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 January 04, 2013
You can find the current column HERE


Las Vegas - January 4, 2013



Brody Dolyniuk

Providence is kind. Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street returns to the Onyx Theatre, with performances starting tonight and running through January 20th. Off-Strip Productions' own intimate, fully staged, innovative rendition of Sondheim's Musical Thriller returns to the stage due to popular demand. Once again combining professional live musicians with a powerhouse local cast, they tell this tragic tale the way it deserves to be told. Don't miss this second and final chance to be among the ghosts of Fleet Street as you witness murder, incest, and cannibalism set to music - an "in your face" experience you can only get at Las Vegas's premiere indie art house, the Onyx Theatre. The cast includes Kellie Wright, Chris Mayse/Glenn Heath, Troy Tinker, Kim Glover, Randy Brown, Alexa Freeman, Scott Gibson-Uebele, Bill Flynn, Michael Drake/Alex Mendoza, Cynthia Abney, Don Leonard, Amy Jill Solomon, and Mike Pemberton. The Creative team features the designs, direction and talents of Zoë Kohen Ley, Isaias Hiram Urrabazo, David Sankuer, Chris Lash, Kelli Jean Groskopf, Dustin Scott, Brandon Burk and more. This is truly a collaborative community effort you won't want to miss... again! Critics describe the Onyx Theatre's production, saying...
"...scary, funny and surprisingly tender... restores your faith in American musicals, as well as local artists' ability to do them justice." (Las Vegas Review Journal)
"Burk and the superbly talented group of actors, musicians and set designers pulled it off, transforming a simple square of dark space into terrifically gruesome Fleet Street... the performance delivered a triumphant and always-welcome injection of excitement and enthusiasm into Vegas' community theatre scene." ~Kelle Schillaci (Las Vegas CityLife)
"This production is worth a trip to Las Vegas. And for Sweeney aficionados, this is a must-see production. I was in seventh heaven." ~Robert Rusie (TalkinBroadway.com)
"Burk and his comrades made good on Stephen Sondheim's original hope that the work be intimately staged... Hopefully, people will get wise and treat themselves to a surprisingly good production of a unique musical." ~Molly O'Donnell

Show times are at 8 p.m., tonight and tomorrow, as well as January 10th, 11th, 12th, 17th, 18th and 19th, and at 2 p.m. on Sundays, the 6th, 13th and 20th. Admission is $25 in advance, and $30 at the door. Call (702) 732-7225, or go to www.onyxtheatre.com to purchase tickets. The Onyx is located in Commercial Center, at 953 E. Sahara, Suite B16 inside The Rack.

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They are calling it Our Town for Newtown - A Concert for Sandy Hook. On Sunday, January 6th, Las Vegas entertainers will come together to raise money for the families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims. As 2012 comes to a close, this tragedy will stand out as one of the most horrific events of the year. On December 14th, 20 children (ages 5 through 7), and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, were fatally shot by a gunman, who had also killed his mother at her home, and then himself as first responders arrived at the scene. The massacre is the second-deadliest school shooting in United States history, after the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, and the second-deadliest mass murder at an American elementary school. All proceeds from the fundraising concert will be channeled via The Maddux Foundation (Greg and Kathy Maddux) and directed into an existing account set up in Newtown by The United Way. Brody Dolyniuk, former Las Vegas resident and entertainer, in conjunction with The Maddux Foundation, and Station Casinos, will host the event at Boulder Station's Railhead showroom, from 4 to 8 p.m. The concert will feature a host of local bands, headliners and solo artists, including: The Fab (Beatles tribute), Lon Bronson All-Star Band, Rick Duarte (Strung Out Sessions), Paul Shortino (Quiet Riot, Rough Cut), Bella Electric Strings, Chris Phillips (Zowie Bowie), The Las Vegas Tenors, Lorena Peril (Fantasy), Michelle Johnson (The Platters) with John Wedemeyer on guitar, Brent Muscat (Faster Pussycat, Sin City Sinners), Michael Cavanaugh (Broadway's Movin' Out), Yellow Brick Road, Zeppelin USA (Led Zeppelin Tribute), and a choir made up of children and adults, put together by Michelle Johnson. A minimum donation of $10 is requested for the all-age (under 21, admitted with adult) concert. Additional donations will be accepted inside the showroom or via United Way's website at https://newtown.uwwesternct.org/.

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Esteban & Teresa Joy

Esteban's first week in the Shimmer Cabaret at the Las Vegas Hotel (formerly the Las Vegas Hilton) did impressive numbers. The master guitarists' Thursday and Friday shows generated standing ovations from the enthusiastic crowd. He, along with his daughter, violinist Teresa Joy, are back this weekend, through tomorrow, Saturday, January 5th, with performances at 8:30 p.m. Esteban's musical selections run the gamut from Flamenco, pop, Broadway, classical guitar favorites, to Beatles and Elvis Presley medleys, offering something for everyone. Esteban has signed a three month contract with LVH, where he will appear every Thursday and Friday evening, as well as on select Saturdays. Tickets for Music From the Heart are $37.85 and $48.85, with tickets for locals with proper ID priced at $26.85. For reservations, call the LVH box office at (800) 222-5361 at the Las Vegas Hotel, 3000 Paradise Road

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For all you Elvis fans, Opportunity Village will be celebrating Elvis Presley's birthday with a free special performance in the multi-purpose room at the Engelstadt Campus, 6050 S. Buffalo Drive, on Tuesday, January 8th. In honor of Elvis's birthday, the Opportunity Village Dance Troupe, the OV Elvi, and Elvis impersonator, Jesse Garon, will perform. The 11 a.m. show will open with the Opportunity Village Roaring Thunder percussion team, and will showcase the clients of Opportunity Village dressed as Elvis while performing some of The King's signature dance moves and singing backup vocals to his popular songs. The finale will feature Jesse Garon and the OV Elvi performing Elvis Presley's smash hit, "Blue Suede Shoes." As the official manufacturer of Elvis' scarves, Opportunity Village will have scarves created by its clients on display at the performance. The Opportunity Village Engelstad Campus is undergoing some construction, so it is suggested that visitors please enter facility from Patrick Lane.


Elvis Presley

Leigh Zimmerman in A Chorus Line

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On February 2nd, Broadway's former longest running musical, A Chorus Line, opens a five month run at the famed London Palladium. Michael Bennett's nine-time Tony Award-winning production will preview from Saturday February 2nd, and will hold its all-singing, all-dancing press night on Tuesday, the 19th of February. The forthcoming production is set to be the first revival of A Chorus Line since it premiered in London in 1976, winning itself an Olivier Award for Best New Musical. The show will be directed by West End veteran, Bob Avian, who co-choreographed the original '70s production. The revival will feature some of the musicals most celebrated show numbers such as "I Can Do That," "I Hope I Get It," "What I Did for Love," "Nothing," and of course, "One (Singular Sensation)." The show will be a fitting tribute to A Chorus Line's original composer, Marvin Hamlisch, who sadly passed away in August 2012. Hamlisch was a great friend of the London Palladium theatre owner, Andrew Lloyd Webber.

The arrival of A Chorus Line at the London Palladium follows a 19-month long run of the Wizard of Oz and a seasonal production of Scrooge. John Partridge will portray the tyrannical director, Zach. Appearing as Zach's on again-off again girlfriend, Cassie, will be Scarlett Strallen, who is currently leading the cast of Singin' in the Rain at the Palace Theatre. After starring in Flashdance the musical, Victoria Hamilton-Barritt will play Diana. And Las Vegan, Leigh Zimmerman, returns to the West End as Sheila, an aging diva, after appearing on Broadway as Velma Kelly in Chicago the Musical. Leigh, who is the wife of entertainer Domenick Allen, played the role of Ulla in the Vegas production of Mel Brooks' The Producers. Leigh and Domenick are the parents of talented Cayleigh Capaldi, who turned 13 yesterday, January 3rd.

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The next F.I.O.R.E. meeting takes place at the Italian American Club, 2333 E. Sahara, 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, January 10th. President Nelson Sardelli reminds us that it is time to come up with annual dues for 2013. Presidents pay $25, First Ladies $10, and Unattached Ladies (Ambassadors) $15. Widows of former presidents are always guests of F.I.O.R.E. New husbands or boy friends are on their own. ID badges (optional but cool) are $15. January's guest speaker, President Harley Akers (who selected the accompanying photo), is no stranger to conflict. For more than 45 years, he has covered and reported the news as a television anchorman, journalist, cameraman, writer and field producer. As a war correspondent, for International News Service based in Paris, France, he covered the Bosnian war in the Balkans, the invasion of Iraq, the liberation of Kuwait and was imbedded with U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has reported from battles in almost all Middle-Eastern countries including Syria. Throughout his stellar career, he has endured dangerous, life-threatening situations and daring escapes to get the story out, writing and producing for CNN, CBS, ABC, Fox News, Paris Match, Le Monde, Paris Times and Der Speigel as well as International News Service. In 2003 and again in 2012 he was honored by his peers receiving the Distinguished International Journalist Award which was presented to him in Geneva, Switzerland. When he is not in some war torn country looking for a shave, shower, and decent meal, he resides in Las Vegas with his wife Gail where he has lived for over 35 years. While in Las Vegas, he has been a local TV news anchor on 3 stations, news director for CBS radio and host of a PBS TV show. In addition he was advertising spokesman for two west coast car dealerships and director of public relations, publicity and advertising for the MGM Grand Corporation. Harley Akers has also read many books, some of them in hardcover.
It is a must that everyone - longtime and new members - read the "About Us" page on the F.I.O.R.E. web site, to know and understand what the organization is, and isn't, all about.


Nelson Sardelli & Harley Akers

Marty Allen, Gordie Brown, Nelson Sardelli & Lou Toomin

Monthly buffet luncheons cost a measly $25, and RSVPs are necessary to prevent fighting over a meatball or dinner roll. Please contact [email protected], and/or [email protected]. Check out the site at WWW.NONCLUBCLUBFIORE.COM. Spread the word.

That Nelson Sardelli sure gets around. On a recent night, we spotted him, along with his friends, veteran funnyman, Marty Allen, part-time politico Lou Toomin, and the Nugget's headlining comic/impressionist Gordie Brown, having dinner at the Golden Nugget's Vic & Anthony's following Gordie's show. "We had a great night," said Sardelli. "Fantastic show. Great meal at Vic & Anthony's. Great conversation. Marty had not stayed up that late since his Bar Mitzvah."

And still speaking of Sardellis...this time, Nelson's daughter, theater director, Giovanna Sardelli. Giovanna is already booked for most of 2013, and already has two off-Broadway plays lined up. One opens in March, and her proud papa plans to be there when the curtain goes up. We will have more about this in a few weeks.

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As of New Year's Day, Las Vegas has a new (old) television option available. Called COZI TV, this nostalgic programming - a mix of movies and popular series favorites including Marcus Welby M.D., Magnum P.I., Highway to Heaven, The Bionic Woman, Lassie, Charlie's Angels, The Roy Rogers Show and Hopalong Cassidy to name a handful - can be seen as part of the local NBC's offering on 3.2 (Broadcast), and 123 (COX cable). Within hours after going on the air here, we caught Southern Nevada resident, actress Beverly Washburn, on an episode of The Loan Ranger. A few hours later, she turned up on Antenna TVs Leave It to Beaver, as Wally's blind date. We have a feeling, that since Beverly made guest appearances on just about every TV series during the '50s, '60s and '70s, we will be seeing lots more of her on the tube. She started acting when she was five, so audiences can watch her blossom and bloom, while getting COZI.


Clayton Moore, Beverly Washburn & Bonita Granville

Beverly Washburn & Cookie

We send our sympathies to Ms. Washburn. A real animal lover (she and some of her pets were on the cover of Vegas Dog magazine), Beverly, who has been a Las Vegan since 1994, recently suffered the loss of her almost 15-year-old black Standard Poodle, Cookie. She did tell us that when she realized that aging Cookie had no more quality of life left, she learned of a service that will come to the home to euthanize a beloved pet in a comfortable, familiar setting - thus avoiding transporting a sick and frightened animal to the veterinarian's office. Beverly found the medically-trained owner to be a very compassionate man, and highly recommends the business to those who may need it. Find them at DoggyDoctor.com. Thank you for sharing this information, Beverly.

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Friends and fans can help celebrate singer Frankie Randall's 75th birthday on Friday, January 11th, when he appears with the Desert Symphony at The McCallum Theatre, in Palm Desert, California. Randall will perform selections from his songbook of classic arrangements orchestrated by Billy May, Marty Paich, Nelson Riddle, and others. For the first portion of the show, the Desert Symphony, conducted by Gary Berkson, will perform "Timeless Themes From The Films You Love." Showtime is at 8 p.m.


Frankie Randall

Four Queens Jackpot

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Twas the season to be jolly...at least for two lucky Las Vegas slot players. On Christmas Eve, an unidentified gambler, playing at the Four Queens downtown, hit a Millionaire Sevens machine for $1,352,715.27. And then, last Friday, December 28th, a Texas woman hit a $2,832,044.74 jackpot while playing a Money Madness MegaJackpots Bombs Away Bombshells progressive machine at Caesars Palace. IGT launched the MegaJackpots progressive line in 1986 with the introduction of the Megabucks slot game, and has since produced more than 1,400 millionaires and awarded more than $5 billion in jackpots. The biggest jackpot was more than $39 million won in March 2003 at the Excalibur in Las Vegas.

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Patti Page 1927-2013

Rat Pack is Back, Vegas

Patti Page, who made "Tennessee Waltz" one of the best-selling recordings ever, died in Encinitas, California, on New Year's Day. She was 85. Page was one of the top-selling female singers in history, achieving more than 100 million record sales, and created a distinctive sound for the music industry in 1947 by overdubbing her own voice when she didn't have enough money to hire backup singers for the single "Confess." She had 24 records in the top 10, including four that reached No. 1 ("Tennessee Waltz," "All My Love (Bolero)", "I Went to Your Wedding", and "(How Much Is That) Doggie in the Window"). In 1950, she had her first million-selling single "With My Eyes Wide Open, I'm Dreaming", and would eventually have 14 additional million-selling singles between 1950 and 1965. Page was one of the few traditional pop music singers who was able to sustain her success through the rock and role era, continuing to have major hits into the mid-1960s with "Old Cape Cod," "Allegheny Moon," "A Poor Man's Roses (Or a Rich Man's Gold)," and "Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte." Often introduced as "The Singin' Rage, Miss Patti Page," she was the first singer to have television programs on all three major networks, including The Patti Page Show on ABC. In 1997, Patti Page was inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame. Over the years, she made numerous appearances in Las Vegas, including at the Thunderbird, Desert Inn, Dunes, Frontier, Flamingo, Landmark, and Sands. In October of 2004, Patti, along with Jack Jones, Ben Vereen, Sheena Easton and Tempest Storm, was inducted into the Casino Legends Hall of Fame at the Tropicana Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. On Sunday, February 10th, Patti Page will be posthumously honored with the Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award. The 55th annual Grammy Awards special will air on CBS.

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Rat Pack is Back, New York

Ring-A-Ding-Ding. This New Years arrived in style, as Dick Feeney's Rat Pack is Back shows kicked off the merriment in three cities across the country. Now in its 15th year, the Rat Pack is Back remains the No. 1 show of its kind in the world, and the only Las Vegas-based show to receive an award from the United States Congress. Seen in the accompanying photos, at a private New Year's Eve event at Harrah's in Las Vegas, cast members, from left to right are: Kenny Jones as Sammy, Brian Duprey as Frank, Mark Cohen as Joey, and Mark Verabian as Dean. Appearing in New York at the Patchoque Theater, left to right: Johnny Edwards as Dean, Nicholas Brooks as Sammy, Robbie Howard as Frank, and Mickey Joseph as Joey. And appearing in St. Louis at the Lumiere Casino Hotel, were, left to right: Drew Anthony as Dean, Kyle Diamond as Sammy, Tom Wallek as Joey and Nick D'Egidio as Frank. Following vacation time in Las Vegas, The Rat Pack is Back returns to the Rio on January 14th, with performances nightly at 7 p.m. Call (702) 777-7776.


Rat Pack is Back, St. Louis

Susanne Forestieri

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According to an item we saw on the Internet, when Terry's away, the Boyz will play. During singer/ventriloquist Terry Fator's off-time from his gig at the Mirage, bestselling R&B group, Boyz II Men, will fill in for him at the Mirage's Terry Fator Theater. Boyz II Men will perform during some weekends in March 1 and through the end of December. Enterprising Adam Steck, of SPI Entertainment (Divas Las Vegas, starring Frank Marino at the Quad, the Excalibur's Thunder From Down Under and The Australian Bee Gees Show, and Mike Tyson's Undisputed Truth), is co-producing with Boyz II Men manager, Joe Mulvihill. Steck's Human Nature vocal group is moving into its new home at The Venetian on January 19th, following a multi-year run at the Imperial Palace (now the Quad).

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Downtown's TastySpace gallery presents Show #11, The Life Frenetic - Abstracts and Figurative Work of Susanne Forestieri. The showing opens tonight, First Friday, January 4th, and will be on view through Friday, January 25th. TastySpace, owned by Dana Satterwhite, is located inside the Emergency Arts Center at 520 E. Fremont Street at 6th. Tonight's hours are from 7 to 9 p.m.

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Songstress Renee Hale passes along this news. Last weekend, Renee's sister, Jodi Hale Fonfa, had a group of visiting friends at her home in The Ridges for brunch. Renee, and she and Jodi's mother, Eileen Hale (82), were also invited to attend the gathering. Turned out to be quite an interesting bunch. The other guests included Jodi's good friend, actress Debbie Allen (Fame), Debbie's hubby, retired NBA basketball player, Norm Nixon, and their children; Debbie's sister, Phylicia Rashad (The Cosby Show) and her children; Debbie and Phylicia's mother, 90-years-young, Vivian Ayers Allen; Grammy-winning singer, James Ingram ("I Don't Have the Heart," "One Hundred Ways"), his wife, also named Debbie, and their son. As part of the amazing afternoon, Ingram sat down at the piano and did a private serenade of his hit, "Just Once," for Renee, followed by an a cappella duet sung by he and Phylicia. Not surprisingly, Renee described the experience as "an inspirational day, with so much love and talent under one roof!" Wish we had been a fly on the wall for that musical get-together!
Photo caption for the Sisters picture(left to right): Phylicia Rashad, Renee Hale, Jodi Hale Fanfa and Debbie Allen.


Renee Hale & James Ingram

Two Sets of Sisters - Phylicia, Renee, Jodi & Debbie

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Marionette artiste, Anthony Rais, sends along this information. Mr. Rais, who makes his home in Southern Nevada, appears with circus performer, Stephanie Castellone, in a segment of a French documentary about Las Vegas called Echappees Belles. You can see the interesting look at many facets of the city online. Go to Echappées Belles - Du Grand Canyon à Las Vegas on YouTube.

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Mistinguett Productions presents Liza & Judy, Together Again, 7 p.m., Saturday, January 12th at the Starbright Theatre, 2215 Thomas Ryan Blvd. in Sun City Summerlin, and 3 p.m., Sunday, January 27th, at the Freedom Hall Theatre in Sun City Anthem. Suzanne Goulet as "Liza" and Denise Rose as "Judy" look, sing and dance like the legends they portray. You'll see a re-creation of "Get Happy" and "Swanee" from Judy's movies, plus Liza's famous "Bye Bye Blackbird." This mother-daughter duo will give you an evening you won't forget. Tickets for the Starbright Theatre, priced at $15 for Sun City residents, and $18 for non-residents, are on sale now at Desert Vista, Mountain Shadows and Pinnacle community centers. Tickets are on sale seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. All ticket sales are check or cash (exact change required). No credit cards accepted. The Starbright Theatre is wheelchair accessible and is equipped with listening devices for the hearing challenged. To obtain a listening device please ask at the Pinnacle Monitor Station. No one under the age of 12 is allowed in theatre. For up-to-date information on Starbright Theatre shows, call (702) 240-1301.
We will have more details about the Anthem show, closer to the 27th.


Suzanne Goulet & Denise Rose

Dangerous Curves Star of Wonder CD

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We received a musical holiday gift from the ladies of Dangerous Curves. Their new CD, Star of Wonder, contains 10 cuts - the title track "Star of Wonder," plus "Winter Wonderland," a devilish Karen Michaels doing "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch," Margaret Menzies lovely version of "Christ Child's Lullaby," "Man With the Bag" sung by jazzy Lisa Smith, "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear," "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/Breath of Heaven," the Christmas version of "Glow Worm," "Hallelujah Chorus" and "I'll Be Home for Christmas." Lots of three-part harmonies. Dan Ellis, Michael Gonzales and Trini Garza are the keyboard players, and Rob Hyatt did the recording and mixing work. Makes a great present, a little late for 2012, but nice and early for this year. Thank you, girls.



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