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 03, 2014
You can find the current column HERE


Las Vegas - January 3, 2014


Irving Benson

Irving Benson & Johnny Carson

From Vicki Benson Dvorin, daughter of Irving Benson, "The Last First Comic," comes this note...Happy new year to all our friends still living in Vegas and beyond. I just wanted to remind you that Irving Benson is turning 100 on January 31st. I don't have a current picture but I will after his party on January 25th. He will have his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren with him for the big day. We are beside ourselves with joy to celebrate this milestone; he is as viable as ever, telling stories and reminiscing whenever he has an audience. For those who are not familiar with Mr. Benson, we will tell you that he is an actor and comedian, and one of the last survivors of the vaudeville era. He enjoyed a decades-long and successful run on the East Coast American burlesque circuit, before traveling west for the first time in 1957 to play the Minsky Follies show in Las Vegas. Benson gained significant national exposure during the 1960s, when fellow vaudevillian and TV star, Milton Berle, hired him to play a faux heckler named "Sidney Spritzer." The character would turn up in the balcony overlooking the stage of Berle's variety show, where the studio audience could see him, and banter with Berle about the host's alleged lack of talent and originality. In addition to The Milton Berle Show, Benson also appeared on numerous other television variety programs, including The Hollywood Palace and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Into the 1990s, Irving performed in a number of shows in Vegas, among them, Maynard Sloate's produced Top Banana and A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum at the downtown (then) Union Plaza. Brooklyn-born Benson has been married to Lillian since November 19, 1936. They have two daughters, Vicki and Cookie. Most recently Irving Benson was honored for Best Documentary at the 2011 Backlot Film Festival for John C. Brown, Davyd Daniels, Tyler St. Mark and Bart Williams‘ "The Last First Comic," uncovering the roots of American comedy and also going inside the colorful world of burlesque.
See The Last First Comic trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpOGg4kxbuc. Order the DVD here: http://www.thelastfirstcomic.com/testimonials.html.

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Tara Palsha

Anne Martinez

An enchanting new musical, A Love Story, will debut in Las Vegas at Sun City Summerlin's Starbright Theater for one performance only, Sunday, January 12th at 3 p.m. Conceived by Mistinguett, and written by Mistinguett and Bill Fayne, A Love Story is told through songs such as "It Had to Be You," "Some Enchanted Evening," "How Long Has This Been Going On?," "I'm a Fool to Want You," "How Do You Keep the Music Playing?," "The Way We Were," and many more. A Love Story stars Fayne, Tara Palsha, George DeMott, and Anne Martinez. It takes place in Bill's Piano Bar, a fictional location where Bill tells the story of four people falling in and out of love. Their lives go through every emotion and many changes as the story unfolds in song favorites from the last 60 years of popular music. Veteran music director and vocalist Bill Fayne plays the piano and narrates the romantic story of George, Tara and Anne. During his long career, Fayne has worked with stars like Mickey Rooney and Suzanne Somers, and scored themes for TV shows, including The Tonight Show, and specials for Bob Hope, Dick Clark, and Joan Rivers. For three decades, Bill performed all over the world as Clint Holmes' musical director and writing collaborator. He was also a performer as one of The Las Vegas Tenors. George DeMott, all masculinity and charm, plays the husband who has relationship decisions to make. In his career, George has sung everything from opera - he won the 1993 Metropolitan Opera National Council Audition's regional finals in Los Angeles and also received the National Italian-American Foundation's Luciano Pavarotti Scholarship - to pop. Classically trained, George holds degrees from UC Santa Barbara and the prestigious Eastman School of Music. George also has been a featured entertainer aboard Crystal Cruises, showcasing pop-opera favorites as well as Broadway and jazz classics. George easily catches the essence of the classic songs in A Love Story. With a bachelor's degree from Kent State in dance performance, Tara Palsha's dream of becoming a principal in a Las Vegas show was realized when she was cast in Jubilee! at Bally's. Tara went on to join the original cast of Bite at Stratosphere, Fantasy at the Luxor, Red Riding Hood in Peepshow at Planet Hollywood, and lead dancer in Vegas! The Show at Planet Hollywood's Saxe Theater. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Tara plays George's soon-to-be-ex-wife in A Love Story. In A Love Story, Anne Martinez is the distracting love interest for George. Anne has a master's degree in acting from London's Central School of Speech and Drama. Tara toured Europe in the musical, Grease, while in the U.S. she has appeared as Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie, Polly in Crazy For You, Amneris in Aida, Lucy Harris in Jekyll & Hyde, Ellen in Miss Saigon, Cinderella in Into the Woods, and Evelyn Nesbit in Ragtime, and has performed as lead singer on Princess and Holland America Cruise lines. Anne's first performance in Las Vegas was singing lead vocals in Bite at the Stratosphere. She was also lead singer in Pin-Up, also at the Stratosphere, and in Dancing Queen at Planet Hollywood. A Love Story is presented by Mistinguett Productions, a Las Vegas-based company formed in 2010 by producer, director and choreographer Mistinguett. Recognized in the entertainment industry as one of the most experienced director/choreographers of her time, Mistinguett, in conjunction with partner-producer Greg Thompson, has opened more than 400 shows on five continents over a 25-year period. She has collected eight Show of the Year awards for her work in Reno, Las Vegas and Atlantic City. The Sun City Summerlin's Starbright Theater is located at 2215 Thomas Ryan Blvd. Tickets are $15 for Summerlin residents and $18. for non-residents. Starbright Theater Box Office telephone numbers are: Pinnacle (702) 240-1301, Mountain Shadows (702) 966-1410, and Desert Vista (702) 363-1341.

And speaking of love stories, here‘s a sweet one that is taking place OFF stage...
Nancy Barr and Steven Shinn were married in a lovely outdoor ceremony at the Blue Lotus Hanmi Healing and Teaching Center, at 5150 S. Pecos in Las Vegas, last Sunday, December 29th. Nancy is a well-known psychic reader, spiritualist and columnist, while Steve has been a local attorney since 1999. Before practicing law, Mr. Shinn was a Planner/Researcher for Lt. Gov. John Waihee, the Hawaii State House of Representatives and the State Department of Planning & Economic Development. He graduated from the University of Hawaii in 1974, with a Masters Degree in Urban and Regional Planning and, in 1972, with a Bachelors Degree in Architecture. Shinn earned his Juris Doctor degree from the William S. Richardson School of Law in 1983. Entertainment for Nancy and Steve's wedding was by the Tevakanui Polynesian Dance Troupe, owned by Henry and Yvette George. Additional music was provided through Kay and Derek Miyano of ADG Reality, and the vocalist was Pitty Pat Guidry, who has worked with Dinah Shore, Bob Hope, Doris Day and The Beach Boys over the years. We wish the newlyweds much happiness on their journey together.


Steven Shinn & Nancy Barr Shinn

Bob Miller

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The non-club club F.I.O.R.E. (Fun Italians Organizing Ridiculous Events) is getting classier and classier...at least if you are judging it by the pillars of the community who agree to be guest speakers at the monthly soirees. A perfect example is the special guest at the upcoming January 9th luncheon...former Nevada Governor Bob Miller. Distinguished as the longest serving governor in Nevada history, Bob Miller has held several public offices, including Lieutenant Governor and Clark County District Attorney. Whether you are a new or long time resident of Las Vegas, you will learn much about our state's colorful history. In addition to his talk, the former governor will be signing copies of his book, Son Of a Gambling Man, that tells the story of Millers' journey from a casino family to the governor's mansion. About the book, President Bill Clinton (who wrote the forward) says: "His memoir gives us all a unique, entertaining, and thought-provoking glimpse of how Las Vegas evolved from its outcast roots to the modern metropolis nicknamed ‘the All-American City‘." Steve Forbes calls it a "Fascinating larger than life story populated with eye-opening colorful characters." James Carville says, "I want you to know this is not, I repeat not, a quintessential American story-it is a quintessential Nevada story. This entertaining, honest, and provocative book could only have taken place in Nevada." Join the crowd at the Italian American Club, 2333 E. Sahara, on Thursday. Doors open at 11:30 a.m., with buffet lunch served at noon. The cost is $25 per person - cash or check please. F.I.O.R.E. is not set up for credit cards. They are just a group of friends getting together. Capice? RSVPs to [email protected] are a MUST.
Note: Barnes & Noble, who will be handling Governor Miller's book sales, informs us that, unlike the folks at F.I.O.R.E., they ARE set up to accept credit cards for book purchases.

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Heart & Music Cabaret is back at the Onyx Theatre by popular demand. Join the talented cast of six close-knit characters for an encore performance, as they embark on a simultaneous journey about love, loss, romance, family, and art. Seventeen songs, from on and off-Broadway - including "Heart and Music" from A New Brain, "Maybe" from Next to Normal, "Everybody's Girl" from Steel Pier, "Easier to Love" from Baby, "Mix Tape" from Avenue Q,
"If I Sing" from Closer Than Ever, "Naughty" from Matilda the Musical, "Nice" from Lucky Stiff,
"Goodbye" from Catch Me If You Can, "I'll Believe in You" from Elf, "I Know the Truth" from Aida, "Days of Plenty" from Little Women, "Grow Old With You" from The Wedding Singer,
"Sunday" from Sunday in the Park With George, and the song "Someone to Fall Back On" by Jason Robert Brown - are tied together by a simple script, and performed by a gifted cast.
Heart & Music Cabaret features Amanda Kraft, Brandon Burk, Danyel Arianna, Madison Smith, Mark Langberg, and Shiela Del Monte (and, yes, that's how she spells Shiela). The talent. The passion. The music. A collaboration which promises to be nothing short of brilliant. Showtime is this Sunday, January 5th at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15. Call (702) 732-7225. The Onyx Theatre is located inside The Rack, at 953 E. Sahara Avenue, Bldg.16 in Commercial Center.


Danyel Arianna

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Next Saturday, January 11th, from 1 to 5 p.m., Bella Capo will sign copies of her biography, La Bella Mafia, at The Mob Museum, the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement. The book signing will take place in the Museum's retail store and is open to the public. Capo was the sexually and physically abused daughter of a powerbroker, whose close associates included politicians and organized crime figures, and a drug-addicted mother, spent much of her youth in foster homes and rehabilitation facilities. As a young adult, she became a force on Hollywood's Sunset Strip, running clubs and after-hours clubs. After a failed marriage to an abusive husband, Bella became a boss in the Crips—the only white female to hold such a position of power in the gang at that time. She later fled Los Angeles in fear for her life when her ex-husband and his associates stalked her and threatened her with death. Although she could have died many times, Bella survived and overcame the obstacles to co-found La Bella Mafia, an online group that provides assistance and counseling to abuse victims—especially those in life-threatening situations. It is gaining an international following. For more information about this event and other programming at The Mob Museum, please call (702) 229-2734 or visit http://themobmuseum.org/archives/2013/12/24/la-bella-mafia-files/. The Mob Museum is a world-class destination in downtown Las Vegas dedicated to the thrilling story of organized crime and law enforcement. It presents an exciting and authentic view of the Mob's impact on Las Vegas history and its unique imprint on the world. True stories of Mob history are brought to life in a bold and contemporary style via engaging exhibits, high-tech theater presentations and more than 600 artifacts, the largest collection of Mob and related law enforcement memorabilia under one roof. Since opening in 2012, The Mob Museum has accumulated numerous accolades, including being named one of "20 Places Every American Should See" by Fox News and Budget Travel magazine, "Las Vegas' Best New Attractions for 2012" by Travel + Leisure magazine, "9 Reasons to Visit Las Vegas" by CNNgo, a finalist for the "Best Wider World Project Award," by the British Guild of Travel Writers and "Best Museum" by Nevada Magazine. Admission is $19.95 for adults ages 18 and over with special pricing for children, seniors, military, law enforcement, Nevada residents, and teachers. Museum hours are Sundays through Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. For more information, call (702) 229-2734, or visit www.themobmuseum.org.


Frank Cullotta

And speaking of the mob...
Robert George Allen is very excited to announce that Explore Vegas Now Productions will have three new tours opening next month - The Haunted Vegas Ghost Walk & Pub Crawl and The Vegas Mob Walk & Pub Crawl, both taking place on Fremont Street. Also Frank Cullotta's Casino Tour - The real story behind the movie. All three will be open by February 14th. Yes, that is the anniversary of the St. Valentines massacre. "What? You gotta problum wit dat." We will have more details about this next Friday.

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The NiteKings

From The NiteKings comes their January news...
To be sung to the tune of a familiar New Year's Eve song: "There was a man, his name was Lang, and he had a neon sign. Now Mr. Lang was very old, so they called it, Old Lang's Sign." Every Sunday in January (the 5th, 12th, 19th and 26th), we will be performing at Roxy's Lounge in Sam's Town, from 7 to 11 p.m. Sam's Town is located on Boulder Highway and Flamingo. Full bar, tables and a dance floor make this a great venue to spend your Sunday nights. No cover, admission, or minimum. Every Wednesday, January 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th, you can find us at The Bourbon Street Cabaret in The Orleans, from 4 to 8 p.m. The Orleans is located on Tropicana Ave, west of The Strip. Here we have a much bigger dance floor, tables and booths, and a large video poker bar surrounding the lounge. It fills up early, so plan ahead. Once again, no cover, admission, or minimum. We have been fortunate enough to be extended at both of these establishments "through" the month of March. Thank you once again for your support and loyalty. Stop by and "Cut a Rug" with The NiteKings. You will have lots of fun, I am certain of that.

Wishing you the best for 2014,
Victor, Angelo, Eddy, Skip, Rich, John, Red, Chris, and Tony

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More fun TV stuff for nostalgia buffs (cable access not necessary) was seen locally during the past week. We spotted a number of faces with local connections. In The Producers (the 2005 musical version), Brent Barrett (looking like a member of The Village People) was playing "Brian the set designer" in the "Keep It Gay" number, and Eric Michael Gillett played an accountant in the same movie. Brent played the lead role in Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular at The Venetian, and Gillett was a member of Donn Arden's Hallelujah Hollywood at Bally's (then the MGM Grand) and Bill Moore and George Arnold's Bal du Moulin Rouge at the Las Vegas Hilton. And right after 2013 became 2014, COZI TV in Las Vegas aired an episode of One Step Beyond called Premonition. The frightened little girl in that one was current Southern Nevada resident, Beverly Washburn (she was in episodes of just about EVERYTHING!).


Brent Barrett in The Producers

Beverly Washburn Vintage
Photo caption - In the accompanying photo from The Producers, that's Brent Barrett in black, back row in the middle.

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Tickets are already on sale for Billy Joel in concert, coming to the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday, June 7th. Even though it seems too early to be thinking about June in January, tickets will probably be sold out in just weeks. Since releasing his first hit song, "Piano Man," in 1973, the singer, songwriter, musician (piano, keyboards, guitar, harmonica, accordion), has become the sixth best selling recording artist and the third-best-selling solo artist in the United States. His compilation album, Greatest Hits Vol. 1 & 2, is the third-best-selling album in the United States by discs shipped. Joel had Top 40 hits in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, achieving 33 Top 40 hits in the United States, all of which he wrote himself, and has sold more than 150 million records worldwide. New York-born Billy has been nominated for 23 Grammy Awards throughout his career, and has won six. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1992, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on 1999, and the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2006. In 2001, Joel received the Johnny Mercer Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and, in 2005, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Last month, Joel was one of the recipients of Kennedy Center Honors, the nation's highest honor, for influencing American culture through the arts. Billy Joel's New Year's Eve show didn't just mark his first public concert in Brooklyn, it also now holds the record for the biggest show yet at the Barclays Center. The concert, broadcast as part of Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve, brought just over 18,000 to the Brooklyn arena. Tickets for the MGM Grand June Billy Joel concert, when purchased through the hotel, range from $84, plus taxes and fees, to $199.50, plus taxes and fees.


Billy Joel

Johnny Fortuno

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Two days after what would have been Elvis Presley's 79th birthday, the Cannery Casino & Hotel will honor his life with a compilation entertainment weekend that includes music, comedy and friends of the King. The Celebration of the King's Life in The Club at the Cannery Casino & Hotel, 2121 East Craig Road in North Las Vegas will occur at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, January 10th and 11th. While other Elvis festivals, events and contests are happening around the world, Southern Nevada can join in the festivities with top Elvis Tribute Artist, Johnny Fortuno; The Stamps Quartet; The Man Who Made Elvis Laugh, comedian Sammy Shore; Elvis' Co-Star in Blue Hawaii, Darlene Tompkins; Elvis' bodyguard, Sam Thompson; Elvis expert and Graceland's only sanctioned DJ with "Elvis On The Air," Steve Christopher, and other friends of Elvis. Johnny Fortuno is known as one of the top Elvis tribute artists and performs Elvis' hits such as "Heartbreak Hotel," "Suspicious Minds," and "Don't be Cruel." Gospel group, The Stamps Quartet, performed regularly with Elvis in concert and on recordings. Tickets for the show are $10 at The Club showroom door. Autograph signing will be available after the show. There also will be memorabilia vendors and buffet specials with "Food Fit For The King," including many of Elvis' favorites such as deep fried pickles, Southern fried chicken and more. Cannery Casino Resorts, LLC, owns and operates Cannery Casino & Hotel in North Las Vegas, and Eastside Cannery Casino & Hotel on the Boulder Strip in Las Vegas. The company also owns and operates the Meadows Racetrack & Casino in Washington County, Pennsylvania. Visit the property websites at www.cannerycasino.com, www.eastsidecannery.com, and www.meadowsgaming.com.

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It's Larry Liso, singing and entertaining in the very intimate Elements Kitchen & Martini Bar, Thursday nights from 6 to 9 p.m. Check out the exciting night spot. And, while you are there enjoying the music, take a look at the menu. Liso, who also sings with Shades of Sinatra, says the dishes at Elements are delicious and simply incredible, and touts the happy hour and drink specials. He also says that Elements has, "Absolutely the best chicken wings in town, bar none! Same goes for the hummus." And, did we mention that Elements offers a 500 Martini Menu? Elements Kitchen & Martini Bar is located at 4950 S. Rainbow Blvd. #100, on the southeast corner of Rainbow and Tropicana. Phone (702) 750-2991.

And, if you are reading this early enough on January 3rd, Larry's singing Shades of Sinatra cohort, Carmine Mandia, invites you to come dance with he and his friends at the Italian American Club Ristorante, tonight, from 7 to 11 p.m. In case you missed it elsewhere in this column, the IAC is located at 2333 E. Sahara.


Larry Liso

Steven Wright

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The "Confucius of Comedy," Steven Wright, returns to The Orleans Showroom this weekend. Following a successful engagement in 2013, the Academy Award®-winner and Grammy® Award-nominee performs tonight and tomorrow night, with his trademark wit, absurdist one-liners, monotone voice and deadpan delivery. After launching his comedy career at the age of 23, as a regular performer at Ding Ho's Comedy Club and Chinese Restaurant in Cambridge, Mass., Wright got his big break and was booked on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Following his performance, Wright was invited to return to the Tonight Show the following week for a rare back-to-back appearance. His new kind of comedy and lackluster voice caught the comedy world's attention, and he later appeared on Saturday Night Live and Late Night with David Letterman. As his fame grew, he starred in two HBO specials - A Steven Wright Special and Wicker Chairs and Gravity. In 1985, Wright received a Grammy® nomination for his debut album, I Have a Pony. Twenty-two years later, he won a second Grammy® nomination for its sequel, I Still Have a Pony. Following his second nomination, he was the first inductee into The Boston Comedy Hall of Fame. In 1989, he received an Academy Award® for Best Short Film for his satiric, The Appointments of Dennis Jennings, which he co-starred in and wrote. Wright also appeared in several other small and big screen films, including So I Married an Axe Murderer, Desperately Seeking Susan, Half-Baked, and The Swan Princess. In 2011, Wright voiced the character Danny on an episode of the animated series, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and guest starred on the hit series, Louie. Showtime each evening is 8 p.m. Tickets are available, starting from $34.95, plus tax and convenience fees, and can be purchased at any Boyd Gaming Box Office, by calling (702) 365-7075, or visiting www.orleanscasino.com.

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If you would rather BE the entertainment, than WATCH the entertainment, here's some audition information for you...
Evil Dead the Musical is growing and they need more people to join their cast. Currently the shows can be seen on Fridays and Saturdays, but next month you will be able to catch them four nights a week at 10 p.m. Sometime in summer, they are hoping to expand to six nights each week. This expansion is a direct result of the success of the show. With doubling, and tripling, the number of shows they do in a week, they need to expand the cast for the multi-media over-the-top camp comedy featuring an undead horde, 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. Three male and three female performers of various ages are being sought for 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 18 years of age or older.


Evil Dead the Musical

You don't need to know the show, but it is advised you familiarize yourself with it if you are auditioning. Character Breakdown: Males - "Ash" (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 at least 6" tall, in good shape, and good looking. "Scotty" (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. "Ed" (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" (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. Females - "Linda" (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. Must be in good shape and attractive. Cannot be over 5'10" tall. "Cheryl" (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. Cannot be over 5'5" tall. "Shelly" (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! Must be in good shape and comfortable in a revealing costume. This same performer plays the role of Annie. "Annie" (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 in good shape and comfortable in a tear away revealing costume. This same performer plays the role of Shelly. Submit headshot and resume to Sirc Michaels Productions at [email protected] They will contact you to schedule a time to come in and audition. Auditions will be held in person and are by appointment only. Video submissions will not be accepted.

Evil Dead the Musical - Fridays at 10 p.m., Saturdays at 11:30 p.m. at The V Theater, Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino. Phone (866) 932-1818.



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