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 June 01, 2012
You can find the current column HERE


Las Vegas - June 1, 2012


Charlie Frye

Reva Rice

Correction...
In last Friday's column, we told about Charlie Frye's connection to a brilliant commercial/video for the Holland Casino operation in the Netherlands. We stated that Charlie, who is a veteran entertainer and artist, produced it. We were wrong, although, we have no doubt that this smart and creative man probably could have done so. Charlie was hired to STAR in it. All the production (producers, directors, etc) were people from Holland. This piece of video is so clever and well done, we are including the Links to the production of the spot and the finished product again. If you missed it last week, take a look at it now.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wARax5hD3U and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kB7bn4R1FA.

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It's June. It's Las Vegas. And you know what that means. It's HOT! It also means that Golden Rainbow's annual Ribbon of Life show is on approach. Now in its 26th year, Ribbon of Life has been raising money to support the Southern Nevada HIV/AIDS community since the summer of 1987. This year's event will take place in Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, Sunday, June 24th, beginning at 1 p.m. Entertainment will be provided by Clint Holmes, Reva Rice, Broadway In the Hood, the Las Vegas Deaf Theatre, RagTag Entertainment, and vocal groups Mosaic and Human Nature, plus numbers by cast members of Jubilee!, Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular, Vegas! The Show, and more. Tickets range from $38 to $212, and may be purchased by calling The Smith Center at (702) 749-2000.


Stu Scott with Barney & George

Lola Falana

Although it has turned into the largest Southern Nevada AIDS fundraiser, Golden Rainbow was not the first group to put on a show for the cause. The first major AIDS fundraiser in Nevada was the Superstar Aid for AIDS Benefit, performed in the Cafe Continental Theatre at the Stardust Hotel, on June 14, 1987. The idea for putting on a show came about after Las Vegas entertainer, comic ventriloquist Stu Scott, let the community know that he himself was dealing with AIDS. Prior to that, victims of the relatively new disease were blaming their deteriorating physical condition and poor health on things like the "watermelon diet." Stu Scott told the truth and traveled to Carson City many times to appeal for funds to educate the public about this terrible plague. When concerned locals decided to help raise money, the logical way was to take advantage of the big-name entertainers who were regularly performing around the city, and use their talent for this cause. The beneficiary of the funds raised would be AFAN (Aid for AIDS of Nevada), with the help and encouragement of AFAN's executive director, Wes Davis. We knew we could get the performers. It was hoped that the event would take place in March, but what was needed first was a hotel showroom to house the production. Hotels in the city were contacted. Every one of them said "no thanks." It seems that in the ‘80s, AIDS and a tourist destination were not a good match. A spokesperson for one hotel stated that they would never be involved with anything related to AIDS, because it "was bad for tourism." It was suggested by one fundraiser representative that it was also bad for tourism to have dancers dropping dead on showroom stages. This "new plague" was taking its toll in villages and cities around the world, including Las Vegas. The last hotel approached was the Stardust, then was undergoing major and extensive remodeling. It was Gary Golbart (then director of the hotel's Lido de Paris production, and now a rabbi in Los Angeles), who made things happen. Golbart wound up serving as executive producer of the Superstar Aid for AIDS Benefit. A committee of concerned, hard-working members of the community - including Bill Moore, Judge Seymore Brown, Norm Johnson, Jim "The Vegas Vampire" Parker, Lamont Patterson, Donna Searles, Mark Tan, Bill Willard and Judi Wolfe (today, only two of these people are still living) - was formed, and some well-known personalities, including Forrest Duke, Pete Mikla, Donald O'Connor, Ralph Pearl, Line Renaud, Debbie Reynolds, Joan Rivers and Rip Taylor, signed on as Honorary Chairpersons, lending their names and appearing in TV spots to get the word out. The Superstar Benefit brought talent from all over the Las Vegas Strip together and set the standard for all such fund-raisers that followed. With maitre d' Bob Van Dura and a crew of friendly and efficient captains taking care of business, the theater, then called the Lido Showroom, was filled with an enthusiastic audience who paid $25 each to see Las Vegas headliners that included, among others, Lola Falana, Joseph Gabriel, Mickey Gilley, Robert Goulet, Loretta Holloway, Kenny Kerr, the McGuire Sisters, Guy Mitchell, Roberta Sherwood, the Smothers Brothers and Suzanne Somers, plus cast members from City Lites, Les Folies Bergere, Legends In Concert, Lido de Paris, Minsky‘s Burlesque and Splash. The event raised about $20,000 for AFAN. Up until that time, garage and bake sales, individual donations, and bar-top "tip" jars with coins, checks and a few folded bills inside, was how monies were raised to assist people living (and dying) with AIDS in Southern Nevada. The volunteers involved, along with the Stardust hotel, were pioneers when it came to putting a face on AIDS. It was a month after the Superstar event, that Golden Rainbow performed its first show. Golden Rainbow, named after a popular 1968 Broadway musical, was the brainchild of singer Bree Burgess and Bally's Hotel credit union manager, Peter Todd. The organization was founded in response to the 1986 AIDS death of popular Las Vegas entertainer, Chris Carter, who died alone on a cot in his brother's garage because his family wouldn't allow him in the house. Today, Golden Rainbow remains one of the most successful AIDS organizations in the nation. As for Wes Davis, he is currently employed at the brand new Container Store in Town Square. Stop in and say hello.


The McGuire Sisters

Guy Mitchell

And still speaking of The Smith Center (get used to it, as you will be reading much about the facility here), Clint Holmes will do his Remembering Bobby Short show (performed at the Café Carlyle in New York, a few months ago) in the Cabaret Jazz this weekend. In addition to 8:30 p.m. shows on Friday and Saturday, a 2 p.m. matinee has been added for Sunday. What a great idea. Wish we had thought of that. Tickets are $35 and $45.

Next weekend, Friday and Saturday, June 8th and 9th at 7 p.m., Emily Bergl, best known for her role on Desperate Housewives, will perform. In New York, Bergl‘s recent cabaret show, Kidding On the Square, received raves from sold out Oak Room audiences and the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, and Bloomberg News. Kidding on the Square is vintage entertainment, told from the perspective of a modern girl, in an old fashioned show with stunning costume changes, audience participation, and character songs that run the gamut from broad comedy to intense drama. Audiences are transported to a unique musical world that blends classic hits from Noel Coward to Fats Waller, with modern favorites from Madonna to the Scissor Sisters. Tickets are $40 and $50. For Smith Center reservations, call (702) 749-2000.


Emily Bergl

Lisa Smith

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This coming Wednesday afternoon, June 6th, you can see and hear Lisa Smith (vocals), Dan Ellis (keyboards) and Darin Presley (drums), as they present Gold Coast Classics, an afternoon of Classic Jazz Standards, Cocktails and Dancing, at the Gold Coast Hotel & Casino. There is no cover charge, and no drink minimum. Show times for the Lisa Smith Jazz Trio are from 1 to 4 p.m., in the showroom/lounge. Lisa is also a cast member of Shades of Sinatra, performing several nights a week at the Clarion Hotel on Convention Center Drive; one-third of the musical trio, Dangerous Curves; and frequently appears in concert with her husband, the tall and handsome singer/actor, Ron Smith. Next Saturday, June 9th from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., Lisa will be singing classic jazz tunes with a contemporary edge at The Dispensary Lounge, 2451 E. Tropicana Ave. at Eastern. She will be accompanied by Gary Peterson (keyboards), Fred Watstein (bass) and Mike Mechem (drums). Tonight and tomorrow night, June 1st and 2nd, Windy Karigianes, backed by Uli Geissendoerfer on keys, Fred Watstein on bass and Mike Mechem on drums, will present an evening of eclectic jazz, and next Friday night, June 8th, vocalist Michelle Johnson will take over the mic at The Dispensary from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., accompanied by Gary Peterson on keys, Mike Mechem on drums, and Jeff Davis on bass. If you want to hear live music on the weekends, The Dispensary Lounge in southeast Las Vegas offers lots of options. There is no cover and no drink minimum at The Dispensary.


Windy Karigianes

Michelle Johnson

And speaking of Dangerous Curves, another one of the Curves, Margaret "Gret" Menzies, will be part of the impressive cast of RagTag Entertainment‘s upcoming production of Stephen Sondheim's Company, playing in the main showroom at the LVH in July. We will have more about this production in next Friday's column.


Gret Menzies

Gary Anderson

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From reader/sax man Gary Anderson, who almost always leads the band that provides the music for the F.I.O.R.E. gatherings, comes this e-mail with some interesting information...
Enjoyed a recent installment from Claire and was especially interested in hearing about the tribute to Charlie Chaplin that includes the revered American standard, "Smile." Which brings to mind... My personal favorite composer of the American Songbook is David Raksin and one of my favorite stories to tell aspiring composers revolves around this prolific genius. Not to take away from the titanic talents of another genius, it is pretty much fact that David Raksin is responsible for most of the melody and all of the harmony of the song "Smile." Chaplin was (as was another American icon of song, Irving Berlin) what we in the business call a hummer. Hummers like Chaplin and Berlin would hire "transcribers" to write down what they were humming or pecking out at the piano. Berlin had one transcriber who stayed with him through most of his 10 decade long career - Helmy Kresa - whereas Chaplin, known to be difficult to work with, had a different person on every production. Twenty-three-year-old Raksin was hired, fired, and rehired to "arrange" music for Modern Times which included completing Chaplin's 7 note input for the theme, "Smile." Chaplin is also often credited with the lyric even though it is well documented that the words were added in 1954 (for Nat King Cole I think) by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons. Mr. Raksin had quite an attitude of arrogance through most of his career that included the famous line he is credited with regarding his not scoring Alfred Hitchcock's "Lifeboat". Raksin was assigned to the film by the studio but Hitchcock said he did not want a score, claiming the audience would wonder where music was coming from in the middle of the ocean. Raksin asked the famous director, "where are the cameras coming from ?" OOPS! Another studio composer, Hugo Friedhofer, eventually did score the 1944 wartime drama. Oh the intrigue and fun !
Thank you for sharing your intelligence with all of us, Mr. Anderson. (Show off!)

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Brian Keith (not the actor from TV's Family Affair, who passed on in 1997) will step into vacationing Frank Marino's hosting spot at the Imperial Palace's Divas Las Vegas, for the next week, June 2nd through 7th. Brian, who lives in San Francisco where he earns his living as a nurse, has filled in for Frank a number of times before. Until recently, Brian's hospital co-workers had no idea that he had been a female impersonator in his previous life. When they learned why he was taking off work to come to Las Vegas, and that he would be performing in The Entertainment Capital of the World, a number of the hospital workers made the trip to Southern Nevada to see Brian on stage. These days, since experiencing Mr. Keith in a gown and stilettos and doing comedic lines, instead of wearing scrubs and practical shoes and caring for the sick and injured, his co-workers think of him as a real star. See him at the IP if you can.


Brian Keith

George Hamilton & Christopher Sieber

And speaking of drag, this should be fun! The biggest hit of the 2010 Broadway season, winning the Tony Award for best Musical Revival, La Cage aux Folles, comes into The Smith Center, August 14th through 19th. The touring version stars the perpetually tan, 72-yer-old George Hamilton, as Georges (coincidence?), and, Christopher Sieber as Albin/Zaza. With music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, and book by Harvey Fierstein, tickets for the popular musical go on sale next Friday, June 8th. We might mention that friend Bill Nolte, who played the pigeon-raising Nazi, Franz Liebkind, in the Las Vegas production of The Producers, played in the Broadway revival of La Cage aux Folles, that starred Kelsey Grammer. For La Cage aux Folles reservations in Las Vegas, visit TheSmithCenter.com, or call (702) 749-2000.
Photo of George Hamilton and Christopher Sieber in La Cage Aux Folles is by Paul Kolnik.

And speaking of Bill Nolte, he recently finished performing in Colette Collage, with Tony-nominee, Christine Andreas, as Colette. Bill played Colette's first husband, Willy, at the York Theatre at Saint Peter's for the York Theatre Company, under their Musicals in Mufti: The Tom Jones Festival. Music and lyrics and book are by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones (not THAT Tom Jones), who wrote The Fantasticks, 110 In the Shade, and Celebration. The piece centers on the joys, fears and loves of the celebrated French writer, Colette. The life of the legendary author unfolds over a period of 60 years in this classic bio-musical, which premiered Off-Broadway at the York in 1983. Michael Montel directed. Nolte says, "It was a glorious week of rehearsals to mount this rich and complex piece about the writer Colette. One of the surprise highlights of the last few years for me. Modestly staged and choreographed, it was a huge success and an inspiration to us all. Tom Jones, in his late 80s, was there every day, with his wit, knowledge and talents to guide us. Loved working with Christine again, since the last time we shared the stage was on Broadway in La Cage aux Folles.


Bill Nolte & Christine Andreas

Brent Barrett

And speaking of musical theater and performers who have worked Las Vegas productions, our Phavorite Phantom, Brent Barrett, will be playing that evil Captain Hook in the touring company of Peter Pan, starring Cathy Rigby, as the boy who never grew up. Glenn Casale, associated with UNLV, will be directing. This isn't Casale's first time working with Rigby and Peter Pan. Among his list of impressive credits, Glenn directed the Broadway and national tour of Peter Pan.



Paul Campanella

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Paul X. Campanella considers himself very fortunate to be one of the busiest actors in Las Vegas. He is currently entering into his sixth year with Tony n' Tina's Wedding, and getting ready for the interactive dinner theater's exciting transition from the V Theatre at Planet Hollywood, to Bally's. Along with his duties at Tony n' Tina's, Paul is also appearing as several characters, including the Mob Boss, Big Tony, at the new Las Vegas Mob Attraction at the Tropicana. In the past few months Campanella has been busy commuting to Los Angeles, and working to get his screenplay produced. He recently starred in, Dirty Dealing 3D, a feature film with Michael Madsen and C. Thomas Howell. As if that isn't enough to keep him busy, tomorrow, Saturday, June 2nd, Paul will debut his solo singing act at Garfield's Restaurant and Bar in Summerlin, from 6 to 9 p.m., in their newly enclosed air conditioned patio. Garfield's is located at 2620 Regatta Drive, Las Vegas in the Desert Shores area of Summerlin. Call (702) 925-8333 for reservations.

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The Greatest Show on Earth makes a stop in Las Vegas when Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey plays the Thomas & Mack Center, June 14th through 17th. Dragons is described as "magical," "wondrous," "amazing." Show times are 7 p.m., Thursday the 14th and Friday the 15th; 11:30 a.m. 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday; and 1:30 and 5:30 p.m. on Sunday. For ticket information, call the Thomas & Mack Box Office at (702) 739-3267.

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The Tuff-N-Uff Amateur Fighting Championship was held at the South Point Casino in Las Vegas on May 25th. Making a very impressive debut, was 18-year-old Montel Williams Jr., who bested Charles Weast. Called "Gooch" by his family, Montel is the son of Grace Coronel, best known around these parts as actress, Bambi Jr. We expect to hear lots more about young Montel, who is currently a student at UNLV.


Montel Williams Jr. with mom Grace and step-dad Marc Coronel

Wayne Newton by Julie Jacobson

And speaking of fights...
Yesterday, The Associated Press reported that "A judge has granted Wayne Newton a restraining order against his landlord amid stalled plans to turn his Las Vegas estate into a celebrity museum — a project that has sparked allegations of fraud, mismanagement and sexual harassment. Clark County District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez ruled Thursday that developer Steve Kennedy must stay 50 feet away from the Newton family and their home, effectively putting the brakes on construction to turn Newton's Casa de Shenandoah estate into a tourist attraction. Kennedy, the manager of CSD LLC, filed a lawsuit two weeks ago claiming the Newton family was unwilling to move out of the house so it could be converted into a museum. The Newtons filed counterclaims alleging breach of contract and fraud. The legal wrangling paints an uncertain future for Newton's 40-acre estate featuring South African penguins, Arabian horses, celebrity memorabilia and 17th-century antiques imported from European castles. Newton told reporters after Thursday's hearing that he regretted entering into the deal with Kennedy. "Totally," Newton said. "I don't like vultures." Newton lives in the main house on the estate with his wife and their young daughter. Kennedy purchased the property for $20 million with the intent of building the Newtons a new $2 million home on the estate and converting the gold-trimmed main house into a public venue. In his lawsuit, Kennedy alleged the Newtons unreasonably delayed the project by refusing to pick a location for their new home. The Newtons countered that Kennedy failed to obtain proper construction permits and did not act in good faith. "They had no intentions whatsoever of creating a museum honoring Wayne Newton," said Newton's lawyer, J. Stephen Peek, during the hearing. Newton attended the hearing with his wife, Kathleen McCrone Newton, and her sister, Tricia McCrone, who also acts as the family's publicist. During the hearing, Newton and his wife wore broad smiles, even as McCrone Newton shook her head repeatedly as the allegations that she and her husband had not been cooperative were presented. Peek claimed Kennedy tried to punish the Newton family by ordering that they banish their prized collection of 55 Arabian horses. Peek said Kennedy changed the access code on the main gate into the property, requiring the Newtons to enter their home through side or back entrances. Construction at their home has caused several leaks, threatening their expensive art collection that includes impressionist paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, the Newtons complained. The family also claimed Kennedy filled up an artisan well that Newton previously used as his "meditation pond." Kennedy's attorney Charles McCrea Jr. countered that the home had a faulty roof and that the well reeked of raw sewage, with the toxic fumes having killed three penguins that lived on the estate. McCrea Jr. said the Newtons must vacate the property so construction can continue. He cited concerns about who would cover the expense of caring for the property's many horses, with costs reaching $40,000 each month. CSD wants to donate the horses to a ranch that has expressed interest in adopting them. The lawsuit also claims Newton sexually harassed a young female employee hired to train the horses by repeatedly kissing her on the mouth. The worker quit and has threatened to sue Newton and CSD, according to the lawsuit. Newton has denied this allegation in the past. Kennedy declined to discuss the case as he was leaving the courtroom. Newton said he hoped the museum will eventually open under a different owner. "Time will tell if it is built," Newton said. "It will not be built under the present circumstances of management." Both sides are expected to return to court on July 30. Construction plans for the museum called for an exhibition space, theater, zoo, visitors' center and other attractions. It was initially scheduled to open late last year."

We have to wonder why anyone, who stays on top of anything to do with Wayne Newton, would get involved in any business dealings with him. There is a long history of unhappy business associates, unhappy neighbors, bankruptcies and more. It is pretty obvious that, in at least the last couple of decades, anything with Newton is not a good risk. And, no, we did not purposely seek out the most unflattering photo of the former Mr. Las Vegas that we could find, to include with this item. The accompanying picture was taken a couple of days ago, while Mr. Newton was in court.

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In advance of their 30th Anniversary, the Philadelphia-based Dance Del Bello dance company has announced the premiere of the modern dance piece, Three Voices One Note. Founding Artistic Director, Delphine Del Bello Spencer, has conceived a piece that illuminates the vibrating tone colors resounding from each Chakra light source, revealing our innermost quest through our intuitive and physical energies. Ms. Del Bello has reached out to the award-winning recording artists, Philip Fortenberry and Rebecca Spencer, known for their signature art song interpretations, for this collaborative effort. Three Voices One Note features original compositions by Philip with song interpretations by Rebecca. This musical collaboration, in service to the choreography, was inspired through the visionary direction of Ms. Del Bello. The musical team's collaboration also included recording and re-mastering original compositions by Mr. Fortenberry. Ms. Spencer and Mr. Fortenberry will not be performing live at this concert, but the essence of their musical voices will be well represented. This concert collaboration, led by Ms. Del Bello and her select corps of dancers, also embraces the wishes of Jack Spencer, the late beloved father and father-in-law of Rebecca and Delphine, and a long-time patron, advocate and former Board Member for Dance Del Bello. You are invited to experience this first time collaboration as part of a glorious concert honoring the disciplines and live art forms of classical ballet and modern dance. The performances will take place at the Gateway Auditorium at Bucks County Community College in Newtown, Pennsylvania, on June 8th at 7:30 p.m., and June 9th a 3 p.m.

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Reminders...
It's the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend at The Orleans, through Sunday. Dubbed "The Super Bowl of Striptease," Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend is the world's biggest, most prestigious international burlesque event, offering four days and nights of live entertainment and wild, immersive activities, including nightly performances and pre- and after-parties, a weekend-long Burlesque Bazaar, Master Classes, "Texas Tease 'Em" poker, Pinup Photo Safari pool parties, and more sexy, spangled fun than you can twirl a tassel at! Among the legends of burlesque who will be in attendance, is Las Vegan Bambi Jones, aka Dori Kotzan, who just happens to be the maternal grandmother of the above mentioned Montel Williams Jr. Please call (702) 365-7070 to purchase tickets by phone. To see the schedule of events, check out http://www.orleanscasino.com/whats-new/events/burlesque-hall-of-fame-weekend.

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And country music singer, guitarist, television host and actor, Glen Campbell, will perform at the LVH, Las Vegas Hotel & Casino (formerly Las Vegas Hilton), today through Sunday, in the LVH Theater. Campbell, a ten-time Academy of Country Music Award-winner, three-time Country Music Association Award-winner and Grammy Award-winner, is one of America's most accomplished country music artists. In his 50 years in show business, Glen has released more than 70 albums, hosted a TV variety show, called The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, and appeared in movies, including the 1969 critically-acclaimed film, True Grit, with John Wayne. Glen's role in True Grit earned him a Golden Globe nomination for Most Promising Newcomer. Some of Campbell's chart-topping hits include "Let It Be Me," "Rhinestone Cowboy," "Wichita Lineman," "Galveston," "By The Time I Get To Phoenix," "Gentle On My Mind," and "Southern Nights," to name just a few. His latest album, Ghost On The Canvas, released in August, is the album of Glen Campbell's life. With beauty, power, heartfelt emotion and deep spirituality, this set of songs traces the arc of Campbell's 75 years as a performer. The album was named in USA Today's Top 10 Albums of 2011. Earlier this year, Glen was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards. Tickets for Glen Campbell are $49-$79 (plus tax and service charge), and can be purchased at the LVH box office, or by logging onto www.thelvh.com or www.ticketmaster.com, or by phone at (702) 732-5755 or (800) 222-5361.


Glen Campbell

Lucky Tamara

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A Las Vegas woman, who has been a regular slot player at The Orleans for a decade, won a jackpot of more than $2.2 million this week. The lucky winner, identified only as Tamara, was playing her favorite penny Wheel of Fortune machine. After playing for three hours on Monday evening, she decided to give the machine a few more spins, an Orleans spokeswoman said. That's when she hit the progressive jackpot of $2,256,246.45. Every once in a while, it pays, and pays BIG, to be patient.



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