Really Useful Group
Monday, Jan. 21, 2013 | 6:02 p.m.
Love Never Dies
Rao’s in Caesars Palace
As the longest-running show in Broadway history and the first to celebrate 25 years, Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera” has amassed numerous awards and achievements, but tonight for leading lady Sierra Boggess, it’s extra special.
The former star of The Venetian’s now-closed “Phantom -- the Las Vegas Spectacular,” Sierra joins the cast for a six-week run through March 2 and will be there Saturday for a special gala. Sierra originated the role of Christine Daae here in 2006, and director Hal Prince and Andrew chose her for this gala week.
The Denver-born actress also played Christine for the London production’s 25th anniversary in October 2011 and won a 2011 Olivier Award for her run in “Love Never Dies,” the “Phantom” sequel.
SIZZLING SCANDALS: The new Grace Robbins book “Cinderella & the Carpetbagger” is so hot, you’ll have to be careful not to burn yourself reading it. The racy, salacious book doesn’t launch until April with a party at “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Lisa Vanderpump’s new Sur Lounge, but Grace, who lived here for years, sent me an advance copy. It’s scandalous, and she holds nothing back in the tale of her life as the wife of the world’s bestselling author, Harold Robbins.
He penned more than 25 bestsellers, many with graphic sexuality, and sold more than 750 million copies in 32 languages. Hit titles include “The Dream Merchants,” “A Stone for Danny Fisher,” which became the film “King Creole” starring Elvis Presley, and “The Carpetbaggers,” which was loosely based on billionaire Howard Hughes. In all, 10 became films and TV movies.
Their outrageous lifestyle was a standout of my old TV show and filled with sex, sensations and scandal. He told me that he’d earned and spent $50 million when I interviewed him on camera. Theirs was the jet-set life of the 1970s and ’80s with orgies, drugs and celebrities. Grace, who married Harold here, stayed with him for 30 years until their divorce, when he wed his nurse before his death at 81 in 1997. The couple also had homes in Acapulco and the South of France.
HUGGIES MOM: Congratulations to former Las Vegas celebrity impersonator Lisa Cash Hanson, who launches her SnuggWugg product in April thanks to winning a grant from Huggies. Lisa hung up her rhinestones and Shania Twain impersonations after the birth of her first girl Matilda. She created the interactive diaper-changing pillow to make the chores a thing of the past.
A.J.’S NEW SHOW: Macabre magician The Amazing Johnathan has a new video podcast “A.J.’s Burn Unit” produced by Hook Jaw Net Radio. It will be taped in the legendary Las Vegas Club Downtown with a studio audience. The first episode produced and directed by Robert Blasi from the network’s flagship “On Air With Robert & C.C.” show starts tonight. Johnathan recently left his comedy-magic residency at Bally’s.
SUPERNATURAL SIN: It was only a matter of time following the success of “Ghost Adventurers” on television that we’d get the adventures live. Ghost hunters Robert George Allen and Janice Oberding will present a three-day paranormal conference at Palace Station in May. In addition to a Goodsprings Ghost Hunt, they promise a seance in Liberace’s former dressing room. Details: TheLasVegasParanormalConference.com.
COUNTRY WESTERN MAGIC: Tropicana headliner magician Murray Sawchuck proved so popular with viewers and the hosts of Hallmark’s “Home & Family” that he’ll return Tuesday. It’s Western Week, so Murray will perform three themed tricks, one of which he’ll teach hosts Cristina Ferrare and Mark Steines and at-home viewers. This week, Murray packs up his props for a three-week hiatus during which he’ll sail from Miami on a cruise tour and then return to the Trop on March 18.
DOWNTOWN RAACK: Angela Sampras, creator and producer of the new topless revue “Raack N’ Roll,” has confirmed my earlier rumor that it will open in the D hotel’s new showroom Feb. 1. “It’s one of the most provocative shows we’ve ever produced. Sexy showgirls dressed as everything from naughty nurses to tantalizing teachers mixing sex appeal, comedy and rock and roll,” she said. Comedy impressionist Robert Nash is the MC.
CHARITY STARS: Celine Dion’s performance to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation raised $1 million at The Colosseum in Caesars Palace, and photographer Denise Truscello was there Sunday for her remarkable shots.
Radio listeners have an opportunity to support Nevada Public Radio while enjoying “Soul2Soul” shows by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill at The Venetian on Feb. 1 and 2. Ticket prices have been reduced for the three shows, and 100 percent of the purchase price benefits NPR.
‘JUBILEE!’ REUNION: Last summer on my annual August visit to Del Mar Racetrack in Southern California, I discovered a secret about my longtime friends “Live Raw” cookbook author Mimi Kirk and horse aficionado Don Terwilleger. More than 30 years ago, they danced in the first year of “Jubilee!” at Bally’s and had never been back in all that time to see the show.
It took some planning, but thanks to Kelly Frey at Caesars Entertainment, we got them here this past weekend to see the spectacular for the first time in three decades. They were surprised with showgirls for an official photo and were moved watching the Titanic and Samson and Delilah scenes.
“We were in those all those years ago. The costumes are all-new, bigger, more colorful and the music more modern, but the story is the same and still holds up after all that time,” Don told me. “It was the emotional highlight of our first weekend to the Strip in 20 years, too.”
Coincidentally today, Donn Arden’s “Jubilee!” held auditions for singers and dancers for the show that celebrates its 32nd anniversary this summer as the longest-running show on The Strip.
FAMILY TRADITIONS: Italian cooking using family traditions seems to make great meals even greater. Rao’s in Caesars released today the third episode of its video series. This time, Rao’s New York chef Dino Gatto presents the restaurant’s penne vodka, and his cooking proves fun in the kitchen with the flavors of the Italian delight.
Brad Garrett headlines at his comedy club in MGM Grand for one week with Kathy Buckley and Drew Thomas.
Comedienne Kathleen Dunbar headlines for one week at Sin City Comedy in Planet Hollywood.
And Lil Jon spins the wheels of steel at XS in Steve Wynn’s Encore.
The Year of the Snake is about to strike, and the beautiful Bellagio Conservatory & Gardens has turned itself out in glory and splendor for Chinese New Year. Plus, Siegfried & Roy’s dolphins at The Mirage can now help people become painters.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
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Follow VDLX Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.