Broadway To Vegas



Copyright: June 2, 2002
By: Laura Deni


Comedians got serious last Wednesday when a Stardust Hotel press conference was staged to announce a four day Las Vegas Comedy Festival.

The talent search kicks off Thursday in Los Angeles, the first in a 10 city quest for new comedians. The winner in each of the seven categories of the 10 cities will be invited to Las Vegas. One final winner from each category of the Laugh Across America Contest will be crowned the category champion and invited to perform in the Stardust's Wayne Newton Theater. That's no joke!

"After the convention, the winners will go out on tour and perform around the country," emphasized festival organizer Steve Caito.

The September 4-8 Comedy Festival will not only serve as a comedic launching pad but offer seminars ranging from How To Do A Late Night Talk Show to The History of Comedy.

"The Las Vegas Comedy Festival will be doing showcases, starting in Los Angeles at the Comedy Store and the Laugh Factory," said Caito."We will also be doing that at the Merv Griffin Hotel. The auditions are for people who have always dreamed about being comedians - lawyers, doctors, waitresses, politicians."

"The cities - Los Angeles, Phoenix, Dallas, Atlanta, New York City, Chicago, Minneapolis, Denver, Seattle and San Francisco - are generally within a one day drive of other major cities. It would be impossible for us to make it to 20-30 cities in the short time span that we had. We hope to add more cities each year."

"We're also going to find some of the top talent in the country that has not yet been discovered by doing our showcases and our comedy clubs and let the industry know that Las Vegas is a powerhouse for comedy," stressed Caito.

Wayne Newton's comment to showing up at 11 a.m. was "My Gawd!" Photo By: Laura Deni
At the press conference Wayne Newton was lauded as an inspiration for young performers. "It's not just singing that makes a great singer or comedy that makes a great comic. It is over all performance," said Caito.

"When you talk about Wayne Newton or a Steve Lawrence you wonder if they really realizes how much of an impact they have had on the industry - on younger performers," questioned Caito.

Quipped Newton, "Let me give you the definition of a comic - the guy who asked me to be here at eleven-o-clock in the morning. My Gawd!!" Then Newton got serious. "On behalf of the Stardust and on behalf of our city and certainly on behalf of the Wayne Newton Theatre, let me tell you how thrilled we are that the festival is going to be part of our town. Please give it all of the support that you can possibly muster because there in lies the future stars of tomorrow. And, when you think of the kind of happiness that comics bring into our lives it would be a sad world without them."

Caito discussed the establishment and presentation of a Steve Allen Pioneer Achievement Award for Comedy. "Talk show hosts work so hard to make the guest look good. Steve Allen was the pioneer of that," said Caito as he brought Steve Lawrence to the podium.

An ageless Steve Lawrence has natural comedy timing Photo By: Laura Deni
"I am very happy to be here today representing Steve Allen who was my boss on television - literally gave me my break and introduced me to a national audience back in the early 50s," said Lawrence who resides in Las Vegas with his wife and professional partner, Eydie Gorme.

"Jayne Meadows - Mrs. Allen - was suppose to be here, but she's not feeling well, so I am very happy to represent her," continued Lawrence about a lady who got her start on Broadway. At the age of 17 she made her Broadway debut in the comedy Spring Again, playing the granddaughter of British star, Sir C. Aubrey Smith. Kirk Douglas had one line in the play and also served as stage manager. Jayne went on to star in six more Broadway shows. However, it was the Broadway hit The Gazebo opposite Walter Sleazak that established Jayne as a top comedienne.

Meadows is expected to attend the Awards Banquet when the honor named after her late husband is presented to a comedian who has made a significant contribution to the industry.

"You couldn't name this award after a better guy," continued Lawrence. "He introduced more comedians who ended up being some of our great names today - everybody from Woody Allen to Steve Martin - made their original debut with Allen. Lenny Bruce was on The Steve Allen Show. Steve was a great supporter of not only comics but singers as well. I am delighted that there will be an award named in his honor. I'm delighted that this Festival will encourage young people to get into comedy. I'm sure their comedy will help straighten out this messy world."

Norm Crosby and veteran Las Vegas hotel pr man Jim Seagrave, VP of publicity and advertising for the Stardust. Photo By: Laura Deni
Veteran monologist Norm Crosby, looking fit after a recent illness, also offered support of the Festival. "This is an idea that has been overdue. Las Vegas has always been billed as the Entertainment Capital of the World and so it is fitting and proper that the Comedy Festival should be here."

"Some of the greatest comedians in the world appeared in this town. Long before the advent of comedy clubs and comedy channels we had lounges that were a breeding ground for young comedians. Some of the greatest names in comedy worked here."

"I am pleased to note that in the search for new talent and faces, that the old faces are going to be involved. Because the old faces are the guys who made this town The Entertainment Capital of the World," said Crosby making an important observation.

A veteran comic being utilized is Shelley Berman, who will teach a seminar in The History of Comedy.

One of the original Compass Players, founders of the Second City, Berman holds the distinction of being the first stand-up comic ever to play Carnegie Hall. He has had several million selling comedy albums and for the last 16 years has lectured in the Professional Writing Program at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

A growth area in comedy is one that combines stand up comedy and magic. Part of this new breed is Steve Wyrick, currently starring at the Las Vegas Sahara Hotel.

Wyrick praised the upcoming Festival explaining; "Every night I get E-mails and letters asking - How do I get started in magic? How can I become a comedy magician? How can I end up in Las Vegas? I try to answer each one of those E-mails and letters personally, but it is a tough thing because there are so many comic/magicians on different levels. I always thought there should be something that could get everybody involved in a competition or in demonstrating their talents. So, when I heard about this I thought - what a fantastic idea."

Officials of the four day event stress the Festival is not only for aspiring comedians, but also for anyone who'd like to infuse humor into their communication skills - auctioneer, teacher, executive, politician, etc.

Industry insiders from a variety of comic genres, including comedic actors, improvisationalists and today's biggest stars will discuss their craft, answer questions, and interact with attendees throughout the Festival.

Workshops to be offered include:

Learn the Basics of Stand-Up Comedy: writing, structure, technique, how to lose your fear of performing as well as how to get work as a comic. Showmanship: including overcoming stage fright, delivery, non-verbal communication, presentation and more. The Business of Comedy: how to choose an agent, how to protect your work, industry protocol and more. Marketing Yourself: how to market yourself, create media kits, secure bookings, talk with club owners, website marketing and promotion, preparation for stage and more.

Chatting with Pete Barbutti at the dessert table. Photo By: Laura Deni
"One of the most popular seminars is How to Do A Late Night Talk Show. We're going to have a late night set and people like Pete Barbutti, who was on The Tonight Show 70 or 80 times. Experienced, seasoned professionals will be the coaches and the instructors throughout this entire Festival. We're surrounded ourselves with the best in the industry," said Caito.

"We have theatrical agencies and managers from Hollywood to teach these new comics the business of being in show business, which is very important," he stressed.

The world renowned public relations firm of Warren Cowan & Associations represents both Laugh Across American and The Las Vegas Comedy Festival.

The Festival will also include a trade show with over 100 industry booths promising "anything that a performer might need - from head shots to people teaching you how to use the internet."

"This is not limited just to people who want to be stand up comedians. If you are am auctioneer, a clergyman, a school teacher, a politician, an after dinner speaker. Anyone who gets up in front of an audience will find it valuable to come here and improve their skills. That will be one of the biggest drawing cards of this festival," repeated the officials.

Comedian/actor Rodney Dangerfield, who owns Dangerfield's Comedy Club in New York City, has recorded I Spent My Birthday In Las Vegas, a tune he wrote with Billy Tragesser. A CD of that ditty was passed out and is the official song of the Las Vegas Comedy Festival.

Jay Mohr, a member of the Advisory Board, was working and appeared via an entertaining video.

"We will teach them the etiquette, the proper way to become a comedian and what that takes," added Caito. " A lot of comics, even those who have been working five or ten years, don't know why they are not succeeding. We hope by educating the young comics and explain to them how important it is to learn about comedy that we are providing a service to them and to the industry as a whole."

With hopes that this a will be an annual event the talent search divisions include; 6-12 years of age, 7-13 , 18-65 and 75 and older.

Steve Caito introducing Adam Deyro Photo By: Laura Deni
As an example of the 7-13 year old category, a well groomed and poised Adam Deyro was brought on stage. He gave his age as "eight the hard way" and with perfect comedy timing explained growing up in Las Vegas. "It's not easy being a kid in Las Vegas. We don't get lunch money. We get comps."

Deyro is Steve Caito's son. Broadway To Vegas discussed with Caito the perils of youngsters getting into showbusiness. Caito is adamant that parents shouldn't push their children into a show business career or attempt to turn the kid into the family breadwinner. "Wayne Newton told me that he was pushed into performing and was the family breadwinner by the time he was ten," said Caito, who emphasized, "We don't want that. That is wrong."

Helping a child develop poise, self confidence and feel comfortable speaking in front of a crowd doesn't have a downside as long as parents don't get blinded by their offspring's spotlight.

As for young Deyro, whose Godfather is Jay Mohr, he entertains at school functions. He was offered a paying gig but it conflicted with his karate class. The young man told his parents he'd rather go to karate - and did. Except the teacher didn't show up, so the class was canceled. Deyro returned home saying - "I should have taken the comedy gig."


Bernadette Peters Photo By: Laura Deni
The Tony Awards, the most coveted trophy on Broadway, takes place tonight - televised on PBS and CBS. Tony winners Bernadette Peters and Gregory Hines host.

Among the stars slated to participate are; Natasha Richardson, Jerry Orbach, Mary Tyler Moore, Marvin Hamlisch, Michele Lee, Harry Connick Jr., Mos Def, Doris Roberts, Whoopi Goldberg, Hugh Jackman, Liam Neeson, Lea Salonga, Donna Murphy, Savion Glover, Paul Rudd, Edie Falco, Jason Biggs, Alec Baldwin, Alicia Silverstone, Calista Flockhart, Ralph Fiennes, John Raitt, Anne Heche, Joanna Gleason, Peter Gallagher, Elaine Stritch, Cynthia Nixon, Gina Gershon, Hugh Jackman, Liam Neeson, Bill Pullman, and Stanley Tucci.

As soon as the winners are announced and we find our way to a computer and the fingers locate the computer keys, we will indicate the lucky people who take home the prize. That could be when the sun rises - assuming we have. Our ESP is on the fritz. Therefore, we aren't going to know who takes home the prize until the world at large is informed. We hope you will attend the Tony Awards in person, watch the Tony Awards on television at home or at one of the many Tony Award Parties throughout the country - such as the one the Actors' Fund hosts in Los Angeles.

Carol Channing will receive the Actors' Fund Julie Harris Award at the group's 6th Annual Tony Party. Legendary TV anchorman Walter Cronkite will present the honor, given for lifetime achievement in theatre. Channing is synonymous with the role of Dolly Levi in Jerry Herman's Hello, Dolly, a part she played three times on Broadway, first in the original cast in 1964, in 1978 and then again in 1995. Both times she made recordings of the score and, for Dolly's debut, won a Tony Award for Best Actress.

Past winners of Julie Harris Award include; Charles Durning, Tyne Daly, Gwen Verdon and Lauren Bacall, who will be seated next to her Tony nominated son, Sam Robards at tonight's Tony Awards . Five-time Tony winner Harris, set to receive her sixth for Lifetime Achievement in 2002, was given her own Julie Harris Award in 1997.

The evening at the Jim Henson Studios includes cocktails and dinner and a live telecast of the Tony Awards.



A cosmos of stars will be celebrating Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee tomorrow night - but Aretha Franklin has not been able to conquer her fear of flying and had to bow out. ( See Broadway To Vegas column of April 7, 2002 )

The Queen of Soul didn't want to be tranquilized and instead had undertaken a rigorous behavior modification program, including taking classes provided by the airline and even being trained in a flight simulator.

When the Palace invitation was issued, she indicated she was determined to be there commenting: "You just don't get that many invitations to sing for the Queen of England. I'm going to go the extra mile to be there.''

Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne. She'll host the VH-1 coverage. He'll perform.
Committed to being on stage is Prince Charles, flanked by his sons Princes William and Harry. He is slated to deliver moving tribute to his "mummy" before millions of TV viewers at the royal pop concert.

Forty-seven members of the Royal Family were among the 12,500 watching the classical event, Prom At The Palace, including Camilla Parker-Bowles seated near Prince Charles in the Royal Box.

Tomorrow night The Queen is expected to join Charles and some of the biggest pop stars including - Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Tony Bennett, Irish pop band The Corrs, rocker Ozzy Osbourne and Pop Idol winner Will Young - on stage after they have sung the Beatles' classic All You Need Is Love.

This is the first time the Queen has opened up her gardens at Buckingham Palace to the public. People camped out all night and some stores were selling items at 1952 prices.

Those attending last night's event were presented with a free picnic basket containing a half-bottle of champagne, salmon roulade, Jubilee chicken with pasta salad - a dish tasted and approved by the Queen - and strawberries and cream. In addition to a bottle of mineral water, there were also vouchers for two glasses of beer. At times the line to the bathrooms meant an hour wait.

It is highly unlikely that anyone alive today will ever again experience another Royal Golden Jubilee celebration. In keeping with that fact the three-hour concert tomorrow night will be broadcast live around the world on BBC radio and television.VH-1 will cover with Sharon Osbourne as host. Many PBS stations carried the Prom At The Palace.

Master of ceremonies, broadcaster Michael Parkinson, introduced the star-studded classical cast, including Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, and said the televised concert would be seen in more than 40 countries.

Julian Bliss turns 13 tomorrow
Coming close to stealing the show was Julian Bliss, a clarinetist with a phenomenal talent, who will celebrate his 13th birthday tomorrow. With a face that appears to have a mischievous personality, incredible fingerwork producing pure tones, the soon to be teen-ager was recently awarded first prize in the Philadelphia-based Concerto Soloists Young Artists Competition performing Weber Clarinet Concerto No 2.

A favorite of the Royal Family, performing several times at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, Julian was born in 1989 in St Albans England but lives in America. He is currently studying for a Post-Graduate Artist Diploma at Indiana University, Bloomington under Professor Howard Klug.

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KIRK DOUGLAS receives the first Triumph of Spirit award on behalf of the Jerusalem Fund for Aish Hatorah. Proceeds of the dinner will aid families of victims of the suicide bombings in Israel as well as the Douglas Family Theater, nearing completion opposite the Western Wall in Old Jerusalem. Jack Valenti makes the presentation on June 4 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California.

Cameron Mackintosh
honored with the 12th annual Hammerstein Award. The York Theatre Company, which is located in the sanctuary of Saint Peter's Church in the Citicorp Center, NYC will present the producer with the 12th annual Oscar Hammerstein Award at a June 3 benefit aptly titled To Sir With Love.

The award commemorates lifetime achievement in the musical theatre and was created in 1988 by York's founding artistic director Janet Hays Walker. David Merrick, Stephen Sondheim, Stephen Schwartz, Harold Prince, Jerry Herman and Cy Coleman are past recipients. Last year's award was given to the songwriting team of John Kander and Fred Ebb.

Mackintosh, who is the producer of the current revival of Oklahoma!, will be feted by an array of Broadway and Off-Broadway performers including Liz Callaway, Faith Prince, Rebecca Luker, Marla Schaffel, Karen Ziemba, Erin Dilly, Christine Ebersole, Debbie Gravitte, Norm Lewis, Howard McGillin, Jim Dale, Brad Oscar and Kevin Gray.

The producer of such international hits as Cats, The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables and Miss Saigon, Mackintosh was knighted in the 1996 New Year's Honours for his services to the British theatre. The 56-year-old U.K. native owns seven West End theatres including The Prince Edward, Prince of Wales, Gielgud, Queens, Wyndhams, Albery and the Strand.

BETTE MIDLER will receive the prestigious Parks and Presentation Award from New York Gov. George Pataki at a gala benefiting her N.Y. Restoration Project. Previous recipients include Laurance and David Rockefeller. The event is June 6 at Fort Washington Park. Expected to attend are Nora Ephron, Susan Sarandon, Mica and Ahmet Ertegun, Michael Fuchs, William Goldman, John and Susan Hess. Ticket buyers are encouraged to wear picnic attire. Tickets start at $1,000.

CARNEGIE HALL BENEFIT presents the glorious Rodgers & Hammerstein's musical Carousel. Hugh Jackman is Billy Bigelow. Audra McDonald is Julie Jordan. The blue ribbon list cast includes Blythe Danner, Judy Kaye, Philip Bosco, Jason Danieley, Lauren Ward, Norbert Leo Butz and special guest John Raitt - the original Billy Bigelow - will entertain. Leonard Slatkin conducts this star-studded concert and gala benefit for Carnegie Hall. Thursday June 6.


which no doubt will pick up Tony Awards this evening, has a thoroughly marvelous cast album, on RCA Victor, set for release next week.

Thoroughly Modern Millie is a delightful confection.

From the overture to the final bows the Broadway Cast CD is an uplifting, happy experience.

The original soundtrack album on Decca starring Julie Andrew, Mary Tyler Moore, Carol Channing, James Fox, John Gavin, and Beatrice Lillie had music by Elmer Bernstein, Andre‚ Previn, Jay Thompson & James Van Heusen with a musical score by Bernstein, and musical numbers scored by Andre Previn. That is a hard act to follow.

It's not an easy fete to take an established property, make changes and neither lose die-hard fans of the original, insult the composers or totally botch the job. Dick Scanlan and Jeanine Tesori, who is also the vocal music arranger, have accomplished what could be the impossible - keeping the fans of the original Millie while introducing a new generation to a thoroughly modern version.

If you've seen the Broadway production you'll delight in reliving the show with this original cast CD. To the credit of the composers - even if you haven't seen the production - you'll still enjoy the music and find the CD entertaining.

Of the 18 songs only two - the title song and Jimmy - are from the 1967 film with new orchestrations and arrangements. Don't worry the toe-tapping title song is in tact.

There is also a number based on Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite. Victor Herbert is also included and the music to Mammy.

A unique aspect of this recording is the billing which states: And Introducing Sutton Foster as Millie. That will make this a collector's item, since this is a talent who will one day have her name above the title.

Orchestrations by Doug Besterman and Ralph Burns. Music conducted by John Miller. Thoroughly Modern Millie is a charmer. The CD captures the Broadway production while standing on its own as a wonderful addition to a musical library.


Jerry Lewis' opinion of nuclear waste in Nevada. Photo By: Laura Deni
Las Vegas resident Jerry Lewis has recently gotten out of the hospital, but the prospects of storing nuclear waste in Nevada is enough to cause the entertainer's blood pressure to boil. The 20-year resident of Sin City thinks it's a sin for the government to turn Yucca Mountain into this country's nuclear garbage can.

While most Las Vegas residents can't afford to move elsewhere, Lewis has a few pennies stashed away and is threatening to move his family to San Diego if nuclear waste in stored in Nevada.

The performer, who has been sidelined with both pneumonia and pain, is back in fighting form. He's had a surgically implanted device that hopefully will block the chronic back pain he has suffered, thanks to years of no-holds-barred pratfalls. Lewis promises to put some painful pressure on elected officials regarding the nuclear waste storage issue - which was probably a done deal the second they started to build the facility. Undaunted, Lewis is asking that other celebrities join him in the battle against Yucca Mountain.

The 76-year-old entertainer, who last worked on stage in Las Vegas in April 2001, is set to lecture in New York City. Expect his Aug. 1 Learning Annex class, Laughter and Healing, to be sold out. He hopes to open at The Orleans in Las Vegas in October. In the meantime he is penning a book about working with comedian and partner Dean Martin.

a musical in which young slum dweller Akaash dreams of becoming a movie star. His fateful encounter with strong willed Priya and her father, powerful but corrupt movie mogul Madan, seals his destiny. Akaash can achieve his dream of stardom but at a price.

Music by A R Rahman, lyrics by Don Black, book by Meera Syal, based on an original idea conceived by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Shekhar Kapur.

The musical, with choreography by Anthony Van Laast and Farah Khan, has sets/costumes by Mark Thompson, is essentially a love story set in Bombay, drawing its inspiration from India's colorful, magical and hugely prolific film industry. But while romantic fantasy lives on in Bollywood, as it is called, outside the studios lie the harsh realities of the city. Composer A R Rahman adds to his long list of credentials, which includes over 50 Bollywood movies, with his soundtrack for the film Bombay selling over 50 million copies, while novelist Meera Syal provides the book. Heading the cast are Raza Jaffrey and Preeya Kalidas, along with Ramon Tikaram and Raad Rawi.

Steven Pimlott directs a cast that includes; Raza Jaffrey, Preeya Kalidas, Dalip Tahil, Ramon Tikaram, Raad Rawi, Raj Ghatak, Ayesha Dharker, Shelley King, Marina Abdeen, Stephen Berkeley-White, Ralph Birtwell, Lara Costa, Chris Cocker, Sharon Gomez, Rebecca Grant, Sopiya Haque, Floyd Hendricks, Stephen Hughes, Melissa Hunte, Irvine Iqbal, Rashid Karapiet, Daniel Lindquist, Anjali Mehra, Ash Mukherjee, Zehra Naqvi, Sylvia Neira, Natalie Ngyutin, David Olton, Kella Panay, Davina Perera, Wayne Perrey, Bhasker Patel, Tania Pieri, Andrew Playfoot, Adlyn Ross, Douglas Scott Franklin, Praveen Sond, Antonio Sussini, Paul Tilley and Royce Ullah.

The much-anticipated Andrew Lloyd Webber produced $7 million production began 3 weeks of previews May 31 before officially opening on Jun 19. The West End's Apollo Victoria Theatre. London.

THE LITTLE FOXES stars Elizabeth Ashley as Regina, in The Shakespeare Theatre's revival of Lillian Hellman's classic. The cast includes Jonathan Hadary, Keir Dullea, Nancy Robinette, David Sabin, Jewell Robinson, Matthew Schneck, Nicole Lowrance, Ted Pejovich, William Marshall, and Joseph Lane.

Designers are Hugh Lanwehr (set), Jess Goldstein (costumes), Robert Wierzel (lighting), with a score by composer Louis Rosen. The Shakespeare Theatre Doug Hughes, former artistic director of the Long Wharf Theatre, directs. The Shakespeare Theatre, Washington, D.C. June 4-July 28. Opening night is June 10.

SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER opens Tuesday at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, Nashville. Richard Blake, a member of the original Broadway cast plays Tony. Through June 9.

the stage musical based on John Waters' 1988 cult film of the same name, stars Jessica Jaret Winokur as Tracy and Harvey Fierstein as her mother Edna. The musical co-stars Kerry Butler, Dick Latessa, Matthew Morrison and Clarke Thorell.

Also in the cast are Laura Bell Bundy, Mary Bond Davis, Corey Reynolds, and Danelle Wilson. The ensemble includes Eric Anthony, Shoshana Bean, Joshua Bergasse, Eric Dysart, Adam Fleming, Jennifer Gambatese, Greg Graham, Danielle Lee Greaves, David Greenspan, Katy Grengell, Linda Hart, Jackie Hoffman, Hollie Howard, Katherine Leonard, Kamilah Martin, Matthew Morrison, Rashad Naylor, Judine Richard, Peter Matthew Smith, Todd Michael Smith, Shayna Steele, Brooke Tansley and Joel Vig.

The show's brand-new, but the year's '62-and Baltimore's Tracy Turnblad is going to do whatever it takes to dance her way onto TV's most popular show. Can a big girl with big dreams-and even bigger hair-turn the whole town around? The musical comedy has music by five time Oscar nominee Marc Shaiman with lyrics by Scott Wittman.

Directed by Jack O'Brien with choreography by Jerry Mitchell. Book by Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan. John Waters serves as Creative Consultant.

The production began previews May 30, officially opening June 12, at Seattle's 5th Avenue Theater in Seattle, Washington. It starts Broadway previews on July 18 at the Neil Simon and opens there on August 15.

GEORGE GERSHWIN ALONE Hershey Felder's one-man show about the legendary composer opens at the American Repertory Theatre's Loeb Drama Center for a special engagement June 16-July 7.

This is a show that was thoroughly enjoyed when viewed on Broadway (see Broadway To Vegas column of April 22,2001 ) Music directed by Joel Zwick features the playwright-performer Felder as Gershwin.

Felder is the first person since George Gershwin's death in 1937 to be allowed to play the composer in a major stage production. After doing five years of research on Gershwin, Felder received the rights from the late composer's estate to develop a solo show. A workshop was held at which the Gershwin heirs were present and gave the actor the go-ahead to perform.

In an unusual situation the show, which opens June 16, will be dark the next night, June 17, because of a previous commitment. Felder and James Barbour will perform their Back From Broadway...A Musical Experience featuring selections from wonderful musicals such as Carousel, Fiddler on the Roof, Man of La Mancha and Camelot. The one night only performance at Lincoln Center in New York will benefit The Actors Fund.

Zwick also directs Back to Broadway, which enjoyed successful runs in Los Angeles and Florida in December and January.

by Daniel Stern, directed by David Warren has John Pankow and Julie White starring as married neighbors of Barbra Streisand.

Jerry Siff, an unemployed actor and former television star, grapples with the paparazzi covering his extremely famous neighbor's wedding to James Brolin. As the scrutiny around the nuptials increases, Jerry finds his own marriage in the spotlight, with his wife Molly struggling to be supportive. In this domestic comedy by actor-turned-playwright Daniel Stern, the pursuit of happiness finds itself at increasing odds with the pursuit of fame.

Designers are Neil Patel (set), David Woolard (costumes) and Donald Holder and Traci Klainer (co-lighting) and Fitz Patton (sound).

Philadelphia Theatre Company, now in its 26th season, is Philadelphia's only non-profit professional theatre dedicated to producing regional and world premieres of works by contemporary American playwrights. Sara Garonzik is artistic director.

Barbra's Wedding officially opens June 5. Performances run Tuesday through Sunday until June 30. Recommended for audience members ages 16 and up.

THE UCLA SCHOOL OF THEATER, FILM & TELEVISION is having their annual weeklong celebration of student talent, running June 7-15. The school has tapped six graduate screenwriting students as winners of the 2002 Screenwriting Showcase. Winners are Marc Antony Arneson, for La Commedia dell'Arte; Lorraine Chisholm for Go Figure; Carmine Gaeta for Sonny Boy; David Gross for Switchback; Kellen Hertz for Masque; and Evan Laughlin for Personal Service.

THE FIREBUGS by Swiss playwright Max Frisch starring Laurence Luckinbill runs June 5-29 at the Neighborhood Playhouse, NYC.

Joe Grifasi directs a cast that includes Ruby Holbrook, Herbert Rubens and Don Amendolia, with Shannon Emerick, Michael Lipton and Emily Mitchell.

The Colleagues Theatre Company was founded in 1996 by Catherine Wolf to commission and produce plays that celebrate the richness of the mature life experience; to provide performance opportunities for seasoned artists, and to create a two-year technical training program in theatrical craftsmanship for gifted high school graduates from underserved communities. In keeping with the mission of The Colleagues Theatre Company, 8 of the 13 cast members in The Firebugs are over the age of 50. Andrew Donovan, Hollis Huston, Robert Ierardi, Peter James Kelsch, Nate Lombardi and John Mishalski play The Firemen.

Designers for The Firebugs are Jeff Fontaine (lighting), Rachel Chancey (sound), Cyrus E. Newitt (set) and Karin Beatty (costumes).

One preview on June 5 before the June 6 benefit opening.

Alberta Hunter
a musical produced by Pamela Koslow, was scheduled to have its New York debut in Harlem at the Schomberg Center June 3-15. That engagement has been canceled with the facility offering no explanation.

The production had its New Jersey premiere in January and February receiving rave reviews.

Written and directed by Marion Caffey the musical stars Ann Duquesnay as the black legend Alberta Hunter, who started singing in a Chicago bordello at 16. With a voice that whose extraordinary voice bridged gaps between classic blues, hot jazz and cabaret-flavored pop, she became a sensation in the Paris of the 1920s, toured the world with the USO in the '40s, and gave it all up to become a nurse in the '60s.

After retiring from the nursing profession in 1977, at 82, she started up her career once again, holding court at Barney Josephson's Manhattan nightclub, The Cookery where she sang songs like Handy Man, My Castle's Rockin', Sweet Georgia Brown. and her signature song, which she wrote, Downhearted Blues. The production co-starred Debra Walton.


BERNADETTE PETERS who co hosts the Tony Awards this evening performs June 7 at the Ravinia Pavillion in Highland Park, IL.

BARBARA COOK center stage June 5-9 and June 12-16 at the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theatre in Washington, DC.

BARRY MANILOW opens a three night engagement Thursday at Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas.

TOM WOPAT entertains June 4-8 at the Plush Room in San Francisco,CA.

ELLEN DeGENERES has a two nighter, Tuesday and Wednesday, in San Francisco at the Davies Symphony Hall. On Thursday she'll be telling stories at the Performing Arts Center in San Luis Obispo,CA.

JERRY SEINFELD will continue with the laughs at the Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco on Friday and Saturday.

PAUL REVERE AND THE RAIDERS perform June 3 at the Fillmore in San Francisco,CA.

GEORGE HAMILTON returns to the Broadway company of Chicago as lawyer Billy Flynn on June 4.

THE EAGLES Don Henley, guitarist/vocalist Glenn Frey, bassist/vocalist Timothy B. Schmit and guitarist/vocalist Joe Walsh make a return trip to Salt Lake City's Delta Center on Thursday, June 6.

CHAKA KHAN performs the music of Motown legend Stevie Wonder in Signed, Sealed, Delivered at the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas.

DIAHANN CARROLL too long absent from Las Vegas stars June 21-23 at the Suncoast Hotel.

ANDREA BOCELLI center stage Friday at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, IL. On Saturday he can be enjoyed at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Minnesota.


ROGER WILLIAMS tonight closes a sold out engagement at the Suncoast Hotel in Las Vegas jogs three miles a day and says he "hates it all except the last step."

LIAM NEESON has plans when he leaves The Crucible. He'll head to Ireland on a fishing trip.

LIBERACE'S MUSEUM RENOVATED AND REOPENED in Las Vegas this past week with illusionists Siegfried & Roy, holding a 7-week-old white Siberian male tiger, arrived to cut a rhinestone-encrusted ribbon. Their mode of transportation was Liberace's pink "Volks Royce," a 1971 Volkswagon kit car with a Rolls Royce front, that Liberace drove when he officially opened his museum in 1979. The event ended when one of the Flying Elvi, dressed as Liberace, sky dived into the parking lot. The Museum attracts over 100,000 visitors a year. Liberace died at the age of 67 in 1987.

Next Column: June 9, 2002
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Laura Deni

U.S. Postal Address: Post Office Box 60538, Las Vegas, NV 89160