Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014 | 6:35 p.m.
The Kats Report Bureau at this writing is once more Beat Coffeehouse in the heart of Fremont East. At the table a few paces away, proprietor Michael Cornthwaite is holding what seems to be a hashtag-power table confab among important individuals. Stevie Wonder is playing on the turntable, the muffins are warm and fresh, and so is the collective disposition.
Earlier, I was a guest on the podcast Matt and Mattingly’s Ice Cream Social co-hosted by improv comedy practitioners Matt Donnelly and Paul Mattingly. Find the show on the Matt and Mattingy website. A teaser: We perform a spoken-word ode to Las Vegas with the syrupy sound bed provided by soundboard wizard Jacob “Sad Trombone” Smith.
Donnelly and Mattingly also host the “Bucket Show” improv showcase at 10 p.m. Wednesdays at Scullery Theater at the Ogden just across Sixth Street from El Cortez and not far from … here, actually. That’s worth a look-see, as these two are awful. I mean, awfully funny.
Let’s press onward:
• The Smith Center for the Performing Arts President Myron Martin landed Mr. Las Vegas for the upcoming sesquicentennial all-star show Sept. 22 at Reynolds Hall: Wayne Newton has agreed to participate. The Wayner’s involvement has not been specified, but he is to appear and speak of all the changes he has experienced in Las Vegas since he moved to the city in the late 1950s to perform at Fremont Hotel’s Carnival Lounge.
Also new to the previously announced lineup are Bally’s headliner Veronic and the husband-wife team of former “Producers” at Paris Las Vegas cast member Leigh Zimmerman and the great singer and musician Domenick Allen. Zimmerman has been starring in “A Chorus Line” on London’s West End for the past 18 months and last year was honored with the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role for her portrayal of Sheila in that musical.
A masterful, multifaceted musician, Allen toured with Liberace for a time when Allen was a teenager and also starred as Simon Prescott on “Days of Our Lives.” More pertinently, Allen has participated in a number of projects in Las Vegas with top performers such as Clint Holmes, Susan Anton, Martin Nievera, Bill Fayne … a long list. It’ll be good to have the A-to-Z couple, and the Wayner, back in action.
• An ace MC job by Bryan Chan and blistering performances by “Jubilee,” “Fantasy,” the Jabbawockeez and Melody Sweets (backed by members of “Frank Marino’s Divas Las Vegas”) highlighted a particularly successful AFAN Black & White Party at the Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel on Saturday night.
The 28th B&W party drew 3,000 participants and raised nearly $130,000 for the Southern Nevada HIV/AIDS charity organization. A very healthy take for one of our favorite organizations.
• There is a break in the set by Las Vegas lounge legend Cook E. Jarr, whose last show at Harrah’s is Wednesday at 4 p.m. He’s been playing the piano bar at the hotel lately, having moved inside from Carnaval Court, where he was the headliner for a few years. Jarr has been a Las Vegas institution for more than 30 years, having hit town in 1982 as Cook E. Jarr and the Krums and playing at the Sands. He’s bopped around town, at the Sands, Nero’s Nook at Caesars Palace — I met him about 15 years ago during his run at the Tap House — and has been featured at Harrah’s for about 15 years.
No word on what’s next for the Jarr, other than he is no longer booked at any Caesars Entertainment hotels. I don’t know, maybe a locals casino with a clientele who remembers Jarr in his heyday will snap him up. He’s been twice featured on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” and, with a little marketing push, the ever-bronzed crooner could enjoy a revival. The Old Vegas vibe never really goes out of style, and nor do Cook E. Jarr, his smoke machine and his beat box.
• On your list of Things Not to Count On, add to the top the return of “Sydney After Dark.” It seems Down-Under-done for the adult revue that opened with such high hopes (and even higher challenges) at Planet Hollywood Showroom. Filling 1,350 seats with an Australian-themed topless show was too tall an order, even for a cast teeming with 6-foot-tall dancers and some dazzling staging.
As SPI Entertainment founder and show co-producer/presenter Adam Steck said this week, the show’s future depends on the ideas, vision and (most important) bank account of its visionary, Belinda Chapple. And Chapple, at the moment, is back in Australia.
Steck hasn’t heard from the show’s mastermind in a couple of weeks. This show is her baby, as she pulled together the money and enlisted Steck to find a suitable room for the production. But the idea of moving the show to a smaller venue, specifically Sin City Theater across the mezzanine from PH Showroom, is waning. Despite Steck’s willingness to help everyone in the show realize their dream of producing a hit show in Las Vegas, there seems little interest in resurrecting a reduced-size production it took five years to bring to the stage on the Strip.
Shows close, sometimes, and that’s the case for the short-lived “Sydney After Dark.”
• Great sighting from the SLS Las Vegas opening weekend: On Sunday night, Caesars Entertainment executive Eileen Moore — who is the president and GM of Cromwell, the Quad and Flamingo Las Vegas — was having dinner with a group at Katsuya. Seated at the next table was SLS President Rob Oseland. When I shuffled over to say hello to Moore, I pointed out Oseland, who had his back to the table. Moore had not yet met Oseland but said she would introduce herself after dinner.
A little later, on my way out of the hotel, I spotted Moore again, at the craps table, throwing dice. She tossed a winning number, and I joked, “I am not the cooler!” Somehow, Oseland owes some play at Flamingo, Quad or Cromwell. Let’s set that up.
Just as distinctive as it's famous neighbors Caesar's Palace and The Venetian, Harrah's Las Vegas has been entertaining guests since 1973. The 87,700-square foot casino is filled with 1,520 slot machines and 107 gaming tables. Outside the casino, guests are able to experience fun in a street-fair atmosphere at the Carnival Court, an outdoor lounge with live entertainment (including the bartenders), food stands and outdoor shops.
At Harrah's comedy is King, and that has never been more apparent then the comedy acts of Rita Rudner, the Mac King Comedy Magic Show and the Improv Comedy Club. After the show, guests are more than welcome to laugh at their friends at The Piano Bar, famous for its dueling pianos and karaoke. Most recently, Harrah's added tribute show "Legends in Concert" to its list of entertainment.
Restaurants like Ming's offers Asian cuisine, while Ruth's Chris Steak House offers guests fine steaks and fresh seafood. Toby Keith's I Love This Bar is a country-themed bar with a restaurant, live music and the occasional appearance from Keith himself.