A benefit show for GOLDEN RAINBOW, called LAS VEGAS LEGENDS, was presented at THE ORLEANS Showroom. The two hour show featured the talents of entertainers, many of them “legends,” from Las Vegas’ major Las Vegas Strip productions. This outstanding show was produced by Liz Elliott Lieberman and directed by Lesley A Brandy along with associate producers Michael Kessler, Melinda Jackson and Bill Moore.
Although the majority of the performers were above the age of 45, and many are now seniors, the beautiful Showgirls, comedy, production numbers, singing, dancing, orchestration and costuming were top-notch. Starring were Marty Allen and Karon Kate, The De Castro Sisters, Mafalda, and Bill Fayne and the Las Vegas Tenors. Pre-show entertainment was by Christopher Broughton and M.C.’s funny costumed Michael Kessler and Melinda Jackson, whose surprising last act was superb.
Some of the acts were: Gotta Have a Gimmick featuring The Three Strippers Diana Saunders, Lillian D’Hnau, and April Hervert with Sal Angelica and Bridgid Kelly; Barbara Bailey as Phyllis Dilller; Clem Zelaski as Fred Astaire with his partner, Stephanie Markham; “Donn Arden Auditions” featuring Sheila Warmer, Gertrude Nightingale, Bill May and dancers; “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head, featuring Linda Green Scott Barnard and dancers; “Anyone Can Whistle’ – Teacher’s Trial, featuring Douglas H. Baker, Donny White, Koby Okudo, Alex Crupi. Louren Beare, and Vicky Atkin; “I Wanna Be A Producer featuring Charles Vecchi Jean Henninger, Cecile Rizzo, Phyllis Levinson, Mary Rector and Barb Saling;” Emory Hodges & Larry Edwards as Tina Turner; Leonardo – The Amazing Plate Spinner; Tempest Storm – The First Lady of Burlesque; Charly Charles, singing “Louise” ala Maurice Chevaliar; ‘Feeling’ Good,’ by Fine Wine dancers Jackie McDaniels, Suzanne Jipson and Teresa Cushman; “Bandwagon”, featuring Lesley Bandy and Greg Sumner. “Big Noise From Winnetka” featuring Karen Denise, Rick Rizzo and ensemble; International Pianist, Mafalda; The De Castro Sisters with Sherrie De Castro, Maggie Albasani and Lois Denny; The Las Vegas Tenors with Bill Faye singing “Nassun Dorma’ thrilling the audience; “Rocky Horror” production featuring Ron DeCar, Chris Galen, John Foster, Millie Lowensohn, Kalin Ivanoff, Landon Mitchell, Gina Bugose and Kristen Stevenson; The Stars of the Show Marty Allen and Karon Kate; and Fosse Percussion and American in Paris, featuring Michael Kessler, Melinda Jackson and The American Dance Theater. A finale featured Jim Hodge singing “Luck be a Lady Tonight” as Kevin Browning introduced the entire cast as they beautifully stage walked on. I would have liked to name all involved in the production, however, that would take a full article in itself. But I do want to say, “ Wow! What a show with such amazing talent from yesteryear with some still continuing to perform.”
After the show, guests went to the Dauphine Ballroom for the Cast and Crew Reunion. Lido and Enter The Night dancer, Lou Anne Harrison Chessik had previously arranged the 1st cast and crew reunion out of a sense of urgency to celebrate the 5 decades of entertainment history at the STARTDUST HOTEL before it closed its doors forever. At that time, 650 people gathered together and old friendships were rekindled. The response from the 1st reunion inspired her to organize a yearly reunion to keep the history and friendships alive, and this night’s reunion was a result of that response. Once again the enthusiasm and excitement of getting together was thoroughly enjoyed by all.
An addition to the evening was the exhibiting of the 2007 Showgirl Art Competition and Exhibition winners. This competition captured the legacy of the glamorous showgirl, costuming and production shows that made Las Vegas world-famous. The artwork typifies the magic and history of this timeless and everlasting marvelous era. In addition other artworks symbolizing the Showgirl were displayed. I spoke with Karen Burns who has a collection of about 2,000 costumes from major Strip production shows. The Nevada Historical Society has been displaying this Art Competition and Exhibition along with many of Karen Burns costume collections.
Guests were treated to a buffet; champagne and a DJ playing show tunes as a screening of STARDUST productions were shown. Jim Seagrave offered a remembrance and toast to the late Production Stage Manager, Terry Lovern. There was a prize for the person who guessed the mystery Showgirl in the screening. Someone thought it was Jane Russell, but the winner and correct guess was Cindy Doumani. The winner was Anna Natache who had designed and made Liberace’s beautiful furs.
Memories, stories, tears and love filled the room as old friends greeted each other. At the reunion, I looked for Linda Green who was the lead dancer in Jubilee until she was almost 50. but I was unable to find her. I had done a story on her and tried on her extremely high headdress, which was amazing. Among those having a wonderful time in addition to those previously mentioned were: Siegfried Fischbacher, Lynette Chapelle, Shirley Allen, Sal Angelica, Betty Bunch, Steve and Sheryl Cutler, Pat Fagen, Margie Fields, Rene De Haven, Nancy and Kel Houssels, Dorothy and Don Kemp, Jim Marsh, Annee Nounna, Tony Sacca, Josette LeBlond (Josette’s Bistro), Carolyn Sparks, Ed and Carolee Swindle, Diane Varney, Joe La Vigna, Breck Wall, Angie Wallin, Denny Weddle, Wes Winters, Rick Warren and so many others too numerous to mention.
Hugs, kisses and goodbyes completed an evening of memories and fun, with the “can’t wait for the next reunion” in everyone’s wishes as they left the ballroom.