Broadway To Vegas



Copyright: August 9, 2009
By: Laura Deni


Fans of Elvis Presley, Star Trek and Woodstock are having a busy week.

This is the last Elvis Presley Week before the new Elvis themed Cirque show opens in Las Vegas - so Vegas is a major player in Elvis Presley Week, which began yesterday at Graceland and lasts through August 18.

Events include scavenger hunts, Gospel Breakfasts, film fests, the 27th Annual Elvis Presley Run, Walk, Rock & Roll benefiting United Cerebral Palsy of the Mid-South and the famous Candle Vigil.

Conversations On Elvis are slated for Saturday at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts. Two sessions take place with the first centered on Presley and his recording studio days, while the second session focuses on Presley and Las Vegas. Both sessions will be hosted by Tom Brown of Turner Classic Movies. Participants in the first session include; The Memphis Boys and Chips Moman, joined by Ernst Jorgensen.

Taking part in the second session are; Joe Moscheo of Elvis' Imperials, James Burton of the TCB Band, singer Millie Kirkham and journalist Gloria Greer. In addition, Ken Sharp, author of Elvis: Vegas '69, will also appear as a special guest at the event.

While there is a Cirque website about the new Elvis show, those attending are promised that they will not only hear all about Elvis in Vegas in 1969, but will be the first to learn details of the new Elvis in Vegas 2009 show - in a spectacular performance presented by Cirque du Soleil. In collaboration with Elvis Presley Enterprises, CKX, Inc. and MGM Mirage, the show is billed as "destined to be the star attraction at the Las Vegas Strip’s newest mega-resort, ARIA Resort & Casino at CityCenter, due to open in December 2009."

Cirque du Soleil Executive Producer Stéphane Mongeau, Director of Creation Armand Thomas and Production Manager Mike Anderson will give an exclusive first look at the new creation.

On Friday it's the Celebration Concert at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts. 40 years after Elvis Presley triumphantly returned to the stage at the International Hotel in Las Vegas, many of the original cast will reunite for a concert celebration.

Performers currently scheduled to participate include; Joe Guercio, Elvis’ orchestra conductor for many of his Vegas performances; The TCB Band members James Burton, Ronnie Tutt, Jerry Scheff and Glen D Hardin; Elvis’ back up singers The Imperials, including Joe Moscheo, Terry Blackwood, Sherman Andrus and Gus Gaches, The Sweet Inspirations, including Myrna Smith, Estelle Brown, Portia Griffin, and Millie Kirkham. Additional vocals will be provided by Terry Mike Jeffrey and Andy Childs.

Elvis tribute artist contests are always a high point. Winners will take part August 11 in the Peabody Hotel's famous Duck March. ETAs from all over the world will help the Duckmaster escort The Peabody Ducks along the red carpet from the lobby fountain to their rooftop suite.

The Duck March is a big deal.

The Peabody Ducks are almost as famous as Elvis.

Back in 1933 Frank Schutt, General Manager of The Peabody, and a friend, Chip Barwick, returned from a weekend hunting trip to Arkansas. The men had a little too much Jack Daniel's Tennessee sippin' whiskey, and thought it would be funny to place some of their live duck decoys - it was legal then for hunters to use live decoys - in the beautiful Peabody fountain.

Three small English call ducks were selected as "guinea pigs," and the reaction was nothing short of enthusiastic. Soon, five North American Mallard ducks would replace the original ducks.

In 1940, Bellman Edward Pembroke, a former circus animal trainer, offered to help with delivering the ducks to the fountain each day and taught them the now-famous Peabody Duck March. Mr. Pembroke became the Peabody Duckmaster, serving in that capacity for 50 years until his retirement in 1991. Today, The Peabody Ducks are led by Duckmaster Jason Sensat.

The original ducks have long since gone, but after 75 years, the marble fountain in the hotel lobby is still graced with ducks. The Peabody Ducks march at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily.

The Peabody Ducks have been a must-see Memphis attraction for Lisa Marie Presley, Michael Jordan, Nicholas Cage, Priscilla Presley, Don King, President Jimmy Carter, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, Justin Timberlake, and Jeff Bridges.

In addition, Patrick Swayze, Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King, Florence Henderson, Emeril Lagasse, Joan Collins, Molly Ringwald, Chris Matthews, Paula Deen, Larry King, and Kevin Bacon have been Honorary Duckmasters.

For those who might become worried as to what happens should a duck accidentally waddle near a kitchen - fear not. Duck is not served anywhere at The Peabody, and has not been seen on the hotel's menus since its 1981 reopening, quite possibly making Chez Philippe the only French restaurant in the world that does not serve duck.

When off-duty from the Lobby, the ducks live in their Royal Duck Palace on the hotel's rooftop. The Peabody Marching Ducks have appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson; Sesame Street, when Bert and Ernie celebrated Rubber Ducky Day, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and in People magazine and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. In addition, they were once a question on Jeopardy.

Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas
Christopher Lloyd
opened last Thursday at the Hilton Hotel and continues through today. It's the world's largest Star Trek convention and all of the usual suspects are in attendance - Klingons, plus special guests. Christopher Lloyd is making his first Star Trek convention appearance. In addition to appearing as Cmdr. Kruge in Star Trek III, Lloyd was Dr. Emmett Brown in Back to the Future, Uncle Fester in the Addams Family films and Judge Doom in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Leonard Nimoy is on board as is Zachery Quinto who picks up the mantle of Mr. Spock where Nimoy left off and Jacob Kogan who portrayed Young Spock - for the first time on the same stage the three actors who have appear as Spock in the film. William Shatner is always a favorite. Joining Shatner are Jonathan Franks, Bret Spiner, executive producer Brannon Braga, Colm Meaney, Laurence Luckinbill, Dominic Keating, Robert Beltran, Co-Executive Producer Manny Coto, George Takei, Connor Trinneer, Vaughn Armstrong, Anthony Montgomery, Tony Todd, Ethan Phillips, Hallie Todd, Jacqueline Kim, John Billingsley, Michael Dorn, Robert Picardo, Cirroc Lofton, Sarbina Scharf, Tim Russ, William Morgan Sheppard, Rene Auberjonois, Roxann Dawson, Armin Shimerman, Max Grodenchik, Stephen Collins, Suzie Plakson, Marc Alamo, Linda Park, Jeffrey Combs, Gary Graham, Spice Williams-Crosby, J.G. Hertzler, Susan Howard, Robert O'Reilly, Elizabeth Dennehy, Casey Biggs, John Schuck, Lee Meriwether, Carolyn McCormick, Chase Masterson and Alex Henteloff.

The famous Creation Entertainment Costume Parade Competition is always a highlight of the convention.

40th Anniversary Celebration of Woodstock
also begins this week. The original Woodstock festival was held from August 15-18, 1969, on a 600 acre farm located in the rural community of Bethel, New York.

More than half a million fans and 32 musical performers peacefully gathered for the historic free concert event - the iconic Woodstock made its mark on rock history.

The 40th Anniversary celebration called The Heroes of Woodstock, takes place from August 15-18.

Featured are eleven original performers who have joined together to tour the world in celebration of and in tribute to The Original Three Days of Peace and Music that occurred at Yasgur’s Farm in Bethel, NY.

Participating in the Friday concert are; Jefferson Starship, the Levon Helm Band, Canned Heat, Ten Years After, the Grateful Dead’s Tom Constanten, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and Country Joe McDonald. They will appear at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, which was built on the original site.

On August 17 Susan Reynolds, editor of Woodstock Revisited, which is a compliation of first-person accounts from Woodstock, will be joined by contributors to the book.

They will read excerpts from the book, answer questions from the audience, and sign copies of the book.

Taking part are; Catherine Hiller, Anita Winder, Sandy McKnight, Lou Mello, Bob Brown, Sandy List, Colleen Plimpton, Vinny Stefanelli, Scott Munroe, Rozanne Reynolds, Michele Hax.


Attack of the Killer Tomatoes and Carrie. Two dreadful creations which were so bad they turned into cult hits. Now there is a new kid on the block. Those that saw the recently departed production Too Close to the Sun are part of a select fraternity to witness something so bad - it's entertaining.

Too Close To The Sun is suppose to be a dramatic musical based on the final days of Ernest Hemingway. With a book by Roberto Trippini based on a play by Ron Read, and music and lyrics by Trippini and John Robsinson - the dubious production opened in London's West End on July 24 to some of the worst reviews in history.

Sets and costumes were designed by Christopher Woods. Directed by Pat Garrett, the production stared James Graeme as Hemingway, Helen Dallimore as Mary and Tammy Joelle as the secretary. Her performance was reviewed as "sings in a manner best appreciated by canine members of the audience, and generally seems to be auditioning to understudy the lead in Legally Blonde.

Leaving the disaster scene early was Jay Benedict, who was playing Hemingway's friend Rex. He jumped ship before last week's press performance.

The play covers the final three days of the Nobel prize-winning author's life, as he lusts after his nubile secretary before shooting himself in the head with a shotgun

James Graeme as Ernest Hemingway
In Too Close to the Sun Hemingway "pours out his heart in song, he tells snappy jokes, does a cheerleader routine and races around his revolving Idaho ranch house. Small wonder the audience is amused when his wife, Mary, observes: "That electro-shock treatment was a disaster,'" panned The Independent.

If you weren't one of the few to personally experience this disaster - the blog comments are delightfully entertaining. Posts on The Independent and toguezentradi include:

"When it comes down to it, whoever thought it was a good idea to make a musical about Ernest Hemingway committing suicide should themselves be shot. Go and see this horrific gem of a show. You'll want to say you did in years to come, trust me. But make sure you load up on booze before you even start, or you won't make it as far as the interval."

"This was an unintentional comedy, with the audience sniggering through both acts. The majority left at the interval, and those who did remain had to self-medicate to make it through the remaining 12(!) songs, including yours truly."

"It's rare that such a disaster opens in the West End, and Too Close To The Sun is certainly an amusing disaster to watch as it descends further and further from shocking to abysmal to 'oh no they didn't' and beyond."

"It's tacky, ugly, and the must-see disaster of the year"

"I went to see this Thursday night and needed three gin's to fortify my return the interval. The composer got into a fight with someone at the interval who had told him that it was the worst thing he'd ever seen. 'I suppose you could do better?'
'Yeah, I could,' was the most entertaining exchange of the whole night."

"On one night when one of the cast members shouted the line 'Enough,' one member of the audience was heard to shout back 'quite!'"

"You'll love it for all the wrong reasons."

Originally booking for eight weeks, through September 5, the show closed six weeks early, ringing down the curtain last night, August 8.

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Pewter medal by John Gregory Hancock, 1800, Britain
Medals are best known for celebrating important figures or heroic deeds, but this unique exhibition features medals that condemn their subjects. The display at the British Museum exposes the long and rich tradition of this darker side of medals.

The first part of the exhibition focuses on the Museum’s collection of satirical and political medals from the 16th to the 20th centuries. Subjects range from the somber and the bizarre to the scatological and the humorous, and the medals are placed in context through the use of contemporary prints and drawings. Two of US sculptor David Smith's influential Medals for Dishonor of the 1930s - from which the exhibition borrows its title - are included, along with a little-known medal by Marcel Duchamp.

The second part of the exhibition features medals recently commissioned from leading contemporary artists Jake and Dinos Chapman, William Kentridge, Grayson Perry, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Richard Hamilton, Mona Hatoum, Ellen Gallagher, Langlands and Bell, Cornelia Parker, Michael Landy, Yun-Fei Ji, Steve Bell and Felicity Powell.

The subjects they depict are wide-ranging, from the war in Iraq and consumerism to ASBOs and the environment. The new medals have been commissioned by the British Art Medal Trust, a registered charity dedicated to the making and study of medals. The Trust has presented an example of each of the newly commissioned medals to the British Museum for its permanent collection.

A free exhibit on display through September 27 at the British Museum in London.

The Consolation of Constellation, a work by Guan Wei
is a multimedia exhibit curated by New York-based Mathieu Borysevicz, which opens this weekend at the Shanghai Gallery of Art.

The exhibit features the work of five contemporary Chinese artists: Guan Wei, Gao Shiqiang, Wu Junyong, Zhuang Hui and Dan Er.

Throughout history allegories were ways for artists to draw the audience into their work through storytelling. Religious fables, traditional myths, fairy tales and fantasies were depicted in artworks to inform and educate the often-illiterate masses. These artworks frequently employed metaphors and symbols that revealed deeper social, psychological and spiritual truths of the times. Artists have also invented and illustrated their own imaginary tales to describe internal anguish or the world around them.

Guan Wei's epic painting The Consolation of Constellation serves as the centerpiece of the exhibit. Made up of two dozen acrylic-on-oil paintings, it stretches nearly 23 feet in length. Borysevicz said he chose this as the main piece because its image resonates not only of Medieval times when nave scientific illustrations explained the world in terms of its subservient relationship to the heavens, but also of the Bible's Last Judgment, popularized by Michelangelo's momentous Sistine Chapel murals.

Wait Us Rich, 2006. Still from video. Wait Us rich is Wu Junyong's first work available for acquisition by collectors. A young man's take on nouveau riche society. The artist conveys that world's excesses, energy, brashness and power. The images that make up the DVD in themselves are sufficient to portray the desires of new money but the combination with music, voice and text quadruples the power of the message.
Wu Junyong made his first impressions on the art world through his quirky animations, which depicted dystopian social rituals. Here the artist presents the fodder for his imaginary characters and surreal stories through paintings and drawings.

These rich symbolic images tell of a world controlled by the powers of ideology and desire. Animals spew out of the neck of a well dressed figure, a group wearing dunce caps ponder a dead deer, a woman wearing a dress reveals not one but several pairs of broken legs, another painting references Gericault’s The Raft of Medusa.

These enigmatic illustrations are elements in the artist’s grand narrative whose never ending story leaves us stupefied by an overwhelming sense of psycho-political angst.

In Wang Lang’s kaleidoscopic photographic collages Pre-Renaissance religious paintings are paired together with modern Chinese real estate ads. The combination of these drastically different elements reaps humorous, often absurd, results. Using architecture as a metaphor for spiritual salvation Wang produces strange allegories, which seamlessly stitch modern man’s material pursuit to ancient man’s sense of divinity.

In the video Faint with Oxygen, Gao Shiqiang poetically retells the age-old story of the battle between the old and new.

Shot three miles above sea level in Qinghai’s Tibetan Autonomous Zone, this mesmerizing video depicts a young Tibetan herder obsessed with his only link to the world below, a transistor radio.

The radio becomes a metaphor for not only modern civilization but also for God, transcendence, and the ultimately unattainable. Here the poles of heaven and hell, technology and tradition, and the clashes of culture play out against the spectacular Tibetan landscape.

The artist duo Zhuang Hui and Dan Er, themselves lovebirds, bring Yuanyang, an installation that depicts the Chinese traditional symbol of love. Six amorous ducks are inseparable partners, mated for life. Several tragic legends tell of the origin of Yuanyang. In them lovers that were separated by war, class, or drowning emerge as birds that traverse the skies together forever after.

The artists here have shaped these fowl into extra large stainless steel toys, each almost three feet tall and greenish-blue in color, reminiscent of amusement park rides. They even make a sound when they are rocked. But upon closer look one sees that the duck’s eyes are modeled off of microscopic germs, and the sound emitted is a piercing alarm.

Here love’s passionate tenor is warped into a paradox- something that is cute and cuddly while at the same time menacing and perilous.

"The contradictions about this artwork remind people about the double-edged quality of love," said Borysevicz. "It reflects new conditions and new problems."

No stranger to China, the 38-year-old, also an artist, writer and filmmaker, has been involved in contemporary Chinese art for more than a decade and previously lived in China for seven years. He was a resident artist at the China Academy of Fine Arts in 2006, where he wrote a book about the urbanization of Hangzhou. Spreading Chinese art to the West, the former director of the Jack Tilton Gallery in New York spearheaded efforts from one of the city's first galleries to showcase contemporary Chinese art. His latest project is a documentary film that will feature the contemporary art scene in China. The exhibit opens this week-end and is on display until August 30 at the Shanghai Gallery of Art.


The stage is not an outhouse
And, you thought having a cell phone go off during a performance was annoying. How about a performer who gets sprayed when a man decides to urinate by the stage? In response to reports of customers getting drunk, fighting, fondling each other and urinating by the stage, West End theatres are hiring bouncers.

Referring to the theatre as an avenue that once "offered an escape-route to a more sedate and genteel place of cultured souls" the West End theatres have become victims of what the Daily Mail called "drunken theatre louts."

In a tough job environment there are openings - for burly men in suits with past experience as bouncers in tony nightclubs. Or, guys who can at least hold their own in a street fight.

Nica Burns, co-owner of several venues, including The Lyric, The Garrick and The Apollo said they are hiring bouncers.

The deteriorating behavior is being blamed on cheap tickets, attracting younger audiences, and a liberal attitude to alcohol in theatres According to a report in the London Times, a member of the audience of the West End production of A Little Night Music, recently at the Garrick Theatre, was seen walking over to the stage and relieving himself.

Star Hannah Waddingham, who was playing Desiree Armfeldt, is quoted saying, "We were performing the song Every Day a Little Death, the man almost peed on [her co-star] Lyndon Edwards."

According to the Daily Mail at Mamma Mia!, a member of the theatre staff is quoted commenting, "When hen parties come, they are always drunk but you just have to ignore them. Two months ago a drunk guy came in and assaulted me."

At the stage version of Dirty Dancing, playing at the Aldwych, insiders are quoted as comparing it to be a bear pit, with "patrons – many of whom turn up drunk – having to be regularly removed from the premises." They said the crowd was so unpredictable that the original male lead, Josef Brown, occasionally dropped his character's auditorium entrance as he feared he might be confronted by drunks as he tries to make his way to the stage.

September 3, 2009 marks the 70th anniversary of the start of the Second World War for the United Kingdom. On September 1, 1939, Germany, led by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party, invaded Poland according to a secret agreement with the Soviet Union. On September 3, at 11:15 GMT, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, followed six hours later by France responded by declaring war on Germany, initiating a widespread naval war.

Hundreds of books have been written on the war and old soldiers have their memories. Then there is Dummy Bullets, penned by accomplished journalist, Walter Huntley. It's the true story of Sergeant Walter Huntley and his out spoken dummy, Gunner Jimmy.

Huntley was in the Royal Artillery before the war started, still in after it finished and never saw a gun fired because he spent most of the war talking to himself!

Last Thursday, seven decades after they first took to the stage, the soldier-turned-ventriloquist performed one last show and then officially donated his life size dummy to the Imperial War Museum in London.

Mobilized two days before the outbreak of war on September 3, 1939, Huntley was taken away from his usual duties as a Sergeant in the Royal Horse Artillery, when the War Office discovered he had a special talent for ventriloquism.

The Stars in Battledress – which included Spike Milligan and actor Terry Thomas – were set up to keep soldiers and civilians entertained in a series of increasingly grand shows designed to maintain morale among soldiers and civilians during the darkest hours of the Second World War.

Sergeant Huntley and his dummy regularly performed to packed audiences in military bases, cinemas and theatres - and even in the depths of the London Underground to crowds being sheltered from the blitz.

At age 88, Huntley decided it was time to find Gunner Turner a permanent home and handed him over to the Imperial War Museum to use in their exhibitions. At 4' 6" and weighing 28 pounds, Jimmy had become a bit too heavy to carry around.

"The whole thing was totally different, light years away from the circumstances now," Huntley told the audience enjoying the final performance. "We had tremendous support during the war, everyone appreciated the entertainment. We had a captive audience who probably thought we were a lot better than we were. They didn't have all these TV channels."

The book provides a snapshot of life at a time when morale had to be kept up not only by defenses but also by laughter and song. Entertainment became almost a weapon of war as the Services were ordered to support the theatrical profession by setting up shows of their own.

Huntley said: “I’ll miss Jimmy. “But I have to take the realistic view that I am about to enter my 90th year – and he could hardly have a better home.” After the war, Walter returned to his career in journalism and joined the Liverpool Daily Post and Echo, as a reporter - eventually becoming associate editor of both newspapers.

WANDA RICHERT who created the part of Peggy Sawyer on Broadway in 42nd Street, which was choreographed and directed by Gower Champion, wants to enter the world of motivational speakers.

There was a time when Richert made front page headlines.

Wanda, then 22, had been in a long term relationship with 59-year-old Gower Champion. The famed dancer and his dancing partner-first wife Marge had divorced in 1973. When the Richert romance began Champion was separated from his second wife, Carla. On the day of opening night, Champion was ill and hospitalized. Producer David Merrick kept the entire cast in rehearsal from early morning until show time. At the curtain call Merrick announced that Gower Champion had died that afternoon. Merrick had kept this secret from everyone, including Jerry Orbach who starred as Julian Marsh and Tammy Grimes as Dorothy Brock - and Gower’s woman, the star of the show, Wanda Richert.

Richert collapsed in hysterics. The audience freaked out, and Jerry Orbach had to call for the curtain to come down and deal with the drama.

Now based in Florida, Richert has kept a somewhat low profile. According to her promoters, Wanda's motivation focus is It's Never Too Late To Live Your Dream.

SEX IN THE CITY has been banned from filming in the UAE because of the word 'Sex' in the title and a "salacious' plot line, according to Arabian Business.

The big-screen sequel of the infamous TV series wanted to film several scenes in Dubai.


CATCH ME IF YOU CAN the world premiere musical being staged at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle held a special performance last Thursday honor the memory of Teresa Butz, who was brutally raped and murdered. See Broadway To Vegas column of July 26, 2009

Her brother, the Tony-Award winning Norbert Leo Butz, is one of the stars of the musical. The special evening benefited the Compass Center, a non-profit agency serving homeless and low income individuals and families in the greater Seattle area. Teresa Butz was a board member of the Center. Five dollars of every ticket sold for that performance will be donated the Center.

THE MUSIC OF PATRICIA COOK who plays and sings with Bob Hardwick and his Trio, taking the audience along a musical journey of Broadway greats. Proceeds to benefit Guild Hall. Thursday August 13 at Guild Hall, East Hampton, NY.


See George Clooney and get fined
is entitled to live in peace - at least while he is in residence at his Italian Laglio lakeside 18th-century villa - the former residence of the Heinz family. Last Tuesday the town's mayor Giorgio Pozzi introduced a regulation forbidding anyone to gather in a group of more than three people in sight of the actor's opulent Villa Oleandra.

Anyone caught in violation will be fined $26.77.

In setting forth the new regulation Pozzi explained that for the past few weeks the curious have gotten annoying. Ever since press broke that Clooney has been romancing former Italian TV starlet Elisabetta Canalis, fans have come out of the woodwork

"We've arrived at the point when hordes of people are yelling his name from the street at the top of their voices," Mayor Pozzi said. "Some of the cheekier ones are even going up and ringing the bell." The initial fine would rise for repeat offenders. Local residents are exempt.

GARTH DRABINSKY AND MYRON GOTTLIEB were sentenced on August 5 to seven and six years in prison, respectively, for their crimes.of fraud and forgery. Justice Mary Lou Benotto of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice handed down the sentence.

The former Broadway impresarios each was found guilty in March on three counts of fraud and forgery that stemmed from their running of Livent Inc. from 1993-98. The third court of forgery was stayed by the court.

Canadian law allows first-time nonviolent offenders to serve only one-sixth of their jail sentence before they can apply for parole.

In Canada it is typical for white collar criminals to be released on bail while they appeal their criminal convictions. It is expected that neither man will see a jail cell for at least two years.

Drabinsky and Gottlieb are still wanted men in the U.S. In 1999 they were charged with fraud by the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York.

In 1999 Livent's properties were bought by SFX Entertainment, which is now Live Nation.


FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON in honor of his birthday - August 16, 1948 - the William J. Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas has free admission on August 15th. Come celebrate President Clinton's birthday. Admission to the Library, Space Station MIR, Space Camp Simulators, and Acoustiguide audio tours are free all day long. Birthday cake will be served.

Space: From the Moon to Mars is a special exhibit, on display through August 30, which commemorates the 40th anniversary of the moon landing by presenting a broad view of the space program from its inception to present-day advancements. It features a number of artifacts including a six-foot model of an Apollo space capsule, a large replica of the International Space Station, an actual moon rock, and many other fascinating items, including Space Station MIR and Space Camp Simulators, presented by the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.

Opened in 2004, the Center is home to the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, and the Little Rock offices of the Clinton Foundation.

The Center also plays an active role in the Little Rock community, hosting a number of events, lectures, and conferences throughout the year. The Center was instrumental in bringing more than $1.5 billion in economic development to the area, including renovations of the nearby historic River Market district.

Clinton will be in Las Vegas on August 10, speaking at the National Clean Energy Summit.

Marvin Hamlisch
a three-time Oscar winner, will be guest of honor at the Belgian festival and will also receive the Lifetime Achievement prize at the 9th World Soundtrack Awards, which will close the festival on October 17.

Together with composer Richard Rodgers, Hamlisch is the only artist to have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, a Tony and a Pulitzer Prize.

Oscar-nominee Alexandre Desplat, Mark Streitenfeld and renowned Japanese composer Shingeru Umebayashi will perform. Hamlisch will also perform music from some of his most famous scores including The Way We Were; A Chorus Line and Sophie’s Choice.

French composer Desplat, a two-time Oscar nominee, will perform along with the Traffic Quintet and will pay tribute to some of cinema’s greatest actresses. Desplat has adapted pieces by composers including Bernard Herrman, Jerry Goldsmith and Gabriel Yared for the concert, entitled Divine Féminin. In addition, Desplat will also present a concert of music from his own films including The Girl With The Pearl Earring and The Queen.

In line with this year’s focus on Asia, Umebayashi will present a special concert and will also take part on the festival’s annual Q&A and film music seminar. Meanwhile, Streitenfeld will appear at the World Soundtrack Awards to perform music from American Gangster and Body of Lies.

The 36th Ghent Film Festival runs from October 6 – 17. The World Soundtrack Academy (WSA, or World Soundtrack Awards), launched in 2001 by the Flanders International Film Festival, is aimed at organizing and overseeing the educational, cultural and professional aspects of the art of film music, including the preservation of the history of the soundtrack and its worldwide promotion. The event takes place yearly in Ghent, Belgium.


BALLET FLORIDA which filed for bankruptcy on July 10 after 23 years in operation in West Palm Beach, last Wednesday filed a 36 page financial document in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. From shoe makers to board members are owed money.

The stagehands union, which is suing Ballet Florida, has a claim for nearly $160,000. Claimants include; Former company dancer Tina Martin is owed more than $5,000 for paychecks dating back to Feb. 28. Ben Stevenson the choreographer for Cleopatra has a $7,700 claim. Capezio for pointe shoes: $6,990. Costume Armour for Nutcracker sets: $20,600. Houston Ballet Foundation for sets and costumes: $20,000. Palm Beach Community College for theater rental: $12,890. Kravis Center for theater rental: $3,408.

HAIR the Tony-award winning revival at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, has recouped its initial investment of $5.76 million.

The musical, which opened in March, after being presented as a 40th anniversary concert as part of the Public Theater's Joe's Pub in the Park series, has been grossing $1 million or more weekly for over the past two months.

THE SOCIETY OF LONDON THEATRE announced on Friday that total attendance for the year to July 18 was up 2.5 percent from the same period last year and box office receipts were up 3.5 percent. Nearly 7 million visits were made to London theatres in the first half of 2009.

Musicals remain the most popular attraction with 61 per cent of theatergoers attending London productions. However plays are also posting excellent results, with audiences up 19 percent year-on-year.

Oliver; Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Sister Act were listed as the most popular while Calendar Girls; Hamlet and Waiting For Godot were some of the favorite plays, the society said.


Jane Fonda
who is just two months out of knee replacement surgery, is one active lady. The actress, who recently returned to Broadway earning a Tony nomination, spent some time in Las Vegas with her son and daughter-in-law where they saw Jersey Boys and Love. Fonda blogged that "Both shows were remarkable, feel-good experiences. Troy and I have never been big fans of Vegas. I got married there the first time around. My husband gambled all night and I slept with his mother. I lived in Caesar’s Palace for many months while filming Electric Horseman with Bob Redford. I hated walking through the sounds, smells and just plain tawdriness of the casino to get to my room every night. The best part was taking ballet classes in some inconspicuous, back-alley studio with a lot of the showgirls–all scrubbed and normal looking."

"So this time was a treat because we had fun, the shows alone were worth it and we had some great meals–especially at Botero in the Encore Hotel where we stayed."

Following her Vegas jaunt Fonda returned to California where she had dinner with Barbra Streisand; then headed for her ranch in New Mexico and now is on a 5 day retreat at the Upaya Zen Center. The retreat is on The Neurobiology of We: Exploring the Neurobiology of Empathy, Compassion, and Relatedness - being led by Daniel Siegel, Roshi Joan Halifax and Natalie Goldberg.

LIAM NEESON, RALPH FIENNES and Neeson's 13-year-old son Michael just returned from vacationing in the South of France at the St. Tropez beachside venue Le Club 55.

Neeson has signed to star in Unknown White Male, a thriller to be directed by Jaume Collet-Serra. The script, by Karl Gajdusek, centers on a doctor (Neeson) who, while visiting Berlin with his wife, is in a car accident that leaves him in a coma. He awakens to find that he seemingly has been replaced by another man, one with sinister intentions, leading the good doctor on a frantic quest to uncover the truth. Shooting is due to begin in January in Berlin.

Neeson is next up on the big screen in Chloe, the thriller set to premiere next month at the Toronto International Film Festival.

ASHTON KUTCHER AND DEMI MOORE were Las Vegas last week attending the premiere of his new movie, Spread. On Thursday they boarded their private jet, hoping for uneventful flight to New York. Suddenly the plane's jet engines overheated, forcing an emergency landing at McCarran Airport.

Kutcher, who is King of Twitter with over 3 million followers, immediately posted; "My plane just had to do an emergency landing. Engine over heated. Fire trucks everywhere. good times. happy to be alive." (sic)

Moore posted pictures and offered her thoughts. "Yep it is always an adventure in Vegas emergency landing and all." (sic)

Later, Ashton again Twitted that he was willing to treat his followers to a night out because he was so happy to have escaped with his life. He wrote: "lets celebrate. party tonight at Turtle Bay Bar in NYC. Say Spread at the door for 1/2 off drinks! on me!" (sic)

The bright red, midtown hangout offers moderately priced American comfort food and drinks and is a favorite of Kutcher and Moore.

has returned to New York with performances at the Bleecker Street Theatre.

Created by Simon Morley in 1996, Puppetry of the Penis is described as "a non-sexual adult show." In the unique production, men bend their genitalia into shapes - which has been billed as "genital origami". See Broadway To Vegas column of August 19, 2001 and Broadway To Vegas column of January 13, 2002

The production, which stars Simon and Justin Morley has performances through August 30.

AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY by Tracy Letts. Directed by Anna D. Shapiro. Winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Award for Best Play, comes to San Francisco's Curran Theatre August 11 through September 6.

Starring Academy Award-winner Estelle Parsons in the role of the family matriarch, Violet, Ms. Parsons reprises her unforgettable Broadway role for San Francisco audiences. Estelle is joined by notables Elizabeth Ashley as Mattie Fae, Guy Boyd as Charlie, John Cullum as Beverly Weston, Johanna Day as Barbara Fordham, Brian Kerwin as Steve Heidebrecht, Michael Milligan as Little Charles, Sally Murphy as Ivy Weston, Kimberly Guerrero as Johnna Monevata, Mariann Mayberry as Karen Weston, Troy West as Sheriff Deon Gilbeau, Frank Wood as Bill Fordham, Anne Berkowitz as Jean Fordham with Frank Deal, Susanne Marley, Stephen Payne, Dee Pelletier, Aaron Serotsky and Kristina Valadaviars.

Set design by Todd Rosenthal. Costume design by Ana Kuzmanic. Ann G. Wrightson. Sound design by Richard Woodbury. Music composition by David Singer. Chuch Coyl is the flight choreographer.

PURE COUNTRY a new musical, directed by Peter Masterson, which will feature music by Steve Dorff, lyrics by John Bettis and a book by Masterson and Rex McGee, will star Joe Nicholas in the role of Rusty and Lorrie Morgan making her Broadway debut as Lulu, Rusty's ruthless manager. The Broadway-bound musical is based on the 1992 film of the same name.

Alan Blumenfeld in The Miser. Photo by Miriam Geer.
Moliere's comic tale with a tragic heart about a man whose love for his money is greater than his love for his children.

When an old widower decides to marry off his children against their will, he sets the entire family scheming to steal his fortune.

With forbidden romance in the air and the family treasure buried in the backyard, it's a race to see who will come out on top.

Original Songs composed by Ellen Geer. Lyrics by Ellen Geer and Peter Alsop. Directed by Ellen Geer.

With Ted Barton, Alan Blumenfeld, Bill Durham, Samara Frame, Willow Geer, Nina Kurtz, Mark Lewis, Raymond Lynch, Melora Marshall, Mike Peebler and Chad Jason Scheppner.

Performances through September 27 at The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga, CA.

OEDIPUS THE KING, MAMA! by The Troubadour Theater company. Directed by Matt Walker.

The Maternal Musical that mashes up Sophocles’ Oedipus the King with the music of the King of Rock & Roll, Elvis Presley. Oedipus has a Burning Love and he Can’t Help Falling in Love with his Mama.

The Falcon Theatre pants, "So Don’t Be Cruel and miss this musical parody."

August 12-September 27, 2009 at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank, CA.

B.D. Wong in Harringbone
with a book by Tom Cone, music by Skip Kennon, lyrics by Ellen Fitzhugh. Based on the play by Tom Cone. Directed by Roger Rees.

In a tour-de-force performance in which he plays 11 roles, Tony Award-winner BD Wong hauntingly conjures the world of showbiz from vaudeville to Hollywood in an ingenious production that evokes the courage, commitment and consequences of what it takes to be a performer.

Set in the Great Depression, this darkly comic, highly theatrical musical tells the tale of George, an 8-year-old with a remarkable affinity for tap dancing. Taken under the wing of a vaudeville veteran, the youngster learns to his horror he's possessed by the spirit of Lou, his mentor’s vengeful late partner! While George comes of age, a climactic battle ensues over his mind, body and soul, With a stage-full of characters and 14 quirkily entertaining songs all performed by BD Wong in a virtuoso performance.

The creative team includes Dan Lipton (music director-conductor); Darren Lee (choreographer); Eugene Lee (set designer); William Ivey Long (costume designer); Christopher Akerlind (lighting designer); and Leon Rothenberg (sound designer).

Performances through August 30 at the La Jolla Playhouse in LaJolla, CA.


AEROSMITH AND ZZ TOP tour now unsure after Steven Tyler fell off the stage and broke his shoulder last Wednesday while performing during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in western South Dakota. Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry said he didn't know if the tour would resume. The tour had scheduled Canadian stops this week in Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver.

ANDREA McARDLE performs through August 11 at the Metropolitan Room in New York City. During her shows the Tony-nominated performer revisits some of her favorite Broadway musical memories from the many shows she's starred in along with backstage stories and teases with hints of Broadway roles yet to come.

DIANA KRALL who produced Barbra Streisand's upcoming solo CD, Love Is the Answer, performs Monday, August 10 at Humphrey's in San Diego. Wednesday finds her at the Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco. On Thursday the show is at the Wente Vineyards in Livemore, CA and on Saturday she's in the spotlight at the Peppermill Hotel in Reno, NV.

TORI AMOS performs Monday, August 10, at Massey Hall in Toronto. On Tuesday she's at St. Denis Theatre in Montreal. On Thursday she's in New York City with a show at Radio City Music Hall. On Saturday she's in the spotlight at the tower Theatre in Upper Darby, PA.

MELISSA ETHERIDGE performs Monday, August 9 at Table Mountain Casino in Friat, CA. On Friday the show is at the Hart Rock in Biloxi, MA. On Saturday she is appearing at the New West Fest in Fort Collins, CO.

AMERICAN MUSICAL THEATRE SALUTES: HOORAY FOR HOLLYWOOD AND POINTS EAST A Centenary Celebration of Johnny Mercer hosted by Lee Davis and starring KT Sullivan and Eric Michael Gillett. America's liveliest lyricist’s classics including Moon River; That Old Black Magic; Hooray for Hollywood; Come Rain or Come Shine, among others. Sunday, August 16 at The Guild Hall in East Hampton, NY.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT AT THE IGUANA hosted by Richard Skipper and Dana Lorge. A comedy and musical variety show with Barry Levitt on keyboard and Morrie Louden on bass. This week's guests include: Arinna, Barbara Guersky, Leslie Orofino, Barbara Porteus, Rachel Stone...and a few other surprises. August 12 at the Iguana Club in New York City.

BIG BAD VOODOO DADDY at the Napa Town and County Fair in Napa, CA on Thursday, August 13. On Friday they entertain at the Monterey county Fair in Monterey, CA.

PETER FRAMPTON on stage Tuesday, August 11 at the Boulder Theater in Boulder, CO. On Friday the show is part of the Sioux Empire Fair in Sioux Falls, SD. The performance moves to the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines on Saturday, August 15.

INDIA.ARIE performs Monday, August 10 at the Marvin Sands PAC in Canandaigua, NY. On Wednesday the show is at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, NJ. On Thursday she's on stage in New York's Madison Square Garden. On Saturday the tour stops at the Mann Canter for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia.

DAVE MATTHEWS BAND in the spotlight Wednesday, August 12 at the Ford Amphitheatre in Tampa, FL. On Friday they open a two night stand at the Cruzan Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach, FL.

AN EVENING WITH ROSANNA CASH the Grammy-winning singer and songwriter with fourteen record albums, released over the last twenty five years have charted eleven number-one singles. She performs an acoustical set that is perfect for the intimate John Drew Theater on Saturday, August 15 at The Guilt Hall, The Hamptons, NY.

LYLE LOVETT performs Tuesday, August 11 at Humphrey's in San Diego.


JOHN HUGHES the film director died of a heart attack Thursday while taking a morning walk during a trip to Manhattan to visit family members. He was 59.

His directing credits include; The Breakfast Club; Sixteen Candles; Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Planes, Trains and Automobiles. He also wrote and produced Home Alone.

Hughes began his career as an ad copywriter in Chicago. During this time, he created what became the famous Edge Credit Card Shaving Test ad campaign. His first attempt at comedy writing was selling jokes to well-established performers such as Rodney Dangerfield and Joan Rivers.

He is survived by his wife of 39 years, Nancy, two sons, John and James, and four grandchildren.

LYNNE FOSTER a respected entertainment producer, passed away July 31, 2009. She was 62.

Along with her husband, Dick, they formed Dick Foster Productions, which is based in Las Vegas and specializes in variety stage productions.

Survivors include her husband and numerous other relatives.

RAY JARVIS singer and dancer died July 15, 2009 following a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 74.

Formerly a member of the Canadian National Ballet, Jarvis appeared in the Broadway productions of The Pajama Game; Can Can and My Fair Lady.

After moving to Las Vegas he performed in a number of Las Vega productions. From 1963 to 1967 he was the principle male singer in the Tropicana Hotel's Les Follies Bergere.

He is survived by his life partner of 33 years Jerry Ritholz and numerous other relatives.

Next Column: August 16, 2009
Copyright: August 9, 2009. All Rights Reserved. Reviews, Interviews, Commentary, Photographs or Graphics from any Broadway To Vegas (TM) columns may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, utilized as leads, or used in any manner without permission, compensation and/or credit.
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Laura Deni