Conversations with Olivia Newton-John often veer toward health, wellness, achieving life balance and surviving setbacks. Such was the case during a chat before a performance at Hard Rock Live on the Strip when she recalled her battle with breast cancer 25 years ago.
“I have had a long time to brighten up as time has gone on, but it was very frighting, very scary,” she said last October at the “Turn Up The Pink” breast cancer awareness event. “I had to get my mind around chemo, which can be a very scary word to hear, but I also did meditation, homeopathic care, herbs, yoga, transcendental meditation.”
Newton-John, a headliner at Flamingo Las Vegas for three years ending in December, is bracing for another round of similar treatments after announcing Tuesday that the cancer has returned. She postponed earlier tour dates because of back pain, thinking it was likely sciatica.
Instead, she learned cancer had returned and had spread to the sacrum, a bone in the lower back.
“I decided on my direction of therapies after consultation with my doctors and natural therapists and the medical team at my Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre in Melbourne, Australia,” she said in statement announcing the cancellation of additional tour dates. The treatments include natural wellness therapies and a “short course” of radiation therapies.
The ONJ Centre’s leading physician, Dr. Belinda Yeo, said on the facility’s website: “Newer, targeted therapies are providing significant improvements alongside standard therapies.”
Having helped establish the ONJ Centre after her original battle with breast cancer, Newton-John is now a patient well-educated about her disease. As she said of her earlier battle, “Wellness became imperative to me.” Newton-John backed her efforts by donating a portion of every ticket sold at through her entire Flamingo run to the ONJ Centre.
Violinist James Harvey was the concert master of “Phantom — The Las Vegas Spectacular” during its 6 1/2-year run at Venetian Theater (then known as the Phantom Theater), a $40 million fortress designed expressly for the musical. The show closed in September 2012, remembered for its 90-minute, Vegas-fashioned run time, which lopped the intermission and trimmed many of the musicals “transitional” pieces.
Harvey’s now playing the full, 2 1/2-hour musical, which runs Tuesday through June 11 at Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center
“It’s a big difference,” Harvey said. “Having spent so much time on the show, I’m still learning a lot of music. There was a lot of music cut for the Venetian show, full numbers that were used as transitional passages, and these are difficult passages.”
Another, more aesthetic change in the production at Reynolds Hall is that the famed chandelier drops onto the stage rather than dangling above the audience.
The set piece remains there as a lingering reminder of one of the Strip’s most ambitious productions.
Magic at the mezzanine
The first Cirque du Soleil artist to headline a show on the Strip, Xavier Mortimer,continues to persevere at Sin City Theater on the mezzanine level at Planet Hollywood. The 27-year-old Mortimer just signed a six-month extension for his “Magical Dream” show, remaining in the 7 p.m. daily (dark Wednesdays). Mortimer, whose show is produced and co-directed by French TV personality and former “Twisted Vegas” star Alex Goude, opened last June after performing in “Michael Jackson One” at Mandalay Bay.
Wallace and ‘yo mama’
George Wallace filled the 400-capacity South Point Showroom thrice-over on Memorial Day Weekend. His shows Friday, Saturday and Sunday were spiced with a Wallace hallmark: The audience-participation “Yo Mama Challenge.”
The game: Wallace calls out a “Yo Mama” joke, and someone — anyone — calls one back to the stage. One from Wallace on Sunday, “Yo mama so fat, when she gets on the elevator, it’s always goin’ down!” And from the crowd, “Yo mama so ugly, she just got a job at the airport, sniffing luggage!”
It’s comedy gold. Just ask yo mama …