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A $2M donation sends Las Vegas dance company for a spin

Updated April 4, 2023 - 9:17 am

You attend enough galas, you recognize the moment when someone drops a boulder into the pond. Stella Roy created a splash at Saturday night’s Nevada ballet Theatre Black & White Ball, the event honoring Woman of the Year Lea Thompson.

Roy, a dedicated NBT board member, announced a $2 million donation at the event at Encore Las Vegas, throwing a charge into the 450 gala attendees. As we say, that’s a lotta leotards.

The crowd gave the moment a standing ovation, deservedly. But I looked across the room at someone who understands big gifts, Raiders owner Mark Davis, who was seated at Thompson’s table. His mouth dropped open in shock.

NBT co-founder Nancy Houssels took to the stage, in an unbilled appearance, and hugged Roy. She broke the embrace to tell the crowd, “This doesn’t happen every day in the world of dance.”

During her speech, Roy talked of being born in Bogota, Colombia. “I come from loving family of six, Coming to the U.S. was a dream for me.” After graduating from high school, she flew to Los Angeles, driving at night into Las Vegas. “I saw the lights and wondered, ‘What would be my future in this city?”

She continued, just before announcing the donation, “Both of my kids are passionate about Broadway shows and museums. No matter where I am, Las Vegas will be my home.”

NBT will be making an announcement soon about the gift and its impact.

Roy, the ex-wife of Switch technology company co-founder Rob Roy, said she had been planning the gift for months. She had conferred with Houssels and NBT President and CEO Beth Barbre on how to proceed.

“I actually decided in December,” Roy said from the stage, just after the gala concluded. “I had a conversation with Nancy and Beth and told them what I was going to do.”

With the gift, Roy is sharing her love for Las Vegas.

“Being in Las Vegas, being a part of the community and having a great life and family, it was time for me to give back to the community,” she said. “We’ll get with the Board of Trustees for a plan on how to use it.”

TV show in the works

Thompson said from the stage Saturday she is working on a project inspired by, and themed for, dance in Vegas. She’s getting some direction from longtime friend from her days with Pennsylvania Ballet, NBT Artistic Director Roy Kaiser.

“I am actually developing a TV show with Warner Brothers, right now, that takes place in a small studio in Las Vegas, so with me luck,” Thompson said, crossing her fingers and drawing cheers. “Roy has already given me some tips, on some character.” One could and should be (our opinion) based on Kaiser himself.

Thompson said Monday more will be announced about this show. And, her drama series “The Spencer Sisters,” which premiered in January on CTV, will air in the U.S. in ‘24. The show stars Thompson and Stacey Farber as a mother-daughter team that investigates crimes in their fictional Canadian home town of Alder Bluffs.

The Eric Andre show

Comic Eric Andre and friends, including musician Benny Blanco, celebrated Andre’s 40th birthday party Friday night at The Golden Tiki. Andre is creator and co-star of the sketch-comedy series “The Eric Andre Show,” which has run on Adult Swim for more than a decade. He was also among the celebs featured in Madonna’s video announcing her “Celebration Tour” in January.

Thursday, in an epic dual of comedians’ hairstyles, Andre took in Carrot Top’s show at Luxor. The two comic stars are from Boca Raton, Fla. Andre posted with a photo of the two backstage, “Still married after all these years. THANK YOU Carrot Top for making me laugh for 40 years!!!! #BocaBoys.

Great Moments in Social Media

Adam Levine, Flavor Flav and UFC legend Frank Mir took in a Strip production last week. Which one? “Criss Angel Mindfreak.” My mind is freaked — freaked, I tell you! Catch the crew on Angel’s Twitter feed. Even in this famously odd configuration, your eye goes right to Flav.

What Works In Vegas

Dane Cook at the Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan. Cook returned to headlining status Saturday night. He was among Jerry Lewis’s favorite comics (a fact we can verify, personally) and has long been a strong draw in VegasVille. We hope for a return, soon. Until then, find his concert special “Above It All” and upcoming tour dates at danecook.com.

The Mouse House

“Disney Animation: Immersive Experience” opened Thursday at Lighthouse Artspace Las Vegas at The Shops at Crystals, next to Aria. Tickets run $39.99, $49.99 (Premium Plus) and $99.99 (VIP), not including fees.

The show runs in the same showcase space, if not head space, as “Immersive Van Gogh” and the seasonal “Immersive Nutcracker.” Walt Disney Animation Studios and Lighthouse Immersive Studios, creators of “Immersive Van Gogh” are partnering in the new multimedia attraction.

The experience samples such modern Disney favorites as “Encanto,” “Zootopia” and “Frozen,” along with such generation-spanning classics as “The Lion King,” “Peter Pan” and “Pinocchio.” The Disney show is set to run 12 weeks, with the vision to expand if it takes off. The immersive production will alternate with the Van Gogh show.

Jurassic Horseshoe

“Dino Safari,” a dinosaur-themed exhibit with nothing to do with Dean Martin, opens April 10 at the Horseshoe Las Vegas. This is on the hotel’s lower level next to Imagine’s other concepts, the Cabinet of Curiosities and The Lock bar and speakeasy, and “Real Bodies.” Look for 30 life-size, animatronic dinosaurs, educational facts and play areas.

This is a great option for dinosaur lovers of all ages, and they’ll even have a section dedicated to Nevada dinosaurs. There is a joke in here about some Vegas lounge acts, but I’m not making it. More to come on this attraction, brought to town by Imagine CEO Tom Zaller.

Cool Hang Alert

Anything happening, generally, at the Hard Hat Lounge. Column fave and reliable rocker Frank Sidoris co-owns the place. On Thursday, the scene was banging with Sidoris, Wolfgang Van Halen, Myles Kennedy and Kiss drummer Eric Singer all in the venue. It was a hang session, not a jam session, but the spot at 1675 Industrial Road is happening. As we say, try the pizza from co-owner Robby Cunningham’s Guerrilla Pizza.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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