Broadway To Vegas


Copyright May 10, 1998
By: Laura Deni



If what you want is an intense drama revolving around manipulation, control and revenge manifested in the most horrific forms, punctuated with in-your-face vulgarity, then don't miss the award winning The Beauty Queen of Leenane written by 27 year old play writing genius, Martin McDonagh.

This is an incredible production, magnificently directed by Ms. Garry Hynes acted to a fault by Marie Mullen, Anna Manahan, Brian F. O'Byrne and Tom Murphy.

There is nothing funny about the production, although as with any horrific event, black humor surfaces in subtle ways - in the stir of a teaspoon or the brand of a cookie.

Only in this play a cookie is a biscuit because for all intense purposes the play is delivered in a foreign language. The strong Irish brogue encapsulates the rural setting, punctuating the desperate, manipulative personalities.

One can only speculate how this play would be received if the setting and accent were Brooklyn, or New Jersey. Even the producer, Rocco Landesman, admitted that he struggled with the accents, and for the first ten minutes thought he was listening to a foreign language.

Many of the people sitting around me could only make out a word here and there. That may be the reason why the repetitive, strong vulgarity passes through the ears and over the heads of the audience.

The "F" word is used almost 100 times. There is also an extremely vulgar expression that is said over 25 times.

A woman sitting behind me confided that the reason she liked the play was because she knew she was suppose to.

Hopefully, most theater goers will like the play because they appreciate incredible writing with maniacal twist and superb acting. Marie Mullen as the daughter and Anna Manahan in the role of her mother are awesome.

Manahan first appeared on Broadway in the 1968 production of Lovers co-starring with Art Carney, for which she received a Tony nomination. Mullen is co-founder of the Druid Theater Company in Galway.

All of the actors created their roles in the original production and have been playing their parts for two years, bringing them to Broadway via runs in Galway, London and Sydney. The intense performances have emotionally and physically affected the cast. The stars admit to having nightmares and backaches.

This play is not for children or the emotionally immature. The production is brilliant. It is also vile.


What A Difference A Close Shave Makes
Kenny Rogers, the man with the whiskey voice, appears to be the man with the new face.

In the press release issued by the Las Vegas Flamingo Hilton touting Kenny's performances beginning July 3rd, the enclosed photograph didn't look anything like the singer - to the point that I called the hotel's PR office thinking they might have oopsed and enclosed the wrong photo.

They said they felt same way when they saw the photo and called Kenny's manager, who assured them that the new mug shot is that of Rogers.

He's shaved off his sideburns and by the look of the picture that isn't all that's happened to his face.

"We're calling it the softer, more gentle Kenny Rogers," explained the hotel's PR gal.


Joan Lunden, formerly of Good Morning America came to Vegas to push the plunger that sent the Aladdin Hotel into an imploded dust pile.

That event cost $2 million, used 370 pounds of dynamite and took 20 seconds.

The rubble heap had originally opened as the posh Tally-Ho Hotel, of little lasting memory, except perhaps to myself and Elvis Presley.

My water broke and I went into serious labor in the Tally-Ho's casino. I'll never forget the look on the security guard's face as he came running. They cleaned the carpet, built on an addition and renamed the joint the Aladdin. Besides my almost giving birth under a crap table, the Aladdin is where Elvis Presley married his beloved Priscilla on May 1, l967 in Room 246. Though Elvis left the building and marriage, the room remained the Elvis Wedding Suite.

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Elvis Presley and The Jordanaires
The Jordanaires, who backed Elvis on his records from 1956-1970, are starring in Las Vegas at the Gold Coast Hotel, putting on an excellent show full of wonderful songs and delightful antidotes.

Recently inducted into the Gospel Hall of Fame, they have only fond memories of Presley. The group has stayed in touch with Priscilla.

Bass singer Ray Walker said that it was only last October that Priscilla confided to them that since the day she and Elvis divorced, he called her every single day.

Sometimes they'd stay on the phone for two or three hours talking.

According to Walker, The King of Rock and Roll viewed Priscilla as his most trusted confident and sought her opinion on everything.

The last time Elvis called Priscilla was the day before he died.


I still think Broadway's new musical High Society is charming and delightful. I don't understand the validity of comparing this musical production to the brilliant play which starred Katharine Hepburn. Besides, over ninety percent of the people who saw the original stage play are dead of old age. Is a comparison to a l936 play and a new l998 musical fair? This is a production where you can leave your cares at the door upon arriving, exit with a smile on your face, and a week later find yourself still humming the score. That's a healthy kind of escapism, perfect entertainment for everyone.
LORNA LUFT Liza Minnelli's estranged half-sister, will host a salute to their mother Judy Garland, June 16 and 17, at Carnegie Hall.

On the bill are Elaine Stritch, Weslia Whitfield, Jerry Herman, Comden and Green, Las Vegas regulars Jack Jones, Alan King and Vegas resident Robert Goulet. Garland's long time arranger-conductor, Mort Lindsey, will conduct the overture. Tickets are $18 to $75.


DESI ARNAZ, JR. reunited with his ex-wife Linda Purl to perform Love Letters directed by Stephanie Zimbalist, in Boulder City, Nevada in a benefit for current wife Amy's non-profit Boulder City Ballet Company. The only other time Arnaz performed in Love Letters was four years ago, co-starring with his former fiance, Liza Minnelli. Amy is secure in her marriage to Desi and likes all of her husband's ex-loves.

THEY PARTIED ALL NIGHT LONG When George Segal, star of Just Shoot Me discovered his wife, Sonya, had never been to Las Vegas, he used Don Rickles appearing at the Desert Inn as the opportunity to show his bride the bright lights of Sin City. Accompanied by their best friends, Paula Prentiss and Dick Benjamin, the foursome hopped a plane for Vegas, caught barbed tongue Rickles' show, stayed up all night sightseeing before flying back home.

at Treasure Island Hotel a frigate and a pirate ship - with sailors aboard - battle it out every 90 minutes in a free show.

Cannons boom, smoke and fire engulf the scene and the captain goes down with his ship.

What more could a happy couple want than for this to be the place where the groom walks the plank.

The hotel has now turned the frigate, the H.M.S. Royal Britannia, a replica of an 18th century sailing vessel, into a wedding chapel of sorts.

Couples can take the plunge aboard the ship, which floats in an artificial bay in front of the hotel.

Three times a day the Britannia becomes the love boat, complete with a ring-bearing pirate who swoops down from the crow's nest.

Wedding packages start at $3,000.

Pirate attendants cost extra.

NEXT DOOR AT THE MIRAGE HOTEL Siegfried and Roy threw a surprise 50th birthday party for Gildah their ceremonial Thai elephant, who is provided for in a trust should the magicians disappear.

The birthday girl is one of less than 50,000 Asian elephants roaming the earth today.

The press took the cake while the pachyderm, who weighs six tons, pigged out on bananas and watermelon.

The elephant was well behaved but Siegfried sat on his $7.50 sunglasses breaking them along the nose bridge. The master illusionist wasn't able to make them reappear whole until he conjured up the super glue from the bottom of my purse. Anxious to get back to the birthday party, Siegfried put the sunglasses back on before the super glue was set, almost gluing the sunglasses to his forehead.

Copyright: May 10, 1998 all rights reserved.
All Rights Reserved. Reviews, Interviews, Commentary, Original Photographs from any Broadway To Vegas (TM) columns may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, utilized as leads, or professionally used in any manner without permission, compensation and/or credit
Next column Monday, May 17, l998
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Laura Deni