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 August 10, 2012
You can find the current column HERE

Las Vegas - August 10/11, 2012

A Chorus Line

He was One Singular Sensation. Award-winning composer, Marvin Hamlisch, died on Monday, August 6th. He was 68. At just seven, Marvin was the youngest student ever accepted into the acclaimed Juilliard School of Music. In 1974, Hamlisch made movie history when he became the first individual ever to win three Academy Awards in one night in all three music categories - one for the song, "The Way We Were" (with co-writers Alan and Marilyn Bergman), another for the score to the movie The Way We Were (1973), and one for the adaptation of Scott Joplin's ragtime music for The Sting (1973). Marvin Hamlisch is one of only 11 people to have been awarded Emmys (four), Grammys (four), Oscars (three), and a Tony. He is also one of only two people to have won those four prizes and also a Pulitzer Prize. In 1976, he garnered the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for the musical A Chorus Line, collaborating with Nicholas Dante, Michael Bennett, James Kirkwood Jr. and Ed Kleban. The other is legendary composer, Richard Rodgers. Hamlisch also won two Golden Globes. In addition to his award-winning movie work, Hamlisch composed more than 40 motion picture scores, including for films such as The Swimmer, Sophie's Choice, Ordinary People, Three Men and a Baby, Take the Money and Run, Bananas, Save the Tiger, and his most recent effort, Behind the Candelabra, an upcoming HBO film about the life of Liberace, starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon. On Broadway, in addition to A Chorus Line, there was also They're Playing Our Song, The Goodbye Girl and Sweet Smell of Success. Hamlisch was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1986. At the time of his death, he held the position of Principal Pops Conductor for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Pasadena Symphony and Pops, Seattle Symphony, and San Diego Symphony. Next week, he was to be announced as the Principal Pops Conductor of The Philadelphia Orchestra. Hamlisch was also due to conduct the New York Philharmonic in its upcoming New Year's Eve concert. Marvin Hamlisch is survived by his wife of 25 years, Terre.

Marvin Hamlisch had some history in Las Vegas. If memory serves us correctly, the first time we saw him perform here, it was at the Riviera, probably in the 1980s (readers?). In September of 1997, he was the first of four performers who took part in a short-lived monthly Cabaret Series taking place in the Railhead (yep, the Railhead) at Boulder Station. Appearing with him as a special guest was musical theater performer, J. Mark McVey (Les Miserables, among others). The other series participants were Diane Schuur, Maureen McGovern and Buddy Greco. In 2000 and again in 2004, the legendary composer and conductor appeared at UNLV, once as part of the Best of the New York Stage series, and once performing with and conducting the UNLV Symphony and Jazz Ensemble I (a hybrid of two groups - that UNLV called Classics and Jazz). Larry Henley, Director of Artistic Programming and Production at UNLV Performing Arts Center, tells us that when the house manager asked Mr. Hamlisch how he wanted the staff to handle the latecomers for his gig, the music man said, "Shoot 'em! Shoot 'em all!" He could be caustic, but also had a great sense of humor, says Henley.

Marvin Hamlisch 1944-2012

J. Mark McVey

On a personal note, some of our favorite, more obscure movie music from Marvin Hamlisch, includes "One Hello," sung by Randy Crawford in I Ought To Be In Pictures; "Through the Eyes of Love," sung by Melissa Manchester in Ice Castles; "Life Is What You Make It" from Kotch (recorded by Johnny Mathis among others); "Nobody Does It Better" from The Spy Who Loved Me; "The Last Time I Felt Like This," sung by Johnny Mathis and Jane Olivor, from Same Time, Next Year; "The Girl Who Used To Be Me," sung by Patti Austin, from Shirley Valentine; "I Finally Found Someone," sung by Barbra Streisand and Bryan Adams in The Mirror Has Two Faces; and "If You Remember Me," from The Champ. Other than the version from the film, we have only heard two other vocals of "If You Remember Me" - singer/pianist Ronnie David, who performed here in the Cub Lounge at the MGM Grand (now Bally’s) and in the late ’70s and into the ’80s at Caesars (who learned the song at Cousin Claire’s request), and on The Crooner CD by Las Vegan, Mark OToole (without an apostrophe). And then there was the musical Smile, with music by Hamlisch and lyrics by Howard Ashman. Described as "a brilliant flop," the show ran for less than 50 performances. To our knowledge, there never was a cast recording, although some of the songs from the musical about teenage beauty pageants, turned up on one of the Unsung Broadway albums. We have always liked the songs, "Disneyland" and "In Our Hands," from Smile.

And, here is an interesting note...
Although no one at Kirvin Doak, who does the marketing for The Smith Center, would confirm this information, we heard that Marvin Hamlisch had been expected to perform at the facility in January.

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And speaking of The Smith Center, we will hold our follow-up on Wednesday night’s Composers Showcase until next week. We also hope to have a photo or two at that time.

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More than likely, by the time you are reading this here, it will be old news. On Tuesday, the cast of Surf the Musical, playing in the big Peepshow theater at the Planet Hollywood Hotel, was told that their Las Vegas run was over. Surf the Musical, featuring the music of the Beach Boys, only lasted a few weeks. We didn’t get a chance to see it, but what we learned from those who did, and what we read, Surf, with a large and talented cast and crew, thus a hefty weekly operating cost, was that the book was weak and the show needed tweaking. Maybe they opened too soon. Maybe they were undercapitalized. Maybe, even though, like Mamma Mia! (Abba), Jersey Boys (Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons) and We Will Rock You (Queen), Surf contained familiar music, it was just the wrong show for Vegas. Whatever the reason, it all comes to an end on Wednesday. If you want to see it before the closing, tickets start at around $70 and go up to about $160 (possibly another strike against Surf). Call (702) 785-5000.

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Society of Seven

Jasmine Trias

Society of Seven (SOS), one of our favorite variety acts, along with American Idol star Jasmine Trias, will become a headlining show at the Riviera Hotel & Casino beginning next Thursday, August 16th. The group will bring their high energy show to the Starlite Theatre in the Riviera. Shows will be Thursdays through Mondays at 9 p.m. Dark on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. An SOS show is a non-stop musical journey featuring show tunes and popular hits mixed with lots of comedy and dancing. SOS has been entertaining fans for more than 40 years. Having performed to more than 10 million fans, these seven elite performers and one American Idol™ star make every show a "must-see." "We are thrilled to call the Riviera home," said Tony Ruivivar of Society of Seven. "This long-term engagement gives loyal fans, who have supported us throughout the years, the opportunity to see us on a regular basis and for others to discover us." About 40 percent or more of the show will be new and two members have joined as drummer and lead male singer. Tickets are $59.95 for VIP, $44.95 for Preferred, and General Admission are $29.95. Special $10 tickets for those Under 7 or Over 70, with ID, are available. All tickets are plus tax and fees, and can be purchased at the Riviera Box Office or by visiting Call (702) 794-9433

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Doris "Bambi Jones" Kotzan, Nelson Sardelli & Grace "Bambi Jr." Morley

Although we were unable to be there to see it for ourselves, it has been reported to us by a reliable source (aka witness), that Bambi Jones (Doris Kotzan) was a smashing success at Thursday’s F.I.O.R.E.‏ meeting. Once again, the F.I.O.R.E. proves to be the place you want to be for lunch every second Thursday of the month. Bambi Jones more than prove this to be a fact. She enthralled the Presidents, First Ladies, friends and guest with wonderful information, great antics, humor and an inspiring personality. She is one of the Honorary First Ladies of the F.I.O.R.E. She has what it takes to be an exemplary member of this avant-guard, tres vichyssoise and quite escargot organization. I am Nelson Sardelli, I wrote and approve this message....grammar mistakes and all.

F.I.O.R.E. First Ladies Bump & Grind

Bambi Jones was able to get a number of the First Ladies up to become "burlesque stars" for part of the afternoon. The ladies had a great time, as did the happy Presidents! Among those in the F.I.O.R.E. audience, was Grace "Bambi Jr." Morley, cheering on her mother.

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Trumpet virtuoso, Charly Raymond, and his lady, Kathy Wicker, made it official on Monday! The Little Church Of The West on Las Vegas Boulevard was the perfect setting for the wedding of the Florida transplants. In keeping with the spirit of the occasion, yes, the twosome even had an Elvis singer, Kent Ripley, who, according to the groom, "did a great job. Charly’s two kids, Allison and Scott, along with his brother Dick, and Dick’s wife, Joyce, made up the wedding party. Charly reports that, "other than the marriage license being left behind, so the limo had to return to the house, everything went smooth as silk...with no down time!" Have a wonderful life together, you two nice people.

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In last Fridays (Saturday, as it was late) column, we wrote about musician Angela Chan and her new play, Summer Camp! The Musical, opening at The Onyx Theatre this Friday, August 10th, and running through this weekend on Saturday, the 11th and Sunday the 12th, and next weekend on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the 17th, 18th and 19th, with all shows at 8 p.m. Summer Camp!, written by Ms. Chan and Troy Heard, is a musical homage to the classic genre of the early 1980s cinema popularly known as the Teen Sex Comedy. Reagan is in the White House, the Russians are building the bomb, and rustic Camp Tigglebitties is a hormonal hotbed where ubernerds, Nolan and Dwight, vow to lose their virginity to the gorgeous Lacey S. the possible expense of their friendship. Tickets are $15 and $20, and may be purchased at The Onyx, 953 E. Sahara in Commercial Center, or ordered by phone. Call (702) 732-7225.

Newlyweds Charly & Kathy Raymond

Irving Benson 1941

In last week's column, we stated, incorrectly, that Angela was a MEMBER of the Las Vegas Philharmonic. Angela has played piano with the Phil, but she is not actually a member of the orchestra.

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Actor/friend, Bart Williams, tells us that, last Sunday, his film, The Last First Comic, won The Jury Award for "Best Documentary Feature Film" at the Prescott Film Festival. The powers that be had heard about the film, and called Bart to request it for the Festival. Since Williams is currently appearing in both Disney’s Aladdin and Hairspray at the Tuacahn Amphitheatre in St. George, Utah, we was unable to attend the film festival, but his film partner, John C. Brown, did attend. That is the fourth set of "Laurel Leaves" for the novice filmmakers labor of love. The living subject of The Last First Comic, Irving Benson, is now 98 years old. Bart reports that he is still as witty as ever, and going strong. Congratulations, one and all.

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Next Saturday, August 18th at 8 p.m., Roslyn Kind will perform at The Grove Theatre in Upland, California. About Roslyn, Don Heckman of The Los Angeles Times said, "Forget that Roslyn Kind is Barbra Streisand's kid sister. She's too good and too special to have to worry about comparisons." Roslyn¹s unique artistry is equally at home on stage, screen and disc. She is a dynamic, multi-talented entertainer who has forged a successful career in all facets of entertainment, from critically acclaimed recordings to sold-out performances on Broadway and in top concert venues and nightclubs the world over. A vibrant musical artist, Ms. Kind is familiar to both national and international audiences for her headlining appearances at some of the most prestigious venues including Lincoln Center, The Greek Theater and London¹s Café Royal. In 2006, she made her long awaited and rapturously received Carnegie Hall debut with her frequent musical collaborator and friend, Michael Feinstein. She began her performing career while still in her teens with the release of her first album, Give Me You, followed by her second album, This is Roslyn Kind. A whirlwind of performing activity followed, including engagements at the nation¹s top nightclubs and three appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, prior to her New York debut at the Plaza Hotel’s legendary Persian Room. Ms. Kind’s most recent CD, Come What May, described by the New York Times as "splendid and sizzling," further establishes her reputation as a virtuoso vocalist possessing impeccable phrasing, a richness and clarity of tone and an undeniable emotional connection to her always first-rate material. On Broadway, she starred in the crowd-pleasing musical revue, 3 from Brooklyn. Additional theatrical credits include the Off-Broadway production of, Show Me Where the Good Times Are, Leader of the Pack, Ferguson the Tailor, and the critically lauded Los Angeles production of William Finn’s Elegies. Ms. Kind’s list of television credits include the film, Switched at Birth, multiple episodes of NBC’s Gimme a Break, Throb and a humorously memorable turn as herself on CBS’s The Nanny, showcasing her talent as a songwriter in a performance of her composition, "Light of Love." Roslyn also performed the title song for the made-for-TV movie, Not Just Another Affair. Ms. Kind has appeared on numerous TV talk/variety shows, including the Tonight Show, Saturday Night Live, Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood and Good Morning America. In motion pictures, Ms. Kind has had starring roles in The Underachievers and I’m Going to Be Famous. She also worked on a Hallmark movie for television, Ladies of the House, starring Donna Mills and Florence Henderson. Roz can be heard singing "Hold On While You Can" in the 2008 movie, Truloved. Roslyn is a popular touring artist. In 2008, she performed here at The Club in the Cannery. Tickets for An Evening with Roslyn Kind at The Grove Theatre, 276 E 9th Street in Upland are $15 to $30. For reservations, call (909) 920-4343.

Roslyn Kind

Lady "J" Huston

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We received a note from Lady "J" Huston letting us know that she will be hosting a new show, Lady J’s Open Mic Spotlight, on Mondays at the Mad Greek Café, 2330 South Rainbow Boulevard. This is a bit unique in the local open mic options, as the performers will at least get a drink and ops for a dinner. They can also sell CDs and promote their other shows. Trumpeter/vocalist Huston, and her manager, Z. Lipsky, are grateful to have found a beautiful venue to spotlight entertainers and provide them with something more than a simple thanks for their efforts. The Mad Greek Café will also offer the audience $20 Gift Certificates in a drawing each set. The food and ambience is just fantastic. Call the Mad Greek at (702) 221-2200. Also, Lady "J" Huston & The Fireballs will fill the Rampart Casino/Addison's Lounge with Classic Soul, Jazz, Funk and Blues on Friday, August 17th, and Saturday, the 18th, from 8 p.m. to midnight. Dancing is highly encouraged! There is no cover charge. The Rampart is located at 221 N. Rampart Blvd. Call (702) 869-7777.

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At 8 p.m. on Tuesday, August 7th, KISS® By Monster Mini Golf®, the unique rock 'n roll-themed amusement attraction based around the legendary band KISS®, launched a weekly, two hour rock trivia contest. Lead guitarist of Stryper, Oz Fox, was the first rock star in the hot seat. Participants will compete against their peers for a chance to go head to head with the guest 'rock star’ of the week. Every Tuesday, at KISS® By Monster Mini Golf®, 4503 Paradise Road, across from Hard Rock Hotel/Casino, located next to Rumor Boutique Hotel, through September 25th, contestants will compete in a rock trivia contest that consists of three, 30-minute rounds containing 30 rock related questions in each round. The first two rounds will be against a fellow fan of rock, while the third round will put you against one of rocks very own. Second Round, Tuesday, August 14th, at 8 p.m.; Third Round, Tuesday, August 21st at 8 p.m.; Fourth Round, Tuesday, August 28th, at 8 p.m.; Fifth Round, Tuesday, September 4th, at 8 p.m.; Sixth Round, Tuesday, September 11th, at 8 p.m.; Seventh Round, and Tuesday, September 18th, at 8 p.m. The grand finale will take place at Fremont Street Experience on the 3rd Street Stage, Tuesday, September 25th, at 8 p.m.

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Cellicentric, a unique and refreshing trio, best known as the cello section for Celine Dion at Caesars Palace's Colosseum, will make a special appearance at Freakin' Music, inside Las Vegas’ Freakin' Frog, Thursday August 16th, at 9:30 p.m. Cellicentric will perform originals and covers, spanning classical, rock, jazz, metal, and pop genres, and of course, their original "Cellicentric" style. Cellicentric just released their debut CD, Into Existence. The music includes versatile styles, diverse instrumentation, original arrangements, three cellos, vocal, piano and beat-boxing! The members of the musical group travel and perform throughout the entire country, when Celine's show is on hiatus. This special Freakin' Frog performance is free, and open to the community. The Freakin' Frog is located at 4700 S Maryland Parkway (89119), across from UNLV.


David Pomeranz

Shown in accompanying photo are, left to right, Irina Cherkova, Raymond Sicam III and Lindsey Springer.

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Two-time Tony Award-winner, George Hearn, will do double duty in the soon-to-open musical about the American evangelical leader, Aimee Semple McPherson. Producers said that Hearn, who won Tonys for Sunset Boulevard and La Cage aux Folles, will play both McPherson's father and a rival preacher when Scandalous: The Life and Trials of Aimee Semple McPherson begins its Broadway run. Previews begin October 13th at the Neil Simon Theatre, and opening night is scheduled for November 15th. Tony Award-nominated actress, Carolee Carmello, will star as McPherson. Kathie Lee Gifford wrote the show's book and lyrics, collaborating with composers David Pomeranz and David Friedman. The show was first seen at Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre.

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Bethany Owen Billboard

Traveling North on Interstate 25 out of the Albuquerque International Airport on vacation? If so, be sure to check out the most recent billboard promotion near the airport, announcing Bethany Owen performing her country music one-woman impressions show, Country Queens, at the San Felipe, Hollywood Casino on Wednesday, August 15th. The San Felipe Casino Hollywood brings multi-talented impressionist Bethany Owen to the stage at casino’s Celebrity Showroom for two shows, 3 and 7 p.m. As a performer, Bethany's list of TV, radio, stage and print credits is endless. Country Queens, a 60 to 75-minute one-woman show, produced by JRW Group Entertainment, Huntington Beach, California, created by the husband and wife team of Bethany Owen and Jim Whirlow, is currently touring across the US. This unique production celebrates the traditional, zany and fun side of country celebrity personalities through the use of comedic parody and vocal singing tributes. Owen continues to amaze audiences night-after-night with her incredible talent to mimic the human voice as she portrays her chosen celebrity character impressions, as well as, take on their look, body language and facial expressions. Her voice talent, then combined with hundreds of pounds of stage wardrobe, wigs, props, lighting, visual special effects and musical production equipment produces the full theatrical show version of Country Queens. In one performance, audiences experience tributes to some of the world’s greatest female country music artists of our time, including Tammy Wynette, Reba McEntire, Dolly Parton, Minnie Pearl, Faith Hill, Gretchen Wilson, Shania Twain, Patsy Cline, June Carter Cash, Loretta Lynn, Jeannie C. Riley, Lynn Anderson and Tanya Tucker, to even some wanna-be country legends like Cher, Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross and Liza Minnelli, in this non-stop, foot-stomping comedy and musical voice impressions stage show designed for the Casino, State Fair, Performance Art Theater and Corporate Special Event markets. Country Queens is an evening of comedy, music and pure entertainment for the whole family to enjoy, and a journey into the world of this extraordinary entertainer and female singing voice impressionist...Bethany Owen! Tickets on sale at San Felipe Casino Hollywood and .

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Reminders: Mistinguett presents entertainer Michael Ziegfeld at the Starbright Theatre in Sun City Summerlin, tonight, Saturday, August 11th at 7 p.m.

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Michael Ziegfeld

Neil Diamond

These are great days, and nights, for Neil Diamond. Across a musical career spanning nearly five decades, Neil Diamond has sold more than 125 million albums worldwide, with a remarkable track record of 16 Top Ten albums, and 37 Top Ten singles. A Grammy Award-winning artist, Neil Diamond has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Songwriter's Hall of Fame, is a recipient of the Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement Award and was a 2011 Kennedy Center Honoree. Among Diamond's many other honors, he has received a Golden Globe Award, 12 Grammy nominations and was named the 2009 MusiCares Person of the Year. Last night, August 10th, Rob Garrett did his third annual Hot August Night tribute to the 71-year-young rock and pop icon in The Club at the Cannery in North Las Vegas. If the room, set up to seat a little more than 500 people for the performance, wasn’t sold out, it was darn close. Obviously Neil Diamond and Rob Garrett have a healthy fan base. Tonight, August 11th, and again on the 16th of this month, the real Diamond returns to Los Angeles’ Greek Theatre to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the original Hot August Night. In the summer of 1971, Diamond played seven sold-out nights at the famed Greek Theatre to a wildly enthusiastic reception. The following August, he returned for 10 more sold-out shows, an event forever captured on the multi-platinum Hot August Night, a double-record set that demonstrated once and for all Diamond's growing status as a superstar concert sensation. The original Hot August Night recording from the Greek Theatre concerts was one of Diamond's most successful albums worldwide, living at the No. 1 spot on the charts for 29 weeks. It is one of the most celebrated and acknowledged albums of his career, and arguably one of the greatest live albums ever recorded. Tickets for this concert, which are probably completely sold out, ranged in price from $49 to $250. Also, last night, August 10th, Diamond received the 2,475th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in celebration of the 40th anniversary of his groundbreaking Hot August Night live album. Neil’s star is located in front of the Capitol Records Building in Los Angeles.

For those in the Las Vegas area, Neil Diamond returns to the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday, September 1st, where he will wind up a three month summer road tour. Tickets are

$139, plus $13.45 handling fee; $89, plus $11.15 handling fee; and $49, plus $9.05 handling fee (all prices inclusive of Live Entertainment Tax). The MGM Grand Garden Arena is home to concerts, championship boxing and premier sporting and special events. The Arena offers comfortable seating for as many as 16,800 people with excellent sightlines and state-of-the-art acoustics, lighting and sound. Grand Garden Ticket Office open from 9:00am - 9:00pm, daily.

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Look for follow-up information on the Composers Showcase latest event, along with details on the farewell to late comic impressionist, Babe Pier, next week.

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