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April 16, 2014

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Monti Rock III on the mend; Carla Pellegrino’s Bacio marks one year at Trop; Barbara Cook postpones shows

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Sylvie Kindle

His ponytail may be gone, but the essence of Monti Rock III remains.

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  • The Skating Aratas; Monti Rock III
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Carla Pellegrino of Bacio at the Tropicana.

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Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada.

Some of what I’ve collected after a lap around the scene:

• Las Vegas bon vivant Monti Rock III is finally back home after suffering from dehydration, exhaustion and a blood infection. MRIII was treated at Mountain View Hospital and, later, Kindred Transitional Care and Rehabilitation -- Torrey Pines. In all, Rock was hospitalized for nearly a month. In his careening “Monti-Licious” gossip column, sent via e-mail, he said, “I am on the mend! The support for Monti Rock III from around the country has been overwhelming. Clint Holmes calling, Bob Anderson from Branson calling, my fellow columnists and all the flowers, baskets and well wishes for a speedy recovery from so many folks.” Monti turns 70 on Tuesday, and I’m sure we’ll see him back in full flourish, soon enough.

• Exuding her characteristic magnanimity, Carla Pellegrino celebrated the first anniversary of her Trop restaurant, Bacio, on Tuesday night. Pellegrino is a terrific chef, but I have long felt she would be famous even absent the restaurant. She has a way of taking over a room, especially if it is the kitchen. She is Tropical Storm Carla.

During the event, the “Dancing With the Stars: Live in Las Vegas” crew was seated for a quick dinner before heading over to “Jersey Boys” at Paris Las Vegas. Tonight at the Trop, the Laugh Factory celebrates its official opening at the former Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club space with Paul Rodriguez headlining. One story about the Laugh Factory: Over the years, club founder Jamie Masada has been known to spend time with comics eager to enter the ruthlessly competitive world of stand-up after open-mic nights at his hovel in Hollywood.

One prospective comic recently told me that Masada spent several minutes energetically recapping the comic’s routine after a particularly rugged open-mic appearance. I relayed that anecdote to Laugh Factory producer Harry Basil, on the scene at the Bacio anniversary party. He cracked, “Yeah, but the problem is, no one can understand what Jamie says.” Masada has a pretty rich and distinctive accent and when he was a teenager mixed English with Hebrew and Farsi. It’s English, mostly, today.

• A schedule change worth noting at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts is Barbara Cook’s shift in performances at Cabaret Jazz from this week and weekend to Aug. 16-19. Cook was originally set to appear Thursday through Sunday, but illness has forced a postponement of her first appearance at the Smith Center.

As Smith Center officials pointed out as the arts fortress opened in March, Cook’s show was to be an important barometer to gauge whether locals would know enough about the legendary cabaret performer to pay $40 a ticket to see her sing. Cook is a 2011 Kennedy Center honoree and Tony Award nominee who has earned a sterling reputation among fellow stage performers for more than 50 years. Now there is extra time, plenty of it, to buy tickets to see her in Vegas.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWithTheDish.

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