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 September 28, 2012
You can find the current column HERE


Las Vegas - September 28, 2012


Andy Williams

Donny Osmond & Dennis Rich by Ed Foster

Singer Andy Williams passed away at his home in Branson, Missouri, on Tuesday, September 25th, following a one year battle with bladder cancer. He was 84. Howard Andrew Williams was born December 3, 1927, in Wall Lake, Iowa. During his long career, Andy recorded 18 Gold and three Platinum certified albums. He had his own TV variety show from 1962 to 1971, in which he performed with the likes of Michael Jackson, Bobby Darin, Ray Charles, Elton John, Linda Ronstadt, Ella Fitzgerald, Simon & Garfunkel, Mama Cass, Shirley Bassey, Bing Crosby, Dusty Springfield, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin, Carpenters, Jack Benny, Bette Davis, Dean Martin, Julie Andrews, Bob Hope, Ronald Reagan and many other superstars. It was on his TV show, that Andy introduced the world to the young singing Osmond family. Andy himself, got his musical start as a youngster, performing with his three older brothers, Bob, Don and Dick. Williams' popular annual TV holiday specials, earned him the nickname of "Mr. Christmas." Andy had a long association with Las Vegas. He was the first headliner to play Caesars Palace, launching the brand new Circus Maximus showroom in August of 1966. In more recent years, he performed his Christmas show at the Las Vegas Hilton, lastly in December 2010. Former Las Vegan, impressionist Bob Anderson, who had worked with Williams many times over the years, was part of Andy's Hilton holiday shows. Like Andy Williams, Anderson has called Branson home for a number of years. Williams opened the Andy Williams Moon River Theatre in the popular Missouri tourist town in 1992, and continued to perform there until recently. In 2007, Andy released I Don't Remember Ever Growing Up, an album done in collaboration with the magnificent arranger, Artie Butler, who also wrote the beautiful title track. At almost 80, Andy Williams was still in amazingly good voice. Deana Martin's 2011 holiday album, White Christmas, includes a duet with Williams on the title track. During Wednesday night's Donny and Marie Show at the Flamingo, in honor of Williams, Donny Osmond, performed an emotional version of "Moon River." Donny frequently paid tribute to his mentor. In September of last year, Donny made an unannounced appearance at Dennis Rich's Cast Party, held at Alexis Park, where the singer charmed the audience with a lovely rendition of "Moon River." Andy Williams is survived by his wife, Debbie, and his three children, Robert, Noelle and Christian.

And speaking of Deana Martin, the talented daughter of the legendary Dean Martin will perform her Christmas show here in the Cabaret Jazz room at The Smith Center, with shows on Friday and Saturday, December 14th and 15th at 7 p.m., and Sunday, December 16th at 2 p.m. Ticket prices range from $37 to $59. We will have more details on The Deana Martin Christmas Show as we get closer to the holidays.


Deana Martin

Wes Winters

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We spent last Saturday night (and Sunday morning, thanks to a teasing video poker machine) at the South Point We had early dinner in the Coronado Café (we recommend the Eggs Benedict, prepared with Sautéed Filet Medallions of beef in lieu of Canadian Bacon), with two lovely ladies, before heading to the Grandview Lounge to see the multi-talented Wes Winters, who performs there on Friday and Saturday nights, from 6 to 9 p.m. Most people know that Wes plays piano, which he did for more than five years in the cabaret at the Liberace Museum. What they may not know, is that he also plays the guitar and the accordion. As a singer, Winters does his own rendition of songs made famous by everyone from Ray Charles, Bobby Darin, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis (sometimes, donning dark glasses and sideburns), to Michael Buble. Of course, Liberace is also recognized. Highlights of Wes' performances include George Gershwin and Phantom of the Opera piano medleys, which always earn the entertainer well-deserved, genuine standing ovations. It is apparent that Winters loves what he does...so much so, that he doesn't take a break during the three hours at the South Point. For you folks in the northwest part of the city, good news. Beginning next Tuesday, October 2nd, in addition to his Friday and Saturday night shows at the South Point, Wes will also be performing weekly in the intimate Addison's Lounge at the Rampart. Busy. Busy. By the way, on New Year's Eve, Wes Winters will be the opening act for Frankie Avalon at the South Point.

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Ben Stone

Jeff Hobson

Paul Stone's World Stars of Magic returns to Las Vegas, and the Gold Coast Hotel & Casino showroom, for a very limited engagement, Thursday, October 4th, through Sunday, the 7th. Hosted by charismatic British singer/magician, Ben Stone, the production will feature Sos and Victoria Petrosyan, the incredible multi award-winning "New Generation of Quick Change illusionists;" hilarious Jeff Hobson; the Magical Hands of Christopher Hart; and amazing illusionists, Kyle and Mistie Knight. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are only $24.95 plus tax. Locals get two for one with proper ID. Call (702) 251-3574 for reservations. Tickets may also be purchased at the Gold Coast gift shop, or online at www.goldcoastcasino.com. This very well might be the weekend's best entertainment bargain in all of Las Vegas.


Sos & Victoria

Christopher Hart

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This week's much publicized birth and death of the six-day-old panda at the Washington Zoo, reminded us of something that took place in the Las Vegas of the '80s. Here is the tale.
We were approached by a relative newcomer to the community, who wanted us to do publicity for a magic show that he was going to producing here. The young man had the gift of gab, and laid on the charm...maybe a little too heavily. We were a bit skeptical, but agreed to a meeting at his office to hear his pitch. This fellow told us that he was going to produce a magic show in Las Vegas. It was to star a handsome young magician named Kirby Van Burch, and, according to this smooth talker, the production was going to have an illusion that would outdo anything audience members had ever seen. What was the illusion? A vanishing baby panda, he told us. We could hardly keep from laughing, but this guy was serious. He was also lying. In 2005, there were only nine pandas in the entire United States - one newborn at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C.; two at Zoo Atlanta in Georgia, two at the Memphis Zoo in Tennessee, and four at southern California's San Diego Zoo - and this guy was going to have a baby panda in a show in Las Vegas? Who was he trying to kid? The magic show did open here, at the now gone Landmark. It was called Magic, Magic (we called it Tragic, Tragic). As we did, Van Burch figured out what/who he was dealing with, and pulled out of the show before it opened. Dirk Arthur became the headliner. The REAL star of Magic, Magic, was the late Michael Darrin, who designed the costumes and choreographed the show, using the talented Michael Darrin Dancers. As is his history, the show's producer, a Florenz Ziegfeld wannabe, didn't pay his bills at the Landmark, so he and his cast of dancers, musicians and performers, were locked out of the place. The innocent dancers and musicians lost personal property that they were never able to collect. Over the years, the scoundrel came and went from Las Vegas. In a hit and run-like pattern (running, when things got too hot for him around here), he was involved with projects including the interactive Ba Da Bing; a revue at the Maxim (now the Westin on East Flamingo) called Calendar Girls, where he teamed up with Joe Jackson (yes, THAT Joe Jackson); and another revue called The Great Pretenders, that, if memory serves me right, was at the Dunes. At an event we attended in June, we were shocked to see this person, that we thought had abandoned Las Vegas for pastures where maybe his reputation was unknown. Unfortunately, although he had fled the scene of his crimes over the years, this scam artist is back in Las Vegas. Maybe he thinks the old-timers have short memories, moved away or died. Too bad, Ben Morgan, there are folks around here with good and mostly clear memories when it comes to characters like you. Looking a little worse for wear, it seems that Morgan, is up to his old tricks... embellishing his history with exaggerated claims and/or trying to impress anyone who will listen. This fellow needs to come with a Warning Label, and this is it.


Kyle & Mistie Knight

Barbra Streisand

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Tickets are on sale for Barbra Streisand's Friday, November 2nd, appearance at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Barbra has earned 10 Grammys, including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement and Grammy Legend Awards, 51 gold albums, 30 platinum albums and 13 multi-platinum albums. She was also a Kennedy Center honoree in 2008. According to the Recording Industry Artists of America (RIAA), Streisand is the No. 1 bestselling female recording artist in history, and the only woman to make the Top 10 all-time bestselling artists list. Appearing with her are trumpet player, Chris Botti, and Il Volo, a trio of Italian operatic pop teenage tenors. Show starts at 8 p.m., with doors opening at 6:30. Ticket prices are, $753.00 ($38.35 handling fee), $553.00 ($31.15 handling fee), $453.00 ($24.15 handling fee), $253.00 ($24.15 handling fee), $178.00 ($16.70 handling fee), and $93.00 ($11.15 handling fee). Hey, folks, it's Barbra Streisand!

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After 10 years of looking for the right home, Cockroach Theatre recently celebrated the opening of its own space at the Art Square Theatre, 1025 S. 1st Street, near East Charleston and South Main, downtown. An intimate 99-seat theater, Art Square occupies one corner of Brett Wesley's artSQUARE complex. The new theater's premiere production is Nurture, written by Johnna Adams and directed by Jason Goldberg. According to Cockroach Theatre president, Will Adamson, the winner of the 2012 Sin City New Play Contest, Nurture tells the story of the awkward romance between Cheryl (Francine Gordon) and Doug (Erik Amblad), and their tenuous relationship with their children. It starts in standard Everybody Loves Raymond territory, but has more real laughs per minute than your average sitcom. Then, one line at a time, the play takes you further and further into absurdist comedy worthy of Durang. It delves deep into the fears, even horrors, of parenthood, but ends in a hopeful, accepting place. It's also incredibly not safe for children. It's grown-up theater of the energy and caliber you won't see anyplace else in Las Vegas. Nurture plays at 8 p.m., Thursdays through Sundays, through October 7th. Tickets are $15-$18. Contact cockroachtheatre.com.

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Mistinguett Productions is proud to present Variety Showcase, the first in a series that feature some of the most talented entertainers in Las Vegas. Starring the beautiful Mistinguett Showgirls, Stacy Law, Lisa Kunz, Jacquline Koenig, Lou De Meis, Gabriella Versace, Enrique Lugo and his dance company, Bob Markworth, Jason Byrne, Greg Vaccariello, and more surprises, at the Starbright Theatre in Sun City Summerlin. Ten acts in 80-minutes...all in one dazzling show. Producer, Mistinguett, guarantees that this show will have something to please everybody. Mark your calendars now for this very special afternoon, Sunday, October 7th, at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15 for Sun City Summerlin residents, and $18 for non-residents. Starbright shows are cash or check only. Tickets can be purchased in person at Pinnacle Community Center (240-1301), Desert Vista Community Center (363-1341) and Mountain Shadows Community Center (966-1410), in Sun City Summerlin. The Starbright Theatre is located at 2215 Thomas Ryan Blvd, in the hills of Summerlin. For additional information, call (702) 240-1301.


Gabriella Versace

Gary Anderson

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Reminders...
This Sunday, September 30th, it's the Lighthouse Tribute performance for the Jazz Society at Winchester Park. The Lighthouse Tribute band features the West Coast Cool music of Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-Stars, with Tom Hall, Gary Anderson, Steve Flora, Cocho Arbe and John Plows, plus some special guests. The event is from 1 to 5 p.m. The Lighthouse Tribute will play a 55-minute set beginning at 1, and will be followed by The Boneheads and Cocho Arbe's Latin Quintet. The concert is FREE and open to the public. Food and beverages (beer, wine and soft drinks) will be for sale, or you can bring your own. You can also bring lawn chairs and blankets for the "mosh pit." Looks to be an outstanding afternoon of great music. It is suggested that you get there early. Winchester Park is behind the Winchester Community Center on Pecos/McLeod just north of Desert Inn.


Society of Seven

The Society of Seven with American Idol finalist, Jasmine Trias, continue in the Starlite Theatre at the Riviera, nightly except for Tuesdays and Wednesdays. For reservations to the music and comedy revue, call (702) 794-9433.


Jasmine Trias

Brian Keith

And female impersonator, Brian Keith, continues his run, filling in for vacationing host, Frank Marino, in Divas Las Vegas at the Imperial Palace, through next Thursday, October 4th. The entertaining shows are at 10 p.m., dark on Fridays.

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From Andy Propst of TheaterMania...Alton Fitzgerald White's second solo album, Disney: My Way!, will be available for purchase and digital download starting October 1st. The 13 track recording will feature such classic Disney songs as "Santa Fe" (from Newsies), "Feed the Birds" (from Mary Poppins), "They Live in You" (from The Lion King), "Fortune Favors the Brave" (from Aida), "If I Can't Love Her" (from Beauty and the Beast), "Strangers Like Me" (from Tarzan), and "A Whole New World" (from Aladdin). White, who portrayed Mufasa in Disney's The Lion King when it played in Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay, is once again starring as Mufasa in The Lion King, playing at Broadway's Minskoff Theatre. Among Alton's other Broadway credits are The Color Purple, Ragtime, The Who's Tommy, and Miss Saigon.

In the liner notes for the new recording, Thomas Schumacher, president of the Disney Theatrical Group, says, "Listening to 'Disney My Way!' is, for me, a visit with old friends. First up, of course, is the spectacular Alton Fitzgerald White - actor, singer, and gentleman. A long-time member of the Disney Theatrical family, Alton is well known to our audiences on Broadway, in Las Vegas, and across America as King Mufasa from The Lion King. He is an actor of extraordinary craft, and is blessed with a stunning voice. Alton is joined on this collection of songs by the great Jim Abbott, who has guided the music on Disney projects in New York and around the world, including Phil Collins' Tarzan and Elton John & Tim Rice's Aida. His arrangements and orchestrations heard on this recording are spot-on. And finally, my friends represented here are the songwriters, and their songs, to which Alton brings his fresh and surprising take."


Alton Fitzgerald White

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The whimsical world of Dr. Seuss comes alive for one more weekend at the Henderson Pavilion, with multiple performances of Seussical the Musical, presented by RagTag Entertainment and Music Theatre International (MTI). Tickets are only $10. Seussical, written by Tony winners Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, and co-conceived by Eric Idle, is based on the books by the popular children's author. The all-ages Broadway musical, directed by Ben Loewy, follows Horton the Elephant and his many adventures, meeting other Seussian characters like Mayzie La Bird, Gertrude McFuzz and JoJo along the way. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit HendersonLive.com, call (702) 267-4TIX (4849). Shows through Sunday, September 30th, at 8 p.m. The Henderson Pavilion is located at 200 S. Green Valley Parkway.

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Christine Andreas seduces her audience with an honesty, integrity, self-deprecating wit and scent of sexuality that would make anyone gladly fly to the moon with her. She can swing from sensual soprano to killer queen in a heartbeat, and from the White House to the Great White Way. Ms. Andreas first captured the hearts of Broadway theatergoers as Eliza Doolittle in the 20th anniversary production of My Fair Lady, for which she won the Theatre World Award. She went on to star in Oklahoma and On Your Toes (receiving Tony nominations for each), The Scarlet Pimpernel and, just last season, La Cage Aux Folles. During 2006 and 2007, she received rave reviews in the national tour of The Light in the Piazza. In November 2006, Ms. Andreas performed her one woman show in Las Vegas at the Charleston Heights Arts Center. If you happen to be in New York, on the next two Mondays, October 1st and 8th, at 7 p.m., Christine will perform at 54 Below, described as Broadway's nightclub, located in Manhattan at 254 West 54th Street, between Broadway & Eighth Avenue. There is a $30-$40 cover, plus $25 minimum food and beverage minimum. To purchase tickets, call (866) 468-7619.


Christine Andreas

Liberace

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And the saga surrounding the remnants of the late Liberace continues, with this latest news. A story in Tuesday's Las Vegas Sun by Dave Toplikar, the journalist states...
Liberace Foundation faces lawsuit over $1.9 million loan
The non-profit foundation behind the closed Liberace Museum in Las Vegas is being sued by creditors seeking payment on the remainder of a 20-year, $1.9 million loan. U.S. Bank National Association has filed a complaint in Clark County District Court asking for a receiver to be appointed for the property owned by the Liberace Foundation for the Performing and Creative Arts and Liberace Plaza LLC. The creditors say the Liberace Foundation has defaulted several times, including failing to make a Feb. 1 payment and all payments after that.

The museum, 1775 E. Tropicana Ave., was closed to the public Oct. 17, 2010, after 31 years of operation. Attendance had dropped from a high of about 450,000 a year to under 50,000.

The foundation owns the plaza the museum shares with businesses in the strip mall on the southwest corner of Tropicana Avenue and Spencer Street. According to court documents, the holders of the note are asking the court to appoint a receiver to manage and protect the museum and mall property. The foundation borrowed $1.9 million on May 15, 2000, which was secured by a deed of trust. The note is now owned by U.S. Bank. Monthly payments were to have continue on the first day of each month through June 1, 2020. Court documents say the collateral on the loan includes "all goods building and other materials, supplies equipment, machinery, fixtures, furniture, furnishings" as well as trade names and trademarks. The bank issued a notice of default on Aug. 21, then issued a notice of acceleration Aug. 29. The lender also issued a default notice Sept. 19.

As we have suggested before, poor Liberace must be spinning in his grave.

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The Las Vegas Clark County Library District has apparently seen the errors of its recent decision to increase the fees to rent theater space, as they have decided to keep the lower facility use fees in place. The library board lowered the rates after performers and groups complained about the impact the cost was having on their productions. The board revised the rates that have been in place since spring and settled on new ones. According to what we have read, the hourly rental for its theaters is now $40, down from $170. The cost for technicians will be $35 through September 2013 and will increase to $40 through September 2014. Security will cost $15. The deposit, put up when a theater is reserved, is now 50 percent or $7,500, whichever is lower. All of the fees went into effect immediately.

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Italian American Social Club

The next meeting of the F.I.O.R.E. group, on Thursday, October 11th, will NOT be held at the Italian American Club, as it has been for quite some time. Unfortunately, the 52-year-old East Sahara social club is having some financial issues that they are trying to resolve. It may take some time. In the interim, the October meeting will be held at the Top Dog, 6390 West Sahara, just east of Torrey Pines. We will have more details next Friday.

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Las Vegas foodies will be delighted to learn that the popular Rosemary's restaurant, that closed in July, due to the difficult economic times, will rise again, this time as part of downtown's newest resident, the Las Vegas Shakespeare Company, the home of the city's first permanent, professional theater company. This will be part of the $45 million Reed Whipple Cultural Center. The 35,000 square foot center will be expanded to house a state of the art 499-seat theatre and rehearsal space, as well as the Bard Lounge, Opportunity Village Fine Art gallery, and the return of Chef Michael Jordan's Rosemary's Café.

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As the owner, with his wife Rita Bliss, of Las Vegas' DuBarry Fashions, "Where Fashion and Entertainment Meet," singer Derek David knows a lot about jewels. He has discovered a real gem in singer John Garafalo. David is so impressed with the vocalist, he has put his money where his mouth is, and produced a CD for Garafalo. For his debut recording, David and Garafalo have chosen "Nessun Dorma," from the opera, Turandot, by Giacomo Puccini. We have heard Garafalo's version, and it is wonderful. Look out Andrea Bocelli!


John Garafalo

Don Rickles

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Celebrated entertainer and Las Vegas legend, Don Rickles, brings his one-of-a-kind comedy back to The Orleans Showroom, October 6th and 7th. Having earned the nicknames "The Merchant of Venom" and "Mr. Warmth," (the latter coined affectionately by Johnny Carson), Rickles' style of comedy is never mean-spirited and all part of his act. It has been said that being "zinged" by Rickles is like "wearing a badge of honor." Rickles took his first step toward national fame in 1957, when the comic spotted Frank Sinatra in the audience at a nightclub in Miami Beach. The still-unknown Rickles eyed Sinatra and said, "I just saw your movie, 'The Pride and the Passion,' and I want to tell you, the cannon was great. Make yourself at home, Frank. Hit somebody." Sinatra, whose pet name for Rickles was "bullet-head," enjoyed Rickles so much, that he returned to see him when he was performing in Los Angeles, and encouraged other celebrities to see his act. Rickles soon became the "in" comic among Hollywood stars, who flocked to see him to become a target of his insults. Sinatra's continuing support helped Rickles become a popular performer in Las Vegas, where he first started in 1959, and has been a headliner ever since. Over the decades, Rickles' unparalleled career has never missed a beat. While making his mark in movies, television, theater and recordings, Rickles has remained a master of nightclub comedy with a continuing love affair with live audiences. In addition to keeping live audiences laughing, Rickles' still-growing television and film resume includes roles in Casino, Kelly's Heroes, The Rat Race, all three Toy Story films, HBO's Tales From the Crypt, TNT's The Wool Cap, and Bravo's My Life on the D-List, with Kathy Griffin. In 2011, he made a surprise appearance in a "cliff-hanger" episode as the "thought to be dead" husband of Betty White's character on the TV Land comedy, Hot In Cleveland. Later in the year, he returned to the show for the "payoff." He recently appeared on Showtime's new series, Inside Comedy, where fellow comedian, David Steinberg, interviewed him. Rickles has received two Primetime Emmy® Awards, including Best Individual Performance in a Variety or Musical for the 2008 HBO special, Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project. In 2009, cable network TV Land honored Rickles with the "Legend Award." Rickles' best-selling memoir, Rickles' Book, was released in 2007, and was followed up with the 2008 title, Rickles' Letters. In addition to recurring dates in Las Vegas at The Orleans, Rickles continues to be a popular performer in venues throughout the country. Opening for Rickles at The Orleans is "The People's Tenor," Michael Amante, whose four-octave vocal range and multilingual abilities (English, Italian, Spanish, French, German, Latin and Polish) have set him apart from other vocalists. Amante has starred in numerous musicals, including Grease, West Side Story, and Jesus Christ Superstar. Showtime each evening is 8 p.m. Tickets start at $79.95, plus tax and convenience fees, and can be purchased at any Coast Casinos Box Office, by calling (702) 365-7075, or visiting www.orleanscasino.com.

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Buddy Guy

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has announced the selection of the seven individuals who will receive the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors. Recipients to be honored at the 35th annual national celebration of the arts are: bluesman Buddy Guy, who appeared here at The Smith Center in May; actor and director Dustin Hoffman; comedian and television host David Letterman; ballerina Natalia Makarova; and rock band Led Zeppelin members, keyboardist/bassist John Paul Jones, guitarist Jimmy Page, and singer Robert Plant, will each receive the Kennedy Center Honors. The annual Honors Gala will take place on December 2nd, and is scheduled to air on CBS, December 26th.

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