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November 23, 2014

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Cirque ‘surprised’ at timing of OSHA report; chefs overprepared for Life Is Beautiful

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David Fox

Sarah (Sasoun) Guillot-Guyard after an end-of-session performance with her students at Cirquefit in Las Vegas on Saturday, June 29, 2013, just hours before her death.

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Sarah Guyard-Guillot

At this writing, the Kats Report Bureau is an outdoor oasis on a beautiful opening-of-November morning in VegasVille. This is the sort of scene that Las Vegas resorts have long attempted to replicate inside their hotel shopping malls, but the painted clouds and blue skies don’t quite emulate the real thing.

It’s a pretty day to write, and to rake:

• Cirque du Soleil officials have expressed “surprise” that OSHA leveled its findings in the investigation into the death of “Ka” artist Sarah Guillot-Guyard before either Cirque or MGM Resorts had an opportunity to issue their formal appeals into the conclusions of the government safety agency.

There have been reports that the “Ka” team was caught off-guard that the findings were made public, with six citations issued against Cirque and three against MGM Grand by OSHA investigators before either company had a chance to formally address those conclusions.

In an email, Cirque spokeswoman Renee-Claude Menard clarified the company’s view of this process: “We were surprised but not concerned, and since we have been cooperating fully with OSHA since the beginning, we will continue to do so during the appeal process.” OSHA Public Information Officer Teri Williams said the agency commonly issues its findings before appeals are heard, citing examples across the country where employees were killed on the job and the results of the investigation were delivered before employers made any appeal.

MGM Resorts spokesman Gordon Absher also was asked about the appeals process and said the resort company has “no concern. We are cooperating fully with OSHA and following the process per their guidelines.”

Menard also was asked specifically about OSHA’s citation as it related to the training of Guillot-Guyard, who on the night of June 29 fell 94 feet to the floor while ascending up the show’s movable stage during the production’s “Final Battle” scene. Investigators concluded that the 31-year-old mother of two known as “Sasoun” fell after the wire rope connected to her harness was “severed due to the rapid ascent of the performer, ultimately causing the rope to be freed from the sheave/pulley and scraping against a shear point.” That thin wire had scraped against the sharp edge of the disk in the pulley, breaking the rope and causing her to fall.

Guillot-Guyard had reportedly just moved to a new “track,” in that scene, in which a lineup of costumed, harnessed Spearman Warriors are pulled up the stage in its vertical position. After a training period reported to be three months, Guillot-Guyard was performing on that particular track for the first time in a live performance on the night she died, although she had performed in the scene regularly for more than eight years.

Asked to verify that version of events, Menard said only, “I can't answer at this time since it is linked to the appeal process.”

Life Is Beautiful Highlights

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• The great execution of Life Is Beautiful does not preclude ways the festival can be improved, as organizers have said they want to bring the music, food and art celebration back to downtown Las Vegas in 2014. Some of the chefs in the Culinary Village are saying they sold a lot less of their fare than expected over the two-day event. One prominent Las Vegas chef and restaurant operator talked of selling just one-third of what was planned for the two days.

One concern: The Culinary Village was not particularly easy to locate, as it was assembled on vacant lots on Fremont and 8th street that were a fair hike from the festival entrance on Carson Avenue and 6th Street, and also far from the Downtown Stage between 7th and Stewart streets. It might largely be a case of attendees simply learning the layout of the map to find those 40 terrific food vendors, but chefs I talked to would have liked to be closer to the masses walking into the festival. But they also said that they would sign up for LIB next year simply for the unique marketing opportunity.

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The Jersey Boys, left to right, Travis Cloer, Jeff Leibow, Buck Hujabre and Deven May, perform during a fundraiser to benefit trombonist Mike Turnbull, who is recovering from stage-four thyroid cancer, at New Song Anthem Church Saturday, May 11, 2013.

• In “Jersey Boys,” Deven May portrays Four Seasons visionary and co-founder Tommy DeVito. He’s taking on a promoter/presenter and co-producer role in real life as he presents the Tenors of Rock at the Lounge at the Palms on Saturday night. Show time is 9:30 p.m., and admission is free.

The Tenors are a vocal group of six of the top singers in the United Kingdom singing covers of classic-rock songs. The group was co-founded by vocalist and stage performer Gareth Richards, with whom May worked on the Broadway musical “Bat Boy” 10 years ago. Over the years, Richards and May had kept in touch via email, and when Richards began looking for gigs around the world, asked May about possibilities in Vegas.

“They are really impressive, and I see the way Vegas is trending now, with ‘Jersey Boys,’ Human Nature, ‘Rock of Ages,’ ‘Raiding the Rock Vault,’ classic music and especially classic rock is the trend that is kind of happening now,” May said in a phone interview this week. He could also have name-checked the vocal group Mo5aic, headlining at Shimmer Cabaret at LVH and also specializing in all variety of classic music. “What (the Tenors of Rock) have done is take classic rock and put a new spin on it, with a six-part harmony and a sound that would lend itself to what is happening in Vegas right now.”

The group is to appear with “Raiding the Rock Vault” at LVH on Monday night, joining the band during “Hotel California.”

This is another instance where a small venue in Las Vegas is being used to showcase an act with great potential. May is hoping the show Saturday can persuade someone of import in the Vegas entertainment industry — an Adam Steck or David Saxe, for starters — to find a place for this group. Those fellows are pretty busy already, but if you’ve got the capacity to sell tickets, Las Vegas has plenty of room — and plenty of rooms.

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

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