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September 19, 2017

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Notes: Leigh Zimmerman triumphs in ‘A Chorus Line’; an only-in-Vegas day for Clint Holmes; Brody Dolyniuk is returning



Leigh Zimmerman in the West End production of “A Chorus Line.”

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Leigh Zimmerman stars as Velma Kelly in Chicago.

It's been a long few days, scenesters. Following is a raking for the taking:

• Even in “A Chorus Line,” she is a standout.

One of the great Las Vegas performers not performing in Las Vegas at the moment won a prestigious award in London on Sunday. Leigh Zimmerman captured an Olivier Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical for her performance as Sheila in the new version of that very musical on London’s West End.

Zimmerman is best known in the city for her portrayal of Ulla in “The Producers” at Paris Las Vegas. She also has played Velma Kelly in “Chicago” in London and on tour.

The Olivier Awards honor the best of British theater, dance and opera. Zimmerman and her husband, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Domenick Allen, are two of the more highly regarded performers in Vegas. Their daughter, Cayleigh, is a stunning singer already at age 13. I was reminded over the weekend that Kayleigh made her stage debut five years ago during a Las Vegas Tenors show at the Las Vegas Hilton. So she is already something of a stage vet, and word is that for her birthday, she asked her parents for an agent.

For now, the A-to-Z (Allen-to-Zimmerman) crew is riding the successful run of “A Chorus Line” while living in London. Zimmerman has posted a note on her Facebook page that reads, in part, “To share last night with my husband and daughter, who truly are my deepest loves and inspiration every day, and to share it with the unbelievable cast of ‘A Chorus Line,’ who are the most pure and talented individuals EVER, was a dream come true.”

Beautifully put. There is no more deserving of a performer, or person, for this award than Zimmerman.

• As I have mentioned in a previous column and to everyone I’ve spoken to directly or via text in the past 48 hours, Sunday’s second performance of “Frank & Friends” at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts was terrific. Those who have seen Clint Holmes perform innumerable times over the years came away saying they have never seen him in better form as he sang and joked with Frank Wildhorn and Jane Monheit.

Watching Holmes and Monheit swap turns on the stage was like watching two tennis players firing aces. They were clearly excited to be onstage, and at one point Wildhorn said the night was “better than fantasy.”

No doubt, this is one of the great recurring shows at Cabaret Jazz, and a film crew was in the room to record for a possible special on PBS during its next pledge drive. Earlier this month, Holmes recorded for the first live CD to emanate from The Smith Center.

Holmes was gassed by the end of the night, understandably. He had finished one of his frequent “Only in Vegas” days. His favorite was the afternoon in the fall of 2008 when he met then-presidential candidate Barack Obama at a rally at Cashman Field, then immediately hustled off to sing at an event at a local car dealership.

On Sunday, Holmes first hosted “Best in Show,” tiptoeing around doggie doo at The Orleans Arena while introducing more than 50 shelter dogs. Then he raced off to appear with Wildhorn and Monheit at Cabaret Jazz.

This sprint between dissimilar events sprung to mind as Holmes finished an eruptive rendition of “The Mad Hatter.” As the crowd rose for a standing ovation, I turned to Holmes wife, Kelly Clinton-Holmes, and said, “And to think, just six hours ago this man was peddling poodles.”

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"The Symphonic Rock Show," featuring Brody Dolyniuk, a band and 25 orchestral musicians, at Reynolds Hall in the Smith Center for the Performing Arts on Friday, Aug. 24, 2012.

• It’s been a long time since we rocked and rolled at The Smith Center, and it also has been a long time since we walked in the moonlight …

That said, Brody Dolyniuk’s “Symphonic Rock Show” has a locked-in date for its return here: Sept. 6. Tickets are on sale May 3.

This show is something special, as Dolyniuk hits the stage with his former band mates from Yellow Brick Road and a full orchestra directed by Lon Bronson. Dolyniuk promises new material for this show, which sold out Reynolds Hall last September. For those who appreciate full-orchestra takes of “Kashmir,” “Tom Sawyer” and “I Am the Walrus,” The Smith Center beckons.

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Sir Michael Caine and his wife, Shakira, attend the 2013 Keep Memory Alive "Power of Love" Gala celebrating the joint 80th birthdays of Quincy Jones and Caine at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday, April 13, 2013.

• Some catch-up work from the Keep Memory Alive "Power of Love" gala at MGM Grand Garden Arena. The event on April 13 amassed $11 million in donations for operating costs at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, and that does not include the $5 million contributed by the NFL to the clinic’s concussion-studies program.

Also, I received a heads-up after the event that the Las Vegas wedding chapel where Sir Michael and Shakira Caine were married in 1973 has been moved to Clark County Museum on South Boulder Highway in Henderson. It was called the Candlelight Wedding Chapel and formerly stood next to the Riviera and across from Circus Circus on the Strip. The chapel is still a popular exhibit at the museum, and also a popular topic of discussion for Caine, who retold the story for Larry King and again at MGM Grand on his recent visit to VegasVille.

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Rehearsal for "Pin Up" starring Claire Sinclair at Stratosphere on Monday, Feb. 25, 2013.

• Nearly two months after its preview opening, “Pin Up” holds its media night/red carpet event/VIP show this evening at the Stratosphere. In the show’s evolution, a new singer — Anne Martinez — has taken over as the show’s center vocalist and is expected to perform tonight. A couple of scenes are to be added, and the lengthy segment near the top of the show that introduces star Claire Sinclair in a rolling video apparatus is being halved.

Also, as the show has morphed and grown, a pipeline has formed between this show and “Vegas! The Show” at Saxe Theater. This is an entirely one-way pipeline: Four of the five dancers currently cast in “Pin Up,” including dance captain Sarah Short and the lone male dancer, Ryan Kelsey, have migrated from the dazzling David Saxe production to the calendar-flipping dancefest at the Strat.

And for anyone interested in how or if the relationship between Frankie Moreno and “Pin Up” has been mended since Moreno was absent from the show’s March 2 preview opening … don’t count on Moreno being at the VIP show tonight. I would not bet good money on him being in the theater. Unless someone (Dr. Phil?) can orchestrate an intensive and binding counseling session at the hotel, these two shows are going to have to succeed independent of each other.

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