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Strip superstar helps high school marching band get to DC parade

Updated April 16, 2024 - 10:57 am

Sometimes, you can’t smile without him.

We speak of Barry Manilow. The “Copacabana (At the Copa)” hit-maker rescued Chaparral High School’s marching band from a sad-trombone situation. The young musicians were about $25,000 short of their goal to represent our state at the National Independence Day Parade in Washington. The event is scheduled for (checks calendar) July 4.

“Was” is the operative word. When Manilow heard the band was facing a shortfall for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, he donated the balance through his Manilow Music Fund.

Manilow actually sent word during his show on March 8, when members of the band were in attendance at his show at Westgate.

The pop superstar had originally pledged a $5K donation at a dinner before the show. Later, after the show, he heard of the band’s grandiose effort to raise $80K for the trip, and that they were $25K short of that goal. “Well, not anymore,” was Manilow’s message. Chap High’s band is heading to D.C. and we cue “Could This Be Magic.”

‘Follies’ follow

Quick shots and snap thought about “Follies” at Aliante Showroom, which closed its six-show run on Sunday night:

— Reuniting the showgirl legends from past decades was majestic. Anna Bailey, Lou Anne Chessik, Cindy Doumani, Marla Gomes, Suzanne Jipson, Sheri Mirault, Terry Ritter, John Sailon, Ramona Shaw, Lauri Thompson, Teri Thorndyke and Diane Michelle Varney were introduced to photos from their performance days.

The crowd roared, especially for Doumani and Bailey, both in their 90s and relishing the attention. Bailey, the first African American showgirl from her days at Moulin Rouge in 1955, waved to well-wishers as she walked onstage in Thursday’s premiere, breaking musical theater’s vaunted “fourth wall.” The groundbreaking performer has earned that right.

— Producers wanted Merald “Bubba” Knight to sing “Broadway Baby.” Gladys Knight’s older brother and a member of the Pips lived a lot of that song’s story. But Musical Theater International’s licensing policies forbid a character being portrayed out of its original gender. Broadway Baby is a female in the original cast.

Knight could have performed the role in drag as a female, which was not seriously discussed. Or, Broadway great Andrea McArdle could revive the role, which was.

Sarah LeClear is clutch, which is a sports term. We’ll add the baseball term “five-tool player,” which also applies to her. Except, more than five tools. Already a cast member, dancer and choreographer, LeClear was brought in to direct after original director David Robinson fell ill weeks ago with shingles (brought on by stress, and gee I wonder where that came from). LeClear brought this show home. I met LeClear and her husband, Alejandro Domingo, as dancers with Donny and Marie Osmond at the Flamingo. They groove. And they save shows.

— Beware the 15-minute intermission. They only thing riskier than a 15-minute intermission in Las Vegas is a 20-minute intermission.

“Follies” went with 15, and lost a good segment of the premiere crowd. Sunday’s matinee audience seemed stickier, attendance wise. But “Follies” was about a three-hour experience, with a long drive from anywhere that isn’t North Las Vegas. Intermissions have been a problem in Vegas’ recent entertainment history since “Avenue Q” bled out its crowds at what is now Encore Theater after opening in August 2005. The intermission was soon cut.

This has been a concern with “Jersey Boys,” even with its truncated eight-minute break. The last show to go with a 15-minute break was “Disney’s the Lion King” at Mandalay Bay a dozen years ago. A friend who was an usher at that show would tell me of being asked during the break, “How much longer do we have here?” Not good. Cut the break, hold the crowd and thank me later.

Brunch! The musical

OK, no music, but Mott 32 is going with a dim sum brunch, tentative opening May 25-26.

Might we recommend …

Brody Dolyniuk’s latest effort, The Peter Gabriel Project, is more than a concert. It’s a multimedia experience. That’s Dolyniuk’s commitment and we believe the founder of the great classic-rock band Yellow Brick Road and several rock-symphony shows that have toured and played the Smith Center for more than a decade.

The Gabriel show debuts May 4 at Sunset Station’s Club Madrid; ducats at TicketMaster.com. Get there. Oh, an a peripheral plug for Dolyniuk’s rebuilt ‘67 Chevy Nova.

Tease this …

An audition notice is steering entertainers to a big-fly show on the Strip. And by “on the Strip,” I mean barely …

Great Moments in Social Media

The person who looked like Flavor Flav on the bucking bull at Saddle Ranch Chop House on the Sunset Strip in L.A. Saturday night … was.

“The new Cowboy Carter,” is in how he described the very slow turn on the mechanical beast. Check it on his @FlavorFlav Instagram Reels post.

Cool Hang Alert

We’re going to a go-go at The Space for the music of the Rolling Stones, being featured at Mondays Dark at 8 p.m. Monday, of course. A benefit for the Pharar Foundation, which provides dental services to cancer patients. A good chance to catch the Sin City Stones tribute band, which takes this music seriously.

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 X, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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