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 April 05, 2013
You can find the current column HERE

Las Vegas - April 5, 2013

Jason Graae & Faith Prince

Philip Fortenberry at Liberace's Piano

Faith Prince and Jason Graae, accompanied on the piano by John Boswell, put on two wonderful shows in the Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center last Friday and Saturday nights. These two award-winning entertainers do a bit of everything - a lot of singing (both humorous and heartfelt selections), a little dancing, comedy bits, and Graae even demonstrated his skill on the clarinet with a lovely version of Charlie Chaplin's "Smile," sung by Faith and played by himself. Songs from Falsettos, Monty Python's Spamalot, Chicago the Musical, On the Town, Company, Wicked, The Mad Show, and a collection of Jerry Herman creations, were among those featured. One number we had never heard before was called "In Excess," sung by Jason and written by Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond. It defies description. As they say, "You had to be there." We hope that when these two return to Las Vegas, whoever schedules their performances, plans a matinee show so that the local Strip entertainers can see be present. Having one nighttime show and one in the daytime, when the show folk could attend, instead of two when they are working themselves, just makes sense to us. But then, no one asked what we think

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The first video promoting HBO's upcoming Liberace biopic, Behind the Candelabra, with actor Michael Douglas portraying the showman, and Matt Damon as Scott Thorson, can now be seen on YouTube. Spoiler Alert: Although he doesn't get credit in the teaser, those graceful, piano-playing hands do not belong to Mr. Douglas. No sir. They belong to musician, Philip Fortenberrry. Philip, who played afternoons in a show called Liberace and Me at the Liberace Museum Cabaret (when there was a Liberace Museum and a Liberace Cabaret), is currently the associate conductor for Jersey Boys. Do they give out Academy Awards for stand-in hands?

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The 5th Annual Spring Fling Book Fair will take place in the Main Theater at the Clark County Library, 1401 E. Flamingo Road, on Saturday, April 6th, beginning at 11 a.m. About 100 local and regional authors will gather to discuss and sell their new releases and bestsellers. The fair will also feature a Hollywood writers' panel, a live psychic reading onstage with Las Vegas author and intuitive, Gregory Kompes, and a music concert with classical/jazz fusion artist, Shana Tucker. Among the writers expected to be present during the afternoon are actors Denny Miller, Lawrence Montaigne and Beverly Washburn, and veteran musician, Don Hill. Admission to the Book Fair is free, and the event is open to the public.

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Kevin James - Not the King of Queens


We hadn't heard or read anything about this show, until magic man, Kevin James, sent us some information about it. Tomorrow, Saturday April 6th at both 1 and 6 p.m., Baobad Stage at Town Square Las Vegas will present Aga-Boom, the Theater of Physical Comedy created by Cirque du Soliel veteran, Dimitri Bogatirev. "My friends Dima and Iryna are world class clowns and have a great show called Aga-Boom. They are bringing it to Las Vegas this Saturday, for two shows only. It is in an intimate setting, and the price is very reasonable. Do yourself a favor and catch it. It is very clever, funny and great for the whole family. It is all non verbal comedy, so bring anyone and everyone," suggests James. Rooted in the unique European theatrical style and universal language of clowning, Aga-Boom cuts through the barriers of language and culture with the art of slapstick, the humor of physical comedy and the delighted excitement of childhood. Aga-Boom is an interactive mayhem that carries audiences to the other side of the funhouse mirror, with outrageous zaniness and unrestrained laughter. This 75-minute explosion of pure family fun, for children and adults alike, is high energy, and like nothing you have ever seen before. Aga-Boom was nominated for an Ovation Award in the category of Best Touring Show, along with The Producers, 42nd Street, Lily Tomlin and Elaine Stritch. Aga-Boom has had successful engagements on Broadway, in San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles and Las Vegas a few years ago. The show has been critically acclaimed from coast-to-coast, and has thrilled and delighted audiences around the world, performing for more than 500,000 people in Japan, Mexico, Korea, Singapore, Russia, Chile and the United Arab Emirates. The New York Times calls Aga-Boom, "Pure family fun." The Baobab Stage is across from The Yard House at 6587 Las Vegas Blvd. So., in Town Square.
Tickets are only $20. To purchase, go to the Baobab Box Office, or call (702) 369-6649.

There are two entertainers, both with Vegas connections, named Kevin James, so sometimes it can get a little confusing. And if, like us, you wondered WHICH Kevin James - TV's The King of Queens, or the amazing, magical "Wizard of Odd" from America‘s Got Talent - was being promoted as having been a participant in previous Opportunity Village Celebrity Poker Tournament (neither the PR company handling the marketing for the fundraiser, or Opportunity Village itself, could tell us), we learned from the magic man himself, that, surprisingly, HE doesn't play poker, and it is the comic that does. Glad we got that cleared up. By the way, the 8th Annual Celebrity Poker Tournament takes place in the Caesars Palace poker room tomorrow.

And speaking of the Inventor/Comedy Illusionist/Storyteller/Collector of the Strange and Unusual, Kevin James, the Las Vegas resident is performing with a big touring magic show called The Illusionists. The show broke all box office records, when it opened at the Sydney Opera House a little more than a year ago. Kevin reports it is a very exciting project to be involved with. "We are produced by Simon Painter and Tim Lawson," he says. "Our agent is William Morris. It is seven top magicians, all performing their best material. Each performer has created a sexy, almost superhero-like character, for the show. The marketing looks like an Avengers or League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie poster. There are no high production, high quality touring magic shows now. We are handled by large concert promoters in very large venues. We sell out and get standing ovations. This May we will be going to New Zealand, then six weeks in Brazil. Later in the year we will hit Dubai, and then, in September, we will embark on a 20 week tour of Europe, starting on London's West End. We have a very hip live band that tours with us. We travel with three semi-trailers of equipment and 40 people in the cast and crew." In addition to Kevin James, some of the other performers traveling with The Illusionists production include, Andrew Basso, Bret Daniels, Philip Escoffey, Jeff Hobson, Mark Kalin, Joaquin Kotkin, Jinger Leigh, Jeff McBride, and Dan Sperry.

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Former Las Vegan, Jim Semmelman, left his job with NBC's early morning Today show last week. Jim, who acted and directed while living here (Working, Two, Jesus Christ Superstar, among his other creative contributions to the local community), had been with NBC for almost 22 years, and stage manager at the Today show for about 14 years. He will now be working at VH1, doing their morning show called Big Morning Buzz Live, with Carrie Keagan. "Now I can sleep until 6 a.m.," jokes the New Yorker. "Wowee!!"

Savannah Guthrie, Jim Semmelman & Matt Lauer

Norm Johnson

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The next F.I.O.R.E. (Fun Italians Organizing Riiculous Events) meeting will take place on Thursday, April 11th, just a few days before St. IRS Day. Learn all you ever wanted to know about the Las Vegas Mint 400 (and then some), directly from the man who started it all, F.I.O.R.E. President, Norm Johnson. Following his presentation, Norm will answer all your questions regarding the Mint 400's creation, the events surrounding it, and the celebrities who have been involved over the years. It should be an informative and fun afternoon. Come and enjoy a delicious luncheon buffet, live music, entertainment, (mostly) friendly and interesting people, raffles and more - all for the paltry price of $25 - at the Italian American Club, 2330 E. Sahara. Ladies are welcome, and widows of former presidents (all the male members are presidents) are always guests of the club. The fun starts at 11:30 a.m. Please RSVP ASAP to [email protected], or to [email protected]. The cooks need a head count. See you there.

And speaking of the F.I.O.R.E. bunch, a number of the group's presidents have interesting things on their agenda. For example, President Artie Schroeck, his son, Shem Schroeck, and John Alcamo, have written themselves a cute, clever pop tune called "Party Girl." Feeling a bit like David Foster or Clive Davis or even Simon Cowell, who have all helped launch the music careers of a number of talented young people, the gentlemen have produced a video featuring 12-year-old singer, Eryn Nicole Pablico. Check out the YouTube site at Take a look. Give a listen. Feel free to leave a comment. Do we see a future American Idol competitor here?

Eryn Nicole Pablico

Larry Raben

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Larry Raben, who played Leo Bloom in Mel Brooks' The Producers during its run at Paris Las Vegas, is currently directing Nuttin' But Hutton: A Musical Tribute to the Songs of Betty Hutton at the NoHo Arts Center in North Hollywood, California. Conceived by Diane Vincent, and written by Ms. Vincent and Sam Kriger, with choreography by Lee Martino, Nuttin' But Hutton is scheduled to play at the NoHo Arts Center through April 28th. In November, Larry directed Plaid Tidings at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia. In late December and into early January, he was at the Phoenix Theatre directing a world premiere musical, Love Makes the World Go Round, with music from the Bob Merrill songbook. Raben then did Suds, written by Steve Gunderson (the original Sparky in the Las Vegas version of Forever Plaid), in Palm Springs for the Coyote Stageworks theatre company, where it was a huge hit. Currently, Larry is back in rehearsals in Palm Springs directing Tru, the one man play about Truman Capote that earned actor Robert Morse a Tony Award. As if his plate isn't full enough, Raben leaves for Music Theatre of Wichita on Memorial Day, where he will play Sir Robin in Monty Python's Spamalot, directed by the Las Vegas company's Billy Sprague. If he has any steam left after that, in July, Larry Raben will direct Sunset Boulevard at Musical Theatre West in Long Beach. Wow!

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Jazz stylist, Windy Karigianes, invites her friends and fans to join her tomorrow night, Saturday April 6th, from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., at The Dispensary Lounge, 2451 E. Tropicana at Eastern. Windy will be joined by Pete Radd on keys, Mark Speights on guitar, and Adam Shendal on drums. For a night of eclectic jazz, Stop in at The Dispensary tomorrow night.

Windy Karigianes

Paul Anka

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Look for Paul Anka and Smokey Robinson to join Tony Bennett, Barbra Streisand, and Frank Sinatra, when they jump on the duets album bandwagon. Anka's album will be out next week, and will feature him teaming up with George Benson, Chris Botti, Michael Buble, Celine Dion, Gloria Estefan, Michael Jackson, Tom Jones, Patti LaBelle, Michael McDonald, Dolly Parton, Leon Russell and Frank Sinatra. No details have been revealed about Smokey Robinsons' project. And speaking of the Motown crooner, Bobby Rogers, who was born on the same day in the same Detroit hospital as Smokey, and with whom he harmonized in high school and eventually wound up in the Hall of Fame singing group the Miracles, died on March 3rd in Michigan. He was 73.

Smokey Robinson

Roger Ebert

And yesterday, following an 11-year battle with cancer, and only two days after he announced that he would be taking a "leave of presence" from his duties because the hip fracture he suffered a few months earlier was determined to be cancerous, famed film critic, Roger Ebert passed away in Chicago at the age of 70. Ebert and his late partner, Gene Siskel (Siskel died of cancer in 1999 at the age of 53), moderated TV's At the Movies. Their friendly weekly bantering, and thumbs up/thumbs down critiques, became famous to filmgoers. In 2006, Ebert battled cancer of the lower jaw, and lost his ability to eat and speak, but continued working as a critic. The closing sentence on his final blog post, two days before his death, said, "So on this day of reflection I say again, thank you for going on this journey with me. I'll see you at the movies." Roger Ebert is survived by his wife of 20 years, Chaz Ebert.

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Alton Fitzgerald White

If you are in New York next week, Alton Fitzgerald White, Mufasa in Disney's The Lion King on Broadway, invites you to help him celebrate his 49th birthday at the Metropolitan Room, 34 West 22nd St. in Manhattan, on Monday, April 8th, as he performs Broadway My Way, starting at 7 p.m. (doors open at 6:15). The voice is magnificent! "Alton Fitzgerald White sings with smoky soulfulness," says Variety Magazine. "Alton can sustain a note as if breathing were an optional activity," says The New York Times. "Blessed with an irresistible smile and a rich singing voice, Alton Fitzgerald White is completely charismatic," says The Denver Post. "The timber of his voice is a throaty combination of honey over gravel!" says The Seattle Post. Alton Fitzgerald White captivates audiences whenever and wherever he performs. The triple talented singer, actor, dancer has starred in six smash Broadway hits! He made his Broadway starring debut as John in Miss Saigon with his powerful heartrending performance of the anthem, "Bui Doi," bringing nightly ovations. It is just one of the many Broadway anthems that Alton, accompanied by pianist Doyle Newmyer, will be singing throughout the evening. Here is a clip from Alton's Winter Romance show at the Metropolitan Room in February. Enjoy!!
Ticket prices are $25 - $115. There is also a two beverage minimum. Please call (212) 206-0440 for reservations.

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Tribute artists, Roy Hammock and Rosanna Telford, will perform as country music greats, Willie Nelson and Patsy Cline, at the Indian Wells Theater in Palm Desert on Sunday, April 7th, at 2 p.m. Hammock began performing as Willie Nelson in 1998 in Oklahoma City. In 2006, he was asked to join the Country Superstars show in Las Vegas. The show had a two-year run at Fitzgeralds Casino (now called the D Hotel). It then went to Whiskey Pete's for one year, and then The Golden Nugget for two-and-a-half years. Hammock's awards include "Country's Hottest Hitter" in 2006, and winner of the 2010 "Willie Nelson Look-a-Like Contest," sponsored by Willie Nelson himself. Roy is currently working on a project with Scott Haggard, son of Merle Haggard, and his band. Telford was born in Arlington, Virginia, only 70 miles from Patsy Cline's birth place in Winchester. At the age of 9, Rosanna's family moved to Costa Rica, where she began her singing and acting career. Her love for music started by listening to her father's favorite singer, Patsy Cline. "My father would always sing ‘Sweet Dreams' to put me to sleep," Telford said. Telford has performed for many years in Costa Rica, Spain, and the United States. She has recorded more than 200 jingles and voiceovers for television commercials in English, Spanish and Portuguese. She also served as a music teacher and coach for many aspiring singers for television contests similar to American Idol. Telford moved to Las Vegas in 2012, and has already done numerous singing performances as Patsy Cline, including in The Hit Parade and Talk of the Town variety shows. "Patsy Cline was one of the most influential singers of our time," said Telford. "Her voice was unique and expressive and it's an honor and a privilege to be able to sing her songs and keep her memory alive." The Indian Wells Theater is located at 37-500 Cook St., on the Palm Desert Campus of Cal State San Bernardino. Tickets are $35, and can be purchased by calling the Indian Wells Theater box office at (760) 341-6909. For more information about the CSUSB Palm Desert Campus, contact Mike Singer in the campus's Office of Public Affairs at (760) 341-2883, ext. 78107 or [email protected]. Website:

Roy Hammock as Willie Nelson

Rosanna Telford as Patsy Cline

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This weekend, you have two chances to see the Industrial Strength R&B, Rock, Soul and Funk Lon Bronson Band, at two different venues. Tonight, Friday, April 5th at 9 p.m., the popular group will liven up The Railhead at Boulder Station, and tomorrow, Saturday, April 6th at 9:30 p.m. the Bronson band will play in the Access Showroom at Aliante Casino & Hotel. Like those old chewing gum commercials used to say, "Double the Pleasure, Double the Fun!"

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The Rolling Stones

If you are a fan of The Rolling Stones, better start saving your dollars. It has just been announced that the boys - Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Ronnie Wood, and special guest, Mick Taylor, who was a member of The Stones from 1969 to 1974 - will rock the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 11th, with the possibility of adding a second MGM date to their 50 & Counting tour schedule. Pre-sale tickets to CitiCard bank holders will start Friday in certain locations, with the general public sale Monday. Specific MGM Grand ticket sales will be announced later.

And speaking of fans, a big bunch of them stopped in to see Dick Feeney's The Rat Pack Is Back at the Rio a week ago, where they happily posed for a group shot. The travelers are from Britain, and came to Las Vegas with a big tour company named Titan. Looks like they had a blast!

The Rat Pack Is Back Fan Club

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Internationally renowned comedian, actor and entertainer, Don Rickles, will headline at The Orleans Showroom next Saturday and Sunday, April 13th and 14th. This is Rickles' record-smashing 54th consecutive year as a Las Vegas performer. Having earned the nicknames "The Merchant of Venom" and "Mr. Warmth" (the latter coined affectionately by Johnny Carson), 86-year-old 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." Opening for Mr. Rickles is entertainer Robert Davi, who was hand-picked by Frank Sinatra to play Mickey Sinardos in the 1977 NBC television drama, Contract on Cherry Street. Since that time, Davi has appeared in popular movies, including Die Hard, Showgirls and The Goonies. Showtime each evening for Don Rickles and Robert Davi is 8 p.m. Tickets are available, starting from $79.95, plus tax and convenience fees, and can be purchased at any Coast Casinos Box Office, by calling (702) 365-7075, or visiting

Robert Davi

UNLV Jazz Concert

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As part of its ongoing series, UNLV JAZZ will present a free concert at the Clark County Flamingo Library Theater, on Wednesday, April 10th at 7 p.m. The program will feature the UNLV Studio Jazz Ensemble I, directed by Nathan Tanouye and David Loeb, with a string section performing original student arrangements and compositions. The public is invited to attend.

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In the month since the release of Mark Winkler's Laura Nyro Project CD," it sold out on Amazon and CDBaby. Everything happened so fast, there was no time to celebrate. That's going to change on Sunday, April 7th the Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Join Mark for the delayed official CD Release party, and a fantastic celebration of this new project, and thrill in hearing live music in a wonderful space. Catalina Jazz Club is located at 6725 Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles. Tickets are $20. Dinner or two drinks minimum required in addition to the tickets. Doors open for dinner 1 1/2 hour before the first show and 1/2 hour before the second show if there is a second show. Ticket sales are final. For reservations, call (323) 466-2210.

Mark Winkler

Keith Urban

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Expect to see lots of boots and cowboy hats around the city during the next four or five days, as Vegas Goes Country. Events, including the 48th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards, are taking place all around the city, with entertainment happening from stages on Fremont Street downtown, to Mandalay Bay, Caesars Palace Colosseum, and the MGM Grand Garden Arena on the famed Las Vegas Strip, to The Orleans Arena on Tropicana, west of Las Vegas Blvd. Among the acts scheduled to perform at various venues around here are (in no particular order), Garth Brooks, Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Kix Brooks, George Strait, Eli Young Band, Florida General Line, Brantley Gilbert, Hunter Hayes, Gary Allen, Blake Shelton, Justin Moore, Brad Paisley, Shania Twain, Taylor Swift, Joe Nichols, Keith Urban and Tim McGraw. Take your credit cards or plenty of cash to The Orleans Hotel and Casino, as The AMC Experience will take over the entire property to immerse fans in the country music lifestyle, allowing enthusiasts to "Shop Country, Taste Country and Hear Country" throughout the weekend. For the ultimate shopping and marketplace experience, the free, open-to-the-public ACM Expo will be located just outside the Orleans Arena. As part of the ACM Experience, the marketplace will allow fans to "shop country," with more than 150 unique country lifestyle vendors from all over the United States, selling products such as customized jewelry, western wear, original art, homemade crafts and more. Fans can "taste country" at the new food area featuring local food trucks and national food vendors with a great backyard patio experience. If you can't attend in person, the Academy of Country Music Awards, honoring country music's top talent and the industry's hottest emerging talent, will be broadcast LIVE from the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday, April 7th, at 8 p.m. ET/delayed PT on the CBS Television Network.

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Popular vocalists, Mark Giovi and Nikolas Mastrangelo (daytime attorney, known as Nik at Nite for his nighttime role as an entertainer), team up for a night (or nite) of music at The Mad Greek Café, Tuesday, April 9th from 7 to 10 p.m. The twosome, accompanied by keyboards, sax and flute, and drums, will be performing everything from Cole Porter and other music from the Great American Song Book, to jazz, pop, Broadway and opera. The Mad Greek Café is located at 8565 W. Sahara Ave. (and Durango). Of course No Cover charge. Call the Café at (702) 242-7669 for reservations.

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Evil Dead the Musical

Evil Dead the Musical is seeking performers who want to paint the town bloody! They are adding to their cast with new cast members - and you, or your buddy, might be just what they are looking for! The show features over-the-top camp comedy, zombies, hot chicks, a hero with a chainsaw for a hand, and a pit called the Splatter Zone, where diehard fans are covered in gallons and gallons of fresh warm blood. Six male and six female performers, of various ages, are being sought for both principal parts and swing positions. They must meet the following criteria:
1. Located in Vegas.
2. Able to sing
3. Have comedic timing.
4. Love to have fun onstage
5. Be available for both performances per week.
You don't need to know the show, but it is advised you familiarize yourself with it if you are auditioning.
Ash (Male - Tenor/Baritone): The hero and iconic character of the musical. This devoted S-Mart housewares employee evolves over the course of the show from a cowardly college student to a wise cracking deadite slayer with his detachable hand chainsaw and 12 gauge "boomstick." Must be 6‘ tall, in good shape, and good looking.
Linda (Female - Mezzo-Soprano): The prototypical girl next door. Linda is sweet, thoughtful, and completely devoted to Ash, until she turns evil and tries to kill him. She laughs an annoyingly inordinate amount of time after transforming.
Cheryl (Female - Mezzo-Soprano): Ash's sister and the odd woman out in the group. Looking to spend a week relaxing, she is the recipient of Scotty's jokes and torment. The only one to sense the evil surrounding the cabin, she is the first to be possessed, turning her into an aggressive, foul mouthed demon that speaks in very bad puns. Spends the majority of the show locked in the cellar.
Scotty (Male - Tenor/Baritone): Good looking, cocky, a prankster and Ash's best friend. Thinks himself the brave one until he's forced to kill, then his panic leads him to flee. He returns to warn Ash about the woods and attempts to help his friend even as he is knocking on death's door.
Shelly (Female - Mezzo-Soprano): Beautiful, easy, and not too smart. She is Scotty's latest fling and looking to party. Just because she becomes an evil demon doesn't mean she can't look good doing it!
Annie (Female - Mezzo-Soprano): The overbearing, sexy, explorer who finds missing pages to the Necronomicon and wants to reunite with her father to continue their research. Very bossy and drawn to Ash. Must be comfortable in a tear away revealing costume.
Ed (Male - Tenor/Baritone): Annie's coworker, boyfriend, and doormat. He travels with her to the cabin to proceed with their research of the book of the dead. After turning evil, his confidence may lack but this "Bit Part Demon" is ready to sing!
Jake (Male - Tenor/Baritone): Stereotypical Southerner and reliable enough to help Annie and Ed find the path to the cabin, but too stupid and stubborn to listen to reason that will keep him alive.
Fake Shemp (Non-singing): This character plays every part not played by another actor. They will be "the hand", Linda's decapitated head, the ghost of Annie's father, a possessed tree, and more.
Submit headshot and resume to [email protected]. You will be contacted to schedule a time to come in and audition. Auditions will be held in person on 4/8, 4/9, 4/10, and 4/11 and are by appointment only. Video submissions will not be accepted. Evil Dead the Musical plays every Friday night at 10 p.m., and every Saturday night at 11:30 p.m. at the V Theater inside Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino. Call (866) 932-1818 for tickets and info, or go to

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