Las Vegas institution NBT to honor ‘Back to the Future’ star
Nevada Ballet Theatre will honor actress and classically trained ballet dancer Lea Thompson on April 1.
Updated February 21, 2023 - 9:47 am
Similar to a DeLorean blasting into a trip through time, Lea Thompson’s fame took off in the 1985 science-fiction/comedy blockbuster “Back to the Future.”
Thompson adeptly portrayed Lorraine Bains-McFly, mother of Michael J. Fox’s Marty McFly, in all three “Back to the Future” films. She was also the title character in “Caroline in the City.”
But prior to any of her movie and TV stardom, Thompson was a ballet star with the Minnesota Dance Theatre. A native of Rochester, Minn., Thompson a dance pro performed in more than 45 ballets.
With those dance-centric credentials, Thompson will be honored as the Woman of the Year at Nevada Ballet Theatre’s 39th Annual Black & White Ball on April 1 at Encore Las Vegas.
The VIP- and dignitary-laden event is among the highlights of the year on the Vegas gala calendar. The event supports all facets of NBT’s performances and educational programming (go to NVBallet.org for information).
Thompson worked years ago with NBT Artistic Director Roy Kaiser, when both were at the Pennsylvania Ballet.
NBT is happy to have an artist of Thompson stature, tenure and range at the gala.
“Lea Thompson’s varied and impressive career comprises four decades of creativity, color, and iconic moments cemented in both television and movie history,” NBT Board Chair Jerry Nadal said in a statement. “Lea’s beginnings as a ballet dancer laid the foundation for her rise to respected Hollywood actress, director, and filmmaker. Coupled with her numerous charitable endeavors, we are reminded of our own mission to continually develop our artistry, share our talents, and give back whenever possible.”
Thompson was also cast in such well-received films as “All the Right Moves,” “Red Dawn,” “Howard the Duck,” and “Some Kind of Wonderful,” in which she was directed by her future husband, Howard Deutch. Thompson has been directing TV for more than a decade and made her feature directorial debut with “The Year of Spectacular Men,” written by and starring her daughters Madelyn Deutch and Zoey Deutch.
Avid NBT supporter Elaine Wynn was the first Woman of Year recipient, in 1985. Debbie Reynolds, Ann-Margret, Celine Dion, Rita Rudner, Marie Osmond, Bette Midler, Mitzi Gaynor, Florence Henderson, Debbie Allen, Olivia Newton-John, Vanessa Williams, Giada De Laurentiis, Rita Moreno, Shania Twain, and 2022’s honoree, folk icon Judy Collins.
A couple of stars
I always love hearing, “You really missed a great show …” when I am already attending a great show. A fellow attendee came with this comment at Saturday night’s Keep Memory Alive Power of Love gala at the MGM Grand Garden.
The show was the stage duet “Love Letters” by A.R. Gurney, starring Mark Shunock and Cheryl Daro.
This was on Valentine’s Day at The Space, which the couple operate. Though the married couple are trained performers, they rarely perform together. This was actually their first appearance on stage together in more than 20 years. That made the performance of the two accomplished actors reading letters to each other all the more heartfelt.
“It was something special. It’s a wonderful piece to begin with, and to hear it come out of Cheryl’s mouth made it even more special,” Shunock said on the Power of Love red carpet Saturday night. “The structure is there are minimal rehearsals and you essentially read these letters aloud.”
The two are planning to appear together again, though they keep stacked schedules operating The Space and with Shunock’s various announcing gigs.
“We’re going to try,” Shunock said. “The busier you get, the more you realize you have to do things together. It keeps you bonded. We really did this for selfish reasons, for us, but a lot of our friends loved seeing it.”
Supper news for Coop’s
Booze flash: Coop’s Cabaret & Hot Spot at Commercial Center on East Sahara Avenue has earned its liquor license. This is the lifeblood of a live music hang. Sax great Jimmy Mulidore hosts the venue’s first supper-club show, “Jazz Night,” at 6 p.m. Thursday.
Proprietor Chris Cooper has been slugging it out to get the place up to code. The schedule is filling. Rocker Ben Mauro headlines at 8:30 p.m. Friday with a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame tribute. Kelly Vohnn is brunching it up at 1 p.m. March 2, with Jimmy Hopper’s crooners show at 6 p.m.March 3. Go to CoopsCabaret.com for intel.
Cool Hang Alert
The Funk Jam is back where it all started for bandleader and bass great Anthony James. The unbroken jam sesh (as the kids say, I think) is at the Sand Dollar Lounge on Spring Mountain Road at 10 p.m. Wednesday. The hang is on from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. As we say, no cover, no hassles, and try the pizza.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.
LEA THOMPSON’S CAREER
Lea Thompson has accomplished a 40-year career in the arts that encompasses film, television, and theatre. A native of Minnesota, Thompson began her career as a professional ballet dancer and performed in more than 45 ballets with the Minnesota Dance Theatre. She is best known for playing Michael J. Fox’s mom in Back to the Future I, II and III; as the title character in the syndicated series Caroline in the City, for which she won TV Guide and People’s Choice Awards; and as Kathryn Kennish in five seasons of the groundbreaking Peabody Award-winning series, Switched at Birth with Marlee Matlin.
Her other notable films include “All the Right Moves,” “Red Dawn,” “Howard the Duck,” and “Some Kind of Wonderful,” in which she was directed by her future husband, Howard Deutch. Thompson has been directing TV for more than a decade and made her feature directorial debut with The Year of Spectacular Men, written by and starring her daughters Madelyn Deutch and Zoey Deutch.
Since that time, she has helmed several “Jane Doe” telefilms, multiple episodes of “Switched at Birth,” “The Goldbergs,” “Schooled,” “Mom,” “American Housewife,” “The Kids Are Alright,” “Young Sheldon,” “Stargirl” and “Picard.” Thompson’s theatre works include over 20 ballets, The Little Mermaid, Bus Stop, The Illusion, The Vagina Monologues, I Love My Wife, Caroline in Jersey and her personal favorite, as Sally Bowles in the Sam Mendes revival of Cabaret on Broadway. She has often performed at charity events for the Alzheimer’s Association, the Michael J. Fox Foundation, various breast cancer charities, and many other great causes.