Broadway To Vegas


Copyright: February 15, 1999
By: Laura Deni


Women look at him and drool. Men smile and want to shake his hand. Robert Monzi, Playgirl's 1999 Man of the Year is more than a piece of manhood. He's intelligent, articulate, extremely charismatic, gracious and wants to pursue an acting career.
Pittsburgh raised, the 32-year-old construction worker-turned-model-transformed into sex symbol moved to Las Vegas four years ago. A member of the Teamster's Union, Monzi is employed by Freeman Decorators, which sets up and takes down the massive conventions that are part of Las Vegas' life blood. Monzi is himself quite decorative and scores of females would like to use him as their personal bedspread.

Monzi's family resides in Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, a couple of months ago his father, while in a golf course parking lot, suddenly died of a massive heart attack. Robert, his mother, two sisters and three brothers were devastated by the loss.

His father, who had spent 30 years employed by the U.S. Postal Service, was extremely proud when his son appeared in the July issue of Playgirl, but unfortunately didn't live to see his son tapped as Playgirl's Man of the Year.

The attention surrounding Robert as the Playgirl Man of the Year is helping the family cope with the unexpected death.

"My mom's a retired nurse," explained the personable centerfold. "She is extremely supportive and flattered. My entire family is," he emphasized.

He also credits his parents with giving him some good genes. "Hair, for instance. I've got good hair. My youngest sister is a beautician. She has good hair, too. My entire family has strong, good hair, so I'm very fortunate."

To get and keep that seductive body, Monzi works at it - five days a week. "I'll be at the gym this afternoon before I leave," he commented about exercising before departing on a five o'clock flight to Los Angeles. "It's important to have a healthy body, soul and mind. It's all together. I take care of myself and stay medically fit, healthy."

"To maintain that "look" five days a week Monzi is at the gym, training, lifting and toning his muscles. His arms are rock solid.

There is a lot of work behind the glamour. It took two full days and shooting more than 2,000 pictures to do the 10 page Man of the Year centerfold.

"It was a great feeling because they appreciate your work," he said and then laughed. "Well, actually they appreciate the photos."

Single, Monzi is going to be so busy touring as the official spokesman for Playgirl that he won't have much time to date in the next few months. Someday, though, he would like to get married. I asked him what qualities he felt were important in the woman who would share his life. "Truthfulness, a sense of humor, a positive outlook on life and sex appeal," he responded. When pressed as to what "sex appeal" meant to him he answered - "Appearance. She needs to be well groomed - someone who makes an effort to take care of her soul - her inner self as well as her outward appearance."

When Monzi dropped his drawers for the July, 1998 issue of Playgirl women who saw the issue immediately dropped their self restraint. A write-in campaign spiraled him into a finalist position. Interviews with Playgirl executives followed.

"He won us over," stated Kathleen Giulini, director of public relations and promotions for Playgirl.

"We're very interested in doing a lot of charity events," explained Guilini, who told me that it was Monzi's personality, intelligence and ability to effectively articulate that helped him earn the coveted title. In addition to looking good, the Man of the Year is obligated to fulfill a year's schedule of events, which involves meeting and greeting the masses. Just looking like a hunk isn't enough. That beautiful body needed a head with brains. Playgirl officials were charmed by Monzi. "He's just a big teddy bear," said Giulini.

The centerfold began his promotional tour in Las Vegas, signing autographs, pictures, t-shirts and copies of Playgirl at two of the Readmore Book Stores.
Monzi Signs Autographs
Photo By: Laura Deni
He drove himself to the book signings, arrived casually dressed, eager to graciously meet the fans. Interestingly enough the stud muffin is as popular and respected by the men as he is by the estrogen crowd. That is important to Monzi. "I accept all people for who they are; straight, gay, no matter their religion or color. That is very important to me - that all people be respected."

Monzi has a smoldering sensuous soap opera star quality that should make him a casting agent's dream. He's open to all types acting assignments; from action movies to television sitcoms.

Monzi has had some bit parts in movies, studied acting in Pennsylvania and Arizona and intends to pursue his dream of being an actor after he fulfills his Playgirl obligations. If all of his wishes come true, he'd prefer to live by the beach. With a good shot at stardom Monzi is determined to keep his perspective. "I"m very level headed. Nothing will change that."


Thanks to everyone who entered our Valentine's Day drawing. We intended to draw one name and award the piano telephone to that lucky person. We were amazed and gratified by so many entries, and are pleased that the generous people at Columbia Telecommunications have provided us with a prize for a second name drawn. The first name drawn receives the Crusader Piano telephone. The second receives The 50th Anniversary Edition Jeff Gordon NASCAR Walkie Talkies. So, Congratulations to both of our winners! We hope to have other events, so if your name wasn't selected this time, we wish you the best of luck in the future.


ROXANE WALSH of Quebec, Canada will receive the Columbia Telecommunications Crusader Piano Telephone

JANICE HOSKINS of Rutherfordton, North Carolina will receive the Columbia Telecommunications Jeff Gordon NASCAR Walkie Talkies.

Roxane and Janice, thank you for visiting Broadway To Vegas. We hope you will continue to do so on a regular basis and enjoy your prizes.


As relevant today as it was when it debuted 50 years ago in the middle of the depression Death of a Salesman, at the Eugene O. Neill Theatre, has conquered Broadway in a season that boasts one of the strongest line-ups of serious productions, both on and off the Great White Way.

Starring as Willie Loman is Brian Dennehy who takes a role originated by Lee J. Cobb, reprised by Dustin Hoffman and turns it into his own. Dennehy is an actor respected by his peers and until recently largely taken for granted by the masses.

Brian Dennehy
Within the same week a person can enjoy a delightful Dennehy in his re-occurring role as David Spade's semi-distraught, divorced, fireman father on Just Shoot Me, star opposite Lauren Bacall and Richard Chamberlain in the CBS miniseries Too Rich - The Secret Life of Doris Duke, or watch transfixed as he mesmerizes the crowds flocking to see Death of a Salesman.

A line in the play - attention must be paid - has been picked up by virtually every critic and utilized in some way. It's a fitting reference.

Arthur Miller's play about a salesman beaten down by life reaches out and strangleholds the heart and mind of every theater goer. It's impossible to view the performance and not be moved. This is the best of theater with a script that has risen to classic status, performed by a cast that does justice to every emotional nuance.

Brian Dennehy in Death of a Salesman
Elizabeth Franz and Kevin Anderson have co-star billing with Dennehy. Franz portrays the long suffering wife, Linda, and Anderson is their eldest son, Biff. The entire cast is outstanding. Others include; Ted Koch, Richard Thompson, Jate Buddeke, Howard Witt, Allen Hamilton, Steve Pickering, Barbara Eda-Young, Kent Klineman, Stephanie March and Chelsea Altman. Special recognition is due set designer Mark Wendland; costumes by Birgit Rattenborg Wise; lighting by Michael Philippi. Robert Falls directs.

If you can only see one drama this season, make it Death of a Salesman. Even if you have to fly in to see it, and be on the next plane out of town. It's worth the effort. The high powered star crowd turned out for the opening; Lauren Bacall who co-stars with Brian in the CBS miniseries, Rosie O'Donnell, Gregory Peck, Lynn Redgrave, Richard Widmark, and Sarah Jessica Parker were just some of the A-list that attended. Parker's husband Matthew Broderick would have been there but he is starring in Night Must Fall, at the Lyceum Theater.

Tony Awards are approaching. Brian Dennehy needs to get a space ready.


In a major move designed to bring special events to Las Vegas on weekends with a history of low hotel occupancy, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) approved a three-year, $6.75 million contract, with SFX Live, a division of New York based, publicly traded SFX Entertainment.

Weekends targeted for the special events are those with occupancy levels below 90 percent. They include; the first weekend of February, the second weekends of April, May, June and December, the third weekends of January, August, November and the fourth weekend of November.

SFX Live, which bills itself as the largest diversified promoter, producer and venue operator for live entertainment events in the United States, last year produced 13,000 events and sold 35 million tickets.

Broadway shows Jekyll and Hyde and Rent are produced by SFX LIVE. The company is responsible for bringing Chicago to Mandalay Bay, which opens in March. It also produces live concerts ranging from rock to country, offers gymnasts, ice shows, Lord of the Dance and monster truck rallies.

The Nashville River Stages, the Music Midtown of Atlanta and the Summer Sounds of Charlotte, N.C. are all music festivals under SFX.

In addition to staging shows in Las Vegas, SFX will market Vegas in other cities in which it has presentations, and mention Las Vegas in its ad campaigns. The LVCVA estimated that this will generate about $24 million in marketing exposure for Las Vegas.

First up in Las Vegas will be an 11 hour George Strait Music Festival, May 8, at Sam Boyd Stadium.


Going To The River, a celebration of African-American women playwrights continues thru February 21 at the Ensemble Studio Theatre in New York City.
Pictured {from top left, then clockwise): Shay Youngblood, Cassandra Medley, and Judy Tate - three of the playwrights featured in Going To The River
Photo by: Carol Rosegg

Curt Dempster, Artistic Director of the EST, in association with AUDELCO-winning actress Elizabeth Van Dyke are responsible for putting together this two week festival of staged readings and performances.

Featuring the work of eight acclaimed African-American women playwrights, Going To The River is sponsored by HBO-NYC, to present a New York forum to acknowledge the contribution of eminent African-American women who have notably influenced American theatre.

The women represented in the festival are; Pearl Cleage, a columnist for the Atlanta Tribune; Breena Clarke, an assistant to the Deputy Managing Editor of Time. In 1980 she made her Broadway acting debut in Reggar; Glenda Dickerson, has worked as a director, writer, folklorist, educator and actor; Nancy Giles, an alumni of Chicago's Second City Comedy Troupe, was the announcer and sometimes co-host of Fox After Breakfast; Cassandra Medley teaches playwriting at Sarah Lawrence College and Columbia University; Aishah Rahman is a professor at Brown; Judy Tate was a Manhattan Theatre Club playwriting fellow and is a member of The Ensemble Studio Theatre; Elizabeth Van Dyke won an AUDELCO Award as Best Actress for her work in Zora Neale Hurston; Shay Youngblood teaches at Brown University.

Two panel discussions were also part of this two week festival. The final discussion takes place on Saturday, Feb. 20, titled The Critical Reception: To Be a Playwright, Black & Female in the American Theatre. Admission is free but reservations are a must. Call (212) 247-4982

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The usually dignified Westminister Dog Show held at Madison Square Garden turned into comic relief when a darling German shorthaired pointer suddenly needed to relieve herself - right there on the bright green astro turf - in front of judges - the crowd - and those television cameras! Her handler's face turned as red as the dress she was wearing as the pooper scooper patrol was called into action. The crowd burst into applause when announcer Roger Caras commented; "Well, it is a dog show."

Going to the dogs is Bill Cosby. The comedian and his buddy Jane Heath co-own Welsh terrier Sun Spryte's Just in Thyme, known in real life as Moxie. The two-year-old, 18 pound pooch upped and snagged the terrier award. The pup is considered at the beginning of her showbusiness career.This was her first real season on the blue ribbon show circuit and only her third group victory.

The judges waxed poetically about the bitch; Judge Elaine Rigden called it love at first sight continuing, "She was just so exciting to watch. I thought she showed her heart out."

Moxie is just one of several champions owned by Cosby and Heath.

Cosby and Heath also saw their Lakeland terrier, Ch. Revelry's Awesome Blossom, finish fourth. Can dog food commercials be far behind? After all, Cosby has peddled more products on television than a door to door salesman. Pitching dog food and de-wormer pills ought to be right up his kennel.


Country superstar Garth Brooks is hanging up his guitar and picking up a baseball bat.

Garth swears this is not a publicity stunt.

The singer will suit up this summer and join the San Diego Padres baseball team, which trains in Peoria, Ariz.
Garth swears this is not a publicity stunt.

The San Diego Padres is the parent club of the Las Vegas Stars, which means there is a chance Brooks could swing a bat in Vegas. That possibility has Vegas baseball and country music fans all a twitter.

Garth swears this is not a publicity stunt.

The 37 year old singing star spent two days working out with the Padres last spring and appeared as a pinch runner against the Chicago Cubs. Brooks stated this time around he wants to be "a 10th man, a utility man." He also announced that he is "going to live out my dream and the dream of 99 percent of the other guys out there."

His family might feel it's okay if he plays baseball with the guys, but he has to be home in time for dinner.

Garth swears this is not a publicity stunt.


The Comedy Stop at the Tropicana Hotel, Las Vegas is staging their annual Number One Fool Contest. Standup comics should submit a five-minute VHS or cassette tape of tasteful schtick to the hotel at 380l Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas, Nevada 89l09. The comedians selected will perform on a Wednesday night through March 24; winner of the weekly competition will perform in the finals on April 1, when celebrity judges will choose a grand prize winner, who will be awarded $1,000 and the chance to perform at the club on a Saturday night.


NICHOL KIDMAN AND TOM CRUISE are being sued in Los Angeles Superior Court by their former assistant, Judita Gomez, who claims she was fired without notice, resulting in her being "unable to obtain employment-related benefits at the same salary she was earning." Gomez is seeking unspecified damages from the couple.

PAY TO SEE MONEY When the new Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas opens March 2 the Treasures of Mandalay Bay Museum, a $40 million permanent collection of rare gold and silver coins, colorful and unique Old West bank notes and historic Nevada mining town memorabilia, will open it's doors. On display for the first time will be two authentic $100,000 bills, part of Treasures of the Mandalay Bay Museum. Only 42,000 of those $100,000 notes were printed in 1934, meant to be used only by banks. and only a handful remain in existence. Also included in the display will be the $8 million King of Siam set of 10 coins presented by President Andrew Jackson to the King of Siam in 1836. There will also be a 1913 Liberty nickel worth $3 million, a 1907 gold coin valued at $2 million and a San Francisco Mint dime appraised at $1 million. Looking at other people's money has a $6 ticket price.

OVER & OVER a new Kander and Ebb musical, based on Thorton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth made its world premiere at the Signature Theater in Arlington, Va. The Associated Press gave it a scathing review. The production stars Dorothy Loudon, Sherie Scott of Disney's Elaborate Lives, David Garrison and Linda Emond.

THE WEST END THEATRE NYC presents Much Ado About Nothing, with performances running through March 8.

CAMPING WITH HENRY & TOM the Mark St. Germain play about Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and Warren G. Harding staged at the Airport Playhouse, Bohemia, LI through March 7.

LOSING WEIGHT a new drama by Carl Gonzales explores the relationship between two overweight and high strung brothers. Arena Players Main Stage, thru March 7, East Farmingdale, NY.

WHAT THE BUTLER SAW Joe Orton's caustic sex farce has performances through February 28, Stage Theatre, Merrick, New York.


BEN VEREEN AND UTA LEMPER signed to join Chita Rivera as stars of Chicago opening March 2 in Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay Resort.

BARRY MANILOW performs in concert at Carnegie Hall March 8. In addition to enjoying a wonderful show, the Gay Men's Health Crisis benefits.

MICHAEL FEINSTEIN performs his Then and Now concert in the Weill Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall on February 24.

ANDREA MCARDLE joins the cast of Beauty and the Beast on March 3. She'll play Belle. McArdle was the original Annie.

DANGERFIELD'S COMEDY CLUB NYC features laugh makers Carie Karavas, Justin McKinney, and Rich Ramirez February 22 to 28.

KEENEN IVORY WAYANS best known for the television series In Living Color brings his nightclub act center stage at the Riviera Hotel, Las Vegas. Feb. 19-20. Wayans most recently wrote and starred in Most Wanted with John Voight, the actor who is gaining even more fame as the father of Angelina Jolie.

THEATREWORKS/USA a producer of wonderful professional theater for children, performs Freedom Train, the story of Harriet Tubman and the underground railroad Wed and Thurs at Art Ham Hall, Las Vegas.


TONY RANDALL goes up for grabs this Wednesday. The delightful actor has agreed to offer his services as a butler to the highest bidder at an auction benefiting the Alcoholism Council of New York at the National Arts Club.

MARTIN SHEEN recently checked into the Riviera Hotel, Las Vegas to visit an old school chum, Andy Pohl, who is the Riviera's manager of retail shops.

ED MCMAHON spent last Saturday at the Forum Shops, Caesars Palace autographing copies of his autobiography, For Laughing Out Loud, My Life and Good Times.

DAVID CASSIDY has sold his Las Vegas home.

KALIYUGA ARTS OF SAN FRANCISCO We were happy to hear from Kaliyuga Arts' Steven Patterson who reports that June 7 is opening night for the world premiere of a new comedy The Sin of Angels, "a scathing new comedy by Washington, D.C. playwright Myles Weber about feeling too old at 34 and longing for some kind of permanence in an age where you're fortunate not to have any close friends." Kaliyuga Arts currently has Subject to Fits at the Exit Theatre. The play features music by Robert Montgomery, based on Dostoevsky's The Idiot. Montgomery stresses that Subject to Fits, - "is a response to The Idiot: it is absolutely unfaithful to the novel; it uses the novel for its own selfish purposes; it does not hold the novel responsible. As such, it is entirely original - taking off from where The Idiot left off." John Sowle directs

GRAMMY AWARDS which will be presented February 24 will convey Trustees Awards to the music teams of Alan Jay Lerner & Frederick Loewe, Kenneth Gamble & Leon Huff, Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller.

Johnny Cash, Mel Torme, Smokey Robinson, Otis Redding and Sam Cooke will each receive the academy's Lifetime Achievement Award. Rosie O'Donnell is host.

Next Column: February 22, 1999
Copyright: February 15, 1999. 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

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