I noticed his shoes first. New Adidas sneakers, as clean as if they’d just been plucked from the shelves of Foot Locker.
“Nice kicks,” I said to the gentleman as I moved down the aisle at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace on Sunday afternoon.
Then I realized, the person wearing those shoes was legendary ESPN college hoops announcer Dick Vitale.
Dickie V, indeed, with his wife, Lorraine, was seated next to me for Jeff Dunham’s “Perfectly Unbalanced” puppet spectacular. Vitale was in town to call the UNLV-Duke tilt at T-Mobile Arena on Saturday. (“Vegas needs players, three great players, to compete,” was his assessment of the Rebels after their 95-44 loss.)
Otherwise, he and Lorraine spent the weekend on a fast break of Vegas shows. In a three-day span, the Vitales took in Reba and Brooks & Dunn at the Colosseum; Jennifer Lopez at Axis theater at Planet Hollywood Resort; and Sunday’s Dunham show.
Vitale has long been a fan of Vegas entertainment. Ages ago, during a UNLV game on ESPN, Vitale dovetailed from his hoops commentary to heap praise on Danny Gans’ show at the Rio. His swift review: “What a performer! A consummate professional!”
He had a great time on his weekend visit, too. See if you can’t process Vitale’s critique without his voice racing through your head:
“Lorraine and I loved them all! Reba and Brooks & Dunn had super rapport with the crowd! J-Lo’s production and her energy was off the charts! She said to me, ‘I am an athlete.’ Absolutely, with her agility and mobility she possesses and her dazzling dance routines! And Jeff was hilarious! I loved the way he ad-libs during his presentation!”
Aside from hoops and entertainment-jammed trips to Vegas, Vitale’s passion is the V Foundation (go to dickvitaleonline.com for info and to donate), which has raised $18.2 million in the fight against childhood cancer. “That is my biggest obsession now,” he said.
Vitale is already game-planning his next trip to the Strip. “I can’t wait to return to see Celine for my fifth time, and Lionel Richie, who I can listen to all day!” he said. “Love the Motown!”
To celebrate their 50th anniversary as songwriting partners, Colosseum headliner Elton JohnandBernie Taupin are inviting “undiscovered creative talent” to create YouTube videos of three of their greatest hits: “Rocket Man,” “Bennie and the Jets” and “Tiny Dancer.”
The contest, titled “Elton John: The Cut,” launched Monday. Entries will be accepted beginning Jan. 9. Entries for each of the songs are to incorporate different elements: “Rocket Man” will feature animation, “Tiny Dancer” will be live action, and “Bennie and the Jets” will feature choreography. The three winning videos, as determined by a team of judges led by John and Taupin, will premiere on YouTube next summer.
A great moment, among many, in Frankie Moreno’s run of three sold-out shows at Cabaret Jazz on Saturday: his teaming with Clint Holmes on “White Christmas.” And an artist to be aware of: Gianna Adams, who performed her lively holiday parody, “Dear Santa.”
Adams is the daughter of Gina Capecci Adams of “Legends in Concert” and David Adams of the production company Face Productions. Gianna is 16, but already owns the stage (artistically, not financially).
SHUNOCK’S BAZ DREAMS
Mark Shunock wants to “put it out there.”
We speak, of course, of his desire to return to the stage.
Shunock is the lord of the manor at The Space, a new venue that just opened with a show by Travis Cloer. In January, The Space will become the home of Shunock’s “Mondays Dark” charity shows. But before he began tearing down walls to create The Space, Shunock was Lonny in “Rock of Ages” and toured with “Disney’s The Lion King” in an impressive musical theater career. He now hopes to join the cast of “BAZ — Star Crossed Love” at Palazzo Theater. There’s no opening, of course, but such niggling details have never halted Shunock’s zeal for enforcing his will on an idea.
“I want to put it out there, publicly, that I want to take over the Zidler role in ‘BAZ’ when he decides to leave,” Shunock said, referring to William Evans’ “Maestro” character. “We’ve talked about it. If it’s in the cards, I’d love it … I am itching to get back onstage.” Shunock is a longtime friend of For the Record Executive Producer Shane Scheel, whose company produces “BAZ.”
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section, and Fridays in Neon. He also hosts “Kats! On The Radio” Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on KUNV 91.5-FM and appears Wednesdays at 11 a.m. with Dayna Roselli on KTNV Channel 13. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.