VOE: A Year in Review of A Special Few

In Christine on The Scene by Christine McKellar

VOE 2014 Perspective: A Year in Review of a Special Few

Below are highlights and links to eight of my favorite interviews and profile pieces of 2014. Everyone writes about the headliners that saturate the big neon lights in Vegas, but there is so much more going on beneath the flash-and-splash veneer of this fabulous city.

I love back story: most of my “inventory” of the past four years in the “Vegas Focus” section of VOE is about persons whose faces may never grace the cover of a magazine or a billboard.

One thing they all have in common, front story or back story, is that in some way each of them has helped to enrich our lives: be it through commerce, the arts, the entertainment and lifestyle industry, or scholastic and humanitarian efforts.

I salute you all. It has been an honor and a real pleasure. Thank you for being an integral part of VegasOnlyEntertainment.com –Christine McKellar

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From Beaches to Broadway: Creative Duo Are a Rock for the Ages

two wmen in black“You’ve come a long way, baby” was an original slogan used by Phillip Morris Companies in 1968 to market Virginia Slims cigarettes to young professional women.

Ten years later (1978) a Virginia Slims magazine advertisement portrayed a work-worn housewife hanging laundry outdoors. Beneath her is a slender, elegantly dressed woman alongside two huge packs of Virginia Slims. The copy reads: ”Back then, every man gave his wife at least one day a week out of the house. You’ve come a long way, baby.”

It certainly has been a long way since the days of the suffragettes.  Women won the vote, wore pants, and smoked cigarettes in public. Times have certainly changed and where there’s smoke there’s fire. Women’s dresses for the sake of any decency and dignity couldn’t get any shorter. Cigarettes are about as popular today as the Ebola virus. The feminine gender has evolved and made great strides toward gaining equality with men in the home and at work.  Yet there are still some glass ceilings that have only slightly cracked even under a deluge of talented hammering.

A dynamic duo that comes to mind as far as breaching the still too-wide gender gap in the field of theatrical arts is Kristen Hanggi and Kelly Devine…continue reading 

 

Eileen Hayes and Nevada Opera Theatre: The ‘Finer’ Arts Reflect an Age of ‘Love, Passion, Betrayal’

Eileen Hayes has been a staunch supporter and promoter of opera in Las Vegas formaestro with baton nearly thirty years. An accomplished musician and soprano who was aware of her musical vocation at the age of four, Hayes has worked tirelessly as the Artistic Director of Nevada Opera Theatre Association (NOTA) since its foundation in 1986.  In 1991 she was joined by Frank Fetta, Principal Conductor.

Over the past 23 years, the two have collaborated on more than 60 opera productions and special musical events.  Fetta is also Music Director and Conductor of the Marina del Ray Summer Symphony, The Culver City Symphony, and the San Bernardino Symphony.

This creative team is behind the opera company’s upcoming post Valentine’s Day concert on February 16, 2014, at 2:00 p.m., at the Rando Recital Hall at UNLV. Entitled “Love, Passion, Betrayal”, the concert will featurecontinue reading

 

Luis Alvarez Is Full Throttle to Las Vegas

 Nonstop Madrid to Vegas: A Cabaret in the Sky

spanish comedians“Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Welcome aboard Las Vegas Airlines nonstop Flight #123 from Madrid to Las Vegas. Please unfasten your seat belts, order a cocktail, and let’s get this party started!”

This is not the opening line of a newly contrived and over the top Vegas venue. This could be very well be the opening line for each of the first-and-only nonstop flights from Madrid to Las Vegas operated by theater manager and Broadway theatrical producer (101 Dalmatians) Luis Alvarez.

Each Sunday, five of Spain’s top actors/comedians, complemented by singers and dancers, entertain 300 passengers in a nightclub themed 330 Autobus during the twelve-hour flight to Las Vegas. In true theatrical fashion, Alvarez was inspired by love to implement his innovative plan to make access to Las Vegas much easier and more entertaining for Europeans.”…continue reading

 

Demetra George: Born To Be a Diva

A broad spectrum of the American public seems unaware that there is more than meets the ear when it comes to opera. Unsupported by the visual drama of Hollywoodsoprano at piano produced MTV-style music videos, and sadly underfunded of late, opera encompasses a broad range of talent.

Simply having a powerful, well-modulated voice isn’t enough anymore, according to *Grammy List Nominee and former Miss Oklahoma, Demetra George. Along with other internationally acclaimed opera stars, George will be performing September 19, 2014, at the Las Vegas Italian American Club’s gala event, With Love from Italy.

“I’ve learned you need to be a ‘triple threat’ in opera,” says George, who has been the resident soprano for Nevada Opera Theater Association (NOTA) for over ten years.  “You’re asked to do everything.  Sing, dance, act.  It’s something you do out of love and the satisfaction of sharing the beauty of opera with the audience.”…continue reading

 

What Lies Beneath Aquariums: Sea Shepherds Guard the Oceans

A group of adoring animal lovers applauds as Gypsy leaps through hoops, spins in circles on command, and takes treats from the trainer’s hand. Right behind Gypsy are more performers eager to please the crowd and their master. There will be no first place ribbons or trophies awaiting these animals when the show is over. These are dolphins—not dogs.

gray dolphin in waterThese mammals weren’t purchased from a pet store or rescued from a shelter. They were hunted down in foreign waters. They were present when their sometimes pregnant mothers, along with their fathers and siblings, were butchered by the score or trapped in nets. They have swum in a sea of their own family’s blood … continue reading

 

Cindy Doumani: ‘Fabled’ Vintage Vegas Has Humanitarian at the Helm

The fabled Las Vegas of yesteryear was a small desert town that was big on entertainment and community.  A place where one could don blue jeans and spend anblonde woman at podium unencumbered day on horseback exploring the valley from one end to the other, then go home, shower, and “put on the Ritz”; diamond rings, baubles and sequins, and spend the evening dining, dancing and being entertained by Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Elvis, and some of the most beautiful and talented showgirls in the world.

Such was the everyday life of one of Vegas’ most loved and respected leading ladies: former Thunderbird Hotel showgirl Cindy Doumani. Slim, elegant and soft-spoken, Doumani is no longer riding her horses on the range, nor has she danced on stage since her marriage to former Tropicana hotel owner, Fred Doumani, Jr., in 1960… continue reading

 

Jaki Baskow: Passion and Persistence Pay Off

Baskow to Share Throne with Financial Wiz Steven M Black

Las Vegas has always been a city of immense allure. In 1976 a young girl and her best friend packed up a car and left New Jersey to follow the siren call of the silver screen all the way to the Nevada desert at the behest of Bob Kane (Batman comic strip originator), whom they’d met serendipitously while on vacation in the Catskills.

What Jaki Baskow found was not a movie studio as promised, rather she was faced with a tiny converted office. There were no viable scripts either at the end of the silver rainbow. The only real work the aspiring actress could find was a job as a secretary. “I answered an ad in the paper as a secretary for Telly Savalas. I didn’t even know how to type,” Baskow recalls. “I kept finding things for them out of the phone book. Caterers and things like that. They said why don’t you open a talent agency?”…continue reading

 

Local Restauranteurs Switch From ‘Super’ to Superb

A few avid fans of two local Super Mex restaurants seemed at first reluctant to embracetwo women in Mexican restaurant the change when owners Natasha and Ross Williams decided to rebrand their Eastside and Westside restaurants , says Natasha Williams.

“Feedback is very important to me. I read all of our customer comment cards and I listen. After twelve years with Super Mex, we felt that we couldn’t do all the things we wanted to in terms of offering more fresh items and being a little more authentic. We decided to just cut our ties with Super Mex and try things on our own.”

The rebranded restaurants, now Jalisco Cantina at Sunset & Pecos and Jalisco Cantina at Durango & Sunset, may look the same but the new menus reflect Williams’ determination to provide fresh and authentic Mexican food and quality tequila to loyal patrons and new customers.continue reading

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 Happy New Year to All!

May 2015 Reign Supreme!