Thursday, July 24, 2014 | 9:49 a.m.
We have already drawn the comparison between the November 2001 USO benefit show “Las Vegas Salutes the Spirit of America” at Mandalay Bay and the upcoming “Nevada Sesquicentennial All-Star Concert” set for Sept. 22 at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts.
Both shows were/are brimming with top names in Las Vegas entertainment from that period. Also similar to the USO production from ’01, the Nevada 150th show is one to be remembered, not recorded. If you are hoping for a video release or broadcast of the event, you are out of luck.
“There are no plans to do video, not at the moment,” Smith Center President Myron Martin said Tuesday afternoon after the press conference and performance announcing “Georgia On My Mind,” the tribute to Ray Charles at the Venetian featuring Cabaret Jazz headliner Clint Holmes. “When you try to record a show like this, everything gets more complicated. Rights, union, all those things are involved.”
Martin helped produce that original 2001 show at Mandalay Bay Event Center. The thought at the time was to market and distribute a video version of the show, which ran for four hours and featured such stars as Wayne Newton, Clint Holmes, Earl Turner, The Scintas, Lance Burton, The Amazing Johnathan, Siegfried & Roy, Robert Goulet, Carrot Top, Rich Little, Bill Acosta and Bob Anderson. But that never came about, as crisscrossing interests clipped the process before the show was ever edited.
"I have a box full of videos from the USO show, from every camera, with the idea that it would be turned into a TV show,” Smith said. “It never happened.”
Thus far, the Nevada 150th event has snared an impressive lineup. Acts, individuals and productions to be represented include Las Vegas entertainment legend Jerry Lewis, Cirque du Soleil, “Jubilee,” “Jersey Boys,” “Million Dollar Quartet,” Penn & Teller, Human Nature, Clint Holmes, Frankie Moreno, Bob Anderson, Susan Anton, Antonio Fargas and Mark Shunock of “Rock of Ages.”
It’s a fine start, no question, with more to come.
“We have a great show, right now, even with no other names added,” Martin said. “There are a handful of big names that we’re still kind of hoping for, but they haven’t been able to confirm yet. We’re still pretty far out from the show date. In the next couple of weeks, as the time horizon gets shorter, people will say, ‘Yeah, I want to do it.’ “
Some performers have just learned of the show and have contacted Martin seeking a spot in the program. He is not taking all comers, hoping not to repeat the length of the USO show and its four-hour spectacle. Martin wants the best of the best, but not everyone can be involved simply because of scheduling. Don’t count on in-person appearances from any of the Colosseum superstar headliners, for instance.
The production is among a handful of “signature” events recognized by the State of Nevada in its yearlong effort to trumpet the state’s rich cultural legacy. And this show at the Smith Center is so rare, it happens maybe once a decade. It will live on only in Las Vegas lore.
“I see it as one glorious night, one experience,” Martin said. “And if you’re there, you’ll get to be a part of it.