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 June 06, 2014
You can find the current column HERE


Las Vegas - June 6, 2014


Philip Fortenberry

Jerry Herman

There were almost 4,000 votes cast for New York's recent first Ghostlight Awards competition. In what is expected to become an annual event, Broadway's "behind the scenes" talented and lucky Ghostlight Awards winners are: Best Box Office Staff Member, The Bridges of Madison County; Best Company Manager, Wicked; Best Child Guardian, Annie; Best Concessions/Bar Staff, The Book of Mormon; Best Dance Captain, Pippin; Best Dresser, Wicked; Best House Manager, The Book of Mormon; Best Merchandise Seller, Wicked; Best Musical Director, Kinky Boots; Best Stage Door Person, Matilda; Best Stagehand, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical; Best Stage Manager, Rocky; Best Usher, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical; and, of great interest to the Las Vegas entertainment community, Best Musician, Philip Fortenberry, for Rocky at the Winter Garden Theatre. Currently a resident of Las Vegas, Philip was the associate conductor for Hairspray at the Luxor Theater, as well as the North American premiere of the rock musical extravaganza, We Will Rock You at the Paris, Las Vegas. He played and conducted Mamma Mia! at the Mandalay Bay, and he is currently the associate conductor for the Las Vegas production of the hit musical, Jersey Boys at Paris Las Vegas.

As Ken Davenport wrote about the Ghostlight Awards, "It just shows how much support and love there is for those that literally pull the curtain, light the lights, and serve those sippy cups. It takes a lot more to put on a Broadway show than just the people on the stage or on the god mic." Congratulations to all the winners!

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An Homage to La Cage, celebrating the music of renowned composer Jerry Herman, and featuring Broadway stars Lee Roy Reams, and special guest, Davis Gaines, is set to take center stage at San Francisco's historic Castro Theatre, built in 1922, this Monday, June 9th. Mr. Reams and Mr. Gaines will perform songs from La Cage Aux Folles and other works of Mr. Herman. In addition to honoring their incredible talents, in true Imperial fashion, Homage will raise funds for both 50 Years of Fabulous, a film documenting José Sarria's Imperial Council of San Francisco (ICSF), and Camp Sunburst, an HIV/AIDS youth program of the Sunburst Projects. Tickets are $500 Front Orchestra - includes pink carpet entrance with pink boa greeting and pre-show cocktail reception beginning at 6 p.m. There will also be a post-show dessert reception and photo with celebrities immediately following the performance; $250 Rear Orchestra, includes pre-show cocktail reception at 6 p.m.; $100 Loge and Center Balcony, and $50 Rear Balcony, doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets will be available for pick-up at Will Call, one hour before show time. Seats are assigned by Ticket Sales Manager. Dress Code: You are encouraged to wear your most fabulous boas, bling and bow-ties. Over the top is just enough.
The Castro Theatre is located at 429 Castro St. in the city by the bay. Phone (415) 621-6120.

Jerry Herman, Lee Roy Reams, and Davis Gaines, all have Vegas connections. On October 21, 2006, the UNLV Performing Arts Center presented, Hello, Jerry!: Celebrating the Music and Lyrics of Jerry Herman, as part of the New York Stage & Beyond series. The concert, held in Artemus Ham Hall, featured Paige O'Hara (the voice of Belle in Disney's Beauty and the Beast), Jason Graae (Sparky in Forever Plaid), Karen Morrow (multiple award-winning singer/actress), and musical director, Donald Pippin. Unfortunately, due to some health issue, Jerry was not present. Lee Roy portrayed Roger De Bris in Mel Brooks' The Producers at Paris Las Vegas, from May of 2007, until the show closed in February, 2008. In December of 2003, Davis starred in Leslie Bricusse's Scrooge the Musical at the Starbright Theatre in Sun City Summerlin.


Lee Roy Reams

Bill Spinning 1955-2014

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This obituary was sent to us by the late Bill Spinning's sister, Mary.
William Haefner Spinning (February 26, 1955 - May 16, 2014), known to friends as "Spin" and family as "Bingo." He was a very talented soul, whose love of music, dance and theater took him around the world. He wrote music, played the drums and was a lead singer in a band. He danced in Vegas with his partner "Ludovika." Bill had a passion for sports, primarily football and baseball with the Seaholm Maples. He was the lead quarterback in football and was the No. 1 pitcher of his team. Bill also helped to take them to Kentucky for the regional playoffs. Though the Detroit Tigers asked him to try out for their team he chose not to so that he could pursue music and dance. He had throughout his life a "joie de vivre" that few people ever have. He is survived by his two children, Elle Kaye Spinning and William Chase Spinning of Antelope, CA, and his sister, Mary S. Shier of Columbiaville, MI. Private services will be held at Castle Rock in Michigan.


Bill Spinning & Ludo Vika

Bill Fayne

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On Thursday, the 12th, the June gathering of the F.I.O.R.E. (Fun Italians Organizing Ridiculous Events) folks will take place at the Italian American Club, 2333 East Sahara Avenue. The special guest speaker for this month will be Bill Fayne. Bill has been musical director of more than 50 theater productions, operas, and television shows over the past 40 years, and has appeared as guest conductor with the Atlanta, Georgia; Buffalo, New York; Columbus, Ohio; and Delaware Symphony Orchestras. As an arranger, he has worked with Clint Holmes, Suzanne Somers, Gloria Loring, Ann Jillian, Hal Linden, Mickey Rooney, and Kathie Lee Gifford. Bill's TV credits include various Bob Hope specials, Dick Clark productions, The Tonight Show, The Joan Rivers Show, and many others. His musical association with Clint spans 33 years, and their friendship goes back to college where they first met. They have traveled the world, making music, creating shows, and sharing wonderful experiences. Together, Bill and Clint have created production revues for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, as well as their recent and current shows in Las Vegas. They appeared at Harrah's Las Vegas from 2000 thru 2006. Bill spent 10 summers in Monte Carlo as Music Director of the famed Sporting Club. He conducted and co-created (with Jean-Pierre Reggiori) 16 shows for full orchestra, and a cast of 25 singer/ dancers. In past years, he has written the theme song for the NBC TV series, Jennifer Slept Here and Ann Jillian, and has composed music and written special material for the stage and television. He has been involved as either musical director, production director or creator of award-winning stage shows in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, as well as internationally. Bill is currently performing around the world with the group he created called Voices 3 Las Vegas. In the past two years, he has produced and Musical Directed Les Miserables, Company, Putting It Together, It's a Grand Night for Singing, A Love Story, Showstoppers, Guys and Dolls, Bill Fayne & Friends Celebrate Rodgers and Hart & Hammerstein Too!, Bill Fayne & Friends Celebrate Stephen Sondheim, Bill Fayne & Friends Celebrate The Golden Age of Movie Musicals, and The Book of Merman. He continues to create new shows and performances in Vegas and across the United States. In addition to Bill Fayne sharing show business stories with the group, the afternoon attendees are also treated to a great buffet, live music by Gary Anderson and the Malcontents and camaraderie with interesting people. The cost of all this fun and food is $25 per person (cash or check only - no credit cards). Doors to the IAC open at 11:30 a.m. RSVPs to [email protected] are a must. The non-club club F.I.O.R.E. is not for everyone. Before committing yourself to any of the events, it is suggested that you visit: http://nonclubclubfiore.com/about-u/. CAPISCE?

As for busy Bill Fayne, on Saturday, June 14th, it's Fayne & Friends presenting The Book of Merman at the happening Viva Las Vegas Event Center. Ethel Merman was the last of her kind: a grand talent with equally immense vehicles to showcase her clarion voice and impeccable comic timing. Merman sang into her mid seventies. In her sixties she performed here at the Flamingo Hotel. It was like a happy earthquake had hit Las Vegas. Fayne's show recreates the music from Merman's Las Vegas show, and recalls stories and the great music spanning her long illustrious career. Created by Bill Fayne, in addition to him being at the piano and singing some of those iconic songs, the upcoming production of The Book of Merman will feature two different and equally talented 'Ethels'...Kellie Wright and Jimmy Emerson. The show time is from 8 to 11:30 p.m., followed by Celebrity Open Mic. The doors open at 7 for cocktails, with tickets priced at $15 online at vivalasvegaseventcenter.com, or at the door. A varied and reasonably priced dinner and appetizer menu is available. The Viva Las Vegas Event Center is located on the Strip at 1201 Las Vegas Blvd. So. Call (702) 384-0771.

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Nelson Sardelli, who created the F.I.O.R.E. non-club club, recently returned from Southern California, where he helped his longtime friend, Pat Boone, celebrate his 80th birthday with a fund raising party to benefit Ryan's Reach. The event, held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on June 1st, was a star-studded roast to honor Boone and to "roast him unmercifully." With his wife of more than 60 years, Shirley, and daughters, Debby, Cherry, Lindy and Laurey, enjoying the party, Pat was the recipient of good-natured fun. Hosted by Larry King and Wink Martindale, the roasters included Rich Little, Norm Crosby, Tom Dreesen, Gavin MacLeod, and Louise Duart. Among the VIP guests were Jon Voight, Billy Davis & Marilyn McCoo, Lou Ferrigno, Shirley Jones & Marty Ingels, Judy Tenuta, Peter Marshall, Rosey Grier and George Foreman. All proceeds from the roast go to benefit Ryan's Reach, The Ryan Corbin Foundation for Brain Injury. Ryan Corbin is Lindy Boone Michaels son, and Pat and Shirley Boone's first grandchild. The foundation is named in his honor (Ryan suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2001). Because Ryan is financially secure, all donations to Ryan's Reach are directed for the care of others. The foundation is dedicated to the rehabilitation, retraining and support of individuals who have been devastated by traumatic brain injury (TBI). The proceeds from the evening's celebration will enable Ryan's Reach to continue caring for those we serve as well as addressing long term goals of establishing a group home for TBI survivors. To learn more about Ryan's Reach go to www.ryansreach.com. Happy birthday, Pat!


Vintage Pat Boone & Nelson Sardelli

Debby Boone Sings for Ryan's Reach

And still speaking of Nelson Sardelli, which we frequently do...
Once again, on Father's Day, Sunday, this year occurring on June15th, the patriot will lead the troops to the Veterans Home in Boulder City, where many entertainers who live and work in Southern Nevada will perform for the men and women who reside at the facility, Some of the members of the Southern Nevada entertainment community who have made the trip to the city by the dam over the years, include - Vince Falcone, Pete Barbutti, Felix Silla, Ronnie Rose, Peter Anthony, Linda November, Artie Schreck, Dr. George Ritter, Paul X. Campanella, Gordie Brown, Marty Allen and Karon Kate Blackwell, Roy Willie Hammock, Michaelina Bellamy, Dondino (and Donna), Renee Hale, Jac Hayden (Mundane the Grate), Joni Illi, Dr. Wilfred Krom, Nik Mastrangelo, Gary Olds and The Usual Suspects, Charly Raymond, Dr. George Ritter, Ronnie Rose, Steve Rossi, Joseph R. Stanley, Johnny and Pam Thompson (The Great Tomsoni & Co.), and Allen Tramont. Non-performing volunteers (roadies?) include Larry Taylor (lights and smoke effects), Lou Toomin, Don Sacco, Don Ciricillo and Johnny Amato. Nelson makes it clear..."This is not a career move, but it does a lot of good to the souls just entertaining those heroes." The message below tells all we need to know. If you would like to be part of this year's lineup, please contact Nelson, at [email protected], at your earliest convenient opportunity. As always, it is a four hours event...from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. A song or two, a joke or three, will do the trick. I am proud and pleased to say we already have some great talent on board.

Fraternally,
Nelson Sardelli (Spec 3, US ARMY, 1956-1958)
In a message dated 4/8/2014, 11:54:15 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time, Angela Metcalf, Volunteer Coordinator Nevada State Veterans Home ([email protected]) writes:
Good morning, Nelson, hope this email finds you well. The Nevada State Veterans Home will be hosting the Annual Father's Day Bash on Sunday, June 15, and request the presence of Nelson Sardelli and Friends. The residents, families, visitors, staff, and volunteers look forward to this event every year and love the entertainment that is provided by Nelson and his many talented Friends. We look forward to working with you and wish you a happy and safe spring. Thank you for your consideration of our request. We are "Caring for America's Heroes,"
The Veterans Home is located at 100 Veterans Memorial Drive, in Boulder City, Nevada. Phone (702) 332-6741. www.veterans.nv.gov.

It was Vince Lombardi (1913-1970) who said, "The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor."

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This is the final weekend to see the well-reviewed Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest at The Onyx Theatre. Off-Strip's Artistic Director, Brandon Burk, directs what Wilde dubbed his "Trivial comedy for serious people." The cast includes Abby Dandy, Sue McNulty, David McKee, Barbara King, Alex Olson, Edgar Nunez, Tara Thompson and Sandy Stein, and the all-star list of Designers Includes: David Sankuer - Set, Isaiah Hiram Urrabazo - Costumes, Jake Copenhaver - Lighting, and Sandy Stein - Sound. Burk is returning to the director's chair after a 16 month hiatus. His sold-out production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, which opened in 2012 and was revived by popular demand in 2013, received widespread acclaim. Show times are June 6th and 7th at 8 p.m., and Sunday, the 8th at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 Regular Admission, and $15 for Students, Seniors, and Military. The Onyx Theatre is located at 953 E. Sahara, Bldg.16, in the Commercial Center. Call (702) 732-7225 for reservations.

And speaking of The Onyx, David de Alba, San Francisco's Finocchio Club's legendary actor, singer, impressionist, returns to The Onyx Theater stage on Sunday, June 22nd, to present A Lonely Stage, My Tribute to Judy Garland. David explains, "June 22nd is a very poignant date, as Miss Garland passed away on that day in 1969. Last year's sold out show, Dorothy The Later Years Judy Garland Tribute, earned David a standing ovation. This year's performance should do the same. Performance time is at 2 p.m. David will be presented with a special award during the show on the 22nd. We will have more about Mr. De Alba and the upcoming Onyx event in next week's column. Tickets are $20 for V.I.P. seating (two front rows), and $17 for general admission. As mentioned above, The Onyx Theatre is located at 953 E. Sahara, Bldg.16, in the Commercial Center. Call (702) 732-7225 for reservations.


David de Alba

Cocho Arbe

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On Sunday, May 25th, Nik at Nite (attorney Nicolas Mastrangelo during the day) and his musical trio, dedicated three sets in the Tuscany's Piazza Lounge to the music of Johnny Mercer. Lots of folks showed, up cheering on the talent all evening. It was great to have Joey Singer, coming over from his Mamma Mia! gig at the Tropicana to join the group during the last set. Last Sunday night, June 1st, Nik and the trio - Bob Sachs on bass, John Plows on drums, and special guest, Mike Clark on piano - paid tribute to Nat King Cole. It never ceases to amaze Nik, just how many great songs Nat Cole recorded. The music filled the air with his songs all night long. This Sunday, the fellows will have Cocho Arbe back as guest keyboardist, as they feature the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim. Each time they do Jobim, the band adds more of his songs. Join Cocho, Bob, Mike and Nik for the coolest hang in town. You would be hard pressed to find a better way to finish your weekend. Show time is from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. The Piazza Lounge is located inside the Tuscany Suites & Casino (on the hotel side) at 255 E. Flamingo.

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Billy Joel

The "Piano Man," Billy Joel, takes over the MGM Grand Garden Arena tomorrow night. We saw him perform here in concert at the Thomas and Mack Center in the '80s. Tickets for tomorrow night's concert range in price from $95.65 to $216.20...a bit higher than they were in the '80s. Call (800) 745-3000.

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Chadwick - That's the Ticket!

Because we took last Friday off, we are doing a little follow-up on some of the shows we attended between our last column and this one. Chadwick Johnson's Music and Me show at the Italian American Club on Friday, May 30th, was a sellout. Joined by Yves Frulla on piano (Yves is Celine Dion's keyboard player), Dan DeMorales on bass, John Plows on drums, and Russ Letizia on guitar. Music and Me also featured three talented dancers: Daymara Sibat Laredo, Alain Lavalle, and Lindsey Radice, with Choreographic Artistic Design by Kelly Cabrera. While telling the audience about how he got from "there" to "here" (with a humorous reference to American Idol), Chadwick presented a varied program, made up of songs that connect to his life, including, Michael Jackson's "Music and Me," "I Got the Music In Me," "Precious Lord" (inspired by his grandmother and church), "Faith," "Breakaway," "Heartache Tonight," "Tell Me Something Good," "Home" from The Wiz (a real crowd pleaser), "For Once In My Life," "All In Love Is Fair," "Crazy Little Thing Called Love," "Wake Me Up," "I'm Moving On," "The Way You Make Me Feel," "Forever Young," "Small Town Girl," and "Don't Stop Believin.'"

Also included was an original song, "The One Who Loves You," written by Johnson and Kalani Queypo. Vocalist Michelle Johnson joined Chadwick for a couple of duets. He worked the room, getting up close and personal, and giving us a chance to see some of the more than 200 people who filled the main showroom to see and hear the young performer in his production. We spotted Mark OToole; Karen Michaels of Dangerous Curves; Bill Fayne, Nik Mastrangelo (who performs on Sunday nights in the Tuscany's Piazza Lounge); Carmine Mandia (who is an ongoing performer in the IAC lounge); Rita Davidsen (opera singing, proud mother of Kenny Davidsen, who plays piano in the Tspot Lounge at the Tuscany); the D Hotel entertainer, Frankie Scinta; freelance writer, Diane Taylor; Vegas Voice columnist, Sam Wagmeister; music-lovers, Brenda Weems and Sue Lauterbach; musician Keith Neal, John Menniti (Chadwick's manager), Evan and Sandi Davis, music fan and supporter Maxine Gaines, and members of Chadwick's family, here for this special occasion from the Midwest. Mr. Johnson is a very nice and talented man. His family should be proud.


Mark OToole

And speaking of Mark OToole, in what was probably his most important and prestigious engagement since becoming a Las Vegas resident 25 years ago, the 1994 Best Male Vocalist Star Search winner performed for a full house in The Smith Center's Cabaret Jazz club on Tuesday night. With one of our favorites, Vita Corimbi, as musical director, conductor, and pianist, the lady led the eight players - consisting of some of the city's top musicians: Bill Fayne, keys; Gary Anderson, Jim D'Arrigo, Steve Meyer, Bill King, horns; Tony Drake, guitar; Frank Fabio, bass; Adam Shendal, drums - in an impressive overture of Benny Goodman's classic "Sing, Sing, Sing." This was followed by OToole performing a variety of songs, among them, "Heartache Tonight," "You've Got a Friend In Me," "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?," "I Don't Want To Walk Without You," "You're Nobody Til Somebody Loves You," "I've Got the World On a String," "The Way You Look Tonight," "Nevertheless," "Crazy Little Thing Called Love," "Turn the Page" featuring D'Arrigo. Obviously, Mark is a big Barry Manilow fan (not a bad thing), as the lineup included a significant number of well-known and obscure Manilow tunes, including "Singing With the Big Bands," "I Was a Fool To Let You Go," "I Made It Through the Rain," "Sweet Heaven I'm In Love Again, "Even Now," and "Forever and a Day." A touching tribute to Mark's late mother, Helen, featured Manilow's "You're There," and special guests, Chadwick Johnson and Toscha Comeaux, joined OToole in yet another Manilow selection, "God Bless the Other 99." Mark is not just a fine singer, he is also a pretty funny fellow. To the delight of the crowd, he had a lot of quick quips

Offered along with the music, making for a very entertaining evening. Among the people that we recognized in the enthusiastic audience were Pia Zadora, Rich Little, John Katsilometes, Denise Rose, Sam Wagmeister, Chris Phillips (Zowie Bowie), Murray SawChuck, Wesley Eure, Roberta Kent, Michael Grimm, Sonny Charles, Dana Stern, Kelly Clinton, Dan Roberts, Carmine Mandia, and Nancy Hawthorne. A good time was had by all.

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Jesus Christ Superstar, scheduled for the Events Center at Mandalay Bay on July 25th, has been cancelled. The entire multi-million dollar, 50-city US tour of the Tim Rice/Andrew Lloyd Webber musical has been cancelled at the last minute. John Lydon, also known as Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols, was among the 300-strong cast. Other performers were to include rock, pop and R&B superstars, among them: Incubus' lead vocalist Brandon Boyd as Judas Iscariot, *NSYNC vocalist JC Chasez as Pontius Pilate, Destiny's Child's Michelle Williams as Mary Magdalene, John Rotten Lydon from Public Image Ltd and Sex Pistols as King Herod, and introducing "Superstar" Winner Ben Forster as Jesus. More than 70 cast members, who had been due to fly out from London, posted to social media a photograph of the group giving a one-fingered salute, a gesture which was repeated as a sign of "solidarity" by their American counterparts. All purchased tickets will be refunded. Tickets purchased online and via telephone will be automatically refunded. Tickets purchased from outlets/venue box office must be returned to that location for refund.

Plastic Cup Boyz, that was supposed to perform at Mandalay Bay's House of Blues Music Hall on June 21st, has also been cancelled. Not sure why.

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Celebrity City Chorus

Next Saturday, June 14th, at 7:30 p.m., the Celebrity City Chorus, a member of Sweet Adelines International, an award winning chorus of women singers committed to advancing the musical art form of Barbershop Harmony, will perform at the Green Valley Presbyterian Church, 1798 Wigwam Parkway in Henderson, Nevada. They will create an image of what barbershop music is today. Celebrity City Chorus is a group of 70+ vocalists, ranging in ages from 16 to 82 with diverse backgrounds. The chorus sings four part a cappella harmony at a high level of musicality, while incorporating showmanship through expressive choreography and dance. Wearing eye catching costumes, they entertain and dazzle audiences. Historically, Sweet Adelines International, a non-profit organization, has been in existence since 1945. Today, there are approximately 25,000 members in more than 600 choruses in countries around the world. The Las Vegas Chapter of Sweet Adelines was established in 1962. Admission to the performance is free, but Free-Will Offerings are always graciously accepted and much appreciated. Call (702) 454-8484, or go to www.greenvalleypres.com.

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Through the summer, Grimaldi's Pizzeria is working to end the cycle of child abuse with Childhelp, the nation's oldest and largest non-governmental non-profit advocating for abused and neglected children. When a guest dines at Grimaldi's Pizzeria, they will receive information with their checks, asking if they would like to donate to Childhelp. The information includes donation amounts in either $1 or $5 denominations, as well as basic information about Childhelp and their Five Too Many Campaign, in reference to the five children that die every day from abuse or neglect. Donations will be accepted at any Grimaldi's Pizzeria location until Friday, August 15th. Since 1959, Childhelp has brought the light of hope and healing into the lives of countless children as a leading national non-profit organization dedicated to helping at-risk children. Childhelp's programs and services include residential treatment services, children's advocacy centers, therapeutic foster care, group homes and child abuse prevention, education and training. Childhelp created the Childhelp National Day of Hope®, held each April during National Child Abuse Prevention Month that mobilizes Americans to join the fight against child abuse. In the world of pizza, Grimaldi's is an institution that has garnered more awards than any other pizzeria in the country with more celebrity sightings than most 5-star restaurants. Using only the freshest ingredients, a "secret recipe" pizza sauce, handmade mozzarella cheese and dough, Grimaldi's serves traditional pizza (as it began in Naples, Italy) in an upscale yet casual, family oriented pizzeria. The intense heat of the oven evenly bakes the pies to create Grimaldi's famous crispy and smoky thin crust that Zagat has voted best pizza year after year. Grimaldi's Pizzeria has five locations in Las Vegas and one in Sparks, Nevada. Las Vegas locations include The Shoppes at The Palazzo, Rainbow and 215, Boca Park Fashion Village The Fashion Show Mall and Richmar Plaza. The Sparks restaurant is located in The Legends at Sparks Marina. For more information on Grimaldi's Pizzeria, visit www.grimaldispizzeria.com.

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By popular demand, Sam's Town Live's signature weekly show, Toast of the Town, has moved to Sundays at 1 p.m. The variety show features an ever-changing lineup of popular Strip performers and is free to B Connected members. "We've had a large number of guests tell us they'd like to see Toast of the Town, but were unavailable on weekdays," said Melanie Mabry, Director of Marketing at Sam's Town Las Vegas. "By moving the show to the weekend, more locals and tourists than ever will have the opportunity to check out this great show." To kick off its new time slot, the June 1st show featured appearances by a number of local veteran Strip entertainers. The lineup included Clint Holmes, Kelly Clinton, Doug Starks, Scotty Allen (DJ at 97.1 - The Point), Paul Draper (Mysteries of the Mind), Chris Randall of Scandal Magic, and more. This Sunday, June 8th, performers include Lou De Meis, Mark Bennick, Robin Vincent and Ned Mills (Lionardo). Doors open at noon, and the shows begin at 1 p.m. B Connected members can swipe their card at any B Connected Kiosk on Sundays to get a ticket voucher for the show. B Connected membership is required to attend.


Mark Bennick

Herb Jeffries 1913-2014

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Herbert "Herb" Jeffries, born Umberto Alexander Valentino in Detroit on September 24, 1913, passed away in Woodland Hills, California, on May 25th. Jeffries was 100-years-old at the time of his death. He began his career working with Erskine Tate and his Vendome Orchestra when he moved to Chicago from Detroit at the urging of Louis Armstrong. His break came during the 1933 Chicago World's Fair—Century of Progress Exposition singing with the Earl Hines Orchestra on Hines' national broadcasts live from the Grand Terrace Cafe. His first recordings were with Hines in 1934, including "Just to be in Carolina." He then recorded with Duke Ellington from 1940 to 1942. In the 1940s and 1950s, the singer/actor recorded for a number of labels, including RCA Victor, Exclusive, Coral, Decca, Bethlehem, Columbia, Mercury and Trend. His album, Jamaica, recorded by RKO, is a concept album of self-composed calypso songs. His most famous song, "Flamingo" (recorded in 1940 with Duke Ellington), is claimed to have sold more than 50 million copies, although only 25 million 78 rpm records were pressed in the US in 1938, and probably only a few more two years later. Playing a singing cowboy in low-budget films, Jeffries became known as the "Bronze Buckaroo" by his fans. In a time of American racial segregation, such "race movies" played mostly in theaters catering to African-American audiences. Among his films (some now available on video) are Harlem on the Prairie, The Bronze Buckaroo, Harlem Rides the Range and Two-Gun Man from Harlem. Jeffries went on to make other films, starring with Angie Dickinson in Calypso Joe (1957). He later directed and produced Mundo depravados, a cult film starring his then wife, Tempest Storm. In 1968, Jeffries appeared in the long-running western TV series The Virginian, playing a gunslinger who intimidated the town. At the age of 81, he recorded a Nashville album of songs on the Warner Western label in 1995 entitled The Bronze Buckaroo (Rides Again). For his contributions to the motion-picture industry, Jeffries has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2004, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. A restaurant in Idyllwild, Cafe Aroma, has a room named for him. In 1998, a Golden Palm Star on California's Palm Springs Walk of Stars, was dedicated to him. He once characterized himself in an interview as "three-eighths Negro," claiming pride in his racial heritage during a period when many other light-skinned black performers were attempting "to pass" as all-white in an effort to broaden their commercial appeal. In marked contrast, Jeffries used make-up to darken his skin—in order to pursue a career in jazz and to be seen as employable by the leading all-black musical ensembles of the day. In recent years, Jeffries resided in Wichita, Kansas. Jeffries is survived by his fifth wife, Savannah; three daughters; and two sons.

Judi Meredith Nelson, passed away on April 30th, at the age of 77. She was born October 13th, 1936, in Portland, Oregon. At age 15, Judi was a professional skater in the Ice Follies. In 1951, she suffered a serious skiing accident which ended her skating career. Soon after, George Burns "discovered" her at the Pasadena Play House and asked her to join the cast of The Burns and Allen Show. Judi went on to co-star and star in numerous television shows and films, including Summer Love, Jack the Giant Killer, Night Walker, Queen of Blood, Gunsmoke, Wagon Train, Bonanza and Hawaii Five-O to name a few. It was on Hotel de Paree where she met a then, young Assistant Director named Gary Nelson. Judi agreed to star on Have Gun Will Travel for free if Gary would be allowed to direct. Once married, her new husband proclaimed that "there would be only one professional in the house" thus slowly supplanting Judi's acting career with his directing career. She was happily married to Gary Nelson for 51 years. They lived in Encino, California, until 1998, and then resided in both Chicago and Palm Beach, until settling in Las Vegas in 2002. Judi is survived by her husband Gary; two sons, Garrett Nelson of Las Vegas, Nevada, and Blue Nelson of Los Angeles, California; sister Randa DeLorge of LaPine, Oregon. Donations may be made in Judi's name to St Joseph Husband of Mary Roman Catholic Church in Las Vegas.


Judi Nelson 1936-2014

Broadways' Best

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Reminder...
The Henderson Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of conductor Taras Krysa, presents a live orchestral screening of Charlie Chaplin's The Circus at 8:30 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, June 7th, at the Henderson Pavilion, 200 S. Green Valley Pkwy. One hundred years ago, Charlie Chaplin put on his tramp costume for the first time and, in honor of its centennial celebration, Kid Auto Races at Venice will be screened with the Henderson Symphony Orchestra performing Timothy Brock's new score prior to The Circus. The updated soundtrack from the 1928 comedic masterpiece, was written by Chaplin later in life to accompany the film for the 1969 re-release theatrical premiere, and will be performed by the Henderson Symphony Orchestra as part of the 70-minute presentation. Tickets are $10. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit HendersonLive.com, call 702-267-4TIX (4849), or visit the Henderson Pavilion Box Office, between 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

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One of the holiest events of the year, at our place, takes place on Sunday. It's the annual Tony Awards, which will air on CBS. The talented Hugh Jackman is hosting. We won't be answering the phone during the show, so please don't call.



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