Sunday, July 14, 2013 | 1:55 p.m.
Editor’s Note: While Robin Leach takes his traditional summer vacation under the Tuscan sun in Italy — plus, the Amalfi Coast this year — many of our Strip personalities have stepped forward in his absence to pen their own words of wisdom. We continue with Chippendales at The Rio and “The Amazing Race” handsome hunks James Davis and Jaymes Vaughan. Instead of writing about themselves, they selflessly decided to shine the spotlight on an unknown pint-sized powerhouse who they say should be the next big star in Las Vegas.
When we were given the opportunity to write this guest column, we were told that we could write about anything we wanted.
”Even feel free to tell us more about yourselves.” With a new single on the dance charts and a tour this summer, we thought, “What a great opportunity!”
Then we realized, if you’re a reader here, you’ve seen Mr. Leach’s wonderful support for our projects, so why waste this opportunity? Why not use it to shine the spotlight on someone who has never been featured here but should be.
Someone we call “The Best Voice in Las Vegas,” but someone who you might not have heard of yet. Someone who isn’t on billboards and magazine covers, but should be. Someone who doesn’t know we are writing this story about her. Someone who is so humble that she will probably say, “I don’t deserve this.”
Lily Arce should be one of the biggest names on the Strip, but she’s not. A proud Texan from a traditional Puerto Rican family, Arce came to Las Vegas with dreams of making it big. Within weeks of arriving in town in 2008, she found herself with multiple offers, and it looked like finding that starring role on the Strip wouldn’t be difficult at all.
Then the economy took a dive, and just as fast as this opportunities came, they disappeared. So what did Arce do? Give up and go back to Texas? Not a chance. She did what any real star would do. She swallowed her pride and took a job in construction.
Wait, what? Construction?!
Yes, the star of our story took a starring role as the stop sign holder on the midnight shift. That part of this story not only speaks to her humility, but also it was entirely too good to leave out.
Six months later in 2009, Entertainment Plus Productions owner and producer Doug Johnson needed a new lead vocalist for his Show in the Sky at The Rio. He picked Arce. “She a beautiful, small girl.” Arce stands a mere 5-foot-2, “but she has this incredibly huge voice.”
Show in the Sky dance captain Jennifer Roush couldn’t believe her ears the first time she heard Arce sing. “I thought they were playing a recording. I was blown away!”
Rio sound engineer Jeremy Fayne added. “I hear a lot of voices, but the minute she opened her mouth, I knew this girl was one of the best in Las Vegas. I don’t understand why she isn’t a huge star.”
We don’t, either.
Show in the Sky is now closed (the show, which opened in 1997, was a victim of casino cutbacks in March), but someone as talented and as Fayne put it “the nicest singer I’ve ever worked with” should be a star somewhere else by now.
Instead, she’s the understudy at a lot of “somewhere else’s”: Cirque du Soleil’s “O” at Bellagio, Luxor’s “Fantasy” and Dustree Productions’ “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” “The Sugar Dolls” and “The Jones.”
Why is she not the star? We asked around, but the only thing anyone could do was reiterate how great she is and then scratch their heads.
Dustree Productions owner and record producer Tanzer (Arce currently understudies three of his productions and also is featured on his current dance single “Tonight”) said: “She’s a powerhouse … probably the best in Vegas.”
We, too, are scratching our heads. And this story is our effort to do something about it.
Las Vegas producers, agents and casino executives looking for the next big thing: Here she is. Her name is Lily Arce, and she’s a star.
Check back Monday when our guest columnists are the sexy “Peepshow” at Planet Hollywood cast members Coco Austin, Cheaza, Josh Strickland and Zoeth Cardenales. Later in the week, chef Akira Back’s new Asian masterpiece at Mandalay Bay, Luxor headliners Jabbawockeez, hair guru Michael Boychuck and an entertainment council opinion from Maren Wade.
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.
Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.
Follow VDLX Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.
Carnival lasts all year at the Rio. With a float occasionally passing overhead and dropping beads while feathered dancers fire up the gamblers below, the Rio tries to keep its 120,000-square foot casino jumping with excitement. Special Brazilian mixed-drinks are also served throughout the casino. The hotel suites tend to be larger than similar priced rooms on the Strip and many offer excellent views with floor to ceiling windows.
The Rio offers some quality shows like "Penn & Teller" and "Chippendales." Many come to the Rio for the nightlife at the VooDoo Lounge, located on the 51st floor, or McFadden's Irish Pub on the casino level.
Others come for a bit relaxation at the Rio Spa or pool area and still others come to shop at the hotel's 60,000 square feet of shops. In each of these endeavors, the Rio attempts to make the experience a bit more fun and spontaneous.
The Rio also offers guests a variety of dining choices from all-American food at the All-American Bar & Grille to Gaylord India Restaurant for something a little spicier and even Carnival World Buffet for the indecisive.