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Las Vegas inspires local talents to stretch beyond their “day jobs”

If you’ve spent any time in Southern Nevada, you know it’s like nowhere else. And not just in the bizarro, only-in-Vegas way.

Las Vegas’ entertainment-capital status brings a lot of talented people here — and inspires them to take those talents in some unexpected directions.

Someone whose day job involves performing on the Strip, for example, may also play with other musicians — and even write his own music.

Someone like Nathan Tanouye, who plays trombone in Celine Dion’s orchestra, the Las Vegas Philharmonic and Santa Fe and the Fat City Horns. He also teaches jazz studies at UNLV — and recently premiered his latest composition, “Las Vegas Suite,” the latest installment in his ongoing work with the Las Vegas Jazz Connection.

Another Philharmonic fixture, concertmaster De Ann Letourneau, will serve as concertmaster for Opera Las Vegas’ “Rigoletto” at UNLV’s Judy Bayley Theatre on Friday and June 11.

The same theater, over Memorial Day weekend, hosted the debut of the work-in-progress musical “Clowntown,” co-created by “Le Reve” conductor Michael Brennan.

It’s the second original musical to test the waters at UNLV; the other, “ACE,” was co-written by Richard Oberacker, whose day job just happens to be conducting another Strip extravaganza, “Ka.”

A third new musical — “Idaho!” — debuted last summer at The Smith Center, featuring a score co-written by Keith Thompson, who hosts The Smith Center’s monthly Composers Showcase and formerly served as musical director for the long-running “Jersey Boys.”

Speaking of “Jersey Boys,” that now-closed show’s Frankie Valli, Travis Cloer, was just one of several Las Vegas-based “Clowntown” performers, alongside “Steve Wynn’s ShowStoppers” alumni Randal Keith and Nicole Kaplan.

(Cloer’s also in the lineup for Broadway in the Hood’s July 8 Smith Center concert “From Broadway With Love.)

And so it goes, as the musical cross-pollination makes Las Vegas — well, Las Vegas.

“The versatility of the Las Vegas musicians’ scene is truly unique,” comments Las Vegas Philharmonic music director Donato Cabrera, who’s an appreciative audience member when he’s not conducting. “And really cool.”

Contact Carol Cling at ccling@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272. Follow @CarolSCling on Twitter.

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