By Judy Thorburn
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Owner/Editor in Chief/writer - Las Vegas Round The Clock

Owner/Editor in Chief/writer - The Flick Chicks
Director of Communications - Nevada Film Alliance

The Smith Center for the Performing Arts Opens with a Star Studded Gala Event

An extraordinary line-up of performers from across the arts community ushered in a new era of culture as they graced the stage for the opening of The Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Las Vegas on March 10.  Host of the gala event was award-winning actor, Neil Patrick Harris with featured performances by a list of the music industry powerhouses and Broadway’s brightest stars.

The sold-out show featured incredible pairings of musical talent and rare performances.  Broadway superstars Brian Stokes Mitchell, Sherie Rene Scott, Cheyenne Jackson, Laura Osnes, Benjamin Walker and Montego Glover shared medleys from hit shows including West Side Story, Rent, The Lion King and Guys and Dolls.  Country star Martina McBride and Train lead singer Pat Monahan teamed up for a medley featuring “Marry Me” and “A Song For You,” while legends Carole King and Mavis Staples performed hit “You’ve Got a Friend.”  Theater-goers were thrilled to see Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard perform “Pancho and Lefty.”  The duo was later joined by Grammy-winner Emmylou Harris to perform “Ramblin’ Fever.” American Ballet Theater’s Marcello Gomes and Luciana Paris performed a dazzling tribute to the late Frank Sinatra.  Diva songstress Jennifer Hudson, accompanied by a 70-member choir, closed the evening with a spectacular rendition of “Take Care of This House.”

The show also included outstanding performances by trumpeter Arturo Sandoval; violinist Joshua Bell and American rock legend John Fogerty.  Kathleen “Bird” York (Crash, Seven Pounds and Lifetime’s new original series The Client List) served as announcer for the evening.All artists were backed by a world-class orchestra and Emmy Award-winning Musical Director Rob Mathes.

The Smith Center opening was produced and directed by George Stevens, Jr., and Michael Stevens, who produce the Kennedy Center Honors each year.  The gala event will be broadcast on national television at a later date.

Reynolds Hall
Photo courtesy of The Smith Center for the Performing Arts

“Tonight we celebrated more than the opening of The Smith Center,” said Myron Martin, President and CEO of The Smith Center. “We celebrated this community’s commitment to the arts and to creating something important and lasting for the people who live here and for generations to come.”

More than two decades in the making, The Smith Center’s purpose is to provide residents of Las Vegas an all-encompassing cultural experience featuring the very best in arts programming from around the world.  From first-run Broadway touring productions on stage at Reynolds Hall to legendary entertainers at Cabaret Jazz, The Smith Center will provide diverse entertainment on a weekly basis. The Smith Center will also be the centerpiece of arts education in the community.  Through affiliations with the John F. Kennedy Center’s Any Given Child program and the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, along with creative programming designed for students, The Smith Center will seek to augment and expand arts education for all Southern Nevada students.

Mac King Brings his Magical Literacy Tour to Five 
Local Elementary Schools

Harrah’s Comedy-Magician Mac King made a special visit to five local elementary schools as part of Mac King’s Magical Literacy Tour: Nevada Reading Week 2012. King held assemblies at each school, reading short stories to the students, performing tricks from his show and discussing the importance of reading. During his scheduled visits on Monday Feb 27 to Friday, March 2, King hand-delivered books collected from book drives held throughout February of this year with the Las Vegas Wranglers hockey team, The Springs Preserve, Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada and The Public Education Foundation. Donations benefit Clark County READS, the literacy initiative of The Public Education Foundation.

“I’d like to thank the community partners that helped make Mac King’s Magical Literacy Tour: Nevada Reading Week 2012 really special,” said King. “I greatly enjoyed sharing the love of reading with my new pals and the enthusiasm was priceless. I look forward to making new pals next year.”

Mac King has been a long-time supporter of childhood literacy. For years, King has visited Las Vegas elementary schools to highlight the importance of literacy to students. In 2011, King launched Mac King’s Magical Literacy Tour, a citywide literacy program to encourage reading for Las Vegas school children. Since then, Mac King’s Magical Literacy Tour has collected more than 6,000 books for local elementary school students.

Harrah’s Las Vegas Comedy-Magician Mac King donates an autographed copy of his book Campfire Magic to the Edith Garehime Elementary School library during his visit to the school as part of Mac King’s Magical Literacy Tour: Nevada Reading Week 2012. Pictured left to right Hergit Llenas - Director of Clark County READS, Mac King – Harrah’s Headliner and Comedy-Magician, Shelley Kresyman – Principal at Edith Garehime Elementary School.

Harrah’s Las Vegas Comedy-Magician Mac King poses with 5th grader Josh Tribble during an assembly to celebrate Nevada Reading Week at Edith Garehime Elementary School. Tribble helped the magician perform his “Cloak of Invisibility” trick during the assembly.

Mac King reads stories from Louis Sachar’s Sideways Stories from Wayside School to students at Garehime Elementary School during Mac King’s Magical Literacy Tour: Nevada Reading Week 2012.

230 Volunteers Shave Their Heads to Support  St. Baldrick’s Foundation for Cancer Research

More than 23,000,000 hairs were shed to support St. Baldrick’s Foundation for Cancer Research at the 3rd Annual St. Baldrick’s Day at Nine Fine Irishmen at New York-New York Hotel & Casino on Saturday, March 3.  230 volunteers helped raise more than $100,000 by shaving the way to a cure and showing solidarity for children battling cancer.  In all 4,000 people were present to watch the event festivities.  Shavees included five 1st graders from Bonner Elementary School who raised $1,000 for the foundation and kicked off the shaving extravaganza.

“Thanks to the overwhelming amount of people who came out to support the 3rd Annual St. Baldrick’s Day event we were able to break our goal of raising more than $100,000 for this worthy cause,” said Michael Kennedy, executive director of food & beverage at New York-New York Hotel & Casino.  “We look forward to seeing all of our supporters next year at the 4th Annual St. Baldrick’s Day.”

The 3rd Annual St. Baldrick’s Day had a line-up of entertainment that included a live shaving station, food and beverage specials, live music, face painting and balloon animals.

Worldwide, more than 160,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year, and it remains the leading cause of death by disease among children in the United States. With only 4 percent of all federal cancer research funding dedicated to pediatric cancer research, St. Baldrick’s Foundation grant funds are critical to continue the battle against this devastating disease.

It is estimated that each person’s head has an average of 100,000 strands of hair, which means that the 230 shavees at the 3rd Annual St. Baldrick’s Day fundraiser at Nine Fine Irishmen at New York-New York Hotel & Casino shed more than 23,000,000 for the cause.

Nine Fine Irishmen1 – Pictured from left to right are Anthony Paolicelli, Matt Paolicelli, Trey Lomax, Diego Collins and Barrett Johnson 1st graders at Bonner Elementary School. The “Bonner Boys” raised $1,000 total and kicked off the shaving festivities by going bald for a cure.
Photos courtesy of New York-New York Hotel & Casino

Additional recent and upcoming happenings include:

Due to the threat of rain and strong winds, the planned outdoor, OPEN HOUSE AT THE SMITH CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS, which was scheduled for Sunday, March 18  has been POSTPONED. The public was invited to spend the day in beautiful Symphony Park as The Smith Center presented live entertainment, showcased art from around our community and gave tours of the Smith Center. Those who sign up at can still schedule tours when a new date is chosen.

CIRQUE DU SOLEIL rock opera “ZARKANA” will replace “Viva Elvis” at ARIA after it closes  Aug. 18.  "Zarkana" will open Oct. 25 (with an official debut Nov. 8). The show will be cut to 90 minutes from its current length at Radio City in New York. The "Viva Elvis" crew will remain with the new production”, said Daniel Lamarre, Cirque's president and chief executive officer.

CRYSTALS AT CITYCENTER honors NEVADA BALLET THEATRE with a limited-time exhibit of beautiful costumes from its upcoming presentation of George Balanchine’s JEWELS, set to premiere in October 2012. Jewels costumes are on display now through April 5.

Admission is Free and open to the public.

Silverton Casino Hotel hosts 2 hour ZUMBATHON on March 16 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m to benefit THREE SQUARE FOOD  BANK, which helps feed the hungry in the Las Vegas community. Top Zumba instructors will break a sweat while coaching guests through the ways of the energetic dance at Veil Pavilion.  In honor of St. Patty’s Day guests are encouraged to wear green workout attire and the bar will be serving up special green cocktails. Cost for admission is five green canned food items per person and guests must be at least 21 years of age to join the party.  Doors open at 6 p.m.

Comedian and the Roastmaster General himself, JEFF ROSS, performs at the HOUSE OF BLUES,  March 16th.  Jeff’s most recent Roast of Charlie Sheen was the most successful roast in Comedy Central history.  Tickets for Jeff Ross' show at the House of Blues are priced at  $25 & $30. Showtime is 7:00PM.

The lineup of comedians who will perform March 20 – 25 at THE IMPROV inside Harrah's are:

DAT PHAN: Dat Phan is the original winner of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing”.  His culturally insightful comedy inspects ridiculous stereotypes and his youthful energy and unique life experiences are combined to create the message of living your dreams and reaching for the stars.

AVI LIBERMAN: Avi Liberman has made a name for himself by combining life experiences and topical issues with a variety of characters and voices.

JODI BORRELLO: As a nationally-touring comedian, Jodi Borrello has a unique style of comedy with a New Orleans touch. With family as the source of her comedy, Borrello carries a part of each family member to the stage and brings them to life in a clever, witty and honest manner.

YESTERDAY ONCE MORE,” a tribute to popular 1970’s music group THE CARPENTERS, is coming to the Suncoast Showroom March 24 and 25, each evening at 7:30 p.m. “Yesterday Once More” is enhanced with behind-the-scenes stories and anecdotes of ‘70s pop culture, along with arrangements by Grammy nominated musician and producer Jim Brickman. Songs such as “We’ve Only Just Begun,” “Rainy Days and Mondays” and “Close to You!” are brought to life by a cast featuring talented vocalists Joanna Jahn, John Trones and Jen Burleigh-Bentz, with musical direction from David Lohman.

On Saturday, March 24, the LAS VEGAS WRANGLERS hockey team hosts “CHUCK-A-PUCK” at the Orleans Arena in support of EASTER SEALS NEVADA. A percentage of each fundraiser ticket sold goes towards Easter Seals Nevada’s mission to help more than 6,000 individuals in our community with disabilities become self-sufficient through direct services, education and community partnerships. The Chuck-A-Puck event also allows fans to purchase pucks for just $2 each and throw them onto the ice during the game intermission for a chance to win Wranglers prizes. Tickets for the event are $10.

Popular comedian/actor KEVIN HART will hold his official after-party at RPM Nightclub inside the new Tropicana Las Vegas following his sold-out performance at Mandalay Bay Events Center on Saturday, March 24. Fresh off the NBA All-Star Game court and crowned “MVP” during the celebrity all-star game, Hart will be in town as part of his “Let Me Explain” tour.

Sports fans are invited to take part in the month-long event, MARCH HOOPS, now through Wednesday, March 28 as FREMONT STREET EXPERIENCE celebrates college basketball. Beginning March 13, the world’s largest NCAA bracket will be displayed on the 1,500-foot long Viva Vision screen, which will be updated daily throughout the NCAA tournament.

March Hoops at Fremont Street Experience features free entertainment every night with two sexy stage shows -- Hardwood Hotties (8:10, 9:10 and 10:10 p.m. on 1st Street Stage, Tuesdays – Sundays) and Dream Team Divas (9:10, 10:10 and 11:10 p.m. – 3rd Street Stage (Wednesdays – Mondays) -- and the High Hoops Zone interactive area where guests can test their skills at 20-, 25- and 30-foot basketball hoops.

Also playing March 15-18 during the first weekend of the NCAA TOURNAMENT are the Red Not Chili Peppers (Tribute Band) and Vegas U2 (Tribute Band).  During the Sweet Sixteen weekend March 22-25, L.A. Vation (U2 Tribute Band) and Wanted (Bon Jovi Tribute Band) will hit the stage.

Reflecting the Company’s commitment to sustainable business practices, BOYD GAMING CORPORATION announced that exterior lighting at its nine Las Vegas properties will be shut off for one hour, from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m, on Saturday, March 31, in recognition of EARTH HOUR 2012. Non-essential exterior building and marquee lighting at The Orleans, Sam’s Town, Suncoast, Gold Coast, the California, Fremont, Main Street Station, Jokers Wild and Eldorado will go dark. The video screen on each marquee will display the Earth Hour logo during that period.

PBR ROCK BAR & GRILL inside the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino will host the ultimate after party bash for the ACADEMY OF COUNTRY MUSIC AWARDS, with special live performances by Austin Law Band from Friday, March 30, through Sunday, April 1.

Beginning at 10 p.m. each night, celebrators can enjoy 2-for-$8 beer bottle specials while local Southern country-rock sensation Austin Law Band take the stage on PBR Rock Bar’s expansive outdoor patio.

Employees of O'SHEAS were officially notified last week that the small Strip casino would be closing in 60 days. Caesars Entertainment Corp., which owns O'Sheas, announced last summer the casino would be demolished as part of the $550 million Project Linq development. The casino will become part of the reconfigured Imperial Palace, which will be renamed and given a new theme.

Project Linq, an outdoor retail, dining and entertainment district, will be built along a private street that separates the Flamingo and Imperial Palace, starting at the Strip and heading back to Audrie Street and Ida Avenue. The two streets will be converted from public to private streets.

The centerpiece of Project Linq is a 550-foot-tall observation wheel, which will be the world's tallest, outdistancing the Singapore Flyer and London Eye.

Celebrity sightings:

Tuesday night, March 6...

Nascar driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. along with some friends had dinner at Nove Italiano inside the Palms Casino Resort.

Dale Earnhardt
Photo Credit: Ed Graff

PURE Nightclub welcomed GRAMMY® Award-winner Estelle as she transformed a popular industry night into a show-stopping soiree.  Around 1 a.m. The singer took over the main stage and opened the show with the popular “One Love.”

Estelle on the red carpet
Photo credit: Erik Kabik

Estelle and DJ Toure
Photo credit: Erik Kabik

Thursday night...

Singer/songwriter Mike Posner helped celebrate the birthday of his good friend DJ Reflex at Tao Nightclub. Posner led the club in wishing Reflex a Happy Birthday as he was surprised with a cake adorned with the DJ's logo.

Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas was also spotted at a table with a group of friends taking in the scene.

DJ Reflex
Photo credit: Ed Graff

Danica Patrick
Photo Credit: Ed Graff

Friday, March 9...

WET REPUBLIC at MGM Grand officially opened its doors to the public for the 2012 Las Vegas pool season. Former Mayor Oscar B. Goodman was present to kick off the “daylife” destination’s fifth season along with Mark Prows, Vice President of Entertainment for MGM Grand.

Directly following their opening words, the beautiful WET REPUBLIC staff joined Goodman and Prows as they cut the ribbon to formally commence the start of pool season in Las Vegas.

Former Mayor Oscar Goodman with his showgirls
Photo credit: Erik Kabik.

Former Mayor Oscar Goodman with WET REPUBLIC servers
Photo credit: Erik Kabik.

Laura Prepon, lead of the new hit TV show "Are You There, Chelsea?" and former star of "That '70s Show"celebrated her birthday at  PURE Nightclub inside Caesars Palace.

Prepon kicked off the night with dinner at Social House inside Crystals at CityCenter with 15 of her closest friends. Just after midnight, the starlet arrived at PURE Nightclub in style wearing a sheer black and gold  sequined dress. Later in the evening, all attention was directed to the main stage as confetti filled the air and PURE resident DJ Eric DeLux got on the mic to wish Prepon a "Happy Birthday." She was then presented with a cake that was in the shape of a UFC octagon topped with Poker playing cards and dice, all of which represent the gorgeous star's passions.

Laura Prepon on the red carpet
Photo credit: © Erik Kabik /

Laura Prepon birthday celebration
Photo credit: © Erik Kabik /

Palms Casino Resort Sightings:

Nascar drivers Danica Patrick and Cole Whitt did an autograph signing for about 250 fans.

Cole Whitt
Photo credit: Ed Graff

Danika Patrick
Photo credit: Ed Graff

Taboo from The Black Eyed Peas rocked the crowd in Rain Nightclub with an amazing performance and DJ Set.

After the signing Danica and her husband Paul Hospenthal had dinner at Simon Restaurant & Lounge inside Palms Place Hotel And Spa.

Founder of Wu Tang Clan, GZA, and hip hop recording artist, Prodigal Sunn and a posse of six took over Chateau Nightclub & Gardens at Paris Las Vegas.

Earlier that night GZA and Prodigal Sunn dined at Sugar Factory American Brasserie. Afterwards, each guy stopped by Sugar Factory's retail store.

Also seen celebrating his 21st birthday at Sugar Factory and Chateau Nightclub was Nickelodeon and ABC Family actor, Devon Werkheiser, who was joined by good friend and "Hard Times of RJ Berger" star, Jareb Dauplaise.

Saturday night, March 10...

Actor Jesse Metcalfe, star of the upcoming remake of the hit TV show "Dallas,"was spotted at Sugar Factory American Brasserie at Paris Las Vegas. Accompanied by his fiancée, Cara Santana, the doting duo took turns feeding each other sweet treats from the flagship Sugar Factory retail store.

Jesse Metcalfe shops for sweets at the flagship Sugar Factory retail store at Paris Las Vegas.
Photo credit: Denise Truscello/WireImage

Later in the evening, Jesse Metcalfe,  hosted at Sin City's premier nightlife destination Gallery Nightclub inside Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino. He and his fiancée, Cara Santana, were joined by a small group of friends.

Jesse Metcalfe and Cara Santana at Gallery Nightclub
Photo credit: Denise Truscello/WireImage

PURE Nightclub welcomed rising electronic rock stars Breathe Carolina as they hit the main stage at the Las Vegas hot spot. Arriving just after midnight with their entourage the duo made their way through the packed mega club to their VIP booth. As they got settled into their booth David Schmitt and Kyle Even began dancing and pouring cocktails for their guests.

Breathe Carolina
Photo credit: Brenton Ho of Powers Imagery LLC.