Remembering Conductor & Musician Vincent Falcone

Vincent Falcone

The world lost a fabulous talent last Friday. I lost a great friend. Vincent Falcone departed our earthly venue for a far better and most beautiful gig, where many of his buddies now reside. The orchestra has been waiting for him for more than a year.  They were notified in March, 2016, that Vinnie was ill on earth. They, of course, were hoping that he would not make the trip, but should destiny put him on that final flight, they wanted to greet him royally.  Among those lining up to welcome him aboard last Friday were such stars as:  Frank Sinatra, Eydie Gorme, Robert Goulet, Andy Williams, Rosemary Clooney, Sid Caesar, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Al Martino, Frank Sinatra Jr., Eddie Fisher, and Joe Williams to name just a few. After all, his musical career spanned more than 60 years, 47 of them based out of Las Vegas.

 

We first met way back in the early ‘70s when he went to work at the old Thunderbird Hotel in the lounge, and I was publicist for the hotel.  We continued to run in to each other during the Sinatra era, when he was either Mr. Sinatra’s pianist or conductor for nearly 10 years. Vincent wrote about those years in a very well written book, “Frankly Just Between Us” in 2005, along with Bob Popyk, a long-time friend from Syracuse, New York.  When I got my personal copy, he autographed it “….Thank you also for the title of ‘Conductor to the Stars,’ which you bestowed upon me…” And, Vincent Falcone, was the man nearly every major entertainer in the world would go to first to see if he was available for an engagement or a tour.

We then hooked up again when he became Goulet’s conductor around 2001. I’m not a musician, nor am I a singer, but when you hear a singer like Goulet praise a musician you know there’s a reason. Another wonderful entertainer, who would use Vinnie when he was available, is impressionist, singer, and one fabulous friend, Bob Anderson.  Falcone’s last major gig was the year he spent with Anderson putting together the show, “Frank, The Man, The Music,” using many of “The Man’s” original arrangements. The show opened at the Venetian’s Palazzo Theatre on January 23, 2015, with a full 32-piece orchestra.  Set to run eight weeks, it was extended numerous times and closed in December, 2015.

Bob Anderson (Left) Tony Bennett (Middle) and Vincent Falcone (Right)

Vinnie’s final gig was with a very close and long-standing friend, singer Pia Zadora. The two had met in 1983, when Pia was undergoing a change in her life and a new direction with her music. For the next two years Vinnie worked with the young lady to groom her for a tour that would take her to new heights. Soon after the show closing at the Palazzo, Vinnie joined Pia at Piero’s restaurant as her musical conductor. That friendship lasted until his final breath in Torrance, California, where he went to hopefully recover.

 

Falcone had suffered with brain cancer for a year.  Last March, he was diagnosed with an advanced form of glioblastoma multiforme brain cancer. He underwent a delicate brain surgery in San Francisco at the UCSF Medical Center, but never fully recovered. His wife, Annette, his two sons, Jeff and Danny were with him when he took his final breath. He was in peace. According to the family they will hold a private family service. A possible public memorial will be announced at a later date.

Vincent Falcone: July 11, 1938—March 24, 2017.

You now have the Golden Baton!

 

THIS AND THAT QUICKLY:

The Nigerian Spam Scam Scam

We’ve all received the email…you know, the one with a Nigerian prince and/or diplomat begging for help and needing a bank account for upwards of $100 million.  While most of us hit delete, writer and performer Dean Cameron did something about it.  It’s this humorous creation of the popular email con, “The Nigerian Spam Scam Scam,” that makes its way to the new Las Vegas performance center, The Space (3460 Cavaretta Court) for a three-performance engagement this coming Friday, March 31 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, April 1 at 7 and 10 p.m.  Produced by Mark Shunock and Brandon Ellyson, “The Nigerian Spam Scam Scam” is on sale now online at www.thespacelv.com.

After receiving an email from a Nigerian con artist posing as the wife and son of a dead Nigerian leader, Cameron replied.  Posing as a sexually confused Florida millionaire, whose only companions were his cats (Mister Snickers and Joe Joe the Dancing Clown), houseboy, and personal attorney, Perry Mason, Cameron embarked on an 11-month correspondence with the bewildered and tenacious Nigerian, impeccably played by co-star Victor Isaac. This hit duologue, taken from actual email threads, documents the hilarious relationship as it descends into a miasma of misunderstanding, desperation, and deception.

Originally hailing from Illinois, Dean Cameron is a stage, television and film actor, director, comedian, and musician.  Best known for his roles as Chainsaw from “Summer School” with Mark Harmon, “Straight Outta Compton,” “Ski School,” and TV’s “They Came from Outer Space,” Cameron is an accomplished actor appearing in nearly 100 movies and television shows including “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “NCIS,” “Shameless,” “Glee,” “American Horror Story,” “Will & Grace,” “Mad About You,” “Kicking and Screaming” with Will Ferrell, as Jeff Spicoli in “Fast Times” –  the television version of “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” and as Herbie Bailey on the ‘80s TV series “Spencer.”

Tickets are $30.00 for general admission seating or $50.00 for VIP table seating. Rear porch seating is available for $55.00, a VIP front table is $65.00 per ticket.  Tickets for this special engagement are on sale now at www.thespacelv.com.  or at The Space box office, 3460 Cavaretta Court.

 

Erica Enders

Two-time NHRA Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders, driver of the Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro, is the K&N Horsepower Challenge Fan Vote winner and will fill the No. 8 starting spot in the Pro Stock bonus event.

The 33rd annual K&N Horsepower Challenge will be contested during the DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals on Saturday, April 1 at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. FOX Sports 1 will televise the event. Enders has back-to-back wins in the lucrative Pro Stock event with victories in 2014 and 2015, the same years she won her Pro Stock world championships. This will be her seventh start in the popular all-star event and she’ll open things up against defending Pro Stock world champion and last year’s runner-up of the event Jason Line.  The K&N Horsepower Challenge is a race within a race, highlighting the top drivers in NHRA Pro Stock competition, for which the winner receives $50,000. The runner-up will earn $10,000, the two semifinalists will each receive $3,000, and the four first-round finishers will each take home $2,500. If a driver doubles-up by winning the specialty event and the national event, that driver will win a $25,000 bonus. Drivers began accumulating points from qualifying starting at the 2016 DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals and the No. 1 qualifier at each NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event earned a $3,000 bonus

 

“We had a great run between 2013-2015 in this event,” Enders said. “We were runner-up in 2013 and then won back-to-back races the following two years. We also won the national event the same weekend as the two years we won the K&N Challenge so obviously, The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is a lucky place for our team.”

 

In addition to Enders vs. Line, other first round pairings are defending winner Greg Anderson vs. two-time winner Allen Johnson; Bo Butner vs. Drew Skillman; and Shane Gray vs. Vincent Nobile. K&N Horsepower Challenge rounds are scheduled for 1: 30, 4 and 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 1.

 

The Utah Shakespeare Festival recently announced the casting of the first eight actors for the 2017 season. All are familiar faces, having appeared at the Festival in the past. They are Cassandra Bissell, Jonathan Gillard Daly, Melissa Graves, James Newcomb, Melinda Parrett, John G. Preston, Kelly Rogers, and Paul Michael Sandberg. Please check for the latest casting news at www.bard.org.

Festival audiences will fondly remember Cassandra Bissell who appeared at the Festival in 2014 as Elinor Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility and Adriana in The Comedy of Errors. For the 2017 season, she is returning to play three varied women: Rosalind in As You Like It, Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and another Rosalind in The Tavern. Jonathan Gillard Daly, last appeared at the Festival in 2011 as Antigonus in The Winter’s Tale and Inspector Hubbard in Dial M for Murder. This season he will be appearing at the Festival as Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet, Fennyman in Shakespeare in Love, and Arvide Abernathy and Rabbi in Guys and Dolls.

Sense and Sensibility

Melissa Graves said that the Utah Shakespeare Festival “is the ultimate actor retreat—great people, great work, and the great outdoors!” In 2017 she will be playing Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet, Snout/Moth in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Mrs. Shotwell in The Tavern. Last season she played the roles of Portia, Popilius Lena, and Young Cato in Julius Caesar, as well as Cecily Pigeon in The Odd Couple. This season she will be returning as Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls, Hippolyta/Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and The Woman in The Tavern James Newcomb has played numerous roles at the Festival since 2007, including Earl of Gloucester in King Lear, Lord Chief Justice in Henry IV Part Two, and Count Johann Kilian von Strack in Amadeus (all in 2015). This summer he will appear at the Festival as Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Big Jule in Guys and Dolls, and Zachariah Freeman in The Tavern.

Melinda Parrett first appeared at the Festival as Miss Proserpine Garnett in Candida and Maria Merelli in Lend Me a Tenor: The Musical. Last season she played the roles of Milady in The Three Musketeers, Penelope Martin in The Cocoanuts, and Gwendolyn Pigeon in The Odd Couple. John G. Preston is returning to the Festival to play Duke Frederick and Duke Senior in As You Like It, Lord Capulet in Romeo and Juliet, and Henslowe in Shakespeare in Love. In 2015 he played Captain George Brackett in South Pacific, Van Helsing in Dracula, and Col. Sir Francis Chesney in Charley’s Aunt.

Henry V

Kelly Rogers, who last year appeared as Montjoy in Henry V, Constance in The Three Musketeers, and Margaret in Much Ado about Nothing, is returning this year as Puck/Philostrate in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Phebe in As You Like It, and Sally-Mae in The Tavern. Paul Michael Sandberg has a history with the Festival dating back to 1991 when he played Biff in Death of a Salesman and Marcellus in Hamlet. He returned last year to play Julius Caesar and Strato in Julius Caesar and Roy in The Odd Couple—and will be back this year as Captain Smollet in Treasure Island, Sheriff in The Tavern, and Egeus in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Tickets are now on sale for the Festival’s 56th season, which will run from June 29 to October 21. For more information and tickets visit www.bard.org or call 1-800-PLAYTIX.

The Utah Shakespeare Festival is part of the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts at Southern Utah University, which also includes the Southern Utah Museum of Art (SUMA).

Well, gang, that’s it for this week. I’m losing too many friends.

I’m outa here!

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