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October 1, 2014

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On the note platter: Goss-Tastic, Sally Struthers, Mr. Olympia, Rick Faugno

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Brian Jones/Las Vegas News Bureau

Matt Goss arrives at Caesars Palace on March 12, 2010.

Today's column/blog has something for everyone. Matt Goss from Friday. Mr. Olympia. Sally Struthers. Rick Faugno all on Sunday.

So away we go:

Filling the Goss Tank

Finally, I met up with Goss at Cleopatra's Barge at Caesars Palace, or as it is known now, The Gossy Room at Cleopatra's Barge. This was Friday. It's a different setup for Goss, the most obvious change being how Goss must play to different regions in the lounge. There is a cluster of fans sitting to stage right, just beyond the little moat, and another cluster in front of the stage. The stage itself is smaller by quite a bit than his former home at the Palms, so the musicians are packed in fairly tightly. But they make up for that reduced space by wading into the crowd, so you're sitting there watching Goss sing onstage and, and suddenly you're sharing a table with the drummer.

Goss' father was in the house as the band ripped through much of the same material the younger Goss delivered at the Palms, including "Hotel California" — favored by this scribe — and "Fly Me to the Moon." "Evil" still is in there, too. It's a fun show, and as I noted to him afterward, the Barge residency has a distinctly temporary feel. I believe Goss eventually will inhabit a larger space. Just a feeling, this. He's a pretty ambitious guy. And, we can happily report, the suit fits.

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No Doubt at Tiger Jam 12 in Mandalay Bay Events Center.

Big Jay

Ran into Jay Cutler, reigning Mr. Olympia, Sunday afternoon at LVAC on Rainbow and U.S. 95.

It would be inaccurate to say he has let himself go.

Still built for competition, the 275-pound Las Vegas bodybuilding superstar said he's going to make one more appearance at Mr. Olympia at Orleans Arena in September, flexing for his fourth title. Then it's off to action movies, as he strives to be the next Arnold Schwarzenegger, turning his staggering brawn into thespian artistry. Remarkably, Cutler turned back a number (that number would be three) of overtures from reality-show producers who wanted to track him as he attempted to reclaim the Mr. Olympia crown in 2009. "Too distracting," was his reason.

Struthers and Mark O'Toole

One of the more compelling comeback stories in town is that of Mark O'Toole, the built-to-entertain vocalist who staged a showcase hosted by Kelly Clinton on Sunday night at Bootlegger Bistro. A night earlier, with hardly any publicity push, he drew a crowd of 300 to M Resort.

Sunday, word spread through O'Toole's tight social media network that he and his friend Sally Struthers would be appearing at Bootlegger. Bang, full house (and a tip o' the tope to Kelly's mother, Ellie, for getting the word out. She is so cute). Struthers took the stage to introduce O'Toole and embarked on a lengthy story from three decades ago about how she attended a Bette Midler show at Madison Square Garden and how Midler suffered an apparent meltdown, ducking under the piano and assuming the fetal position and crying that she didn't know where she was and that she was disoriented because she had to perform on a circular rotating stage. It was quite a sad tale until Struthers, quoting Midler, said, "Sammy Davis Jr. closed here, and I don't know how he performed on this stage with one f***ing eye!"

The dinner crowd got a kick out of that.

We'll keep tracking O'Toole, a great guy and a true Vegas throwback who lost two years of his career (and nearly his life) from 2007-2009 battling stage-4 lymphoma. Amazingly, he is in great shape, vocally and otherwise. "I am trying to come all the way back, and can use all the help I can get." He's looking at a somewhat regular gig at M.

Struthers, meanwhile, was in the Happy Zone, singing from her table of friends and family through much of the show. Afterward, she said she's busy through December. Currently she's appearing in the stage production of "The Full Monty" at North Carolina Theatre in Raleigh. "I'm 62 years old, so it is great to be working." She's an endearing woman, far removed from her Gloria Stivic character in the groundbreaking, "All in the Family," for which she won two Emmys.

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Britney Spears Circus Tour stop at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 25.

Faugno fills South Point

Sunday afternoon Rick Faugno gave 400-plus fans at South Point Showroom a taste of what Old Vegas looks like, performing a high-energy biographical one-man show titled after his CD, "Songs My Idols Sang (And Danced!)," just a few hours before his regular gig as Frankie Valli in "Jersey Boys." He told his own story, from when he starred on Broadway at age 12 in "Will Rogers Folies" to his current residency on the Strip, and paid tribute to Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Fred Astaire, Sammy Davis Jr. and even Ethel Merman (his audition for the Will Rogers show was to sing, "Everything's Coming up Roses").

Faugno performed a version of this show in August at the South Point and is expected to return April 25.

To get an idea of how difficult it is to execute Faugno's brand of entertainment, try running in place and singing, "Puttin' on the Ritz" with any measure of competence. Then, try doing that while tap dancing. With a cane. In a way that would hold the rapt attention of a few hundred people.

Difficult, eh?

Faugno also performed a version of "Mr. Bojangles" that was amazing for anyone who is a fan of Sammy Davis. Afterward, I spoke with my former Sun colleague Jerry Fink (and hey, check out his Web site here) and we agreed that Faugno's might have been the best we've seen. And trust me, we've seen at least a dozen performers attempt "Mr. Bojangles" over the years. Faugno's is up there with Clint Holmes' interpretation.

And speaking of which, or whom, Holmes is back in North Carolina, working on his stage play that debuts March 31 at Flat Rock Playhouse, the state theater of North Carolina. Holmes already deserves credit for his dogged determination in bringing this production to such an acclaimed theater. Now we'll see how it's received.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at twitter.com/JohnnyKats.

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