Broadway To Vegas


Copyright: January 18, 1999
By: Laura Deni


Enter our Valentine's Day drawing. Just E-mail us your name and postal mailing address. Complete details and a picture of the prize at the end of this column.


The former Baywatch babe Pamela Anderson spent last week in Las Vegas filming the final episode of her new series VIP. Pamela stars as Vallery Irons, the head of an elite body guard agency - thus the title which stands for Vallery Irons Protection.The final episode of the show's first season has raper/actor Ice-T as the guest star.
Pamela also serves as executive producer, which means people must listen to what she says, rather than just gape at her body.

Pamela is relishing that new power image. "It's exciting, and it's great that I have all this creative input. It's just funny, because now when I walk into a room --I go into Columbia Tristar -- with all these big-wig guys - everyone looks to me for what I want to do and I'm not used to that," she said referring to production company meetings.

"Usually I walk in there and there are people talking over me. Now I go: - I think everyone should wear pink in the next episode. - And they go: - That's a great idea, Pamela. That's brilliant!"

For the Las Vegas shoot several hundred non paid extras were sought. Everyone participating had to be over 21, wear casual clothing and sign waiver forms.

Some of the locations used in the shoot were the Hard Rock Cafe, Club Paradise, and the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace.

The buxom beauty is no stranger to Las Vegas. The Hard Rock was the setting for a public fight between Pamela and her then husband rocker Tommy Lee. That took place last February at a party after the Rolling Stones' concert. A week later Pamela charged Lee with spousal and child abuse.


About once every ten to 15 years Las Vegas experiences a snowfall that doesn't melt before it hits the ground. Antonio Banderas recently picked that day to film White River Kid.

Antonio is pictured with Kim Barranco (at bottom) a real show girl from the Riviera's Hotel's Crazy Girl's revue and two unidentified models, who were cast as showgirls.

They almost froze their tail feathers. Despite the unusual Las Vegas cold snap the shoot was a success. Antonio then bundled up his wife, Melanie Griffin, and their kids and whisked them off to Spain's warmer climate.


The Broadway musical Titanic which docked a 1997 Tony Award as Best Musical sailed into Los Angeles and found the Los Angeles Times - the city's most powerful paper - had used a pen as a missile to demolish the production.

The stately newspaper found little to like about the show. I saw the production twice on Broadway. The first time there were technical problems and the ship didn't sink. The second time I viewed the performance I enjoyed the show. I even spent my hard earned money on the CD.

It should be noted that the Los Angeles production is not the Broadway cast. Depending upon the stars and venue there is always the possibility that a touring or bus and truck show won't equal the Broadway version. The Titanic road show is a massive undertaking. Scenes include: the ship splitting horizontally to reveal both the instrumented captain's bridge and the in-the-sea depths boiler room; a crow's nest that descends: and sinking scenes in which floors tilt, furniture slides and crockery crashes. However -- there isn't any way the stage show Titanic could compete with the visual effects of that mega movie.

Titanic has been selected to launch the Buell Theatre Denver Center Attractions' 1999 season, slated to reach the Denver port in March. The huge production, which did sail away with 5 Tony Awards in 1997, uses vignettes to recount the story of the passengers and crew on the 1912 maiden voyage of the "unsinkable" Titanic. When the ship hit an iceberg and sank 1,500 people died.


Tennessee Williams' recently discovered early play Not About Nightingales will premiere on Broadway beginning Feb. 13 at the Circle-In-The-Square Theatre.

Based on an actual inmate uprising, Not About Nightingales is set in a large American prison in 1938. It is the story of Jim (Finbar Lynch), a young prisoner who works in the Warden's office. Attracted to Eva (Sherri Parker Lee), the Warden's newly-hired secretary, Jim attempts to distance himself from the rebellious fellow inmates. But when the ruthless Warden (Corin Redgrave) punishes the ring-leader of a prison hunger strike, Jim is inexorably drawn into the conflict. Jame Black plays Butch O'Fallon, the leader of the rebellious inmates.

This play was discovered when stage and film star Vanessa Redgrave was preparing for her role in Williams' Orpheus Descending. She came across a reference by the playwright to his early, unknown work. "I have never written anything since then," wrote Williams about Not About Nightingales, "that could compete with it in violence and horror, for it was based on something that actually occurred about this time."

Not About Nightingales was written in 1938 and submitted to a playwriting contest by a 26-year-old playwright named Thomas Williams. Since the contest's cut off age for its contestants was 25, Thomas changed his name to Tennessee, to hide his identity and true age and submitted his play. His didn't win the contest and the play was never produced.

Ms. Redgrave was determined to find the work and finally was presented a script of the play by Maria St. Just, the executrix of Williams' estate. Later, after hours of research at a library collection of Williams' papers at the University of Texas in Austin, the actress discovered 13 large folders containing drafts and redrafts of scenes from the drama.

In 1996, when Miss Redgrave and her brother, Corin Redgrave, were performing Shakespeare in Houston as a co-production between their own London-based Moving Theatre and the Houston's Alley Theatre, she suggested Not About Nightingales.

Corin Redgrave is an acclaimed actor and director and is one of the nine Artistic Directors of The Moving Theatre, which he co-founded with his sister. Not About Nightingales marks the second collaboration between The Moving Theatre and the Alley Theatre, following their 1996 co-production of Antony and Cleopatra directed by Vanessa and Julius Caesars, directed by Corin.

It was Ms. Redgrave who approached director Trevor Nunn. The multi-Tony award winner jumped at the opportunity to be part of this production. He'll direct a cast of eighteen.
Trevor Nunn
Nunn is the current Director of the Royal National Theatre (NT) which was founded in 1963, with Laurence Olivier as Director. Nunn has also served as the Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company from 1968 - when he became the Company's youngest ever Artistic Director - to 1986.

Nunn's NT production of Ibsen's An Enemy of the People starring Ian McKellen played Los Angeles earlier this year. Not About Nightingales marks Nunn's first NT production to transfer to Broadway since he became director of the company.


Tommy Tune
Nine-time Tony Award winner Tommy Tune has promised to keep his tap shoes in Las Vegas for a year. He's taken over the lead role in the MGM-Grand Hotel's EFX production show. Last Friday Mayor Jan Jones officially proclaimed the day Tommy Tune Day.

The 59-year old hoofer replaced David Cassidy in the show, which opened with Michael Crawford as the star. EFX was somewhat re-written to accommodate Cassidy's personality and Partridge Family fan club following. The current version of the multi million dollar production show has now been re-written to emphasize Tune's unique talents. Tune is the only performer to ever win Tony Awards in four different categories: best featured actor in a musical, best choreography, best director of a musical and best actor in a musical.

The almost six-foot six-inch performer, is the only renowned choreographer-director still working, has signed a one-year contract to star in EFX. Ticket prices range from $51.50 to $72. The production is one of the few in Vegas that has special prices for children. $37 for children ages 5-12


George F. Walker has been called "the most prolific and celebrated English-language playwright in Canadian history," by the Toronto Globe and Mail. The U.S. premiere of Walker's The End of Civilization, will be presented by the Sightline Stage Co. beginning Friday, with the official opening set for Monday, January 25.

The award winning playwright's latest effort takes place in the nether world of a run-down road- side on the big city outskirts.The play is a hybrid creature: part comedy and part neo-noir thriller. A collision between underworld characters and a displaced couple desperate to restore their social standing. Desperation leads to moral quandaries and, perhaps, murder.

Born and raised in Toronto's East End, Walker uses his childhood haunts as the setting for many of his plays.

The End of Civilization will be directed by Randy White. His cast includes: Sarah Brockus, Jamie Heinlein, Bryan Johnson, and Mick Weber. Sets designed by Lauren Halpern, costumes by Beth Lasley, the lighting by Tyler Micolean, and the sound by Susan Williams.

New York isn't the only place where Walker plays are in production. Better Living a comedy by Walker has opened at the Hollywood Boulevard Theatre in Miami. Arland Russell directs Sunny Reale, Sandra Ives, Sharon Kremen, Meredith Mursuli, M.J. Quinn and Joel Kolker. Production runs through Jan. 24.


Diahann Carroll starred in Sunset Blvd
Seattle is a town that loves theater which is evident with the shows currently vying for audience attention.

The lovely looking and beautiful voice of Diahann Carroll delighted fans who saw her in Almost Like Being in Love: The Lerner and Loewe Songbook at the Paramount Theatre

Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis
Hit Me with a Hot Note: The Duke Ellington Songbook presented by the Seattle Landmark Association, stars Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr. One performance only, Feb. 23, at the Paramount Theatre

Stomp hoofed it into town with shows through Jan 24 at The 5th Avenue Theatre.

The 20th anniversary production of Annie opens Jan. 26 at the Paramount singing about that hard knock life through Feb. 7.

The world premiere of Sisters Matsumoto written by Kan Gotanda and directed by Sharon Ott is at the Seattle Repertory Theatre through Feb. 13. The production is offering a special promotion. Anyone who takes their theater stub to the Seattle Asian Art Museum receives free admission to the Year of Japan: Flights of Fancy exhibit.

Camelot, Lerner and Loewe's classic tale of magic, honor and romance spins its web Feb. 16 through March 7 at Seattle's historic 5th Avenue Theatre.


ONE-ACT PLAYWRITING CONTEST Maple Woods Community College, Kansas City speech and drama department. Original plays 15-30 minutes long for possible performance by the college's drama students are sought. The best plays will be presented in a public reading this spring; the audience at that reading will choose plays to be performed in the fall. Entry deadline: Feb. 28.

KANSAS CITY FILM MAKERS JUBILEE Attn: Film makers! Submissions sought. Over $10,000 in prizes. Films must have been produced since Jan. 1, 1996 and must be submitted in VHS format. Kansas City Metropolitan Division: Narrative, Animation, Experimental, Documentary and Music video categories. $15 submission fee per film. National Short Film Division: Narrative, Experimental and Animation categories.$20 per film. Entry deadline Jan. 31. Festival dates April 14-18.


GARTH DRABINSKY co-founder of the now bankrupt Livent, Inc and Myron Gottlieb, the former president, have been indicted on conspiracy and securities fraud charges for allegedly masterminding a complicated accounting scheme that cost U.S. investors $100 million. Both Drabinsky and Gottlieb deny the charges. Just days before being indicted Drabinsky, 48, had accepted a month-to-month retainer position from Canada's largest automobile parts maker, Magna International, Inc. He'll serve as a consultant in developing a retail and entertainment complex in the Los Angeles area. Both Drabinsky and Gottlieb remain in Canada and could face extradition. If convicted of the charges they could face up to 10 years in prison and $1 million in fines on each count of the indictment.

MAX BAER, JR. who became famous as Jethro on The Beverly Hillbillies, is one step closer to building Jethro's Beverly Hillbillies Mansion. See Broadway To Vegas column of May 17, 1998

Last Tuesday the Reno, Nev. City Council, on a 4-3 vote gave Baer final approval to build his hotel, which is based on The Beverly Hillbillies television show. Subject of controversy was a 240-foot derrick that will shoot flames 70-feet high. Baer, 61, said the oil derrick "is a three headed dog and people go to see three headed dogs. It's something that is out of the norm. Even people who are driving through Reno with no intention to stop will say: - My God, what the hell is that? - The whole idea is to create an enormous display in the sky."

FOSSE opened last Thursday at the Broadhurst Theater. The production will be reviewed in next week's column.

CABARET EXPANDS thanks to Marla Maples Trump and her partner Bobby Ochs. On Mondays, when most Broadway shows are dark, they are going to open a new cabaret in their Peaches Restaurant, called Upstairs at Peaches. Beginning Jan 25 top cabaret acts will perform. Slated in the near future are Christine Noll and Rebecca Spencer of Jekyll & Hyde, Dana Meller and Angela De Cicco from Les Miz, and Paige Price of Smokey Joe's Cafe.

GRETTY GOOD TIME a new play by John Belluso, directed by Susann Brinkley will begin performances on Wednesday at the Ensemble Studio Theatre. Gretty Good Time is a darkly comic play set in 1955 that mixes historical fact with poetic flights of fancy. Gretty is a young woman trapped by circumstances and freed by her imagination. Paralyzed and living in a nursing home, Gretty is visited in her dreams by Hideko, a young Japanese woman disfigured in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, and Mr. Ralph Edwards, host of TV's This Is Your Life. With Hideko as her traveling companion, Gretty journeys on the "backwards wind of time." If she can confront the pain of her past there may be hope for her future. The cast features; Fiona Gallagher, Anna Li, Richard Paul and Dolores Sutton. Performances through February 7.

LERNER AND LOEWE: BRIEF SHINING MOMENT produced by Mike Merrick will have it's world premiere Feb. 4 at the Judy Bayley Theatre in Las Vegas.

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ON THE TOWN was run out of town yesterday, Sunday January 17. The revival, which featured such classics as New York New York It's A Wonderful Town was plagued by production and financial problems (see column of Jan. 4, 1999) Some weeks losses were over $200,000.

BECK slated to play SRO last Thursday at the Tropicana Hotel, Las Vegas suddenly canceled. The stop would have been one of only two the 28-year-old singer/songwriter was making to promote his new album Mutations.The other stop was Jan. 10 in New York at Town Hall. Ticket holders for the cancelled Las Vegas gig will receive refunds.


Remember to enter our free Valentine drawing for the piano telephone. Just E-mail us your name and post office mailing address. One entry per person per week. See Jan. 11th column for complete rules and regulations.

Next Column: January 25, 1999
Copyright: January 18, 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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Laura Deni