Las Vegas Sun

April 25, 2019

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John Katsilometes on how ‘Love’ director Dominic Champagne was able to come up with a true Lady Madonna in the person of Natasha Jean-Bart

While seeking someone to portray Lady Madonna in "Love" at the Mirage, director Dominic Champagne encountered a dancer remarkably similar to the song's subject.

The song, a Paul McCartney gem, could have been written about Natasha Jean-Bart.

During a conversation Tuesday at the Love Theatre, Jean-Bart mentioned her 18-year-old son. Strange, since she looks just 25. "I'm 35, but yes, I do look a lot younger," said Jean-Burt, who has long been familiar with "Lady Madonna's" story of a young mother struggling to make ends meet, and who performs the song while wearing a costume to make her appear pregnant.

"I heard the song when I was young, but I never thought I'd dance to it," said Jean-Bart, who actually has three children - including daughters ages 16 and 12. "I could relate to it - I was a young mother in Montreal, the dad was not around and when it came time to cast for the show, they learned about my background. I sent the demo, and Dominic said, 'We think we might have the actual Lady Madonna.' "

Champagne asked Jean-Bart to "think like Lady Madonna - like this is your kid." For a dancer who grew up listening to rap, hip-hop, James Brown, Sly Stone and Michael Jackson, performing onstage in maternity pajamas "is really different. Sometimes I pull the costume back so everyone can see my belly."

Jean-Bart's is not the only diamond-in-the-rough story in "Love," which holds its opening gala Friday night. A year ago Brazilian actor Fabio Esposito De Castro was not nearly comfortable enough with English to use it in a performance. But he is the character who speaks the most, reciting a comedic spoken-word version of "Blackbird" amid performers dressed as blackbirds struggling to fly.

"It's very scary because you have to stay true to the song. You cannot come off the lyrics, but it has to be done in a funny way, and there is no music being used," De Castro said. "I had to start to use English more, I had to speak in English to become comfortable in the part.

"I practiced many dialects - Latin, even Texan - before they told me to use no accent."

De Castro, a well-known actor in Brazil who lives in Sao Paulo, was asked about his distinctive first name and if he had ever met the other Fabio.

De Castro blanked at the mention. "I'm sorry," he said. "I have never heard of him." After a brief description of the blond romantic figure, he said, "In Brazil, we don't know him."


Don't you know it's gonna be : Under construction at the Mirage (as evidenced by giant crimson paneling in a walkway near the Love Theatre) is the Revolution Lounge, a Beatles-themed hangout that should be finished by the end of the year

Welcome Wagon alert: A couple of real estate transactions worth noting: Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White and his wife, Anne Louise White, have purchased a 5,966-square-foot house priced at $2 million from what is listed as the Frank J. Fertitta III and Jill Ann Fertitta Family Trust. Frank and his brother, Lorenzo Fertitta, own Station Casinos and the UFC. (Dana White is also a partner in the UFC.) The White house (ahem) is in the Spanish Hills development, off Tropicana Avenue, west of Durango Drive.

In Summerlin, one-time adult club kingpin and G-Sting figure Michael Galardi has purchased a 5,819-square-foot house overlooking the Tournament Players Club at Summerlin. Galardi paid $2.4 million for the home, and the listed seller is Amen Wardy, who owned the two now-defunct Amen Wardy home stores in Las Vegas.

That $2.4 million price is quite a come-down from the $14 million that Galardi's previous home commanded in February. That home was a 35,000-square-foot fortress with 10 bathrooms, a 15-car garage, indoor basketball and racquetball courts, a full workout center and a 1,600-gallon salt-water aquarium ...

Klondike's last hurrah: I spoke with the eminent John Woodrum on Wednesday, who reports that the final hands of blackjack and final spin of the roulette wheel at the Klondike Hotel took place about 4 a.m. Wednesday. The machines were shut down around 6 a.m.

"We didn't have to throw anyone off the tables," said Woodrum, who for 30 years owned the old hotel just east of the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign on Las Vegas Boulevard South. "It's an emotional day, a passing of an era."

Rising property taxes and imposing competition from Strip resorts forced Woodrum to sell the Klondike to Royal Palm Las Vegas, a subsidiary of Royal Palm Communities of Boca Raton, Fla., which is planning a $1 billion, 25-story hotel condominium/casino project on the site. Klondike's hotel and restaurant close Friday

Ivana Nother High Rise: Her Las Vegas high-rise development hopes dashed, Ivana Trump has plans for a project called La Residences of Ivana Trump in the hot (hot! we tell you) vacation destination of Beirut, Lebanon. She signed that deal this week.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump is still looking for the ideal date to announce the start of sales for his Trump International Tower II project on the Strip across from Wynn Las Vegas; the latest plans are for a mid- or late-summer announcement. And as already noted, expect Trump's seventh season of "The Apprentice" to be set in Las Vegas next year (the show will spend 16 weeks shooting in town). And Trump is said to be in favor of placing the winner of the sixth season of "The Apprentice," being taped in Los Angeles, into a position at Trump International in Las Vegas

Hart procedure: This guy always draws a crowd: Motocross star (and husband of Pink) Carey Hart will unveil the new line of Fox eyewear from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. today at Carter Powersports, 3535 W. Tropicana Ave. Hart will sign autographs, a rare occasion for the multitattooed entrepreneur in that he is applying ink to something rather than vice versa

No mo' keno: The 50th and final keno tournament at Stardust, which drew 180 melancholy contestants, drew to a close Wednesday afternoon. The Stardust is closing in October, and the hotel's loyal keno players, many of whom have played regularly for more than 20 years, are said to be quite distraught

Too ornery: A plate hawk reports a sighting while driving north on Rancho Drive: a Ford Expedition with 2 ONREE.