70°F
weather icon Clear

Moving Forward

Life after “Mamma Mia!” began with a deep breath for Carol Linnea Johnson, followed by an emphatic “yes!”

After three years as the lead in the musical production that ended Sunday, and six years at Mandalay Bay, she’s ready for her next adventure.

She and husband Don Burroughs, who was an understudy in the show, have fallen in love with Las Vegas and want to settle here.

“Our daughter (4-year-old Linnea) is so thrilled that we’re at home every night and can put her to bed every night,” said Johnson, who played Donna, a single mom who is preparing for her daughter’s wedding on a Greek isle.

“Thank you ‘Mamma Mia!’ ” she said. “From start to finish (the show) has been such a huge blessing in my life.”

Her next move, she said, might involve full-time work with the gypsy jazz band she joined two years ago, after a meeting with the guitarist in the “Mamma Mia!” orchestra.

Founded by Mundo Juillerat, who moved to the orchestra at “Le Reve” at Wynn Las Vegas, the group, known as The Hot Club of Las Vegas, put out a CD featuring Johnson.

Also in the group: Chris Davis, upright bass, and Gabriel Santana Falcon on the cajón.

“It will be interesting to see how the band takes off from here. I think we’ll continue to play once a month at Vox Wine Lounge in Henderson,” she said.

Her daughter is named after Johnson’s grandmother. The national flower of Sweden is called linnea.

“My entire father’s family was Swedish, and everyone in my mother’s family are Norwegian. So I’m 100 percent Scandinavian. I guess I was destined to sing ABBA.”

REMEMBERING THE DUNES

Former Dunes Hotel & Casino employees will gather Jan. 21 to reflect on the glory years of the famed resort, the site of the first topless stage show in Las Vegas.

The 38-year-old property closed on Jan. 26, 1993, two months after Steve Wynn purchased it for $75 million to build the $1.6 billion Bellagio.

The 16th reunion will take place at the New York City Bar & Grill, 6168 W. Spring Mountain Road, from 5 p.m. until it shuts down.

“We’ve been doing it since the night of the (first) implosion in October 1993,” said Pegg Wallace, who was the first female box person in the dice pit.

“We’ve been like family and stayed in touch all these years,” she said.

One attendee showed up in his bellman suit each year, until last year, when he didn’t make it.

She said everyone comes with a favorite story from the Dunes, one of the last mob-operated resorts on the Strip.

The hotel was absolutely abuzz, she said, after sightings of naked women roller skating down the corridor near the suite of high-roller Adnan Khashoggi, the Saudi arms dealer.

After opening on May 23, 1955, the Dunes had its struggles, in part because it was located at the southern-most point of the Strip.

Two years later, Dunes co-owner Major Riddle, desperate for business, created a social earthquake by becoming the state’s first hotel/casino to offer a topless show, “Minsky’s Follies.” The uproar created so much interest that the show set a single-week record with 16,000 tickets.

That same year, headliner Frank Sinatra agreed to a promotional stunt that provided one of the iconic photographs of that era: He donned a Sultan-like costume from “A Thousand and One Arabian Nights” and arrived on a camel.

He was imitating the property’s main attraction: an oversized turban-topped sultan that sat atop the main entrance.

COFFEE BREAK

The person I’d like to take to coffee soon would be … 1960s pop singer Sue Thompson.

On Jan. 13, 1962, her hit “Norman” debuted in Billboard’s Top 40 and reached No. 3.

According to a number of Internet sites, Thompson, now in her 80s, has lived in Las Vegas for years.

For starters, I would like to tell her that I made the mistake of looking up “Norman” on YouTube last week and playing it for the Leggy Blonde, who missed that era.

She now uses (abuses?) the song to get my attention by singing the “oooo, oooo, oooo” lyrics. Apparently little else works.

At the time the song came out, I was dating the daughter of a local farmer. He was not impressed — and not many parents would be — that I was a college dropout with no focus and little future. The night he banned me from the farm, he gave me something to think about with his parting shot, “You aren’t going to amount to nuthin’.”

A year later, opportunity knocked when I was a 20-year-old grocery store delivery boy in a small Montana town. I dropped off an ad at the weekly newspaper and asked the editor if he was covering the upcoming basketball tournament.

He couldn’t get away, he said, but knowing my interest in sports, he asked if I would like to freelance it.

He paid me the princely sum of $5 for covering a three-day tournament 80 miles away. But the money didn’t matter. I had my break. Ten years later, I was covering sports out of the Cincinnati Associated Press bureau, and thankful for a swift kick in the right direction.

Norm Clarke can be reached at 702-383-0244 or norm@reviewjournal.com. Find additional sightings and more online at www.normclarke.com.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
Heavier traffic expected from EDC festival attendees
Electric Daisy Carnival attendees began to vacate the Las Vegas Motor Speedway starting before 5 a.m., the majority heading south on Interstate 15.
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
DJ Steve Aoki visits Las Vegas comic book store
DJ Steve Aoki visits Torpedo Comics in Las Vegas Friday, May 17, 2019, for a signing for his new comic book series "Neon Future." (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas Smith & Wollensky opens at The Venetian
After 18 years, the Smith & Wollensky location on Las Vegas’ south Strip closed in 2017, to be re-born two years later with a rib-cutting — instead of a ribbon-cutting — in The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
Colin Cantwell, Creator Of Iconic Star Wars Ships Visits Vegas
Colin Cantwell, who created and designed such "Star Wars" ships as the X-Wing fighter, and Death Star, met fans at Rogue Toys in Las Vegas today. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Beauty & Essex in Las Vegas makes an EDC Wonder Wheel
In honor of the Electric Daisy Carnival, Beauty & Essex at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas makes its Wonder Wheel party-worthy. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Giada talks Vegas Uncork’d
Giada De Laurentiis talks during Aperitivo Hour, a Vegas Uncork'd event, at her Caesars Palace restaurant, Pronto, May 10, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Scenes from Vegas Uncork’d 2019 on the Las Vegas Strip
The 13th edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit brought four days of food, wine, celebrity chefs and parties to town, May 9-12. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Three ingredients Gordon Ramsay can’t live without
Bon Appetit's Andy Baraghani interviews the "Hell's Kitchen" chef during a Vegas Uncork'd event at Caesars Palace, May 11, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Uncork’d launches wiith bubbles and a blade
Dozens of chefs representing some of the Strip’s top restaurants gathered Thursday at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas to launch the 2019 edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bunky the Clown at the clown convention
Bob "Bunky the Clown" Gretton talks about his life as a clown and the Clown Convention which was in Las Vegas at Texas Station this week. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Frying soft-shell crab at Lola’s in Las Vegas
At Lola’s: A Louisiana Kitchen in Las Vegas, soft-shell crab is breaded and fried and served either as an appetizer, po’boy or platter. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
The Stove in Henderson makes Pecan Pie Pancakes
At The Stove in Henderson, chef/partner Antonio Nunez stacks buttermilk pancakes with pecans and dulce de leche and tops them pie crust crumbs. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vinnie Paul remembered at Count's Vamp'd
The late rocker's favorite table at one of his favorite clubs in Las Vegas. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
4DX movie experience at Red Rock
4DX movie experience during a demo reel at Red Rock. (Christopher Lawrence/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What To Do On May The 4th
There are plenty of events going on May the 4th this year around Las Vegas. Celebrate Star Wars and Comic Book Day all at once. The Rogue Toys, the 501st, Rebel Legion and Millennium Fandom Bar are all hosting fun events to help celebrate your geek-dom. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Water Sports Introduces New Attraction At Lake Las Vegas
Las Vegas Water Sports will debut its new aqua park attraction at Lake Las Vegas Days this weekend. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Making the Space Invader at Greene St. Kitchen in Las Vegas
Lysa Huerta, pastry cook at Greene St. Kitchen at the Palms in Las Vegas, starts with angel food cake, Fruity Pebbles ice cream and strawberry sorbet to create a space creature engulfed in flashing lights and swirling mists. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Pools
The M, Park MGM and NoMad are just a few great pools in Las Vegas. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jose Andres explains Iberico pork
(Al Mancini/Las Vega Review-Journal)
Inside Life is Beautiful
Craig Asher Nyman explains how Life is Beautiful festival is booked and talks about this year's line-up. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America Pops Up In Vegas
Tattoo'd America, a new pop-up attraction on the Linq Promenade, had their grand opening Friday. The attraction is dedicate to the culture of tattoos. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Jose Andres gets key to the Strip
Chef Jose Andres was presented with a Key to the Las Vegas Strip and a proclamation declaring April 26 Jose Andres Day in Clark County by County Commissioner Tick Segerblom on Friday. The ceremony took place at his restaurant Bazaar Meat in the SLS Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sadelle’s in Las Vegas makes a grilled cheese with an inverted bagel
Michael Vargas, executive sous chef at Sadelle’s at Bellagio in Las Vegas, inverts an everything bagel and grills it with Swiss, cheddar and Muenster cheeses to make the Inverted Bagel Grilled Cheese. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures
Kassandra Lopez at Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Prime rib is carved tableside at Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Las Vegas
Dave Simmons, executive chef of Lawry’s The Prime in Las Vegas, which plans special cuts for National Prime Rib Day, demonstrates the restaurant’s service from rolling tableside carving carts. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making gluten-free pizza at Good Pie in Las Vegas
Good Pie owner/pizzaiola Vincent Rotolo makes his gluten-free pizza.
Rockabilly fans enjoy Las Vegas weather poolside
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender runs Thursday, April 18th through Sunday, April 21st with a huge car show on Saturday featuring The Reverend Horton Heat, The Delta Bombers and The Coasters. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Brownie sundae at VegeNation in Las Vegas is completely vegan
Donald Lemperle, chef/owner of VegeNation in Las Vegas and nearby Henderson, NV, makes his sundae with ice cream made with coconut and almond milks, a brownie made with coconut flour and oil and organic sugar and cacao, and fresh fruit. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST