been entertaining cabaret crowds here and abroad for quite a few years, and now he's pulling out the stops for a romp through "Crazy 1961," a celebration of his birth year in music, personal stories and historical anecdotes. History has never been so much fun, and so convincing is Nadler in his recounting of that year that you may leave thinking 1961 on a par with 1492, 1776 or 1945. In fact, Nadler effectively conveys what a pivotal time it was: The Music Man and Gypsy closed at the same time Bob Dylan and the Beatles were giving their first public performances, hinting at a new era to come, while Judy Garland was enjoying her last great triumph at Carnegie Hall; the Bay of Pigs, the first troops sent to Vietnam, nuclear testing, and the first human to orbit Earth all portended both the dangers and possibilities of the growth of technology; and the Freedom Writers took an integrated bus trip and apartheid was condemned in South Africa during that year - the same that saw the birth of future president Barack Obama and the hundredth anniversary of the Civil War. Nadler himself revealed that he was born on the same day that Patsy Cline recorded "Crazy" (October 14) and, known for occasionally being maniacal on stage, the irony wasn't lost on him. A further tale of his mother holding off his birth so he wouldn't be born on Friday the 13th adds additional hilarity to the tale. All of this is a master lesson in writing an act - especially the way he weaves the personal with the historical and with the musical underscoring. But what of the music itself, presumably the reason one would go to a Mark Nadler show in the first place? Nadler offers up a representative variety of songs from 1961, adding the flair of his own creative arrangements. (As a special treat, at the performance I attended, Ervin Drake, who wrote that year's "It Was a Very Good Year," made famous by Frank Sinatra, was in the audience.) He opens the show with a mash-up of "Once in a Lifetime" (Anthony Newley, Leslie Bricusse) and "Comes Once in a Lifetime" (Jule Styne, Betty Comden, Adolph Green). Nadler wastes no time giving us his trademark energy - in fact, his voice was a bit hoarse, which had me wondering how he was going to get through an hour-plus show. Fortunately, like a trained thoroughbred, Nadler knows how to pace himself and add different colors and textures to keep things exciting until he crosses the finish line. While a song like "Cruella De Vil" (Mel Leven) fits his style like a glove, "Dedicated to the One I Love" (Lowman Pauling, Ralph Bass), slowed down to a lullaby, was a welcome surprise. It not only showed his tender side, but showed off his virtuoso piano playing - on this, he accompanied himself while the quartet behind him took a break. His musicians are virtuosos themselves, but the wall of sound often buries Nadler's own accomplishment. Nadler brilliantly delivers "Love Makes the World Go 'Round" (Bob Merrill) with a game-show smile, while interleaving the song's verses with frightening imagery of 1961 military actions, highlighting both the year's danger and promise. From there, he moves into Noel Coward's "Sail Away," with its lyric "When the storm clouds are riding through a winter sky, sail away" - but giving the song a mad, honky-tonk feel, ending with a flourish. This juxtaposition of happy songs and disturbing events pulls the listener back in time and makes him feel that, indeed, we may have been on the brink of madness that year. Kudos to sound technician Nik Santiago, who lends an outerworldly, eerie echo to "Adrift on a Star" (Jacques Offenbach, E.Y. Harburg), used to illustrate the burgeoning space program. Nadler also brings something entirely new to the popular standard "Crazy" (Willie Nelson), turning it into a jazzy big band number. Mark Lopeman on tenor sax gives the number extra oomph. One-upping any previous stunt-singing he (or perhaps anyone else) has done before, he closes with a medley of the Top 50 (yes, fifty!) hits of the year, so as not to disappoint anyone who thinks he missed anything. He sails through this while holding up cards that keep count of all fifty. "Moon River," one of the most beautiful songs of that or any year, makes a fitting encore. Besides Lopeman (reeds), the terrific band consists of Scott Johnson (guitar), Robert Sabin (bass), and Sherrie Maricle (drums). With Nadler's energy and unending creativity, we can look forward to his reviving "Crazy 1961" in 2061 for his hundredth birthday. But why wait? Nadler is well worth seeing, now or any year. For reservations call 212-695-6909 or visit $25 cover/$15 f/b minimum. Final three performances on Sundays - January 15, 22 and 29 at 1 p.m. AND for one show only, Sunday, Jan. 15, the cover charge will be just TEN BUCKS! (The cover charge for the other two performances will be the regular price of $25.00.)

Here is some good news for folks in Southern Nevada. On Saturday, February 4th, you will have the chance to see Mark Nadler at work, when he appears here at the Historic Fifth Street School, located at 401 S. Fourth St., with the equally talented New York cabaret artist, KT Sullivan. The two will perform a celebration of classic love songs, in Love Is Here To Stay, in a show that starts at 8 p.m. Sullivan and Nadler co-wrote and starred in the off-Broadway American Rhapsody. Their show, Always: The Love Story of Irving Berlin, won the 2004 Nightlife and Manhattan Association of Cabarets Awards. The Las Vegas 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. Tickets to the show are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Call (702) 229-3515.

Jim D'Asaro

Scott Watanabe

And still speaking of New York...three times removed, former New Yorkers, Rebecca Spencer and her hubby, Jim D'Asaro, are on the move again. When Becky was living in Las Vegas, and portraying Madam Giry in Phantom, Jim was holding down the fort in New York. Three years ago, Jim took over running the Broadway Bound Children's Theatre in Seattle. He recently announced his resignation as Executive Director of the theater, after bringing the company through a transitional period during a very challenging economic period. Jim has accepted a position as the first Director of Production for the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills. This brand new facility is scheduled to open in the Fall of 2013 in the heart of Beverly Hills. It is an incredible opportunity for D'Asaro, and he is very energized by the process that lies ahead. The move to the Los Angels area not only provides a new challenge for Jim, but also an opportunity for Becky to get back to the national auditions that her career demands. Her agents are in Burbank, and both they and she are excited about her being available for auditions without the need to buy a plane ticket. Jim will be in Seattle through the opening of Broadway Bound Children's Theatre's production of Annie, and conclude his duties as of January 15th. Jim and Becky will be relocated somewhere in the Beverly Hills/LA area by January 18th, with Jim starting his new job on January 23rd.
Condolences to Becky, whose father passed away at the end of October.

* * * * * * * *

This Sunday, January 8th, the Mountain View Presbyterian Church, located at 8601 Del Webb Blvd., will present On My Way To You as part of their Concert Series. The cast members are all from Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular, are Sarah Elizabeth Combs, Sarah Anne Lewis and Scott Watanabe, accompanied by J. David Skouson. The cabaret performance includes songs by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones; Jay Leonhart; Jason Robert Brown; Fred Silver; Harry Chapin; Craig Carnelia; Julie Styne, Betty Comden and Adolph Green; Jimmy Roberts and Joe DiPietro; John Forster; Jeff Blumenkrantz, Annie Kessler and Libby Saines; Stephen Flaherty; Adam Gwon; David Shire and Richard Maltby; and Michel Legrand and Alan and Marilyn Bergman. A free will donation is requested. Show time is at 3 p.m.

* * * * * * * *

Frankie Randall & Melinda

Impersonator Mr. Frankie Kein

We have a few more late arriving holiday greeting photos to share with readers. Thank you to a couple of Frankies, Frankie Randall and Frankie Kein (Kein is the pretty one), and former co-worker, Krenn Scott, the proud owner of two beautiful kitties, Vegas and Reno, for the good wishes.

Krenn Scott's Vegas & Reno

Martin Kreloff by Steven Wilson

* * * * * * * *

Larry Lee (Lawrence Boyd Lee) passed away unexpectedly Dec. 29, 2011, at the age of 63. Larry was a noted leader in the Las Vegas entertainment and business community. He was known as one of the top show producers in Las Vegas and is the man responsible for the phenomenal success of the Tropicana Hotel's "Folies Bergere." Larry was born April 23, 1948, in Chicago, to Alan and Loretta Lee. He grew up in Encino, Calif., and attended high school at Birmingham High School. Larry gained many lifelong friends during high school and treasured hosting an annual reunion weekend for classmates. Larry married Diane Adams, in 1970 and fathered one son, Michael. He later married Debbie Davis in 1975 and gained a daughter, Jennifer, and after a long marriage, parted amicably remaining friends. He was currently in a relationship with girlfriend, Lisa Perkowski. Larry had a long and remarkable career in the Las Vegas entertainment industry having served as entertainment director of the Tropicana Hotel, producer of the Folies Bergere, and co-founder and chief operations officer of Encore Productions. Early in his entertainment career in the 1970's, he worked at the Aladdin Hotel, where he was in charge of booking headliner entertainment for the Theater of the Performing Arts. While at the Aladdin, he also worked as stage manager for the Folies Bergere, which at one time was produced by his father, Alan Lee. He had fond memories of working with entertainment legends such as Bob Hope, Tony Bennett, and Jack Benny. In the early 80's he became the entertainment director for the Tropicana Hotel and was given the role of producer of the Folies Bergere. One of the highlights of that time was when he took the Folies Bergere overseas for a Royal Command Performance for the Queen of England. He remained at the Tropicana until 1996 when he left to pursue his other business venture, chief operations officer for Encore Productions. In 1988, he co-founded Encore Productions with his two business partners, Phil Cooper and Bill Dayton. Over the next 22 years, Larry was instrumental in growing Encore into a leading audio-visual production company that produces presentations and events across the U.S. and around the globe. Larry used his numerous contacts with feature entertainers and top industry executives to oversee the talent booked for productions, parties and other events hosted by Encore's clients. In addition, he played a pinnacle part in helping Encore establish full-service satellite rental offices in 15 of the top Las Vegas hotel properties. Encore Productions was acquired in October 2010 by Freeman, the world's leading provider of convention services. Larry loved all of the finer things in life that included family, golf, travel, the Beatles, laughter and friends. He was a beloved father, husband, son, employer and will be missed by all. Larry is survived by his sister, Lisa Charleston of Long Beach, Calif.; his brother, Bob Lee of Rialto, Calif.; his son, Michael Lee of Las Vegas; his daughter, Jennifer (Michael) Cannon; and three grandchildren, Cole, Chloe, and Camryn Cannon of Hiko. There will be a celebration of Larry's life at 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 14, at the Paris Hotel Conference Center in the Champagne Ballroom.

* * * * * * * *

Internationally recognized pop artist, Martin Kreloff, who now makes his home in Las Vegas, created the cover art for the January issue of DAVID magazine. The beautiful portrait, by the very talented man, features actress Natalie Portman.

* * * * * * * *

Sometimes, the TV commercials can be as entertaining (or even more so) than the programming. One of our current favorites features the beautiful Charlize Theron sashaying her way through a spot promoting Dior's J'Adore perfume. Her iconic co-stars are Grace Kelly, Marlene Dietrich and Marilyn Monroe. How DO they do that?

Charlize Theron

Paula Poundstone

* * * * * * * *

Donn Arden's Jubilee! will hold casting auditions for female and male dancers and singers for the production Jubilee! at Bally's Las Vegas, Monday, January 23rd, from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. -
Male Dancers: 10:30 a.m.; Female Dancers and Showgirls: Noon; Male and Female Singers: 2 p.m.; Principal Dancers: 3 p.m. - at the Jubilee! Theatre in Bally's Las Vegas, 3645 Las Vegas Blvd. So. Showgirls as well as female and male dancers and singers. Dancers who demonstrate dance experience in tap, jazz and ballet. Female and male singers must perform two types of music: up-tempo Broadway style and ballad. All female dancers, singers, showgirls must be 5 feet 8 inches and taller, and all male dancers and singers must be 6 feet and taller. Must be 18 years of age or older. Having recently celebrated its 30th anniversary, Jubilee! at Bally's Las Vegas is seeking new talent for the longest-running show on the famous Las Vegas Strip. Conceived, staged and directed by the legendary Donn Arden, the elaborate retro-glam extravaganza features lavish costumes, dazzling scenery, world-renowned specialty acts, dynamic music, graceful pageantry and of course, gorgeous showgirls wearing their trademark bright shade of red lipstick. Bally's Las Vegas is one of the city's most exciting resorts, offering guests a "classic Las Vegas" experience. The 44-acre property is located in the center of the world-famous Strip, across from Caesars Palace and next to Paris Las Vegas. Bally's features two 26-story hotel towers, offering 2,814 guestrooms, including 265 suites, and a first-class Sports Book, known for its stadium-style seating and abundance of TV screens. Guests my also indulge in the world-famous Sterling Brunch each Sunday, featuring the finest array of food from around the world, including caviar, sushi, lobster and champagne. Donn Arden's Jubilee! has been thrilling audiences since 1981 with its beautiful showgirls, music, lavish sets and spectacular choreography. Bally's, along with all Caesars Entertainment Las Vegas resorts, including Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, Paris Las Vegas, Flamingo Las Vegas, Harrah's, Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, Imperial Palace and Bill's Gamblin' Hall & Saloon, proudly prohibit adding hidden resort fees to hotel guest room rates. For more information, please visit Find Bally's on Facebook and follow on Twitter.

* * * * * * * *

Social Distortion Social Control performs at the Aruba Hotel & Spa, 1215 Las Vegas Boulevard South, on Monday, January 9th. Wish we had a little more info. Please call (702) 383-3100 for details.

Cousin Claire made a boo boo. In the short paragraph above that reads, Social Distortion performs in the showroom at the Aruba Hotel & Spa, 1215 Las Vegas Boulevard South, on Monday, January 9th, it should have said Social CONTROL, not Social Distortion. This is a reunion show for Social CONTROL, who will be performing with Save the Swim Team, Burning Agrestic and Hard Pipe Hitters. All ages show stars at 5 p.m. and tickets are only $5. For additional information, please call (702) 383-3100 for details. Sorry for the confusion (on our part).

* * * * * * * *

Comedienne, writer, actress and author, Paula Poundstone, brings her razor-sharp wit and spontaneity stand-up act to The Orleans Showroom, next Friday and Saturday, January 13th and 14th, at 8 p.m. Poundstone began nurturing her comedy talent in 1979 on the Boston comedy scene before moving to San Francisco. By 1990, she had moved to Los Angeles, starred in multiple HBO comedy specials and appeared on Saturday Night Live. Poundstone was the first woman to receive a Cable ACE Award for a comedy special for her one-hour HBO special, Cats, Cops, and Stuff. She received her second Cable ACE Award for her self-titled HBO talk show series. Continuing with many successes throughout the 1990s, Poundstone starred in The Paula Poundstone Show on ABC, appeared in her second one-hour special on HBO titled, Paula Poundstone Goes to Harvard, and appeared on camera and as the voice of characters in several television shows including, Cybill, Science Court, Hercules and Home Movies. In 2007, she appeared in a BRAVO comedy special, Paula Poundstone: Look What the Cat Dragged In. Poundstone is the recipient of an Emmy® Award for her field pieces on the PBS program, Life & Times. She is a regular panelist on NPR's weekly quiz program, Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me, where her impeccable timing is key to the show's format. She has written several magazine articles, including five years of writing the back page column in Mother Jones; and has authored multiple books, including, There's Nothing In This Book That I Meant To Say. Her first comedy CD, I HEART JOKES: Paula Tells Them In Main, is now available at Tickets are available from $19.95, plus tax and convenience fees, and can be purchased at any Coast Casinos Box Office, by calling (702) 365-7075, or visiting

* * * * * * * *

Disney Legend, Paige O'Hara & Co-Star

On January 13th, Disney's animated Beauty and the Beast comes out in 3D. In Las Vegas, the select theaters that will be showing the popular 84-minute long film are:
Century 16 at Santa Fe Station - Showtimes at 12:15, 2:30, 4:45, 7 and 9:20 p.m.
UA Rainbow Promenade - Showtimes at 2:25, 4:40, 6:55, 9:10 and 11:25 p.m.
Regal Aliante Station - Showtimes at 11:45, 2:10, 4:35, 7 and 9:25 p.m.
Century 18 Sam's Town - Showtimes at 12:40, 2:50, 5, 7:10 and 9:20 p.m.
Cinedome Henderson - Showtimes at 12, 2:20, 4:40, 7 and 9:20 p.m.
Beauty and the Beast tells the tale (as old as time) of an arrogant young prince (Robby Benson) and his castle's servants who fall under the spell of a wicked enchantress. She turns the prince into the hideous Beast until he learns to love and be loved in return. The spirited, headstrong village girl Belle (Paige O'Hara) enters the Beast's castle after he imprisons her father Maurice (Rex Everhart). With the help of his enchanted servants, including the matronly Mrs. Potts (Angela Lansbury), Belle begins to draw the cold-hearted Beast out of his isolation.

Also in the cast are Richard White (Gaston), Jerry Orbach (Lumiere), David Ogden Stiers (Cogsworth/Narrator ), and Bradley Pierce (Chip). Paige O'Hara, who currently lives in Las Vegas and portrays the Soap Star in Menopause the Musical at the Luxor, was recently named and honored as an official Disney Legends during an D23 Expo on August 19th, in the Anaheim Convention Center Arena. Also honored were, television icon, Regis Philbin; Muppets creator, Jim Henson; Guy Williams, who played Zorro; the extraordinary actresses who vocally brought to life many modern-day Disney Princesses, including Jodi Benson (Ariel, from The Little Mermaid), Las Vegas resident, Paige O'Hara (Belle, from Beauty and the Beast); Lea Salonga, (singing voices of Jasmine, from Aladdin, and Mulan, from Mulan), Linda Larkin (speaking voice of Jasmine from Aladdin), and Anika Noni Rose (Princess Tiana, from The Princess and the Frog), plus other equally impressive contributors to the Disney legacy. The awards ceremony kicked off the first day of the expo, hosted by noted television personality, Tom Bergeron (host of ABC's Dancing with the Stars and America's Funniest Home Videos. "From giving voice to some of our most iconic and beloved Disney princesses, to bringing a smile to millions of television viewers every morning for two decades, we are proud to present these 12 men and women with our highest, most coveted honor, The Disney Legends Award," said Disney President and CEO, Robert Iger. "Our newest honorees now join this unique and prestigious circle, which recognizes those whose incredible talents and outstanding contributions have had a lasting, meaningful impact on Disney's great legacy." Actress/singer Paige's turn as Belle, helped make history when Beauty and the Beast became the first animated feature film to receive an Academy Award® nomination for Best Picture. Disney's D23 Expo is the ultimate Disney fan event. D23 is the first official Disney fan club for dedicated fans, sponsored by the Walt Disney Company. The Charter Year of D23 was in 2009. D23 was introduced on March 10, 2009, by Iger during the company's annual meeting in Oakland, California. The name D23 refers to D for Disney and 23 for 1923, the year when Walt Disney arrived in Hollywood and the company was founded.

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

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

Claire Voyant's portrait by Charlie Frye