The Summerlin® Festival of Arts, celebrating its 21st year on Saturday October 8 through the 9th returns to Downtown Summerlin® on the lawn in at the corner of the 215 Beltway and Sahara Blvd. This follows on the heels of the festival’s highly successful relocation there in 2015. Headlining the festival are more than 100 fine artists and craftspeople from throughout the country, showcasing and selling their original creations. It all starts at 10:00 a.m. and runs till 5:00 p.m. both days.
A full schedule of entertainment is led by a performance from Steve Wynn’s ShowStoppers, Tap Dancing Twins Sean & John of ABSINTHE at Caesars Palace, and many others. Nevada Ballet Theatre will perform multiple times during the weekend throughout Downtown Summerlin. Popular singers and bands include Avalon Landing, Broken Spectacles and Chadwick Johnson. Local schools will be well represented with performances from Del Sol High School’s Mariachi Band, Palo Verde High School Jazz Band, The Meadows Elite Strings, and Faith Lutheran High School Women’s Ensemble.
The 2016 roster of artists includes many popular and returning artists, along with numerous new artisans, including Marcus Thesing who creates impressive glass pieces and Sarvi Hosseini, a jewelry artist, both from Laguna Beach, California. Children’s art activities are hosted by DISCOVERY Children’s Museum and delicious offerings will be served by popular Downtown Summerlin restaurants. Children can also enjoy a Putt Putt challenge, balloon art creations, face-painting and a mascot meet and greet. and Chef Chan Boupha from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Las Vegas returns with live pumpkin and vegetable carving demonstrations. The event and parking are free.
THIS AND THAT QUICKLY:
Comedian Jeff Wayne, often referred to as “Big Daddy,” has joined forces with entertainer Frank LaSpina to raise funds for the Musical Arts Scholarship Program, which LaSpina founded in 2006, with the help of philanthropist Katherine Ferguson. This event will be a theatre ‘double-header’ where those attending can, for one modest ticket price, see two full shows, in the Cabaret Jazz room at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts, Sunday, October 9, at 2:00 p.m.
Wayne will do a special version of his famous one-man show, “Big Daddy’s Barbeque,” as directed by Ted Lange (Isaac from TV’s The Love Boat), with LaSpina presenting his popular multi-media-musical biography of Johnny Cash.
Over the years LaSpina has done biographies such as Dean Martin, Nat “King” Cole, Perry Como, Robert Goulet, and most recently he had one of his many students from the program performing as Sam Cooke and then Sammy Davis, Jr., at the Italian American Club to a capacity audience. This special presentation featuring “Big Daddy’s Barbecue” is a continuation of the Musical Arts Program, a non-profit organization, that provides to qualifying youngsters, instructions on instruments and/or voice (as well as performing opportunities) absolutely free of any charge. Tommy Ward, a 19-year-old student in the program of Frank, was signed last year to a management contract by music industry icon, Quincy Jones.
Wayne is a world class comedian who appears at the Laugh Factory inside the New Tropicana Resort in Las Vegas. He has performed on numerous television interview shows, and his one-man show has been performed before more 1,000 venues, including Las Vegas. The play is about a postal worker on his day off and having a few friends coming over for this famous barbecue, where he often tells what he has on his mind to his friends (the audience) like: “The country is going to pot! Literally!” Of course there is a back story—His wife, Phyllis, wants them to see her friend in the finals of a Karaoke contest. Big Daddy Hates Karaoke. You get the jest of what will happen.
For more than 20 years LaSpina was a fixture on Las Vegas Radio and TV, hosting various talk and variety shows. Frank hails from Cleveland, Ohio, and actually studied law, working his way through school as an entertainer, when he realized show business was his calling. He has over the years performed in most of the major Vegas hotels. Frank presents a series of Sunday afternoon monthly fund-raising shows at both the Smith Center and the Italian American Club. LaSpina created the concept he calls “stage biographies,” using giant video screens, rare photos and film clips from the career of a given entertainment legend, as he tells a well-researched, and often surprising stories from their lives. Many of the entertainer’s signature musical numbers are recreated by either himself, or students from the program. For tickets, priced at $25.00, call the box office at 702-749-2000.
Just a quick little note about a movie we attended last Saturday afternoon titled “Max Rose.” It stars a wonderful array of stars such as Dean Stockwell, Kevin Pollack, Mort Sahl, Claire Bloom, Kerry Bishe, and a fairly well-known local resident, Jerry Lewis. It’s a dark movie my friends, but it keeps you well entertained, and the anticipation of the ending is critical to the entire movie. I’m not a movie critic, but from what I saw on that screen Mr. Lewis at age 90 will very possibly be nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor in a Drama Movie. Damn, is he good in this one! The basis of the story is following his wife, as played by Ms. Bloom, he discovers that during their long marriage she had an affair with another man. The story also involved Ms. Bishe as his caring daughter, and Pollack as the son he never gave much attention to. Great performances by everyone and Stockwell also turns in a magnificent performance near the end of the film.
In a Question and Answer session following the movie, Mr. Lewis was on his game. He answered many questions straight forward and with some humor. He emphasized that he did not have anything to do with the direction of the movie—“I was hired to be an actor, and that’s exactly what I did this time!” The director and writer of the movie was Daniel Noah, and what a magnificent job he turned in. Jerry and Daniel did, however, spend nearly three-years editing it to the final print which we saw Saturday. “We would show the movie to various audiences around the country, and get their thoughts, then take those and go back and do a re-cut,” Jerry told the audience. “And from your reactions today, I think we got it right!”
In the audience were many of Las Vegas’ favorites: Tony Orlando, Penn and Teller, Wayne Newton, Marty Allen and Karon Blackwell, Carrot Top, Kelly Clinton, Susan Anton, Patty Ascher, Cliff Lawrence, and Bill Fayne to name a few.
One of the cute things Lewis told the audiences involved Ms. Bloom. “She came up to me one day on the set and said, ‘You know Jerry, I have now worked with two of my favorite funny men, separated by nearly 65 years, Charlie Chaplin and now you’….” Claire Bloom starred in “Limelight” in 1952. Be sure to catch “Max Rose” when it hits your local theater.
Remembering a friend. I was never a golfer, but early in my life as a sports writer in Los Angeles I had the privilege of covering a few tournaments in Los Angeles, Palm Springs and elsewhere in California. In those days the players enjoyed the game, and had few pressures on them. The guys like Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Sam Snead, Ken Venturi, Tony Lema, Jerry Barber, Frank Beard (more on him a wee bit later) and the King Arnold Palmer were fun to follow. I covered the Los Angeles Open in 1961-62-63-64, and the guy I always followed was Mr. Palmer.
We were allowed in those days to walk along with the players on the fairway and talk to them (if they were in the mood). A reporter had to have a PGA badge to be allowed on the fairway in those early days. And I must say Palmer was always great on the fairway. Once he was in stiff competition, however, his concentration would always be on the subject ahead, and a writer knew not to bother him. Often, he would be walking down the fairway and he would look back at the trailing reporters, and wave to us to come on up and ask a few questions while he was walking. Very few players ever did that!
Where we reporters really had fun was at the one-and-only Frank Sinatra PGA Invitational Tournament held in Palm Springs in November, 1963. A total of 150 celebrities were invited. I followed my favorite entertainer at the time, Bing Crosby who was paired with Palmer and one other celebrity. I told my dad who I was covering and he almost passed out—Crosby was his favorite too. Anyhow, there was a huge gala that night at the Riviera Resort in downtown Palm Springs. Man was it filled to the rafters. Anyhow us reporters were assigned tables and my table that night had a group of 10 and it was in the back side of the convention center. I think a buddy and fellow reporter Ron Erickson (who also later moved to Vegas) was at our table too. Not a prime spot I might add. But guess who was at our table? The winner of the tournament, Frank Beard. Yep, I had an exclusive interview that night. He had only been on tour going into his second year and had to play to qualify for the tournament the day before. Oh, yeah, the paycheck he received was for $9,000 that night. That’s what I meant earlier when I said: the guys played because they enjoyed the game. And, that check was considered huge at the time! I later followed Palmer in Vegas when he played here. He was the King and for good reason. He put golf on the map with his game, his smile and his graciousness towards the fans and reporters. He got ink even with losing.
Nest week I’ll cover the return of one of my all-time favorite comedians, Vinnie Favorito at the Westgate Hotel on Paradise.