Broadway To Vegas


Copyright May 17, 1998
By: Laura Deni


Currently housed at the Royale Theatre, Art is a priceless masterpiece with the verbal brush strokes created by actress turned author Yasmina Reza. In 1995, Art premiered in Paris garnering the Moliere Award for Best Author. Since then Art has been produced world wide and translated into 20 languages. The London production received the l996-97 Oliver Award and "Evening Standard" prize.

In America this production has, so far, received the Outer Critics Circle Award as Best Ensemble Production.

A true ensemble production, Alan Alda, Vincent Garber and Alfred Molina each sculpted from shades and hues of their individual primary colors, blend on the stage's palate to create a work of art. The production is framed like a priceless treasure with lighting by Hugh Vanstone and Mark Thompson sets. One of the producers is Dr. No's James Bond, Sean Connery, demonstrating business acumen in bankrolling a winner.

Marc is played by Alda, Serge portrayed by Garber with Molina as Yvan. They are best friends whose personalities compliment each other. A happy threesome until Yvan becomes engaged and Serge spends 200,000 francs on a five-by-four-foot painting which Marc considers the worst form of idiotic trash.

The brilliant, droll, cunning, insightful dialogue speaks to insecurities, needs, fears and frustrations when a comfortable, secure friendship is invaded by a painting. With a need to control, Marc (Alda) elevates pestering to an art form. The insecure and likeable Serge (Molina) waffles more than Aunt Jemima, while status seeking Serge (Garber) defends his painting.

Art is classy, intelligent, and well written, performed and directed to perfection.

While using painting as the tangible metaphor for the emotional multiplexes that comprise all relationships, the production speaks volumes to everyone in the audience.

Art is not to be missed.

Even the cast of Frasier wants to do this play.

The talented threesome, Kelsey Grammer, David Hyde-Pierce and John Mahoney have been looking for an ensemble stage vehicle and Art is their first choice.

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Max Baer, Jr., better known as womanizing Jethro on The Beverly Hillbillies, has spent years fixated on the idea of building a Beverly Hillbillies Hotel in Nevada. About five years ago he ran the idea up the Las Vegas flagpole and nobody saluted. Undaunted, Baer waited for better timing and decided that time has come. He found a more receptive locale in Reno, Nevada.

Donna Douglas, Buddy Ebsen, Irene Ryan, Max Baer, Jr.
The actor/businessman is the son of the 13th heavyweight world boxing champion and has a home in Las Vegas. He has sublicensed the rights to the show from CBS. Baer said this is the first time anyone has taken a television series and used it as an attraction for a hotel-casino.

The resort would look like the TV hillbillies' mansion with an oil derrick that towers over the casino. Bubbling black gold lights will run up the center. Sixteen computerized lights with 7 million candlepower each will gyrate from the tower. Rumbling sounds of a gusher about to burst, will culminate with a boom as an 80 foot flame shoots out the top.

There will be a "cee-ment" pond swimming pool, and a Jethro's All You Can Eat Buffet. Waitresses would be dressed as Elly Mae, casino dealers garbed like Jethro and pit bosses decked out as Uncle Jed. Granny's Shotgun Wedding Chapel would feature a Granny who is a Justice of the Peace, costumed to look pregnant. All videotaped with costumed Hillbillies characters in attendance, including the bride's "father" with a shotgun.

Other features include an old-fashioned screening room where all 274 episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies will play. Baer hopes to start construction on the first phase of the hotel-casino next summer.


Multi-talented Debbie Reynolds, who starred on Broadway in Irene in which she sang the poignant I'm Always Chasing Rainbows - a song of unfulfilled hopes and never-ending dreams-once told me that song was her favorite because it symbolized her own life.

Unfortunately, that refrain is still true.

The plucky lady thought she had turned her bankrupt Las Vegas hotel around with a new investor. The only reason she had ever gotten in the hotel business was to have a place to house her Hollywood Motion Picture and Television Museum.

The bankruptcy judge approved the deal and Debbie celebrated with a well deserved European vacation. Then, without warning, at the 59th second of the 11th hour, the Florida investor revoked his offer to buy 92.5 percent of the hotel, leaving Debbie spending Mother's Day week-end watching her cherished Museum being forced to close.

Debbie has spent her life picking herself up after being sucker punched by men. She deserves better.

Fortunately, her acting career is on a roll. Upcoming, a new television series in which she co-stars with comedian Paula Poundstone.

Her fantastic son, Todd Fisher, continues to be his mother's spine.



Barbara Sinatra has announced that the Frank Sinatra golf tournament, to benefit the Barbara Sinatra Children's Center in Rancho Mirage, California, and Opportunity Village in Las Vegas, will tee off on schedule May 26th, culminating with a $500 a plate Thanks Frank black tie dinner on May 30th at the MGM-Grand Hotel.

The event, which has been months in the planning, will feature a week long celebration of the singer who put Las Vegas on the entertainment map. Nobody could party better than Frank. His buddies, from Steve and Eydie to Vic Damone, Paul Anka, Quincy Jones and Jack Lemmon will be in Vegas to remember Frank, play golf, entertain and raise money for charity.

Sinatra had a big heart, a mean temper and no tolerance for bigotry. He was a key force in making it possible for Black performers to be permitted to stay in the Vegas hotels in which they were starring. He also effected the bottom line. A casino drop is the amount of money gamblers leave in the casino. Despite what press agents would like you to believe about other stars, Sinatra is the only performer to ever affect the casino drop at Caesars Palace. At 8:30 p.m., the day after his death, Las Vegas hotels darkened their lights for a one minute tribute The only other times the Strip has gone dark were at the deaths of President Kennedy, George Burns, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Dean Martin.

Carnegie Hall Celebrates the Music of Frank Sinatra, was a musical feast. As the climax of the three-day event, on July 26, 1995, his son created with song and memories a tribute to his father I attended, followed by a swinging dinner party at Caterina's Restaurant. His sister, Nancy, joined in the festivities. That Carnegie Hall tribute was then taken into a recording studio and turned into a CD titled As I Remember It - - the son relating personal events that surrounded his father recording some of his most famous songs. It was a wonderful CD released by Angel Records, which should have sold better. Shortly after the CD was released I asked Sinatra, Jr. if his ailing father had heard it. Sinatra, Jr. nodded his head and softly said he had. When I asked his father's reaction, Ol' Blue Eyes' son looked at me and replied, "He put his head on my shoulder and cried."


MICHAEL CRAWFORD returns to Las Vegas for a one nighter, May 23rd, at the MGM-Grand Hotel, a joint he is currently suing. Crawford, who originated Phantom of the Opera came to Las Vegas to star in EFX, a high tech stage spectacular with a cast of 70. Crawford filed a District Court lawsuit claiming he sustained numerous injuries on stage and then unfairly had his $150,000 a week contract terminated, when the injuries curtailed his ability to perform. Crawford was replaced in EFX by David Cassidy who was brought to Vegas after starring on Broadway in Blood Brothers.

TOM ANDERSEN a three time MAC Award winner, celebrates the release of his new CD The Journey with Friday performances beginning June 5th through July 10th at Eighty Eight's located in NYC. Ian Herman will conduct the band. Anderson's show will feature selections from his new album including Irving Berlin's Reaching for the Moon, to Nan Knighton and Frank Wildhorn's Storybook, from the current Broadway musical The Scarlet Pimpernel.

and Mirage Resorts announced that Alegria, Cirque du Soleil's 8th production, will find a permanent home at Beau Rivage, the resort being developed in Biloxi, Mississippi.

The show will open the l,500-seat Beau Rivage theater in the spring of l999.

This is the 4th joint venture between the Cirque du Soleil and the Mirage Resorts.

The critically acclaimed Mystere has performed at Treasure Island in Las Vegas since 1993 and an as-yet-untitled production will open at the Bellagio, the lavish Las Vegas resort set to open in October.

Next Column: May 24, 1998
Copyright: May 17, 1998. All Rights Reserved. Reviews, Interviews, Commentary, Photographs or any 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