What I do best, I think, is sit in a theater for a couple hours and applaud talent. I buy tickets (or my friend Libby buys them for me), dress up a little and my applause is a bit louder than my small hands would predict.
Yes, Las Vegas is the “Entertainment Capital of the World” and that slogan may mean many things, but to a number of “mature” men and women who live in Las Vegas, it means supporting local talent in a variety of venues. Some of that talent can be seen for free and some may cost as much as, say, $65, but basically we are avoiding the crowds on the Strip, the high Strip ticket prices and the $15 to $25 cost and chaos of Strip parking. And still–we are having a great time.
What is better than watching Clint Holmes continue singing beautifully, perhaps with Christine Shebeck, at an age when many folks have long retired? Or how fun is it to journey to the Piazza Lounge at Tuscany Suites & Casino to hear Craig Canter, Michael Grimm, Rita Lim or Kenny Davidsen sing…for the price of a soft drink or cocktail (although in my case, I do “contribute” at the Tuscany casino as well). How fun is it to marvel at the talent, versatility and costumes/jackets of Michelle Johnson, Lannie Counts, Earl turner or Vita Drew? A singer who loves jazz and does it well is Jonathan Karrant. Bringing the audience to tears is Skye Dee Miles. Making us laugh are, among others, Frankie Scinta, Mac King, Pete Barbutti, Dennis Blair, Geechy Guy, Rich Little and Tony Arias.
Among the places to see local talent are Myron’s at the Smith Center (some national talent appears there, too. Parking is inexpensive), The Stirling Club (tip the valet),South Point Hotel Casino & Spa Showroom, Freedom Hall Theatre at Sun City Anthem, Starbight Theatre at Sun City Summerlin, Coop’s Cabaret (they need a gatekeeper to welcome customers, but the guitar interludes, before the show, are wonderful), the Italian American Club (their meatballs are to die for), Community Lutheran Church (their 5th Sunday concerts are well attended), Notoriety (downtown) and a host of other restaurants and bars with entertainment such as Monzu where you’ll hear singers such as Naomi Mauro, Ronnie Rose or Tosha Comeaux.
Don’t let me forget also, the musicians. We have great musicians in Las Vegas and their talent is on display every time I go out.
Among groups, we love Cocktail Cabaret, Mark Give and Genevieve, The Bronx Wanderers, the Tournament of Kings and A Public Fit Theate Company. Wow, I can’t stop listing favorites!
Some local talent is so good that I and the other mature fans have seen some folks multiple times. Kelly Clinton has a fan base that has followed her from the Bootlegger Bistro to the Tuscany Piazza Room to the Nevada Room to the Stirling Club and to the Tiscany Copa Room. (We are awaiting her next announcement.)
Those of us in all the audiences become somewhat like family. We see each other often; we talk, we make friends and we are entertained. It’s lovely.
Sometimes repeat viewing brings conversation with entertainers as well. Who is nicer than Rita Lim? Chadwick Johnson not only sings, he’s a rodeo performer and I’ve seen hm ride at SouthPoint.
One way to bargain shop is to join an organization such s House Seats which offers daily listings of shows in Las Vegas that one can see for free–but your tickets are generally for that night or the next night. Carrot Top is a Strip headliner (yes the Excalibur has a huge parking lot and a charge for parking), but I recently saw his show courtesy of House Seats. The theater was packed and the show was great. Gordie Brown is another favorite entertainer on that listing, though on popular weekends, downtown parking is difficult and costly at the Golden Nugget where he appears.
How does one find when and where favorite local entertainers are playing? By reading Johnny Katsilometes’ column in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, by being entertainers’ friend on Facebook AND by checking the entertainment calendars at your favorite venues. My friend Libby is relentless in checking entertainment schedules and letting me know when and where people are appearing and even buying tickets for our group…often up close, a nice thing for these mature eyes who aren’t quite as good with distances as they were decades ago.
The other night at the Italian American Club a mature lady who is a fan of Mark O’Toole’s Variety Show at Sun City Anthem said the day tickets go on sale, she arrives an hour before the box office opens. “Last week, I was second in line,” she said proudly. “O’Toole’s shows are always a sell-out,” she said.
Thursday we are going to the Stirling Club to see Elisa Fiorillo and Philip Fortenberry.
Note: In the Comments section, feel free to name your own favorite Las Vegas entertainers!