X-Cycle workout helps Amanda Nunez big win over Meisha Tate

10 Jul

Amanda Nunez’s shocking win against Meisha Tate last night may have had something to do with her recent workout regimen. For the past two weeks working on her cardio and getting her inspiration at XCYCLE, the immersive indoor cycling studio located in Boca Park that combines driving music- some created by pop princess Britney Spears -, synchronized lighting and choreographed movements to create an intense and addictive 45-minute ride.

The studio which opened in April of this year, is owned by Britney’s long-time manger, Larry Rudolph and his fiancé Jen Barnet, along with Ginger Melien.

Check out the video blog from UFC below (starting at time-mark 5:30) that shows Amanda getting into her groove at the spin class.


Idaho creator Buddy Sheffield reflects on three cities that brought comedy musical to life.

9 Jul

A Tale of Three Cities

Reflections on the dynamic city of Las Vegas by Buddy Sheffield, creator of IDAHO! THE COMEDY MUSICAL

My experience with the Entertainment Capital of the World could be called “A Tale of Three Cities,” all of them referring to the fabulous Las Vegas. The first time I worked here was with the Smothers Brothers as a writer for their hit TV show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (the one in the 80’s—I’m not that old!). They invited us to Las Vegas to see their show at the Desert Inn, where we would get the feel for how to write for them. You could immediately feel the history upon entering the hotel. I imagined the Rat Pack smoking and drinking their way through the second show. To me, that was “Old Las Vegas.”

My second experience here was with Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers.  I had written a touring show for them that would open at The Mirage.  It was the first show to ever play in that theater (which had actually been built for Siegfried and Roy, who were visiting Europe at the time).  I remember Kenny Rogers calling me into his dressing room, excited as he showed off their extravagant animal skins and phallic symbols.  “You gotta see this!” he said.


The construction of The Mirage ushered in the second Las Vegas of my lifetime, one you might call “the building boom.” The brand new hotel was quite an impressive monolith standing there at the time. Now, of course, it’s just one giant redwood in the forest we call The Las Vegas Strip.


Now, I find myself involved with a third Las Vegas—the most impressive and pleasantly surprising one of all.  I’m referring to what I call the “Downtown Renaissance.”  The centerpiece of that renaissance is The Smith Center, where my original comedy musical IDAHO! will begin its journey toward Broadway on July 6.


IDAHO!’s route to Las Vegas was a natural one.  In the very early stages of the show’s creation, I connected with my old friend Keith Thompson, who had moved to Las Vegas from New York, where he had a brilliant career as a Broadway musical director.   Keith turned my songs into actual music, set up a reading at UNLV and enlisted the help of some of Vegas’ very talented and generous Broadway actors at the time.
After winning the New York Musical Theatre Festival we did a reading for producers, one of whom was the Smith Center’s Myron Martin.  He immediately took a leap of faith and put IDAHO! on the current Broadway season, although the production hasn’t yet been to Broadway.  Thus, this is one of the few times when Las Vegas might send a show to New York instead of the other way around. Opening night (July 9) will surely be exciting.


In addition to the musical genius of Keith Thompson, I have the aid of highly capable and inventive New York director Matt Lenz, esteemed choreographer Michele Lynch and Emmy-winning production designer Andy Walmsley—some of whom took leave of their Big Apple gigs to make this production an absolute delight.


When welcoming them and the cast, I said, “Our goal is to make it to Broadway, but in a way, it would be a step down from The Smith Center.”  That was not being facetious.  The Smith Center is a world class institution and performance venue that any city in the world would be justifiably proud of.


While we can’t guarantee where IDAHO! heads to next, we promise that IDAHO! at The Smith Center will be one helluva show. In my many years in Las Vegas, I have never experienced a dull moment. Today, my fondest hope is that the audience leaving IDAHO! will feel the exact same way.

HOOTERS 20th annual swimsuit pageant tied in with Major League Wing Eating Championship

9 Jul

Hooters is taking over Las Vegas this month with back-to-back annual competitions at Palms Casino Resort starting Monday including the 20th Annual Hooters International Swimsuit Pageant and Hooters Worldwide Wing Eating Championship. In a matter of days, two individuals will depart Vegas with bragging rights and impressive titles: 2016 Miss Hooters International and 2016 Hooters Worldwide Wing Eating Champion.

On Wednesday, July 13, at the Pearl Theater, 80 beautiful Hooters Girls from across the U.S. and around the world will compete in the 20th Annual Hooters International Swimsuit Pageant. The 2016 Miss Hooters International title comes with a $30,000 cash prize and the chance to serve as the face of the iconic brand. The crowned pageant winner will become a brand ambassador, travel to assist in international openings and contribute to marketing initiatives and special events throughout the year.

Contestants are evaluated based on responses to interview questions, personality and overall contribution to the iconic Hooters brand, as well as swimsuit attire. A six-person panel of judges includes
Lynn Austin, the original Hooters Girl; Rich Davis, host of Convino & Rich on Sirius XM RUSH; Forrest Griffin, Ultimate Fighter coach and legend; Adam Hygema, Invictus Games gold-medalist and Navy veteran; Steel Lafferty, wakeboarding rising star; and Bonnie-Jill Laflin, first and only female NBA scout and former NFL cheerleader.

Hooters fans are invited to vote for Miss Fan Favorite at Pageant.Hooters.com and follow “hootersLIVE” on Snapchat for a backstage pass to all of the excitement of the Hooters pageant festivities and wing eating competition. Hooters fans and followers on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook can also follow the pageant action and contestant updates using the hashtag #HootersPageant. Lucky fans in Las Vegas can catch the Pageant live by purchasing tickets on Ticketmaster.

Prior to the Hooters Girls taking center stage, the world’s top professionally-ranked eaters will challenge each other in a grueling 10-minute, all-you-can-eat contest of world-famous Hooters chicken wings. They’re aiming to taste victory in the fifth annual Hooters Worldwide Wing Eating Championship. With every bite they’re one step closer to cash prizes and a coveted title of 2016 Hooters Worldwide Wing Eating Champion.

The event, which is officially sanctioned by Major League Eating, kicks off poolside at Palms Casino Resort on Monday, July 11 at 8 p.m. PT. Fans will see defending Hooters Worldwide Wing Eating Champion Matt Stonie battle longtime veteran Joey Chestnut along with other professional eaters. In 2015, Stonie ate 241 Hooters world-famous chicken wings in 10 minutes, outperforming Chestnut’s 200 wing tally to end his three-year reign as Hooters champ.

Hooters fans across America can participate in their own wing eating training days in preparation of National Chicken Wing Day, celebrated on Friday, July 29. On Mondays, July 4, 11 and 18, pros and average Joes across America can enjoy all the wings they can eat wings for one great price.

The celebrations and all you-can-eat chicken wings culminate on Chicken Wing Day Eve, July 28, and Chicken Wing Day, July 29, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. It’s the American way.

Opening Night celebrations set for Idaho comedy musical with Mayor’s proclamation, , the Ida-Ho-Down & 6-ton truck

8 Jul

Get ready to mash things up! In celebration of tomorrow’s opening night performance of IDAHO! THE COMEDY MUSICAL (Sat July 9)  Mayor Carolyn Goodman has proclaimed July 9, 2016 “IDAHO! THE COMEDY MUSICAL DAY” in Las Vegas. A proclamation ceremony will take place in Symphony Park at 6 p.m. Saturday  which is open to the public, and will be followed by the opening night performance at 7:30 p.m. in Reynolds Hall.

The proclamation ceremony will take place in front of an epic 18-wheel, 6-ton Big Idaho® Potato Truck, which will remain on display in Symphony Park through Tuesday, July 12. Tickets to this “spudtacular” production are still available, and include admission to the Ida-Ho-Down after-party on Saturday night. For more information, please visit TheSmithCenter.com.

Following the show, patrons are invited to dust off their boots, saddle their horses and head over to Symphony Park for Ida-Ho-Down with all the fixin’s. Guests can enjoy tasty potato-themed treats, country music and much more while mingling with the cast and creative team.

Opening night will feature the cast of 18 led by eight featured players includes ALEX ELLIS as Ida Dunham, CARMEN RUBY FLOYD as Mavis White Eagle, JESSICA FONTANA as Cassie Purdy, NATHANIEL HACKMANN as Whip Masters, MATT LOEHR as Slim Johnson, JEN PERRY as Aunt Pearlie, JAY ROGERS as Uncle Fate and PAUL VOGT as Jed Strunk.

The cast will also include an acclaimed ensemble featuring ALYSSA BRIZZI as Belle and Dream Cassie, BLAKE HAMMOND as Doc Generic and Exposition Jack, HOLLY HOLCOMB as Crazy Betty Felter, CHRISTINE HUDMAN as Anita Polk, ALLISON BLAIR MCDOWELL as Amanda Ride, ALEX PUETTE as Hank and Dream Whip, DESTINEE REA as Shenequa, ROBBIE ROBY as George Meany and Dance Captain, CONNOR RUSSELL as Yank Daley and JAMES TABEEK as Manny Meany.

IDAHO! also boasts an extraordinary creative team with book and music by Buddy Sheffield (IN LIVING COLOR), music co-written by musical director Keith Thompson (JERSEY BOYS, HAIRSPRAY, LES MISERABLES, MAMMA MIA, THE PRODUCERS, WHEN PIGS FLY) and casting by casting director and partner at Stewart/Whitley, Benton Whitley (CSA). The team also includes celebrated theater director Matt Lenz (PAGEANT: THE MUSICAL, HAIRSPRAY, A CHRISTMAS STORY: THE MUSICAL, THE IRISH CURSE AT SOHO REP, WICKED’S FIFTH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION: THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD NOT TAKEN), choreographer Michele Lynch (LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, DIRTY DANCING, THE LAST FIVE YEARS, JOYFUL NOISE, CABARET, EMPIRE, EVERYDAY RAPTURE, LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE) and Emmy Award-winning production designer Andy Walmsley (AMERICAN IDOL, WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE). Sixteen Las Vegas musicians led by Thompson will appear on stage.

Tickets start at $19 and can be purchased at The Smith Center box office, by phone at 702-749-2000 or online at TheSmithCenter.com.


ALEX ELLIS (Ida Dunham) is a Broadway veteran whose many accolades include performing in the original companies of CATCH ME IF YOU CAN and ON A CLEAR DAY YOU CAN SEE FOREVER, starring in the national tours of THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE and LEGALLY BLOND, and appearing on television in THE GOLDBERGS, HOT IN CLEVELAND and more. She has also done national commercial placements for major brands such as Time Warner Cable, Silver Metro Line, Scrabble, Thumann’s Meats and A&E, among others. Her latest project involved writing, producing, shooting and starring in her own pilot. She will also play an 800-year-old vampire in a new, upcoming Disney animated television show.

CARMEN RUBY FLOYD (Mavis White Eagle) is heading from Broadway to The Smith Center in Las Vegas to premiere in IDAHO! THE COMEDY MUSICAL after starring in various Broadway blockbusters including the world-famous CHICAGO, AFTER MIDNIGHT, AVENUE Q, PORGY AND BESS and Disney’s THE LION KING. Currently on tour with the fabulous Vanessa Williams, Floyd has also garnered nationwide acclaim off-Broadway and regionally in productions such as COTTON CLUB PARADE, CROWNS, LANGSTON’S LITTLE HAM, LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, AIN’T MISBEHAVIN, SHOWBOAT and more.

JESSICA FONTANA (Cassie Purdy) is thrilled to portray Cassie in IDAHO! THE COMEDY MUSICAL after starring on Broadway in two world-famous productions, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s CINDERELLA and BABY IT’S YOU. Fontana has also garnered critical acclaim off-Broadway in numerous shows including ONCE UPON A MATTRESS, PIPE DREAM, LOVE AND REAL ESTATE and IDAHO! when it performed at the New York Musical Theatre Festival. In addition to earning a BFA from the University of Michigan, Fontana has appeared on many national tours including LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE, REGIONAL: 110 IN THE SHADE, MOST HAPPY FELLA, SOON, IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU, SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH, PAPER MILL PLAYHOUSE and more.

NATHANIEL HACKMANN (Whip Masters) is excited to be making his Las Vegas debut! His most recent credits include LES MISERABLES, where he played Jean Valjean, Javert and the Factory Foreman, as well as BEAUTY AND THE BEAST as Gaston, PAINT YOUR WAGON as Steve, SWEENY TODD as Anthony, A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM as Miles, OKLAHOMA! as Curly, CAMELOT as Lancelot, SANDERS FAMILY CHRISTMAS as Stanley, BYE BYE BIRDIE as Birdie and more.

MATT LOEHR (Slim Johnson) is an award-winning actor famously known for his ability to command the stage. He has performed in various Broadway spectacles including THE BOOK OF MORMON, THE PRODUCERS, CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG, MARY POPPINS, PROMISES and ELF THE MUSICAL. A three-time Carbonell Award winner for his performances as Harold Hill in THE MUSIC MAN, Cornelius Hackl in HELLO DOLLY! and Bobby Child in CRAZY FOR YOU, Loehr boasts a well-rounded resume featuring both national and regional achievements across a wide variety of performances.

JEN PERRY (Aunt Pearlie), known for starring in MAMMA MIA! at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, will return to town to star in IDAHO! THE COMEDY MUSICAL as one of the featured players of the production. Previous credits include Broadway blockbusters KINKY BOOTS, MAMMA MIA! and THE WIZARD OF OZ, off-Broadway spectacles BONNIE AND CLYDE, REVOLUTION, IDAHO!, NUNSENSE and WHAT DOESN’T KILL US and regional productions ANNIE, HAIRSPRAY!, CHICAGO, BLOWN SIDEWAYS THRU LIFE, HEARTBEATS, PIPPIN, RED HOT AND COLE and GODSPELL, among others.

JAY ROGERS (Uncle Fate) is a Drama Desk nominee who has performed on Broadway, off-Broadway and regionally in musicals ranging from ONCE UPON A MATTRESS, THE SOUND OF MUSIC and WHEN PIGS FLY to WHOOP DEE DOO!, IDAHO!, THE MOST FABULOUS STORY EVER TOLD, CLEAVAGE and CINDERELLA. Rogers will grace the stage at The Smith Center as he returns to IDAHO! THE COMEDY MUSICAL, making its premiere in Las Vegas following a successful run at the New York Musical Theatre Festival.

PAUL VOGT (Jed Strunk) will return to Las Vegas to perform in the premiere of IDAHO! THE COMEDY MUSICAL following his widely successful run at HAIRSPRAY!, among other accolades he has received over the years. The Broadway star has performed in numerous productions both on and off Broadway including CHICAGO, CELLBLOCK TOUR, ELF, LAUREL AND HARDY, THE LITTLE MERMAID, HAMLET, GREATER TUNA, HAPPY DAYS: THE MUSICAL, OLIVER!, THE GRAND DUCHESS, FROSTY THE SNOW-MANILOW and more.

ALYSSA BRIZZI (Belle and Dream Cassie) has trained with The National Ballet School of Canada in Toronto, The Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and Banff Ballet. Most recently, she has been seen in The Broadway National Tour of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST as their swing and dance captain. Previous credits include RHYTHMS AT TOKYO DISNEYSEA, HAIRSPRAY, WEST SIDE STORY, HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL, GYPSY, and BIG – THE MUSICAL. Brizzi was also a finalist on CBC’S reality television series TRIPLE SENSATION.

BLAKE HAMMOND (Doc Generic and Exposition Jack) is known for captivating audiences both on and off Broadway. Hammond is known for his previous Broadway performances in LIVING ON LOVE, FIRST DATE, SISTER ACT, ELF, BILLY ELLIOT, HAIRSPRAY, THE LION KING, THE MUSIC MAN, KISS ME KATE, and ON THE TOWN. Previous credits off-Broadway include award winning WHEN PIGS FLY as well as seven tours with the most recent being CINDERELLA and THE ADDAMS FAMILY. Regionally Hammond has performed in Williamstown, Kennedy Center, Ahmanson, Coronet, Northlight, and Ogunquit Playhouse. This award winning actor has made appearances on television and in film, including credits in WE GOT HELP. Hammond was in the original production of IDAHO! at the New York Music and Theatre Festival, and is delighted to return for more spuds!

HOLLY HOLCOMB (Crazy Betty Felter) is thrilled to make her Las Vegas debut in IDAHO! THE COMEDY MUSICAL. Her previous credits at the New York City Center OF THEE I SING – ENCORES! and at The York Theatre MAN WITH A LOAD OF MISCHIEF. Holycomb preformed in the New York Musical Theatre Festival in IDAHO! She has toured nationally for GREASE. With select Regional performances in JEKYLL AND KYDE, CAROUSEL, I LOVE YOU, YOU’RE PERFECT, NOW CHANGE AND THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH, MY FAIR LADY, MAN OF LA MANCHA, and KISS ME KATE. Spending her last two years traveling the world while performing on Oceana Marina and Riviera.

CHRISTINE HUDMAN (Anita Polk) was last seen on Fox channel, singing back up for Kristen Chenoweth on the American Country Music Awards. She did over 1,000 performances as Rizzo in the National Tour of GREASE, and did a National tour of THE FULL MONTY. Hudman has preformed locally at the MGM for the American premiere of JERRY SPRINGER THE OPERA, as well as KOOKYTUNES in Las Vegas. She has preformed backup for Jennifer Hudson at the Gala Premiere of The Smith Center which was featured on PBS. She has been a voice-over for Lexus, and can be hearth on the movie soundtrack for the 2016 Oscar-winning film SPOTLIGHT.

ALLISON BLAIR MCDOWELL (Amanda Ride) is known for her Broadway appearance and National tour in CHICAGO, and her national tour of LA CAGE AUX FOLLES. McDowell is known for her regional tours in GREASE, PETER PAN, INTO THE WOODS, EWITA, 42ND STREET, CAUCASION CHALK CIRCLE, RAGTIME, and BRIGADOON.

ALEX PUETTE (Hank and Dream Whip) most recently seen in the world premiere of I ANNE HUTCHINSON/ I AM HARVEY MILK. His Broadway National tours include LEGALLY BLOND, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, and A CHRISTMAS STORY. Internationally, Puette toured in WEST SIDE STORY. His New York credits include off-Broadway revival of NEW GIRL IN TOWN, and various other workshops and readings. Regionally, he has performed at The Ford’s Theatre in Washington D.C., Ogunquit Playhouse, Berkshire Theatre Festival, The St. Louis Muny, Kansas City Starlight, Weston Playhouse, Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, and Bucks County Playhouse.

DESTINEE REA (Shenequa) is thankful to be a part of the Idaho family! Some of her previous roles include Gwendolyn in CELL, Lorrell Robinson in DREAMGIRLS, Dorothy in THE WIZ, Amaryllis in THE MUSIC MAN, and Wendy in PEDRO PAN.

ROBBIE ROBY (George Meany and Dance Captain) It has been 10 years since Roby has performed in Sin City as the dance captain for the Vegas Company of HAIRSPRAY. He was a member of the Broadway production of BILLY ELLIOT and HAIRSPRAY. His National tours include THE LITTLE MERMAID and STARLIGHT EXPRESS. Other New York City performances include PAINT YOUR WAGON, CARNEGIE HALL FAMILY HOLIDAY CONCERT: THE NYC POPS, EMPIRE, and IDAHO! Most recently Roby was part of Carol Channing’s 95th Birthday Celebration Concert.


JAMES TABEEK (Manny Meany) His Broadway credits include MARY POPPINS where he understudied the role of Neleus, TABOO, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, WICKED and the Broadway workshop of SWEET CHARITY. His New York City and Los Angeles credits include DIE FLEDERMAUS, BABES IN ARMS, CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR, CARNIVALE, and IDAHO! at the New York Musical Theatre Festival where he also played Manny Meany. Recently, he performed in the premiere of SERRANO THE MUSICAL. Tabeek has also played in theatres regionally including Kennedy Center, Walnut Street, North Shore Music Theater and more. His European credits include WEST SIDE STORY. His film appearances include HAIL, CESAR!, NORTHBOUND, and RETROGRADE (coming 2016). He also plays Devan in the new hit media series THE RESIDUALS (exclusively on BroadwayWorld.com)


BUDDY SHEFFIELD (Book, Music and Lyrics) is best known for his Emmy award winning show LIVING IN COLOR. Sheffield is proudest of ROADHOUSE, a show for tween’s he co-created and produced on Nickelodeon, as well as writing for Dolly Parton on her variety show DOLLY. He retired from Hollywood with three prime time Emmy nominations, a NAACP Image Award for best original song, and the prestigious Ollie Award for excellence in Children’s televisions. IDAHO! marks the return of his true love, the live theatre.

KEITH THOMPSON (Co-Composer) is very excited to be working on IDAHO! at the Smith Center with his friend and collaborator Buddy Sheffield. He is founder and host of The Composers Showcase, held exclusively at Cabaret Jazz at the Smith Center. His original showcase GOD LIVES IN GLASS, ran out of the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, and the Provincetown Playhouse in New York, as well as in Las Vegas. His original KOOKY TUNES ran out of New York’s Laurie Beechman Theater. Thompson’s professional credits include JERSEY BOYS, THE PRODUCERS, HAIRSPRAY and WE WILL ROCK YOU. His National tours include CABARET, MAMMA MIA, HAIR, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, and PETER PAN. In 2000, he won the Dora Award for CARABET. Thompson’s New York Credits include LES MISERABLES, WHEN PIGS FLY and LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS.

MATT LENZ (Director) His New York credits include PAGEANT: THE MUSICAL, THE IRISH CURSE, IDAHO!, THE GREAT DAISY THEORY, FINGERS AND TOES and ALAN BALL’s. In 2015 he was Drama Desk’s Best Musical Nomination for PAGEANT: THE MUSICAL. Lenz’s National Tours include CHEERS LIVE ONSTAGE, A CHRISTMAS STORY: THE MUSICAL, HAIRSPRAY, and CATCH ME IF YOU CAN. He directed HAIRSPRAY internationally, as well as numerous plays and musicals regionally. On Broadway he was an associate director of HAIRSPRAY, CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, THE VELOCITY OF AUTUMN and DISNEY’S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (resident director).

MICHELE LYNCH (Choreography) Her Broadway credits include EVERYDAY RAPTURE and COAST OF UTOPIA. She was an assistant Choreographer on Broadway shows HAIRSPRAY, THE FULL MONTY and URINETOWN. Off-Broadway, she choreographed LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE and went on National Tours for DIRTY DANCING, LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRE and HAPPY DAYS. Her film credits include THE LAST FIVE YEARS, JOYFUL NOISE and CAMP. She choreographed the opera production of SHOWBOAT. She has choreographed in theatres regionally and internationally. Her International shows include DIRTY DANCING, HAIRSPRAY, THE FULL MONTY, as well as Dolly Parton’s world BETTER DAY TOUR.

ANDY WALMSLEY (Set Designer) has designed for many Broadway and WestEnd Theatre musicals including BLOOD BROTHERS and BUDDY: THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY. He designed two of the 10 longest running musicals at West End. He has designed for AMERICAN IDOL, SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, AMERICA’S GOT TALENT, THE BIGGEST LOSER, THE EMMYS, MISS USA and WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE. His set designers were heavily featured in SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, and was nominated for 10 Academy awards. Walmsley has designed for theatre, circus, ice shows, cruise ships, television and Las Vegas spectaculars and corporate.

CHARLIE MORRISON (Lighting Designer) has been on national and international tours for DISNEYS: THE LITTLE MERMAID, HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS (NYC/Tour), CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG, MISS SAIGON, AIDA (US, Taiwan, and China) THE PRODUCERS, MAN OF LAMANCHA, GUYS AND DOLLS, GROOVALOO (NYC, LA, Foxwoods, and US Tour), HELLO DOLLY! MY FAIR LADY, and THE KING AND I (US Tour and Korea). THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE, 42ND STREET, SMOKEY JOE’S CAFE, THE WHO’S TOMMY, TITANIC, THE MUSIC MAN, and many others. His regional lighting designs have appeared at Paper Mill Playhouse, Shakespeare Theatre Company, The Guthrie, Goodspeed Musicals, Seattle Rep, Seattle Fifth Avenue, Theatre Under the Stars, Dallas Summer Musicals, Kansas City Starlight, Pittsburgh CLO, George Street Playhouse, North Carolina Theater, Playmaker’s Rep, Tulsa Opera, and many others.


NASCAR Fans Grow as racing quality gets more outstanding

7 Jul

Great racing is helping to drive fan consumption of NASCAR.

Halfway through 2016, fans are tuning in to more telecasts and engaging even more on digital and social.

Why? The quality of racing has been outstanding.

Starting with photo finishes at the Daytona 500 and in Phoenix, the first half of 2016 delivered the dramatic moments fans crave.
· NASCAR now features some of the most intense, close, side-by-side racing seen in years.
Consistent passing throughout the field; races regularly featuring many lead changes
New records for green flag passes for the lead at Atlanta, Fontana and Bristol
· Contributing to the excitement are talented young stars capturing fans’ attention each week.
Austin Dillon (26) and rookies Chase Elliott (20) and Ryan Blaney (22) are firmly on the Chase Grid, and would make NASCAR’s playoffs if they began today
The 1-2-3 finishers for the Michigan race in June were ages 26 (Joey Logano), 20 (Elliott) and 23 (Kyle Larson), forming the youngest Top 3 in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history
Brad Keselowski, Logano and Kyle Busch – with an average age of just under 30 – have combined for 72 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career wins

On Television YEAR-TO-DATE: As the season has progressed, year-over-year ratings have stabilized, with the average NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rating not far behind 2015 (ONLY -3 %).

· COKE ZERO 400: The first race of the 2016 NBC season at Daytona started strong and ranked as the most-viewed NASCAR Sprint Cup Series July race at Daytona since 2011 (YOY numbers showed a +26% ratings increase and a +43% viewership increase for that race).

On Fox TV  Daytona and Atlanta experienced significant declines (-18%) average ratings of the remaining FOX events (3-16) built momentum to close the gap to only -6%.
On digital media platforms: through Sonoma (16 races), NASCAR.com is averaging 9 million unique visitors-per-month.

· Across all NASCAR digital platforms, NASCAR Digital Media has registered 484 million page views and 145 million on and off platform video views.

· NASCAR Mobile apps (NASCAR MOBILE and RaceView Mobile) have been downloaded 670,000 times in 2016.
On NASCAR social platforms there has been a gain of  1.1 million followers since the start of the year YTD in 2016, which is an increase of 11% and more than double the growth seen in the same period last year.
· The NASCAR Facebook and Twitter accounts have generated over 2.1 billion impressions, YTD.

· Engagement with content on the NASCAR social platforms is up +83% over year-over-year, with more than 114 million total engagements.

· There have been more than 76 million video views on the NASCAR Facebook and Twitter accounts, more than five times as many as last year (YOY).

· Reach of race day content on the NASCAR Facebook page is up +19% compared to last year, and the reach of all tweets about NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race broadcasts is up +24%.



Vegas benefits from 2nd win by Jonathan Scott over twin brother Drew in Brother vs Brother

7 Jul

Hot Off The Press Release: During last night’s nail-biting finale episode of HGTV’s Brother vs. Brother, Jonathan ultimately bested his twin brother Drew in the series last home renovation battle: best home exterior and landscaping. The six-episode series followed the popular Scott Brothers as they each vied to buy, renovate and sell a Las Vegas home at the highest net profit.

In the end, the funds generated by the Brother vs. Brother home sales totaled more than $106,000. Proceeds from the sales will benefit the Las Vegas community via Rebuilding Together—a national U.S. nonprofit organization that preserves affordable homeownership and helps to revitalize neighborhoods by providing free home repairs and modifications to low-income homeowners.

As part of the finale celebration, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn G. Goodman was on hand to present both brothers with a key to the city.

Brothers Keys to City lr

“Beating Drew again in Brother vs. Brother is unbelievable,” said Jonathan. “When I decided to go with a mid-century modern design, I knew it was a risk, but the gamble paid off.”

“It’s tough losing to Jonathan,” replied Drew. “No matter how the competition went, all of the money goes back to the community and that’s what’s important.”

Throughout the series, the challenge loser faced embarrassing dares such as playing the jester in a live-action medieval dinner show and cleaning the priceless cars of Vegas icon Wayne Newton. The challenge winner enjoyed the spoils, including a private tour of illusionist David Copperfield’s magic studio.

Produced by  Jonathan and Drew as executive producers, Brother vs. Brother pitted the twins against each other as they put their home renovation and real estate skills to the test. Each brother bought a Las Vegas fixer-upper and renovated every room — competing to win votes of HGTV guest judges in a weekly match-up.

The New York Times best-selling authors Jonathan and Drew Scott also star in HGTV’s Emmy®-nominated series Property Brothers and will be featured in a new series, Brothers Take New Orleans this fall.

1st Night of Idaho previews tomorrow!Broadway bound!

5 Jul

During the opening number of “Idaho! The Comedy Musical,” at the Smith Center for its first preview night July 6 and its gala celebrity premiere July 9, a bare-bottomed young man runs across the stage. “It’s a signal to say that this ain’t your grandmother’s prairie musical,” creator and writer Buddy Sheffield told me .

After “Cabaret” loaded out its lighting and scenery , in came the technicians to hang the lighting for “Idaho!” All the scenery — all made here in Las Vegas — is now installed.

I watched the cast run through three wild musical numbers Wednesday. They are finger-snapping, toe-tapping memorable tunes that also pack a punch.

Musical Director Keith Thompson (“Jersey Boys,” “Hairspray,” “Mamma Mia”) is the creative genius at the back-and-white keys. The director is Matt Lenz, also of “Hairspray.”

Who would have thought that the moon over our nearby state would be shaped and colored like a potato? This show is irreverent and hysterically funny with a Monty Python wackiness to it. As one critic who saw the New York run-throughs said: “It’s like ‘Oklahoma’ meets ‘Blazing Saddles’ with a side of mashed potatoes.”

At Saturday’s opening gala with producers and theater owners flying in from Broadway to bid for the production to go there in fall 2017, they’ll serve vintage wines with French fries, julienne and mashed potatoes. This is a love letter to the potato state.

In fact, to prove there is no hard feelings, the Idaho Potato Commission is sending down an 18-wheeler with the world’s largest potato — some 18 feet long — to be on display outside the Smith Center on opening night. (It’s not real, BTW; it’s papier-mâché.- they grow ’em there but not that big! )

The cast of 18 brings the hilarious love story to life as a mail order bride from Ohio arrives in Idaho to marry and upsets the potato-cart long enough for three couples to discover or rediscover the loves of their lives.

Smith Center President Myron Martin candidly confessed Wednesday:

“You asked if I was nervous, and two weeks ago I probably was.

“My stomach was in knots because, as much as I knew the book was great, as much as Keith Thompson has been doing fabulous songs from ‘Idaho!’ here at Composers Showcase for the last couple of years, they were in my brain already, and I knew they were great … until you bring the cast together, and until you start reading and till you see the chemistry between the characters, you don’t know for sure.

“I feel like today I know for sure that we’re going to give our audiences a really good show.

“It’s a love for Idaho, the people and the potato. What Buddy has written is really just a love letter to Idaho, and it’s really all about love, and what better time than now to introduce a new musical that’s about love and caring.

“I think this production is going to give people in Las Vegas a chance to laugh and smile and hear great music and take away some of that stress that we’ve all been under in recent days.”

For the Smith Center to take the “first angel” gamble of underwriting a brand new musical is a huge undertaking and much earlier in its life than envisioned. Myron continued:

“We have Teller the magician to thank. He pushed us to do ‘The Tempest’ with him, prove to us that we can do it, that we can launch a brand new show in Las Vegas, and, as you know, ‘The Tempest’ went on to Boston, Harvard, Orange County, California, Chicago, and now it may make its way to New York. That experience taught us that we really can do this. Our audiences asked for more.

“They so enjoyed ‘The Tempest.’ They said “We want to see something else before it goes to Broadway.’ We’re really excited about the fact that we’re able to do this, but, yes, you’re right, we’re doing it sooner in our life cycle than we might have otherwise.

“It is a gamble. We did have our Broadway Series subscribers, so we sold10,000 seats before we ever announced the show, but it’s still a big gamble for the Smith Center. There’s no upside in Las Vegas other than the warm, fuzzy type. There’s no chance that ‘Idaho!’ at the Smith Center makes money. Certainly not a lot of money. If we get to break even, we are thrilled.

“Part of the challenge on a short run of 13 shows is that there’s no longevity to recoup the investment. We can invite our friends from Broadway to come and see it, start lining up possible theaters and producers, the next step. When I sat in the rehearsal studio in New York two years ago at the very first reading, I said, “The Smith Center has to do this.” Period. Full stop. Because it was funny, and the music is great.

“It all pulls together with a kind of beauty to the romantic story — there was no doubt in my mind that if the Smith Center was going to gamble like you asked, that this was the show that we would gamble with. I’m the sole high-roller on this for the Smith Center. This was my baby. My entire career has come down to, ‘Would you like some fries with that show’? I happen to love potatoes, and we’ll salute that product opening night with fine wine and a French fries festival.

“Two weeks ago, my stomach was in knots because this is a huge undertaking, and the downside financially is daunting. The Smith Center took it all upon ourselves. Now, granted, we don’t have multi-million dollar sets. Andy Walmsley designed the sets for Broadway, but then he brought them down kind of to a smaller scale for the Smith Center stage. Our audiences will still get that experience.

“We got a great costume guy, but we didn’t build all the costumes. We’re buying them. Everything is from Las Vegas. It’s not just about the Smith Center. It’s about our city. We pared down the budget as much as we could with the goal that the box office would cover the cost. If all goes beautifully, we’ll do just that.

“Our city is growing up. We now have not only a world-class performing arts center, but also one that has been in the Top 10 in the Pollstar international ratings in the world. Now we have the opportunity to produce new product that will go out into the world. The Broadway community knows and loves the Smith Center and has a whole new appreciation for Las Vegas.

“The Smith Center is clearly one of the most important stops on any tour. Every show wants to come to the Smith Center. Now that we may in fact send a show the other direction, started here and send it to Broadway, sends yet another message to Broadway, and that’s that we take this business and this art very seriously and we expect that whatever we do is going to be done at the highest level possible.

“I think our friends who fly in from New York on opening night to see ‘Idaho!’ are not only going to be impressed with the facility and our show, but also with our city, which is now more than just the Entertainment Capital in the World. I think that people are going to start seeing it as the Arts and Entertainment Capital of the World.”

Actress-singer Jen Perry, who starred in “Mamma Mia” here during its two runs, is currently on a break from her role in “Kinky Boots” on Broadway to help launch “Idaho!” She told me:

“When I lived here, there was no Smith Center, so this venue is amazing. I saw ‘Cabaret’ the other night. There was nothing like this when I lived here. This venue didn’t exist when I lived here, so unless you were in a casino, which the theaters are very nice in a casino, but nothing like this.

“I couldn’t imagine starting a show or doing a pre-Broadway show in one of the casinos because I don’t think you were able to do it. I’m thrilled that The Smith Center is going to be hosting us, and we can really get a sense of can this go to Broadway? We can do a fully realized production in the big grand space and do the big choreographed numbers on its stage.

“It feels like a hit, smells like a hit, tastes like a hit it! It’s a great French fry. I have four songs in the show with this particular role I helped create. It’s very near and dear to my heart. When I read the script, I couldn’t get through it without laughing. I read the script, and it was hysterical. In rehearsals, we’ve been laughing and not been able to continue. Our director has been telling us to stop laughing while we are performing. It’s that funny.”

Nathaniel Hackman, who plays the lead role, grew up in Phoenix and often came here to Circus Circus with his family. Now he’s brought his wife and son to Las Vegas. He told me: “This city has exploded since I was here last time. It’s really fantastic. We have a great cast, and it’s packed with fun. It’s our irreverent but loving homage to Idaho and the potato.”

British set designer Andy Walmsley, who lives in Las Vegas, has built 20 musicals and was one of the youngest designers to ever work on Broadway.

“I actually did ‘Oklahoma’ back in London, so our set is blue skies, a panoramic country view and feel that is all painted on wooden planks so it feels like inside a barn. We fly in a potato moon, and people are already laughing at that as we have a little bit of fun with a western musical.

“This has been an 18-month project for me. We’re edgy, but there’s no cursing in this. The nearest is a line that says, ‘Dig the dirt till your testicles hurt” or “life can be such a ball if you just grew a pair.’ That’s Monty Python silly.”