Serendipity drives musical comedy to Las Vegas

Many people come back from a vacation with a souvenir of some sort. A postcard. A silly hat. A rock picked up from along the shoreline.

When Carole Altman returned to Las Vegas after a trip to upstate New York a few years ago, she came back with a play. And, on Sunday, Southern Nevadans can share in one of her vacation memories when “I Know I Came In Here For Something …” is presented at the Italian American Club, 2333 E. Sahara Ave. Showtime is 3 p.m. Tickets are $20, and can be obtained by calling 702-360-8340 or at the door.

The play is a musical revue that takes a humorous look at middle age. Among its more than two dozen songs are odes to kidney stones, menopause, turning into one’s own mother, forgetfulness, erectile dysfunction pills and, even, the intimate relationship between a man and his gut.

Gateway Arts Foundation, a valley nonprofit organization that supports the arts, is sponsoring the musical. It’s not the first time the show has been presented here — Altman says previous venues have included The Smith Center for the Performing Arts — but that it is being presented here at all is owed to a chance theater outing Altman and her husband took while on vacation in 2008.

“We saw it in New York, in summer stock, and I fell in love with it,” Altman says. She describes the show as “similar to ‘Menopause (The Musical),’ but better, because it’s also (about) men, with songs that are very familiar to each person who watches the show.”

After the performance, Altman approached Carl Ritchie, the play’s lyricist and writer, and told him that he should bring it to Las Vegas.

“He said, ‘You should bring it to Las Vegas,’ ” Altman recalls.

Altman thought that odd, because she has no show business experience. “I’m a psychologist,” she says. “I write books.”

But, long story short, Altman and her husband became producers of the Las Vegas production of the show. She laughs.

“You know what a producer is? A fool with a pen,” she says. “It’s costing us a lot of money. Every time, we say, ‘We have to stop. We can’t do it.’ Then we see it, and it’s, ‘No, we’ve got to keep it going.’ ”

But, Altman adds, “I was lucky enough to meet Camille Duskin, who’s director of Gateway Arts Foundation, because I know nothing about music or anything. She fell in love with the script and loved it, too. She’s the Las Vegas director of the show. And I found some talent and she found some talent for the show.”

Now, during the course of a few years, more than a half-dozen performances around town and many rehearsals, “it’s very fun,” Altman says. “We’ve developed a tremendous friendship, all of us, ever since. It’s a family kind of thing. The show is funny, and people laugh out loud.”

Co-producing a play also is a bit of a departure for Gateway Arts Foundation, which Duskin and her husband, Gerald, founded about eight years ago. Its first project was a public art, graffiti-fighting effort through which artists were enlisted to visually enhance the neighborhood around the Stratosphere. Since then, the foundation’s work has included providing a rehearsal and performance haven for local artists wishing to mount shows and a scholarship program for aspiring performers, musicians and artists.

“All my life I’ve been around very artistic and creative people who are very famous composers and lyricists,” Duskin says, “Our city is loaded with talent, and we decided to give people an opportunity to perform and created a scholarship fund that’s been going on many years.”

Duskin grew up in Los Angeles and says she did a lot of studio work as a kid, but didn’t pursue it as an adult.

“But my uncle was very well-known. He was Harold Adamson, and he was a lyricist who wrote, ‘Around the World’ (from “Around the World in 80 Days”) and ‘An Affair to Remember.’ So I grew up around people at the top of the field, and after dinner everyone would go into the living room, and these men who wrote everything would just sit at the piano and sing and play what they wrote.”

As a Los Angeles restaurateur, Duskin’s career would continue to intersect with the entertainment business. Then, she says, when she and her husband retired and moved to Las Vegas, she decided she’d do something for the arts.

“My husband and I are retired, but we always say we’re not retired from life,” she says. “So we’ve always been involved in the arts, not as professionals, but we have great passion for the arts.”

Gateway Arts Foundation’s scholarships are funded by a portion of proceeds from shows and events in which it partners. And, Duskin says, she and her husband underwrite all of the events, and know where every dollar goes.

Participants in Gateway-sponsored shows have included cast members of shows around town, Duskin adds. “What we do is give them an opportunity to create their own show. So they benefit, and many of them are very generous and give the money back to the scholarship fund because they know the value of having help.”

Also, Gateway Arts Foundation has enacted a partnership with Culley Elementary School in sponsoring youth theater productions, and a property Duskin inherited several years ago has been turned into “a small rehearsal and recital space, which I give free of charge to quality organizations,” Duskin says. “It’s called Hattie’s House. That’s my mom’s name. So it’s a living tribute to my mother.”

Now, Duskin can add to her lengthy resume her current gig as Las Vegas director of “I Know I Came In Here for Something …”

“I’m the director by default, because they couldn’t afford a director and couldn’t afford a rehearsal space and didn’t have a cast,” Duskin says. “We just had a mutual friend, and he called one day and said, ‘I have a friend’ — who was Carole — ‘and she just acquired rights to a show she wants to put on in Las Vegas and doesn’t have a clue how to do that.’

“I said: ‘Well, that’s not really what I do. I’m not a professional in this area. The people who come to us have their own programs they do. But I’ll be happy to read the libretto and listen to the music.’ So I did, and I enjoyed it very much.”

The show has taken on a life of its own, Duskin says.

“We have done a number of performances,” she says, “and just about every time we’ve done it, it’s been sold out.”

This weekend’s performance will mark the show’s “eighth or ninth” here, Altman says, and “we’re hopeful we might someday have an agent who might get us into one of the better hotels and we’ll have a real home. But so far we don’t.”

So what does Altman know about being a producer now that she, maybe, didn’t know back then?

“I’ve learned it’s very much fun,” Altman says. “It’s absolutely a joy to be a part of it.”

Contact reporter John Przybys at jprzybys@review or 702-383-0280.

Meow Wolf opening an 'otherworldly' art experience in Las Vegas
Meow Wolf opening "otherworldly" art experience in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Celebrate Margarita Day With The Hot Damn Margarita
Celebrate Margarita Day With The Hot Damn Margarita (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Yard House margarita changes color in the glass
The cocktail, as made by lead bartender Taylor Cole at Town Square in Las Vegas, changes from deep blue to magenta because of a chemical reaction between its butterfly pea flowers and citrus agave. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Black History Month Festival
Las Vegas residents gathered on Saturday, February 16, 2019, at Springs Preserve, 333 S. Valley View Blvd, to celebrate Black History Month. (Katelyn Newberg/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
You Can Design With 3D Printers, Laser Cutters And Ceramics At Discovery Children's Museum
You Can Design With 3d Printers, Laser Cutters And Ceramics At Discovery Children's Museum (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Champagne vending machine at Waldorf Astoria in Las Vegas
One of only a few in the country, the Moët & Chandon machine at the Waldorf Astoria in Las Vegas is stocked with Imperial Rose for Valentine’s Day. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Las Vegas Valentine’s Day desserts
Mio Ogasawara of Sweets Raku and Rebecca Bills of Gen3 Hospitality in Las Vegas create elaborate Valentine’s Day desserts. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal
One Night For One Drop
Cirque du Soleil cast and crew donate their time and talent to this year's "One Night For One Drop" performance at the "O" Theatre in the Bellagio. The event takes place March 8, 2019, and benefits the One Drop organization. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Chinese New Year Parade
Chinese New Year parade takes place on Fremont Street. (Bill Hughes/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Manzo restaurant a key part of Eataly
Nicole Brisson, executive chef of Eataly, at Park MGM in Las Vegas, talks about new restaurant.
Designer Makes Festival-style Crowns
Designer at MAGIC trade show Makes Festival-style Crowns (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Excalibur Raises tent that will house "Fuerza Bruta" show
Workers at Excalibur raised a tent, which will be the home of "Fuerza Bruta," a temporary show that will run from March 7 to September 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Roc Boots Make For Glittery Festival Wear
With 3-inch-tall chunky heels, cleated platforms, and sparkly glitter, you’ll want to wear these to dance the night away. Sally Cull, product and development for Roc Boots Australia, assures you that you can. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Get A Custom-painted Jacket At Las Vegas Fashion Event
On the first of the two-night Commotion event, clothing brands connected with consumers, offering shopping, giveaways and customization opportunities. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Venetian Celebrates The "Year Of The Pig"
The Venetian hosted dancers to celebrate the Chinese New Year and "Year of the Pig." The dancers performed a traditional eye-dotting ceremony and lion dance. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Pepe the truffle-hunting dog
Jose Andres knows that quality black truffles can also be found in his native Spain. He’ll be sharing some with the world for a week, starting Monday. From Feb. 11-17, his Cosmopolitan restaurant Jaleo will be showcasing four special dishes made with Spanish truffles discovered by the truffle-hunting dogs of his friend Nacho Ramírez Monfort. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tony Abou-Ganim mixes drink at Libertine Social
Tony Abou-Ganim, The Modern Mixologist, helped change the cocktail culture in Las Vegas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Masaharu Morimoto talks ramen in Las Vegas
Masaharu Morimoto talks about bringing a ramen restaurant to Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Morimoto considering full-time Las Vegas ramen spot
Morimoto talks about a full-time ramen spot in Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign moves to new home at Neon Museum Boneyard
The famous and newly restored, Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign is working it's way to a permanent home at the Neon Museum Boneyard in downtown Las Vegas. It will be moved in six pieces and take five days for reconstruction. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign moves to Neon Museum Boneyard
The famous and newly restored, Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign has been moved to its permanent home at the Neon Museum Boneyard in downtown Las Vegas. It will be moved in six pieces and take five days for reconstruction. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign moves to new Las Vegas home
The famous and newly restored Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign has moved to a permanent home at the Neon Museum Boneyard in downtown Las Vegas. It will be moved in six pieces and take five days for reconstruction. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas band Otherwise release song and video in tribute to slain cousin
Adrian and Ryan Patrick, brothers in the band Otherwise with drummer Brian Medeiros, talk about the release of a tribute song to their deceased cousin Ivan. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Artist Joshua Vides created a "White Wedding" chapel for Billy Idol's Las Vegas residency
Artist Joshua Vides created a "White Wedding" chapel for Billy Idol's Vegas residency (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Try the Burning History cocktail at Zuma In Las Vegas
Try the Burning History cocktail at Zuma In Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES final night showcases Drake at XS Nightclub
Drake performed for CES attendees and club-goers at XS Nightclub in Encore at Wynn Las Vegas in the early morning hours of Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. (John Katsilometes Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES Happy Hour party at Hangover Suite at Caesars Palace
Conventioneers mingled during the Hardware Massive CES 2019 Happy Hour Bash at The Hangover Suite at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
CES 2019 Has A Cordless Hair Dryer
CES Has A Cordless Hair Dryer (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES Opening Party in Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace
CES conventioneers packed Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace, and let loose as they danced to DJs into the night. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Print intricate designs, your pet or your face on your nails
Print intricate designs, your pet or your face on your nails (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing