Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 | 3:28 p.m.
Our Smith Center for the Performing Arts has become the country’s second performing arts center to join the Disney Musicals in Schools project, and Josh Strickland (“Vegas! The Show”) greeted 200 students, who will benefit from Disney’s $100,000 grant, from Elaine Wynn Elementary, Will Beckley Elementary, C.P. Squires Elementary, Clyde C. Cox Elementary, Walter Bracken Steam Academy and Paradise Professional Development at Reynolds Hall in Smith Center on Tuesday.
Each school performed a number from a play they produced for their community and school. Disney Musicals in Schools is an outreach initiative that creates sustainable theater programs in elementary schools.
With the grant, Smith Center hired teaching artists to place in schools to direct and produce a musical and teach administrators to create a continuing theater program. The schools also were supplied Disney licensing and show kits at no cost to the school.
Disney Musicals in Schools was launched in response to Disney Theatrical Group’s concern that low-income students in urban public schools were not afforded equitable access to the arts. After successfully offering the program in New York City schools, DTG began partnering with groups in other communities.
The Smith Center marks the second performing arts partnership after a successful launch at Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Nashville.
L.V. NIGHTCLUB WINNERS: Jon Taffer’s Nightclub & Bar Media Group has announced its 2014 winners, and once again Las Vegas winners are in a separate category so that operators outside Las Vegas aren’t dominated by our Strip juggernauts.
Our Las Vegas winners: Dayclub of the Year, Encore Beach Club (finalists: Daylight and Wet Republic); Lounge of the Year, Ghostbar (finalists: Fireside Lounge and Parasol Up & Down); New Concept of the Year, Light (finalists: Hakkasan and Sapphire Pool); and Nightclub of the Year, Hakkasan (finalists: Light and XS).
Also: Promo, Party or Event of the Year, Summer Lovin’ With Kaskade at Marquee (finalists: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Wednesday at Surrender and Night Swim at XS); DJ of the Year, Diplo, XS/Surrender (finalists: Calvin Harris, Hakkasan, and Major Lazer, 1OAK); Restaurant Bar of the Year, Herbs & Rye (finalists: Tao and Yellowtail; and Cocktail Bar of the Year, Laundry Room at Commonwealth (The Chandelier and Vesper).
“This is no beauty contest selected merely on aesthetics,” said Jon, president of Nightclub & Bar Media Group and host and executive producer of Spike TV's “Bar Rescue.” “Receiving this award means the recipient has demonstrated the skill and innovation needed to succeed and excel in this highly competitive business.”
After receiving hundreds of nominations, the winners are being recognized as 2014’s best and brightest. They will be celebrated during the 2014 Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show here March 24-26, with the keynote by comedian Adam Carolla. Outside Las Vegas, clubs in San Diego had more wins than any other city.
NEW POOLCLUB ATTRACTION: Wet Republic at MGM Grand will unveil its new features as part of the second phase of its two-year remodel and grand-opening weekend in April. The first phase of the remodel debuted in 2013 and included a renovated and expanded DJ booth, an upgraded LED display, an expanded bar and new furniture. This season, the dayclub has added 1,500 square feet of space and six new VIP bungalows with plush furniture, TVs and misting fans and private plunge pools.
Wet Republic welcomes Dutch duo Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano along with turntable pair W&W as they make their Wet Republic debut Saturday, March 29, and Sunday, March 30. Grand-opening weekend events Friday, April 4, through Sunday, April 6, include DJ sets by Calvin Harris, Dada Life and more.
WICKED WHISPERS & RACY RUMORS
Even here in the Caribbean, I can’t escape juicy dish. My British friends on Jumby Bay tell me that plans are afoot for the top three U.K. soccer teams to play pre-season tournament games in America this summer, with not only a stop in Las Vegas, but also some vacation time on the Strip. Expect to see soccer studs of Manchester United and cross-town rival Manchester City and the nearby, competitive Liverpool team.
FINALLY OLIVIA: Although I’m out of town, I was so happy that my exclusive stories about Olivia Newton-John’s new residency at the Flamingo proved true when hotel execs finally confirmed the deal Tuesday morning. Tickets go on sale Friday. Olivia had to delay setting the final dates twice during the past 12 months, first because of her sister Rona’s losing battle with cancer, and then Olivia flew to Australia to open her own cancer care hospital.
The “Physical” pop queen was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992, beat the disease and raised nearly $200 million in 10 years to open her clinic. I’m happy for her that she’s now able to move forward with the concerts; a portion of every ticket sold will go to her cancer wellness center. Olivia will sing her hits backed by an eight-piece band, and again I fearlessly tip that her “Grease” and “Twist of Fate” co-star and good friend John Travolta will attend one of the opening week shows. Her premiere is April 8, and she has additional dates when Donny & Marie Osmond are away in May, July and August.
Robin Leach and Liberace
IN REMEMBRANCE: It’s still difficult to believe that the all-time top Las Vegas entertainer, the flamboyant showman Liberace, died 27 years ago today. I will never forget my early “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” interview with him at his Las Vegas home.
Work is still moving forward on the Broadway and West End musical of his amazing life story. The fascination of his life, talents and showmanship continue.
NEW STRIP CHEF: A warm Las Vegas return welcome to former Caesars Palace chef Chris Keating, who has landed back here after a stint at Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill at the Atlantis in the Bahamas. The North Carolina native is joining TV celebrity chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken at their Border Grill in Mandalay Bay and planning the second one at the Forum Shops in Caesars this spring.
The Las Vegas Wranglers and Colorado Eagles battle at Orleans Arena.
DJ Axwell is at Light in Mandalay Bay.
DJ TJR is at Surrender in Steve Wynn’s Encore.
And in Miami en route home, I will join former Las Vegas chef darling Carla Pellegrino for the opening night of her new restaurant Touche in the nightclub Eleven in South Beach.
I tour the new Rose. Rabbit. Lie. at the Cosmopolitan and marvel at the food and a female magician who strips down to her birthday suit and mysteriously vanishes many red scarves in a miracle of deception.
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.
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MGM Grand, a AAA Four Diamond resort, offers 5,044 rooms and suites.
MGM Grand features KÀ by Cirque du Soleil; Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club; and world-class entertainment at the Grand Garden Arena and Hollywood Theatre.
The resort offers signature restaurants by celebrity chefs including Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak, Emeril Lagasse’s New Orleans Fish House, Wolfgang Puck’s Bar & Grill and Michelin three star and Forbes Five Star restaurant, Joël Robuchon.
As part of its ongoing “Grand Renovation,” MGM Grand has remodeled all rooms and suites in its main tower and is adding several new experiences to its lineup including Hakkasan Las Vegas Restaurant and Nightclub, a new upscale dining/nightlife concept (coming in April 2013).
MGM Grand also features a state-of-the-art, non-smoking conference center, the Grand Spa, Cristophe Salon, "CSI: The Experience" and an inviting pool complex featuring the tantalizing daylife of Wet Republic.
Upscale accommodations include The Mansion, an exclusive hotel within the hotel; the luxurious two-story SKYLOFTS at MGM Grand; and The Signature at MGM Grand, a luxury all-suite, non-gaming hotel located adjacent to the main resort.