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 October 25, 2013
You can find the current column HERE


Las Vegas - October 25, 2013


Past F.I.O.R.E. Halloween Party Creatures

Don't forget about the F.I.O.R.E. (Fun Italians Organizing Ridiculous Events) Halloween Party, taking place at the Italian American Club, 2333 E. Sahara, in the evening, this Sunday, the 27th. The creaking doors will open at 5 p.m., with grub put out at around 6 or 6:30. A creepy-looking monster at the door will extract $25 for each live body, but only if you have already let the powers-that-be know you were going. Widows of past presidents are always, guests of F.I.O.R.E., although new boyfriends pay through the nose (if they have one). Dress appropriately for the occasion. Count Gary Anderson and The Disinterred Ghouls will provide the music for dancing to appropriate songs like "The Monster Mash." A good time will be had by all...OR ELSE!

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PK Music and The Smith Center for the Performing Arts present the October Composers Showcase in the Cabaret Jazz club, Wednesday, the 30th, at 10:30 p.m. (after theater). Doors open at 9:30. Among the talented folks participating in next weeks' showcase are some always welcome regulars and some newcomers. The Composers: Jamie Hosmer, Adam Knaff, Christopher Lash, Jeff Leibow, Rob Marnell, David Mauk, Richard Oberacker, Keith Thompson (who also serves as host), Maren Wade, Mark Wherry, and special guest, Bill Russell (book and lyrics for the 1997-1998 Broadway musical, Side Show, nominated for four Tony Awards). The Performers: Tori Anna, Megan Arnoldy, Joey DeBenedetto, Nicole Kaplan, Randal Keith, New York transplant Phillip Officer (who was a cast member in the above mentioned Side Show), Niki Scalera, Savannah Smith, Lauren Tartaglia, Nikka Wahl and Alison Ward. The Players: Gary Cordell, Steve Flora, Graham Fenton, Pablo Gadda, Bonnie Mason, Mike Mechem, Orlando Mestre, John Miceli, Danny Miranda, Jeff Ray, Kevin Stout, Eric Tewalt and MORE! Cabaret Jazz is located in the Boman Pavilion at the Smith Center, 361 Symphony Park Avenue. Tickets, which sell out fast, are $20 at the Box Office, or call (702) 749-2000, or go online at www.thesmithcenter.com for reservations. Walk-ups are welcome...IF there are any seats left (highly unlikely). A cash bar/late night menu is available.


Keith Thompson

Marty Allen & Karon Kate Blackwell at Plaza

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In spite of virtually no advertising by the hotel, there was a very nice turnout for 91-year-old comic, Marty Allen, and his musical bride, Karon Kate Blackwell, in the downtown Plaza Hotel showroom, last night. The twosome are filling in for Louie Anderson, through tomorrow. Reports are that Mr. Allen was in rare form, and the enthusiastic audience loved the show. With producer Howard Jochsberger at the helm, and Marty and Karon's longtime drummer, John Plows, augmenting Karon's excellent keyboard work, the young-at-heart Allen supplies "a little song, a little dance, a little seltzer in your pants"...okay, maybe no seltzer, but plenty of other funny stuff. There are two more shows, tonight and tomorrow, at 7 p.m. Tickets for their shows are available at the Plaza's box office, or online at www.plazahotelcasino.com. It's open seating (every man and woman for themselves), with first come, first seated, so get there early.
Accompanying photo of Karen & Marty by Nelson Sardelli.

Among the audience members at Marty Allen and Karon Kate Blackwell's opening night at the Plaza were author Stephen Michael Shearer and Michael Wickham from Minnesota. This Sunday, October 27th, beginning at 12:30 p.m., Shearer will be signing copies of his latest book, Gloria Swanson: The Ultimate Star, at Summerlin's Barnes & Noble, 8915 W. Charleston in Crossroad Commons. Shearer's previous bios are Patricia Neal: An Unquiet Life, and Beautiful: The Life of Hedy Lamarr, new in paperback this week, copies of which will also be available at the Barnes & Noble store.


Stephen Michael Shearer

Leigh Zimmerman & Domenick Allen by Michael Wharley

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A Love Affair From A2Z, with Leigh Zimmerman and Domenick Allen at the St James Theatre Studio, London, has received excellent reviews. Earlier this month, here is some of what Jeremy Chapman, of Onstage, Review, had this to say about the show...
Leigh Zimmerman certainly knows how to make a guy feel small. At 5 foot, 11 inches, this statuesque American has a start on most of them anyway, but in her high heels she towers over her long-haired husband of 20 years, the British rock singer-guitarist Domenick Allen. These two met when Miss Zimmerman got her Broadway break in The Will Rogers Follies in 1993, and their Love Affair From A2Z, a heady mix of the chemistry, the music, the frothy fun and the anecdotes which make them a clearly still-in-love but disparate couple, got the London Festival of Cabaret off to a thumpingly successful start at a packed and wildly enthusiastic St James Studio. Because she is so striking to look at and has those endless legs (covered up in the first half by a figure-hugging, full-length Julien Macdonald creation), it could be easy to forget what a serious singer-dancer-actress she is. But you don't get an Olivier award for A Chorus Line, an Olivier nomination for the delightfully ditsy Ulla in The Producers, or the demanding part of Velma in Chicago, all three big West End hits, unless you can cut it at top level. And this lady most definitely can, moving us with fine versions of Peggy Lee's ‘Fever' and Bonnie Raitt's ‘I Can't Make You Love Me'. Leigh's old man, a former member of 1980s group Foreigner and a Las Vegas regular, is less well-known here, but now they have settled in London and love it, we shall discover he is a hugely versatile, multiple-instrument-playing entertainer, whether it be rock, pop, cabaret or even jazz (his aunt is jazz legend Annie Ross and he has played with Buddy Rich). His forte is wittily updating other people's songs to make them more contemporary. I'm not sure Stephen Sondheim even knows what ‘twerking' is, but there it was in Allen's version of ‘The Little Things You Do Together'. And Dave Frishberg might not have recognized ‘Blizzard of Lies', all about the torrent of insincerities and downright untruths we are marooned in as part of our daily life-speak. But both worked well. In the second half, Dad called up their 13-year-old daughter Cayleigh to belt out that old crowd-pleaser ‘River Deep Mountain High' and this two-hour love-in ended with what else but ‘All You Need is Love'. Backing was brilliantly provided by John Smith on piano, Matt Senior, a very lively drummer, and Don Richardson on bass. The Festival runs to the middle of November in several prime venues including the Palace Theatre, St James and Soho Theatres, the Crazy Coqs and the Pheasantry. Among the featured artists we are to enjoy over the next month or so in Festival mastermind Neil Marcus' "baby" will be Michael Feinstein, Janie Dee, Elaine Paige, Maria Friedman, Julian Ovenden, Liz Robertson, KT Sullivan, Steve Ross, Barb Jungr and Alexander Armstrong in a veritable feast to set before a city where cabaret is suddenly booming. If what follows matches the standard of A2Z (that's A for Allen and Z for Zimmerman), we cabaret groupies will indeed be very happy bunnies. www.londonfestivalofcabaret.com

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Due to the Professional Bull Riders Legends Reunion, taking place at the South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa, the official host hotel of the reunion, entertainer, Wes Winters, will not be performing in the hotel casino's Grandview Lounge, tonight, Friday, October 25th, and tomorrow, the 26th. Wes will return next Friday and Saturday, with performances from 6 to 9 p.m. He resumes his Rampart engagement, November 5th, from 6 to 9 p.m., and every Tuesday in November. On New Year's Eve, the legendary Tony Orlando, and local showman, Winters, come together in the South Point Grand Ballroom to present a memorable end-of-the-year celebration. The night begins at 8 p.m., with smooth vocals and piano pieces from Winters, and follows with the classic sounds of Orlando. General tickets, priced at $179m include dinner, party favors and a champagne toast. For a grander experience, step up to a NYE package that includes two-nights accommodation at the South Point, two show tickets, dinner, party favors and a complimentary champagne toast!
To learn more about Wes Winters, and his additional upcoming performance dates, please visit www.weswinters.com, and click on Shows & Schedule.


Wes Winters

Bill Fayne

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Reminder...
Mistinguett Productions presents Killer, Cash & King - From Memphis to Nashville, this Sunday, October 27th, at 3 p.m., at the Starbright Theatre in Sun City Summerlin. It's 1972, and Richard Nixon is the president. Mariner 9 sends us the first pictures of Mars. The Watergate scandal is headline news. And somewhere, Jerry Lee Lewis is about to do another sell-out show. Only, this time, he is joined by a couple of unexpected guests - Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley. It's a night of magic, music and a look into the men who came from Memphis to Nashville to superstardom. The show features Las Vegas favorite, Ned Mills, as Jerry Lee "Killer" Lewis; 11-time Grammy nominee, Ronnie Lee Twist, as Johnny Cash; and 2013 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Contest winner, Chad Collins, as Elvis Presley. The Starbright Theatre is located at 2215 Thomas Ryan Blvd., in the hills of Summerlin. Tickets are $15 for Sun City Summerlin residents, and $18 non-residents. All shows at the Starbright are first come, first served, with no limit on the amount of tickets purchased. Show tickets may be purchased at Desert Vista, Mountain Shadows and Pinnacle community centers, seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. All ticket prices include Live Entertainment Tax. Tickets are non-refundable. All ticket sales are check or cash (exact change required). No credit cards accepted. For up-to-date information on Starbright Theatre shows, call (702) 240-1301.

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We are faced with a dilemma. As regular Claire Voyant readers know, there are certain people and certain places that we don't write about...for very good reasons. To quote Thumper in Bambi, "If you can't say something nice, don't say nothing' at all." As a result, because we do not like, or approve of, the way that long established Italian joint at the south end of Las Vegas Blvd. treats their "average" customers, we choose to ignore them, even if a talented member of the entertainment community is performing there. But...we just got word from Bill Fayne (who we DO like and promote when we can), that he will be doing a weekly Wednesday night show at the Copa Room, adjacent to the joint, called Bill Fayne & Friends Celebrate. Each week will feature a different show with different friends...all revolving around musical theater and composers. This past Wednesday, it was all Sondheim. Next Wednesday, October 30th, it's The Book of Merman, that we saw, and enjoyed, at The Onyx Theatre last May. November 6th will feature Ron and Lisa Smith, George DeMott and Zipporah Peddle, performing Broadway classics. Ayler Evan, Amanda Kaiser, Tim Molyneux and Gret Menzies will do Broadway opera on November 13th. Future plans call for a Kander and Ebb show, Redheads (featuring Kelly Clinton and Tara Palsha, and the American Songbook on Broadway, showcasing the music of the Gershwins, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, and others. There is a $10 charge for these shows. With your entry you get a coupon for a free bottle of wine with a future meal at the adjoining restaurant. Shows are at 7 p.m., followed by a Broadway open mic (ala Don't Tell Mama).

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If you have never seen and/or heard crooner, Mark OToole, or you have, and want to experience the vocal stylings of Mr. OToole again, Sunset Station will provide the opportunity to do so on Wednesday, October 30th, and again on Wednesday, December 4th, when Mark performs afternoon shows in the Club Madrid showroom. Presented by the Vegas Voice publication, next week's An Afternoon Affair will feature OToole, along with guests Ronnie Rose, Wes Winters, Geechy Guy, Tommy Ward, and Gary Anthony as co-host. Mark promises an extra special, big-name performer, will also be part of the entertainment lineup this coming Wednesday. Doors to Club Madrid open at 1 p.m. For ticket info and VIP seating, call (702) 251-4441.


Mark OToole

Spencer Baker

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The keyboard artistry of Spencer Baker, playing piano, organ and harpsichord, will be featured at Green Valley Presbyterian Church, at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, November 3rd. This concert will include works in classical (Soler, Beethoven, Liszt, Chopin and Erno Dohmanyi), sacred, film and stage genres. Concert guest performers will include Shakeh Ghoukasian, violin; Yuuki Hashimori, violin; Tianna Heppner Harjo, viola; Elena Kapustina, cello; Chris Davis, double bass; and Katie Kenner and The Dance Loft Dancers. Great music. Great acoustics. Free admission. Free-will offerings go to benefit Henderson Presbyterian Church Food Bank. Green Valley Presbyterian Church is located at 1798 Wigwam Parkway, on the northeast corner of Valle Verde at Wigwam (just north of I-215), in Henderson. Contact (702) 454-8484, or www.greenvalleypres.com, for additional information.

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Nevada Arts Advocates Honor Schivo, Steck & Peterson

The public is invited to attend the biggest night of the year for Nevada Arts Advocates (NAA). Next Friday, November 1st, the 14th Annual NAA Gala will honor Three Generations of Leaders in the Arts - Michael Schivo, legendary concert promoter; Adam Steck, live show producer; and Douglas Peterson, music director and conductor. The gala, which takes place at the Santa Fe Station Hotel & Casino Ballroom, begins at 6:30 p.m. with cocktails and a silent auction, followed by dinner at 8, will feature a special appearance by Spyro Gyra, jazz fusion band with more than 30 albums and 10 million copies sold. Tickets for the gala are $100 per person. In addition to attending the event, you can help make this evening a memorable one by becoming a sponsor (which includes a table for 10 and a full page ad in our program). You may also consider taking out a congratulatory ad or make a donation for our Silent Auction. Please review attached sponsorship package. For details about sponsorships opportunities, congratulatory ads or donating an auction item, visit the website at www.nvartsadvocates.org.

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Day of the Dead/Dia de los Muertos is being celebrated at Springs Preserve, November 1st, 2nd and 3rd, from 4 to 9 p.m. The 3,000-year-old Hispanic tradition, honoring loved ones who have passed on, is full of joy and tradition. The family-friendly event blends rich customs with exciting activities, such as live theater and dance performances, mariachis, face painting, sugar skull decorating, and an art exhibition. The Springs Preserve is a 180-acre complex with museums, gardens and trails, located at 333 S Valley View Blvd, and U.S. 95, just three miles west of downtown Las Vegas. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call (702) 822-7700 for additional information.


Day of the Dead

Cork Proctor by Nelson Sardelli

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In this message, Lisa Gioia-Acres shares a recap of the October Las Vegas Media Group meeting, saying "I can't believe I missed the show! Curses, that I wasn't in town to hear Cork Proctor, Las Vegas comedian who now lives in Ecuador, speak about his new life at the Media Group lunch meeting on Monday, October, 21. Not only was Cork at the top of his game, but we experienced the biggest attendance EVER in the history (over 12 years now) of the LVMG meetings. There were 69 people who showed up to hear Cork and sit in the same room with Las Vegas living history! As I said, I can't believe I wasn't there. A HUGE thanks goes out to: Gretchen Payne for anticipating the newcomers and creating "Information Cards" so we could put the newbies on our mailing list; Cynthia Cicero who stepped in for me as Gretchen and Don Payne's extra hand; Rich Friedland for his Master of Ceremonies skills; Joe Thomson and Nelson Sardelli for taking pictures for me; and Cork Proctor for his ability to entertain a crowd and bringing attention to Las Vegas's best kept secret - our group! Happy birthday to LVMG members: Cynthia Cicero, Bruce Langson, Florence Mayhew, Joe Thomson, Stu Michaels, Charles McManis and Sandra Duffy." Lisa reminds that the November LVMG meeting will be held one week earlier than usual, on Monday, November 11th, as there is a wedding taking place in the facility on the third Monday of the month. Stay tuned for details about the upcoming November luncheon.

And speaking of Cork Proctor, from entertainer, Annie Gaybis in Florida, comes this news, with a mention of Mr. Proctor. The triple-threat lady informs us that she will be performing in the comic opera, The Barber of Seville, at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Center on Orlando, this weekend. The singers, of which Annie is one, sing in Italian, but there is a screen with subtitles for those who are not fluent in the language. The vocalists are accompanied by the outstanding Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. There is a show on Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets range from $20 to $82, and if seats are still available, can be purchased by calling (407) 770-0071, or going to [email protected]. Annie goes on to say that "I so look forward to reading what's up in your town, and I said to John (Annie is married to the talented comic impressionist, John Byner), it would be so nice to be part of that scene. It sounds so interesting. I would have gone to see Cork Proctor myself if I was there. I don‘t know him personally, but he is legendary, and my girlfriend, Suzie Vegas, who danced in Vegas for years, knows him quite well." We have to tell you, Annie, there are rarely dull moments in the Las Vegas entertainment world. You and John are welcome any time.


Annie Gaybis

Jerry Tiffe by Nelson Sardelli

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On Thursday, October 31st, from 7 to 10 p.m., the Italian American Club will present the Jerry Tiffe Halloween Dance. Jerry Tiffe, a longtime, Las Vegas favorite, will be singing for listening and dancing pleasure, and there will be prizes for the best costumes, so use your imagination and go all out. Admission is $10, and tickets must be picked up at the IAC, 2333 E. Sahara. For additional information, call (702) 457-3866.

And Carmine Mandia continues his weekly dates at the Italian American Club, singing for YOUR supper on Thursday nights from 7 to 11 p.m., and Fridays from 8 to midnight, in the lounge.

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Reminder...
On Sunday, October 27th at 2 p.m., the Winchester Cultural Center, 3130 S. McLeod just north of Desert Inn, will be the site of Sizzle Fest II, the annual Latin Jazz concert, put on by VegasJazz and American Jazz Initiative (AJI). Tickets for this event, featuring Nathan Tanouye and the Las Vegas Jazz Connection Big Band, are $15. In addition to the usual 17-member ensemble, percussionists Michito Sanchez and Gabriel Falcon, plus harp and string players, will perform compositions and arrangements by Nathan and Cocho Arbe. Jerry Lopez and Toscha Comeaux are the featured vocalists. For more details, call (702) 455-7340, or visit www.ClarkCountyNV.gov/parks.

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The Illusionists

After inquiring as to what the onetime America's Got Talent competitor was up to these days (and nights) , from magic man Kevin James comes this news...
"I am in London with The Illusionists. We just wrapped up our UK tour ending at the Hammersmith Apollo, a beautiful 1930s deco-style theatre that seats around 3,500 people. Our last show was shot for a Christmas TV special for ITV here in England. The British host of the show is a presenter/magician by the name of Stephen Mulhern. He is hosting several TV shows currently and very popular. It will air on December 20th, right after the last Harry Potter movie airs. Kind of a whole magic theme on TV that night. Now we are moving on to a month in Germany, and finally shows in Austria, Italy, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Serbia. We are seven at this moment. Some performers rotate in and out. When we were in Mexico and South America, Jeff Hobson sat out, and Joaquin Kotkin filled in. He is very funny and really connects to the Spanish-speaking audience. He also helped translate things like my snow story and other elements of the script. He resides in Mexico City. The cast for this tour is Phillip Escoffey (The Mentalist), Dan Sperry (The Anti-Conjurer), Hobson (The Trixter), Jinger Kalin (The Enchantress), Mark Kalin (The Gentleman), Andrew Basso (The Escapologist), and myself, Kevin James (The Inventor). Antonio Hoyos is with me. We are 40 people with cast and crew. We tour with three semi-trucks full of equipment, and two tour busses. It is a pretty big operation, especially when doing one-nighters. We will be enjoying the month of December at home in Las Vegas. Then, next January, we are in Australia again, for the third time. We have some big surprises coming in 2014. www.theillusionistslive.com

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The UNLV Performing Arts Center is proud to present Peter Nero, perhaps the "perfect pop conductor" (Philadelphia Inquirer), featuring the UNLV Jazz Symphony Orchestra, in a delightful evening of Gershwin melodies, at 8 p.m. on Saturday, November 2nd, as part of the Charles Vanda Master Series. The program includes "Someone to Watch Over Me" and excerpts from Porgy and Bess. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the birth of Nero's recording career, which has produced 67 recordings. In 1960, he signed to a three-year contract with RCA Victor records, which was then renewed for another five years, producing more than 26 LPs, including Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue and Piano Concerto in F with Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops. The following year, Nero was honored with his first Grammy Award, as "Best New Artist of the Year." In January 2013, pianist and conductor Nero was awarded a certificate by the President of the Philadelphia City Council, honoring his outstanding lifetime musical achievements, and recognizing his innumerable contributions to arts and culture in Philadelphia as an award-winning pianist and the founding conductor and Artistic Director of the world renowned Peter Nero and the Philly POPS orchestra. Tickets to Peter Nero are $25-$40-$55-$75, and can be purchased at the Performing Arts Center Box Office at (702) 895-ARTS (2787), or online at pac.unlv.edu. Student rush tickets are $13 each (not inclusive of the facilities fee), and available one hour prior to each event, based on availability and with valid student I.D. UNLV faculty and staff discounts also are available. A $1.50 facilities fee, in addition to the ticket price, is charged on all Performing Arts Center tickets. The box office is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Information about all of the season's performances can be found on the Performing Arts Center website, located at pac.unlv.edu. Founded in 1976, the Performing Arts Center at UNLV is Southern Nevada's original performing arts venue. Celebrating nearly 40 years of arts in Las Vegas, the Performing Arts Center is located on the north end of the UNLV campus. The PAC hosts a variety of performances, and is home to the Charles Vanda Master Series. At the UNLV PAC, Southern Nevadans can enjoy the arts nearly every day of the year. The Performing Arts Center is home to productions presented by the Nevada Conservatory Theatre at UNLV, and the UNLV music and dance departments, the Desert Chorale, and the Southern Nevada Musical Arts Society. The Center also hosts more than 50,000 Clark County School District students yearly for productions, festivals and concerts.


Peter Nero

Buster Keaton Convention

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Actor Bart Williams, with some theater performance history in Las Vegas, was one of the attendees at the Frauenthal Center for the performing Arts, the beautifully restored Vaudeville and Movie Palace in Muskegon, Michigan, at the Buster Keaton Convention, earlier this month.

As part of the convention entertainment, Bart sang the tongue-twister, "Movie Star Nola," written by Tony Hawes, the late son-in-law of Stan Laurel of Laurel & Hardy fame. Mr. Williams was accompanied on the Theatre Organ by Mr. Dennis Scott. The entertainment also included the showing of films, Our Hospitality (1923), and The Iron Mule (1925). Seen in the accompanying photo, taken at the Frauenthal Center, from left to right: Bart Williams; Buster Keaton's daughter-in-law, Barbara Talmadge; his granddaughter, Melissa Talmadge Cox; and his nephew, Harry Keaton Jr.

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The Smith Center has announced that Broadway star, Kristin Chenoweth, will perform in Reynolds Hall on New Year's Eve. We will have more on this in coming weeks.


Kristin Chenoweth for New Year's Eve

Bill Nolte & Mamie Parris in Most Happy Fella

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Bill Nolte, who portrayed Franz Liebkind in Mel Brooks' The Producers when it played here at Paris Las Vegas, is currently performing as "Tony," the lovelorn Napa Valley vineyard owner, in The Most Happy Fella at the famous Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, Connecticut.

Reviews have been the kind every actor hopes for, with headlines such as, Goodspeed's 'Most Happy Fella' Showcases Glorious Voices In A Passionate Production. The Hartford Courant's Frank Rizzo had this to say...
The show: "The Most Happy Fella" at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam. What makes it special?: In 1991 Goodspeed's revival of the 1956 musical featured a two-piano arrangement. That production was a revelation and moved to Broadway. This version has seven musicians playing multiple instruments for a fuller sound. First impressions: It's not about the seats in the pit as much as the size of its heart and this terrific production is bursting with love, passion, tenderness and joy. Gloriously sung, beautifully acted and produced with perfection, it, too, will be remembered as a Goodspeed milestone show. What's it about?: Tony Esposito, an aging Italian immigrant who owns a California vineyard, falls for a lovely-but-weary San Francisco waitress whom he calls "Rosabella." He courts her through letters but when she asks for a picture of him he panics and sends her a photo of the handsome foreman in order for her to agree to come to Napa Valley and marry him. The "mail order bride" arrives, discovers the deceit and is about to leave when Tony is terribly injured in an auto accident. In shock herself and feeling defeated, she resigns herself to marry him. As Tony recovers, their relationship grows tentatively but Tony's possessive sister and some disturbing news threaten to tear apart this delicate May-September union. Sounds romantic: You don't get more heartfelt than this show with its brilliant score that, like a fine Cabernet blend, combines the best of many delectable ingredients. Think of it as Tin Pan Alley meets Broadway by way of the Met. So some opera, too?: Emotions call for it when this fragile romance finally blooms into unquestionable, unwavering love when Bill Nolte as Tony sings "My Heart Is So Full Of You." Breathtaking. There's also a comic Puccini touch with a trio of singers (Martín Solá, Greg Roderick, Daniel Berryman) letting loose with "Abbondanza" and a robust chorus singing "Sposalizio." But as flavorful as some of the big-note songs are - including such pop hits as "Standing on the Corner" and "Big 'D' " - what is most memorable are the smaller musical moments: when that same comic trio welcomes a shaken Rosabella with the exquisite "Benvenuta," or Tony soothing a neighbor's infant with "Plenty Bambini" or Tony's friends singing a cappella in the theater's aisles with the haunting "Song of a Summer Night," or the number by Doc (Michael Deleget) prescribing patience to his patient, "Love and Kindness."

Though the story line covers a number of seasons, there's something richly autumnal about the production, and not just in John Lasiter's warm-all-over lighting or the color scheme of Michael Schweikardt's ravishing front and back drops. There's a feeling of last chances, of swan song, of one last burst of brilliance in the air, especially in the seasoned performance of Nolte as Tony. It's not just his strong singing but his deeply moving, deeply human performance that caps a career. But the entire cast is outstanding, not the least of which Mamie Parris' Rosabella. Far from a simple ingenue, Parris is a tough as well as tender cookie and the audience is transformed with her, too, as she finds love where you least expected it. As Joe, Doug Carpenter has a stunning voice that does full justice to his great maverick aria, "Joey, Joey, Joey." Natalie Hill as Rosabella's galpal Cleo nails the comedy and show biz numbers as does Kevin Vortmann's Herman. Ann Arvia skillfully makes Tony's jealous sister if not sympathetic at least understandable (and the addition of the song "Eyes of Stranger" gives her more dimension). Who will like it?: Romantics, oenophiles, Italians. Who won't?: Perhaps those who are hesitant to be touched by such raw emotion and polished sentiment.

For the kids?: Mature relationships and some operatic soaring might not make it an ideal fit for kids but some savvy teens may appreciate this classy, classic production. Twitter review in 140 characters or less: Goodspeed has struck gold twice, ending its 50th anniversary on a spectacular note. Thoughts on leaving the parking lot: Director Rob Ruggiero is a worthy successor to the late Gerald Guitierrez, who staged the previous Goodspeed "Fella," as well as other shows, known for their intimacy, sensitivity and naturalness. Ruggiero has made this his stage brand, too. The Basics: The show runs through December 1. Running time is 2 hours and 20 minutes, including one intermission. Performances are Wednesdays and Thursdays at 2 and 7:30 p.m.; Fridays at 8 p.m.; Saturdays at 3 and 8 p.m.; Sundays at 2 and 6:30 p.m. Thanksgiving week's shows are 2 and 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 25, 2 and 8 p.m. on Nov. 29; 3 and 8 p.m. on Nov. 30 and 2 and 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 31. Tickets are $28 to $76.50. For information, call (860) 873-8668, or go to www.goodspeed.org.

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Foster Wilson passed away in Las Vegas on October 17, at the age of 68. He was born in Duquoin, Illinois, to Russell and Thelma Wilson, in 1945. He received a master's degree in Music from Southern Illinois University, and in 1975 moved to Las Vegas, where he continued a lengthy career in the music and entertainment business, including as Entertainment Director at the Las Vegas Hilton (now the LVH). Mr. Wilson had recently retired from Eldorado Resorts, Inc. He was preceded in death by his parents; his sister, Cindy Goss; and brother, Kim Wilson. Foster is survived by his children, Terri Bergagna, Matt Wilson, Whitney Dickey and Jared Wilson; five grandchildren; and two sisters, Angela Weiss and Karen Tomhave. Memorial services were held yesterday, October 24, at Palm Mortuary, 7400 W. Cheyenne Ave. Donations may be made to Shadow Hills Church, 7811 Vegas Drive, Las Vegas.

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Dates for Shania Twain's 2014 Las Vegas show dates were recently announced. The five-time Grammy-winner has added another 15 dates to her local performing calendar. Tickets for shows, scheduled from January 22nd to February 15th, went on sale last Friday. The country superstar already has performances of Shania: Still the One set into November to round out her first full year at Caesars Palace. Known for hits such as "Any Man of Mine" and "That Don't Impress Me," made her debut last December shortly after parading down the Las Vegas Strip on horseback. Her show features trained horses, a live band and a flying motorcycle. It's set at the Colosseum, home to fellow Canadian songstress, Celine Dion.


Shania Twain Visits Tom Williams Elementary School

Last week, Shania, the international superstar and world's best-selling female country artist of all time, kicked off the first ever Las Vegas SKC Clubhouse of The Shania Kids Can Foundation (SKC) at Tom Williams Elementary School in North Las Vegas. She was a big hit with the kids and the teachers at the school.
Photo of Shania Twain and children by Denise Truscello.

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Ward 5 Councilman, Ricki Y. Barlow, will host the first annual Ward 5 Bluegrass Music Festival on Sunday, November 3rd, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Sammy Davis Festival Plaza, located at 720 Twin Lakes Drive inside Lorenzi Park. Councilman Barlow is inviting the entire family out to this free event to enjoy the music of local bluegrass bands playing traditional American music with banjos, fiddles, guitars and mandolins. Local bands scheduled to play include the Sagebrush Stringband, Red Rock Ramblers, Stuck in Reverse, Nevada Old Time Fiddlers, Just 4 Fun and Out of the Desert. For more information, call (702) 229-5443 or visit www.lasvegasnevada.gov/ward5.

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Scheduled for October 30th through November 2nd, the 2013 Vegas Valley Book Festival will bring together more literary and cultural programs than ever before. The festival is expected to feature more than 165 authors and 100 events, with special sections for adults, children, young adults and comic book aficionados. Enjoy panel discussions, readings, book signings, workshops, vendor exhibits, art exhibitions, spoken word performances and other special programs for a diversity of genres, ages and cultural backgrounds. Most events and activities are free and open to the public and will take place at the Historic Fifth Street School, 401 S. Fourth St., and Clark County Library, 1401 E. Flamingo Road. For details on festival and pre-festival events, visit www.vegasvalleybookfestival.org.

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