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July 31, 2014

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Photos: Holly Madison in fine form in her return to stage with ‘Million Dollar Quartet’ at Harrah’s

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Steve Marcus

Holly Madison performs with Justin Shandor during a guest performance in “Million Dollar Quartet” at Harrah’s on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013. Shandor performs as Elvis Presley in the show.

Holly Madison in ‘Million Dollar Quartet’

Holly Madison poses after a guest performance in Launch slideshow »

Holly Madison’s friends and fans had waited about a year for her return to the stage. They were kept waiting a little longer as she sashayed onstage to join the cast of “Million Dollar Quartet” for a duet with Justin Shandor, who plays Elvis in the production at Harrah’s Showroom.

The song chosen by Madison and her manager, Jason Verona, was “The Lady Loves Me” from “Viva Las Vegas.” This is the famous scene in which Ann-Margret toys with a guitar-strumming Elvis as they walk around the pool at the Flamingo. Shandor as Elvis took the first verse, which is rather lengthy, as Madison (wearing a snug, yellow, Bettie Page-designed dress made specifically for her appearance) grinned, gazed flirtatiously around the room and batted her eyes.

When she finally leapt in with “the gentleman has savoir faire, as much as an elephant, or a bear,” Madison showed the impressive results of the singing lessons she has continued long after she left “Peepshow” at Planet Hollywood a year and a month ago. She was strong, on key and clearly confident.

“I felt great,” she said afterward. “It’s hard to know how you sound to the audience. I just let it go and let it happen.”

Madison began taking vocal lessons in June 2010 from Joann Zajac of Zajac Studios in Anthem. The short-range goal was to sing the “Teddy” scene in “Peepshow,” but Madison’s ideas are more grandiose today. By the spring of 2014, she plans to co-produce her own burlesque-themed show in a venue to be determined, with a production partner also to be determined, in a Strip showroom or theater. Madison plans to appear in the production, too, and has been checking out production shows to gauge the quality of the entertainment being staged in town.

As for Wednesday night’s three-minute burst, her appearance was several weeks in the making and required a little more than an hour’s worth of rehearsal time. The band learned the number, which is not in the show and not quite a rock ’n’ roll song (guitarist Rob Lyons, who plays Carl Perkins and is an original cast member of the production, likened it to learning a jazz piece). The showroom was filled, and the audience gave Madison a healthy cheer at the end.

Also wearing smiles were Caesars Entertainment execs Kurt Melien and Jason Gastwirth, as was Base Entertainment co-CEO Scott Zeiger, who stopped in to check on the show’s latest in a series of guest-star appearances. Taylor Hicks, Veronic DiCaire and Frankie Moreno have all joined the show at the end of the show-closing fantasy concert by Jerry Lee Lewis (Martin Kaye), Perkins, Elvis, Johnny Cash (Ben Hale) and the lone female in the studio for that event, Dyanne (Felice Garcia).

It all came off well, as Madison proved again that she is up for most any challenge. It was an apt way to set the stage for bigger plans in ’14.

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

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