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December 18, 2014

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Tara Palsha’s teary departure; SLS finds fast friend in Monorail; ‘MDQ,’ ‘Jersey Boys’ represent on tavern scene

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L.E. Baskow

Principal dancer Tara Palsha reacts to a pending kiss by a Wayne Newton character played by Josh Strickland while performing with the cast during her final night in “Vegas! The Show” on Friday, July 25, 2014, at Planet Hollywood.

Kats With the Dish

Tara Palsha

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John Katsilometes talks to Tara Palsha, formerly the principal dancer of "Vegas! The Show."

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Las Vegas Monorail 10th anniversary

The Kats Report Bureau at this writing is our favorite terrace at the home office, where the wind is picking up and the fragrance of a fast-advancing thunderstorm is in the air.

Should it fall as expected, the rain will close a particularly active weekend around VegasVille. Let’s take it away:

Dancer Tara Palsha of Vegas! The Show

Choreographer Tiger Martina works hard to not cry while saying wonderful things about principal dancer Tara Palsha ending her final night's performance in Launch slideshow »

• Tara Palsha cried her way through her final performance at “Vegas! The Show” on Friday night. Palsha is leaving this week for New York to start a new life with her fiance, model Scott Moats, and to take a shot at performing on and Off Broadway. The audience was peppered with many of the friends, in and out of the local entertainment industry, Palsha had made in her 11 years in town.

The redheaded siren started in “Jubilee!,” and something she mentioned as she made her decision to leave Las Vegas is that she is the rare dancer in that production at Bally’s who failed to meet the show’s height requirement. Palsha is actually 5-feet-7 3/4 tall, or a quarter-inch under that show’s required height of 5-feet-8.

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The mix media illustration by the artist Mistinguett, presented to Tara Palsha on the night of her last night in "Vegas! The Show" at Planet Hollywood's Miracle Mile Shops on Friday, July 25, 2014

At Palsha’s post-show party Friday, she was presented a painting commissioned by the cast and created by Las Vegas artist Mistinguett. The image is the classic moment in the show where Palsha bursts onstage in her green dress at the start of “Luck Be a Lady.” Director and choreographer Tiger Martina probably best conveyed the feelings of that show’s cast and Palsha’s many friends in town. He did that by stammering through his unscripted comments from the stage: “People who are here as just the part of the regular audience, you have no idea how blessed we are to have worked with Tara. She is so, so special.”

Standing at the side, Palsha held a bouquet of roses — red, of course — and just cried. The show will go on, of course, but Palsha leaves after having uniquely touched the Las Vegas entertainment community.

• As one of the forgotten 3 percent of Las Vegas residents who do ride the Las Vegas Monorail, I applauded the rail’s 10th birthday Sunday. At the 10-year mark, the Monorail has shown value in some specific instances — traveling from the north end of the Strip to MGM Grand, for example. Or to the Linq and the Caesars Entertainment properties connected to the Linq. Someday the master plan of the Monorail extending to McCarran International Airport, and also to UNLV, and also to Downtown Las Vegas, needs to be enacted for locals to truly understand (if not embrace) the rail’s value.

As it is, many Las Vegas residents don’t realize that they are offered a $1 single-ride ticket (instead of the usual $5 per-ride fee) if they purchase those tickets at any of the Monorail’s customer-service offices from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. You need to present a valid Nevada ID, but this can happen, and it is a significant discount for those who want to, say, board at the Westgate station and hop off at MGM Grand. I’ve been saying for years that this method is a great time-saver for events at Grand Garden Arena.

Also, the team at SLS is looking forward to investigating the best way to promote the line after that hotel opens Aug. 23. The nightlife crew, in particular, is very interested in informing tourists along the Strip that they can be dropped off right at that hotel. I would expect hotel officials to lobby for extended hours (if they have not already), as the Monorail shuts down from 3 to 7 a.m. Fridays through Sundays (and at 2 a.m. on weekdays; midnight on Mondays). For some of us, 3 a.m. is sometimes just the peak of the party.

• The scene blew up, four times over, on Saturday night. First it was a Strat double-dip with Frankie Moreno (damn, dude, save some for next time) and Sabina Kelley’s guest appearance in “Pin Up” (which we will write about subsequent to this column, but she delivers an expected dynamic performance). Then it was off to the Sand Dollar on Spring Mountain and Polaris and finally Don’t Tell Mama downtown.

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Rob Lyons of "Million Dollar Quartet" and his backing band perform from Lyons' new CD, "When it Haunts You," at the Sand Dollar on Saturday, July 26, 2014.

At Sand Dollar, the relentlessly groovy Rob Lyons took the place apart (metaphorically speaking) by performing his new CD, “When It Haunts You.” This release is something of a departure from Lyons’ work as Carl Perkins in “Million Dollar Quartet” at Harrah’s. It reminds me a lot of the rocking Jack White-fronted band The Raconteurs from the mid-to-late 2000s. Lyons was backed by drummer Mark Ferratt and bassist Josh Jones, both from “MDQ.” As someone standing next to me said late in the set, as Lyons belted into the mic and shredded his cherry-red Gibson, “He is the real deal.”

The person saying that also was a real sort of deal, Graham Fenton, who toggles the Frankie Valli role with Travis Cloer in “Jersey Boys” at Paris Las Vegas. We collectively took a segment of the party to Don’t Tell Mama, where pianist/singer Kenny Davidsen, the vocalist Amanda Avila (she of the MGM Grand Garden/Excalibur Lounge doubleheader from a couple weekends ago) and bassist/guitarist Dennis Blair (also known as George Carlin’s opening act for a couple of decades) were heading up a going-away party for the great Las Vegas trumpet player Joey Pero.

And why Pero is leaving town also is something to be specified later, but it’s a pretty wonderful opportunity. After a bit of chiding, Fenton took the stage and called out “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” as the crowd, which stuffed the club to the point where you almost couldn’t move, performed the horn solos.

Fenton finally took off shortly after performing that song. It was 2:30 a.m. Maybe he had a Monorail to catch.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.

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