Broadway To Vegas


Copyright: August 1, 1999
By: Laura Deni


An explosion of diva power is about the really light up The Great White Way. Lauren Bacall, Angela Lansbury and Carol Burnett all gearing up for a new millennium return to Broadway.
After an absence of 18 years, the incredible Bacall will star in Waiting in the Wings, a revival of a 1960 Noel Coward play. It's a serio-comic guided tour of the lives of elderly actresses in a British retirement home. The opening date, Dec. 15, is the 100th anniversary of Coward's birth.

Who could ask for anything more.

If you did, you'd find Carol Burnett, Audra McDonald and Angela Lansbury.

The fabulous Carol Burnett, in her first musical role on Broadway in 35 years, will star in Putting It Together, a revue of 35 Sondheim songs. Burnett has taken the show on an accolade receiving shakedown tour.

Kathie Lee Gifford will make her Broadway debut substituting for Burnett on Tuesdays, except on the Tuesdays that Gifford has announced she won't perform. It is expected the theater will go dark during those starless nights.

The multiple Tony Award winning Audra McDonald will return to the period piece musicals - she starred in Carousel and Ragtime - headlining in Marie Christine, an operatic version of Medea. A December 2nd opening is planned.

Angela Lansbury in the footlights starring in the Kander and Ebb musical version of The Visit, directed by Frank Galati.

The Visit is a story of delicious revenge on a former lover.

In Las Vegas Tommy Tune wraps up his star stint in EFX at the MGM-Grand and returns to his first love, Broadway, starring in Easter Parade.

Former EFX star David Cassidy, who has been having a foot problem, grabbed a couple of shapely cocktail waitresses for support and made his way to a podium. There he announced he's getting his new act together and taking it to the 700-seat Copacabana Showroom in the Las Vegas Rio Hotel, beginning mid-January, 2000. He'll perform eight shows a week for 44 out of 52 weeks.

That means that impressionist Danny Gans, who turned a successful five week one man Broadway show into a Vegas contract, will ankle from the Rio to Steve Wynn's Las Vegas Mirage Resort. The talented Gans has been at loggerheads with Rio management over the continued increase in ticket prices.


Tupelo, Mississippi's most favorite native son, Elvis Presley is being honored in the first annual Elvis Festival, August 6-8 in Tupelo.
The first annual Tupelo Remembers Elvis celebration is dedicated to all that has become the legacy of Elvis Presley.

Fully licensed and supported by the City of Tupelo and Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc., the festival encompasses all types of music, with emphasis on rock 'n' roll, gospel and blues.

Object of the festival is "to bring all facets of the community together with the world to support friendship and harmony and to celebrate the legacy that is Elvis Presley. "

The non stop entertainment features a gospel competition.

The King of Rock and Roll was smiling down on Lula, Mississippi when a fellow Mississippian hit a $203,393.16 jackpot on an Elvis MegaJackpot slot machine at the Lady Luck Casino in Biloxi. Barbara A.Topper of Rena Lara hit the jackpot after investing $35 when three Elvis symbols linked up on the payline. She was immediately paid her jackpot, thus able to buy all the blue suede shoes she wanted.

LIBERACE AND ELVIS PRESLEY traded outfits at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas in November, 1956.
It took Elvis over a decade to become an overnight sensation in Vegas. Shortly after his appearance - from the waist up - on The Ed Sullivan Show, the duck tailed singer underwhelmed the Vegas crowd when the New Frontier Hotel took a gamble on Presley, booking him into their showroom in April, 1956.

His teeny bopper appeal didn't cut it with the tuxedo clad high rollers.

Even the glitzy Liberace couldn't buff up Presley's appeal. In November, 1956 Liberace was starring at the Riviera Hotel and met with Presley for some mutually beneficial pr. Elvis put on Liberace's gold lame' jacket, while Liberace donned Elvis' zoot suit and strummed a guitar.

Despite all the hype and hoopla it was 13 years before Presley would return in triumph and turn Las Vegas into a city that worshipped at his swivel hips.

Today a statue of Presley stands inside the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel - dubbed the hotel that Elvis built. He played there until 1977 - during the last eight years of his life. Las Vegas has more Presley lookalikes and impersonators than any other city. If your hunk a hunk of burning love leads to a wedding chapel you can even have "Elvis" officiate.

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Trazana Beverley won a Tony Award for playing the Lady in Red in the Broadway production of for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf. The talented actress has also appeared in the film Beloved starring Oprah Winfrey. Beverley also wrote and stars in her own one-woman show, The Spirit Moves.

When we learned that she was on tour starring in Division Street, billed as "a wild and funny farce." Broadway To Vegas was anxious for Brad Binning to cover the Nebraska Repertory production at the Howell Theater in Lincoln, NE.

He got a ticket, entered the theater and sat down. Then the play began.

"I will not be reviewing Division Street," Binning informed us. "I left at intermission. There are some plays that are speakably dreadful and others that are unspeakably dreadful. This one is the later. The Tony Award winner acted like she wanted to go home - I didn't blame her."

"Trazan Beverley portrays Mrs. Bruchinsky. The production's director, Paul Gaffney, made no use of Miss Beverley's vast talent and ability. The production seemed to be suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I'm sure the one-hundred degree weather, and a lousy attendance didn't help the performers' morale any. Its theatric malady must have been contagious, because I needed a nap by intermission. So, I'm not reviewing the production."

Actually, Brad, we think you just did.


Our roving reporter, Trudy Knight-Peek, couldn't figure out why a huge herd of kids descended upon Hendersonville, N.C, so she elbowed her way through the line.
It seems that Tim Burton, director of Batman Returns, is getting out the call board. He's casting kids for his new movie Summer Camp which will shoot on location in the Hendersonville area.

While Trudy is young at heart she is a little bit long in the tooth for summer camp and was given the oft heard - "don't call us, we'll call you."

David Cassidy will see his life story turned into a world premiere movie by NBC. The popular Las Vegas resident who won rave reviews for his starring role in Broadway's Blood Brothers didn't have an easy climb to his current state of emotional security.

His father, the Tony award winning Jack Cassidy, left David and his mother to marry Academy Award-winner Shirley Jones. While still in his teens David was catapulted into an idol as his records hit the charts and he co-starred with his real-life step-mother in The Partridge Family.

The film will dramatize young Cassidy's attempts to create his own identity as his image, which appeared on everything from lunch boxes to beach towels, was controlled by others. In contrast to his squeaky-clean TV image, Cassidy was trying to deal with all aspects of sudden fame and continued an emotional struggle to win the love of a father who begrudged him every step of his success.

The movie, which will be produced by NBC Studios, will feature all the David Cassidy hits.


STEVE WYNN dipped into the household petty cash fund and purchased a penthouse suite near his Bellagio Hotel resort for about $4 million.Wynn and his wife, Elaine, will use the 6,200 square-foot penthouse as a "satellite home" for private gatherings.

HOUSE OF BLUES is buying Universal's live-music unit - acquiring a promotion business that includes 20 concert sites - for $190 million. The deal makes the Los Angeles based company has seven House of Blues sites, including one at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.


THE BEACH BOYS were full of enthusiasm performing last Wednesday at the Wild West Arena, North Plate, NE in a fund raiser for the American Legion baseball program. While the crowd loved the show the profit line didn't show good vibrations. 4,500 tickets needed to be sold to break even. Hours before the concert - only 2,500 had been purchased.

LORETTA LYNN in a touching benefit last Thursday at the Orpheum Theater, Omaha, NE. Proceeds from the concert went to a foundation established in memory of Jimmy Wilson, an Omaha police officer, killed in,1995 while making a traffic stop. Money raised will be used to purchase video surveillance,cameras for area schools. Present was Jimmy Wilson, Sr., a retired Omaha police officer. In a news conference the day before the benefit, Lynn said; "His son was so young. We need to make sure what happened to his son doesn't happen to anyone else's children. Maybe people will think twice about causing trouble when they realize they could be caught on camera." Then Lynn recalled her own son's death. "I lost a son, too, so I can relate," the country music legend said referring to her son, Jack, who died in 1983 after falling from his horse into a rain-swollen river. He was 34.

BRANDY named the first International Spokesperson for Youth by the U.S. Committee for UNICEF. The singer-actress will help raise awareness of the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF campaign.

BRIAN COX at the Matrix Theater, West Hollywood. He stars in St. Nicholas, written by Conor McPhearson, author of The Weir. A hit in both London and New York St. Nicholas is a monologue about a vitriolic critic. The show's opening night - last night, July 31 - was a benefit for the theater. The production runs through Aug. 8.

AIN'T MISBEHAVIN a musical revue that opened on Broadway in 1976 enjoying a run of 1,604 performances is a popular summer regional theatre offering. The Broward Stage Door Theatre, Coral Springs, FL presents this pizzazz of a show through August 15.

THE DINNER PARTY by Neil Simon, with an opening date of December 2 at the Mark Taper Forum, LA will feature a star studded cast. The ink is dry on the contracts of; Henry Winkler, John Ritter and Veanne Cox.

THE PAJAMA GAME being staged by the Coeur d'Alene Summer Theater, at the North Idaho College's Schuler Auditorium August 5-8, August 12-14. The Will Rogers Follies follows August 19-22 and 26-28.

THE AGES OF MAN by Thornton Wilder August 9 at the John Drew Theater, Guild Hall, East Hampton, N.Y. directed by Will Cabin's Artistic Director Edward Berkeley and comes to East Hampton following a run at Manhattan's Blue Heron Arts Center. Cast features; Cynthia Besteman, John Bolger (from One Life To Live) Ken Forman, Larry Gleason, Robert Harte, Sarah Lively, Angela Nevard, Christine Radman, Maria Radman and Jed Sedton.


MARY CHAPIN CARPENTER one-night only Aug. 4, Belk Theater, Charlotte, N.C.

PETER, PAUL AND MARY are leaving on a jet plane for the Virginia Beach Amphitheater, Virginia Beach, VA where they'll perform Aug. 8.

PINE KNOB MUSIC THEATRE in Detroit has an incredible August line-up. Kicking off the dog days' month was Smokey Robinson followed by Lauryn Hill, Blue Oyster Cult, Steve Miller Band, Vince Gill, Jewel, Harry Connick, Jr., Duran Duran, Patti LaBelle, Kenny Rogers, Barry Manilow, and Lilith Fair with Sarah McLachlan, Sheryl Crow, Dixie Chicks, Queen Latifah and Liz Phair - that's just in the first two weeks.

CHRIS ISAAK was a sell out during his Hot Summer Nights Show at the Ford Amphitheater, Vail, CO.

HUEY LEWIS AND THE NEWS Aug. 7 Reno, NV Hilton Hotel

NEIL DIAMOND performs at the Lawlor Events Center, Reno, NV August 11.

MARILYN CHAMBERS the Ivory Snow girl who became the Girl Behind the Green Door is taking it off again. Divorced three times with an 8 year old daughter, the porn queen is returning to the titillation business. At 47 the former Vegas star, who lives in California, says she's got to "pull out all the stops" for the next three years and "make some money."


THE DETROIT POLICE DEPARTMENT has a pop singing group called The Blue Pigs. The musical group is attached to the crime unit. They're a sought after attraction - performing over 200 gigs a year. Backed by a four piece rock band The Blue Pigs sing pop, Motown and gospel while preaching crime prevention. Any performance donations are turned over to the Police Athletic League. To book The Blue Pigs call (313) 596-2619.

EIFFEL TOWER TROTH PLIGHTING The Paris Resort in Las Vegas - that's the $750-million themed resort with the 50-story replica of the Eiffel Tower, will offer love struck couples, who aren't afraid of heights, the opportunity to make it legal atop the pseudo Eiffel Tower. Wedding packages begin at $2,500. For that price you get transported to the top of the Eiffel Tower replica, have the wedding ceremony video taped, and receive one night's stay in the la-de-da LeMans Suite.

TINO WALLENDA the world renowned high-wire aerialist will attempt to break his own record by toeing the line nearly 1250 ft. Along the Iowa fairgrounds' Skyglider on a 1-1/8" diameter cable, 50 feet above the ground - without a net- on August 22. The walk is an attempt to break his previous record of 800 feet set last year at the Arizona State Fair. During his Iowa walk Wallenda plans to talk to the audience via a wireless microphone. Wallenda's grandfather, the great Karl Wallenda, began the Flying Wallenda legacy and, later, tragically fell to his death in 1978 at the age of 73.

THE 72ND MOUNTAIN DANCE AND FOLK FESTIVAL August 5-7 at the Diana Wortham Theater, North Carolina. Said to be the oldest continuing celebration of traditional folk music, singing and dancing in America.

THE HARD ROCK HOTEL Las Vegas has invited the Los Angeles glam rock club Make-Up to stage a scary, over the top glitzy Make-Up extravaganza on October 30 - aka Halloween. At least 10 chartered buses will transport the goulish fun seekers to trick-and-treat in Sin City.

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Next Column: August 8, 1999
Copyright: August 1, 1999. All Rights Reserved. Reviews, Interviews, Commentary, Photographs or graphics from any Broadway To Vegas (TM) columns may not be published, reprinted, broadcast, rewritten, utilized as leads, or used in any manner without permission, compensation and/or credit.
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Laura Deni

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