Las Vegas Sun

February 16, 2019

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Fabulous Las Vegas

Early in "Spamalot" the fine trumpet player Gary Cordell is shot as he plays the familiar "Call to the Post" from the orchestra pit. The tune falls comically off-key as Cordell ostensibly expires.

But Cordell is not playing a traditional trumpet. He's blowing into a custom-fashioned Spamahorn designed specifically for the production at Wynn Las Vegas. The instrument is used just once in the show, at the moment when a gun is fired offstage and Cordell's notes spiral downward.

The instrument is best described as a broken-down trumpet painted a color known as "Spamalot Blue." It's fitted with plastic tubing and encrusted with dozens of Liberace-esque rhinestones that spell VEGAS.

Each "Spamalot" company has been issued a similarly customized Spamahorn. The London production uses one painted in the colors of the Union Jack and adorned with a "Spamalot" crest, but members of the Vegas company say theirs is the most innovative. Must be the rhinestones.


More from the show: Friday was the media preview and Saturday the gala premiere for "Spamalot," and the show has changed since it opened for previews March 8. Most notably, John O'Hurley is more fluid onstage than he was in the first performances, and a couple of lines were pruned just before Friday's performance. The leader of the tree-inhabiting Knights of Ni no longer says, "We want you to bring us a shrubbery," and "We want you to cut down the tallest tree in the forest with a herring," before sending King Arthur and the knights off to Broadway. ... After Friday's show the first person to rise for a standing ovation was outgoing Nevada Public Radio General Manager Lamar Marchese, whose final day at work was also Friday. ... A show to see would be a pairing of Nikki Crawford, who plays Lady of the Lake, and Leigh Zimmerman, who plays Ulla in "The Producers" at Paris Las Vegas. If their respective shows succeed on the Strip, they deserve a lot of credit. They are great. ...

Sashes to sashes: Cable network CMT's announcement last week that it would not renew its option to televise the Miss America Pageant in 2008 has left the pageant without a TV partner for the second time in four years (CMT broadcast the 2006 and 2007 shows from the Aladdin Theatre for the Performing Arts), but Miss America Organization officials are reportedly relieved to be out of the contract and free to seek a better deal. CMT was pretty heavy-handed in its demands for the show, which brought the network its highest ratings ever but was deemed too costly to produce.

Aladdin/Planet Hollywood has made a proposal to the organization to host the show for the next several years, and Mario Lopez has offered to return as host in '08. ...

Frequent column inhabitant Nathan Burton, who garners more publicity than any afternoon magician in the world, has just finished taping a pilot for a situation comedy titled "Nathan." As you might deduce, the show centers on the camera-friendly Burton and his comedy/magic show at the V Theater in the Desert Passage mall at the Aladdin. The pilot was taped Thursday and Friday at the theater. Burton is going full tilt with this project: Maxxam Entertainment is the production company, which is headed by Don Lewis Barnhard, whose directing credits include "Mork & Mindy," "Saved By The Bell," and "Full House." The company's vice president, Skip Burrows, developed special effects for "ConAir,'' "Casino" and "3000 Miles to Graceland." (Las Vegans might remember the egregious closing moments of "ConAir," when the convict-carrying cargo plane slammed into the neck of the Hard Rock Hotel guitar and crash-landed under the Fremont Street Experience, or the impossible right-hand turn that Kurt Russell, Nic Cage and their band of Elvis impersonators made off Fremont Street and into the Riviera. But I digress.)

Burton is in discussion with a major network to air the 30-minute sitcom. He's already made quite a few TV appearances, on E's "The Entertainer," and on "World's Greatest Magic," "World's Wildest Magic" and "America's Got Talent," all on NBC. Burton is also working on his Next Big Stunt, which will be in May on the Strip. He is to be immersed in 12 tons of ice with four showgirls for 24 hours. The showgirls will rotate out every couple of hours, but Burton, who has such an interesting job, will stay. ...

On the list of good steak houses in Las Vegas, include Don B's at Fitzgerald's. The former Limericks, which has been renamed for Fitz owner Don Barden, offers a really good filet mignon and a responsive wait staff (though the faux courtyard seating in front of the restaurant, on the casino floor just a few feet away from banks of video poker machines, is a strange decision). ...

Museum? Casino attraction? Both! An ad posted on is asking for applicants for the Tropicana's "Bodies ... The Exhibition" volunteer docent program. These are the volunteers in white coats who answer questions and help guide visitors through the exhibit. The volunteer program has been in place since the attraction opened in June. ...

All the little birds on J-Bird Street love to hear the robin goin' tweet tweet tweet: A reader playing all oldies, all the time reports ROCKNRBN on a BMW.

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