weather icon Clear

Las Vegas landmark Westgate rocks in 50th anniversary

Updated August 4, 2019 - 3:37 pm

The Kats! Bureau at this writing is McCarran International Airport’s D Gates, my favorite Gates after Bill and Melinda. I’m flying out, and up, to Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland, to check out the premiere of “Atomic Saloon Show,” the new Spiegelworld spectacle opening Sept. 8 at The Venetian’s Grand Canal Shoppes.

The Spiegelworld crew, led by founder Ross Mollison, are bubbling over with some very good early feedback about the show and a sellout in its first Saturday night performance. A review from the website CultureFix, which seems to be reviewing all of the major shows at Edinburgh, gave it five stars (out of five stars, which is as many stars allowed in a review).

The review remarked about “Atomic Saloon Show’s” raunchy humor and eye-popping acrobatics, and referred to a song title we can’t cite in a family publication.

Sounds like Spiegelworld is playing to form.

More from this scene, and elsewhere:

A Gated community

Westgate Las Vegas marked its 50th anniversary Saturday night with a multitiered party starting with a cocktail reception, rolling into Ted Torres Martin’s Elvis tribute show (featuring the original Sweet Inspirations) and ending with a VIP event upstairs at the hotel’s Crown Room. The event cast a spotlight on someone who deserves it, hotel General Manager Cami Christensen.

I’ve known Christensen for about 15 years, since in the days when Ferengis were delivering dry-ice drinks at Quarks restaurant and “Menopause the Musical” was selling out Shimmer Cabaret. Christensen knows the hotel’s history, clientele and (especially) staff really well, having arrived at the L.V. Hilton some 18 years ago. She has parked cars (literally, for one shift) and hosted Bill Clinton, among scores of dignitaries, at the hotel.

Hotel owner David Siegel, who promoted Christensen to GM in October, joked during the cocktail reception, “I bought Cami, and the hotel came with her.” Christensen responded, “You couldn’t afford me.”

Christensen was also honored to welcome Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman to the cocktail reception, saying, “You have been such an inspiration to me,” and later recalling that moment and saying, “I am so humbled to be the president of this majestic place.”

The hotel honored the more than 53 employees who have been with the company for more than 40 years, topped by usher Angel Rosas, who was hired in March 1969 — three months before the hotel opened. Christensen said Rosas had seen 12,000 performances on the property; I’ve mentioned to him he’s led my to my seat in 6,000 of those shows.

Smartly attired in a tux, Rosas repeated Siegel’s wishes, “I say we do this again in 50 years.” Rosas worked Elvis’ opening in July 1969, and has always said the Presley shows “were like New Year’s Eve, every show.”

Torres Martin, an Orlando, Florida, artist who has performed as Elvis for 14 years, performed the seemingly unachievable — a full concert as Elvis actually made you feel as if you were watching the real thing. I’ve caught many ETAs (Elvis Tribute Artists) over the years, and many are good summoning Elvis’ spirit in short segments or in a smaller scale.

But Torres Martin had the moves down, was flawless vocally, and really warmed to the experience of performing on Elvis’ old International Theater stage.

And the Sweet Inspirations sounded great, as original member Estelle Brown simply demanded that the audience sing along to “The Lord’s Prayer.” I had expected the Inspirations, Elvis’ backing vocalists through his seven-year Vegas run, to sing just a couple of numbers during the anniversary show. But they backed Torres Martin for the entire performance. It’s moment we might not see again in VegasVille.

Such Vegas entertainers as Frankie Scinta, whose “Scintas” family act moved to Vegas in 2000 to headline the Shimmer; and Chris Phillips of Zowie Bowie (who drew the short straw as my plus-one) were in the mix. Tableside conversation was centered on the long list of headliners — Elvis, Wayne Newton and Liberace among many superstars — who graced the resort’s showroom.

At the post-party, members of the Westgate family — including Siegel’s wife, Jackie; and right-hand man, Mark Waltrip; and son Richard Siegel— mixed with headliners Jennifer Romas of “Sexxy” and magician Jen Kramer.

Romas, especially, has a history at the hotel, as part of Kristine W’s show at the Shimmer, and also “Monster Circus” rock production in the showroom. Siegel gave Romas the chance to realize her dream of producing her own show, at a time when nobody would have blamed him for shutting down or even imploding the property. It was fitting that Romas’ parents, Judi and John, were VIPs at Saturday’s party and show.

Christensen herself remarked at how dismal the hotel’s fortunes seemed in the days when it was LVH. For two years, the hotel was run by execs at Goldman Sachs, looking to sell the building as Christensen toured suitor after suitor around the hotel.

Today, Westgate is renovated and continuing to rebound. The Superbook, operated by the esteemed Jay Kornegay, has been impressively overhauled with a massive LED layout and food-and-beverage options. The IBar lounge, open at the entrance, stages live music regularly (Phillips himself is bringing an off-shoot show, a trio called “The Cocktail Beat” debuting Aug. 24).

The hotel is still planning to spend upward of $20 million to $30 million on more renovations, including LED screens at IBar.

Yep, video screens in the open lounge at the old Las Vegas Hilton. I’ll be there, and I’ll save a seat for my buddy Angel.


On the topic of Westgate, column fave and fervent Buffalo Bills fan Nina Di Gregorio’s “Femmes of Rock” production performs in Westgate Cabaret at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. It’s a blazing experience, with the all-female string players and great arrangements of classic-rock songs. Christina Levi, Carissa Werner and Chandra Meibalane join Di Gregorio in the cast.

Expect a new ’80s-era medley of Van Halen, Motley Crue and Whitesnake. The band is also returning “Kashmir” by Led Zeppelin, and, as Di Gregorio says, “something cool from Queen.”

Di Gregorio and co-producer Brody Dolyniuk (and we go waaaay back to the days of the Railhead at Boulder Station) have assembled something of an empire with this act. Over weekend, the Femmes opened for Ted Nugent at the McHenry County Fair in Woodstock, Ill. About 5,500 fans turned out. I say that billing should have been flipped, but I’m biased …

Michelle to the J

Another column fave, jazz great Michelle Johnson, is back at Myron’s Cabaret Jazz at 8 p.m. Friday with “Salute To The Great Singer-Songwriters.” Jeffrey Neiman is back as Johnson’s music director, with Gret Menzies Gonzales, Jolana Sampson and Jassen Allen on backing vocals. Johnson is also premiering a new song, “I’m All In,” her first songwriting venture in many years.

“I started writing when I was a kid, a child,” says Johnson, commonly known as “Las Vegas’ First Lady of Jazz.” “Then I got away from it, and ‘I’m All In’ is about recapturing that spirit.”

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.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
Green Eggs and Ham at Carson Kitchen in Las Vegas
Scott Simon, executive chef at Carson Kitchen in Las Vegas, makes a Green Eggs and Ham Flatbread with pistou, smoked mozzarella, tasso ham and eggs. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Lemon Semifreddo Dessert at Vetri Cucina in Las Vegas
Ashley Costa, pastry chef at Vetri Cucina at the Palms in Las Vegas, freezes lemon curd with whipped cream, sandwiches it between polenta-based crumiri cookies, sprinkles it with powdered sugar and drizzles it with argrumato, a lemon olive oil. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Museum of Selfies coming to Las Vegas - VIDEO
The interactive attraction offers several new selfie opportunities. (Museum of Selfies)
Show of Strength in 'A Choreographers Showcase' - VIDEO
"A Choreographers Showcase" pairs artists from Nevada Ballet Theater and staff from all facets of Cirque du Soleil to design an annual show. (Elizabeth Page Brumleyy/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
David Chang talks about what to expect at his new restaurant, Majordomo Meat & Fish - VIDEO
David Chang tells fans what to expect at his new restaurant, Majordomo Meat & Fish, at The Venetian on the Las Vegas Strip. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pink Lady and Rosey Mary cocktails at Therapy in Las Vegas
Terence Beach, bartender at Therapy restaurant in Las Vegas, makes original pink cocktails to benefit breast cancer research. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Torrijas dessert served at Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill in Las Vegas
Chef Christian Lee of Sugarcane at The Venetian in Las Vegas makes a dessert of torrijas, a Latin French toast, serving it with a caramelized-apple sauce and cinnamon ice cream. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
David Chang to sell Tasty Patties at Palazzo in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Chef David Chang has announced a casual concept that will accompany his new Majordomo Meat & Fish at Palazzo on the Las Vegas Strip. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Latkes, tzimmes at Market Place Buffet in Las Vegas for Rosh Hashanah
Ryan Swanson, Market Place Buffet room chef at the JW Marriott/Rampart Casino in Las Vegas, makes potato dishes as part of the resort’s Rosh Hashanah buffet. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
How Elphaba In "Wicked" turns green - VIDEO
Mariand Torres gets "painted" by makeup supervisor Joyce McGilberry for her role as Elphaba in "Wicked" at The Smith Center. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Hangover is served at The Crack Shack in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Khine Moore, executive chef at The Crack Shack at Park MGM in Las Vegas, makes The Hangover with a fried chicken breast or thigh dipped in honey-butter, sprinkled with Crack Seasoning and topped with an egg. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dessert Before Dinner winner Becky Quan
Nine of Las Vegas’ top women pastry chefs offered original creations built around Girl Scouts Trefoils shortbread cookies Saturday night at Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada’s annual Desserts Before Dinner Gala. The top dessert, as voted on by the audience, was an homage to Good Humor’s old-fashioned Strawberry Shortcake ice cream bars created by NoMad’s Becky Quan. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Chef Sammy D is cooking again in Las Vegas
Sam DeMarco served his first public meal since returning to Las Vegas on Sunday, with a pop-up brunch at 7th & Carson. And the veteran of the First Food & Bar, Rattlecan and Sam’s American has more in store for the downtown spot. The chef, known as Sammy D. to his friends, is taking on a consulting chef role with restaurant that will see some of Sunday’s offerings added to the regular menu. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Carl’s Donuts in Las Vegas celebrates National Cream-Filled Doughnut Day
Carl’s Donuts, a Las Vegas-based company that’s been serving the city since 1966, celebrates National Cream-Filled Doughnut Day with specialties themed to fall. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rick Harrison of "Pawn Stars" has a new store - VIDEO
Rick Harrison, the Pawn Stars co-star and owner of Gold & Silver Pawn, talks to the Review-Journal’s John Katsilometes about his soon-to-open Rick’s Collection retail outlet of mostly mid-century masterworks at the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pok Pok Wing at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas serves Pad Thai Thamadaa - VIDEO
Because of popular request, the 1-year-old Pok Pok Wing at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas serves Pad Thai Thamadaa, with shrimp, ground pork, neither or both. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trial by Fire cocktail at the Golden Tiki in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Adam Rains, head bartender (also Grand Poobah and a few other things) at The Golden Tiki in Las Vegas, makes one of the bar’s tiki drinks, (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gordon Ramsay renovating Las Vegas steakhouse - VIDEO
Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay is preparing to re-launch his Paris Las Vegas restaurant, Gordon Ramsay Steak. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Cats owners compete for top show awards
The annual Jazzy Cats event is taking place at the Rio Convention Center this weekend attracting cats owners from around the country and the world to compete for the top show awards. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Brooklyn Bowl in Las Vegas serves blackened Cajun catfish - VIDEO
Troy Remer, sous chef at Brooklyn Bowl at The Linq Promenade in Las Vegas, blackens Cajun catfish on the grill before serving it with mashed potatoes and collard greens. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Gold Encrusted Filet Mignon at Mr. Chow - VIDEO
This just may be the gold standard for the filet mignon. Mr. Chow at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas has introduced The Gold Encrusted Filet Mignon, which is coated with real 24-karat gold. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Working as a mermaid in Las Vegas - VIDEO
McKenzie Kawano works as a mermaid at the aquarium at the Silverton in Las Vegas. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pinkbox Doughnuts opens third store in Las Vegas area
Las Vegas-based Pinkbox Doughnuts, which opened its third store at 9435 W. Tropicana Ave., specializes in doughnuts such as the new Station Wagon, with Butterfinger; pink-velvet Pretty in Pink; and hybrid Glazed DoughCro Bites. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal, with image courtesy of Pinkbox Doughnuts
Starbucks brings back Pumpkin Spice early
Starbucks declares Aug. 27 the first day of fall as they make their pumpkin spice items available a full month early. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bachelor Party Fra Diavolo at Carmine’s in Las Vegas
Roberto Leon, a line cook at Carmine’s at The Forum Shops at Caesars in Las Vegas, makes Bachelor Party Fra Diavolo with eight pounds of lobster, a pound each of mussels, clams and shrimp, two pounds of pasta and two gallons of sauce. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
'American Idol' auditions in Las Vegas
“American Idol” was in Las Vegas Monday looking for singers to compete in its upcoming 2020 season. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegan part of the Harlem Globetrotters
Scooter Christensen, who grew up in Las Vegas, will play with the Harlem Globetrotters at The Orleans in Las Vegas Sunday, Aug. 25. (Mat Luschek / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MSG Sphere at The Venetian to cost $1.2B plus
Scheduled to open in 2021, it is expected to be busier than Madison Square Garden in New York. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Terra Rossa Returns To Red Rock. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Terra Rossa at Red Rock Resort is set to open on Aug. 26.
Hubert Keller’s Backyard Kitchen
Chef Hubert Keller of Fleur and Burger Bar shows off his backyard kitchen in Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)