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December 13, 2018

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Strip Scribbles: Teller’s ‘Tempest’ triumph; Michael Jordan’s golf benefit; George Clooney’s tequila

‘The Tempest’ Rehearsal at Smith Center

L.E. Baskow

Aaron Posner and Teller, pictured here Tuesday, March 11, 2014, are co-directing “The Tempest” adapted from the play by William Shakespeare that opens next month at the Smith Center in Symphony Park.

‘The Tempest’ Rehearsal at Smith Center

Actors Manelich Minifee and Zach Eisenstat as Caliban rehearse a scene Tuesday, March 11, 2014, from “The Tempest,” which opens next month at the Smith Center in Symphony Park. Launch slideshow »

It’s become the most anticipated theater event of the year and the first world premiere for our Smith Center for the Performing Arts. Rio headliner illusionist Teller’s magical version of William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” opened Tuesday night with its first of four previews, and the buzz is “pure brilliance.”

Teller hosts his star-studded premiere and celebration Saturday at the new 500-seat tent theater in Symphony Park outside the Smith Center, and even with it being extended from two weeks to one month, people are still fighting for tickets.

Watch for the amazing levitation of Prospero’s daughter and the changing food on the disappearing dinner table. Those are the only spoilers I dare reveal. Actor Tom Nelis, who plays Prospero, had never picked up a set of cards to do magic tricks before he landed the leading role, and now he’s skilled enough to join Penn & Teller.

Teller admits that it’s been a nearly lifelong obsession — certainly the past 30 years — since first studying Shakespeare in school for him to turn “The Tempest” into this vision. Five years ago, he began to take it seriously and then two years ago with the Smith Center and American Repertory Theater, they joined forces to present this Las Vegas world premiere.

Set on a revolving, three-deck, ship-like stage, “The Tempest” also features the music of Tom Waits and dance movement by Pilobolus.

My interview with Teller as he revealed secrets of the production was posted Feb. 20 after the first day of rehearsals. “You may have disliked Shakespeare in school being forced to study him, but this is a full-scale magic show and music concert, and everybody will be able to follow it with perfect clarity without trouble.”

2013 MJCI Gala at Aria

Michael Jordan, fiancee Yvette Prieto and Will Smith at the 2013 Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational Gala at Aria on Friday, April 5, 2013. Launch slideshow »

2013 MJCI at Shadow Creek

Ken Griffey Jr. competes in the 2013 Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational Golf Tournament at Shadow Creek on Thursday, April 4, 2013, in Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »

GOLF GAMES: NBA legend Michael Jordan arrives today for his 13th annual Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational golf tournament at Shadow Creek.

Two days of celebrity amateur golf are set for Thursday and Friday, followed by the 36-hole scramble Saturday and Sunday before the winner presentations. George Clinton and T-Pain will entertain the stars Friday night at Aria, with Food Network and Disney Channel host Justin Willman as MC. We’ll post a report and photos on Sunday.

This is reportedly the final visit of three to Las Vegas under the current contract for the tournament. Expect to see stars Bruce and Brody Jenner, Wayne Gretzky and Janet Jones Gretzky, Christina Milian, Ray Romano, Alan Thicke, Boyz II Men, Nick Jonas, Julius Erving, Joey Fatone, Ahmad Rashad, Gretchen Rossi and Slade Smiley and Greg Maddux on the greens for charity.

George Clooney Launches Tequila at Andrea’s

Steve Wynn, Andrea Wynn and George Clooney celebrate the launch of Clooney's Casamigos Tequila at Andrea's in the Encore on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013. Launch slideshow »

GEORGE CLOONEY’S TEQUILA: The new George Clooney tequila Casamigos came about after pals Rande Gerber, Michael Meldman and he went through 700 samples and blind tastings. It took five years, and now their private stock is available to the public.

Our SBE hospitality outlets Hyde Bellagio and the new Double Barrel Roadhouse at Monte Carlo are featuring the tequila with its new Jasmine’s Pomegranate Margarita cocktail in time for the trio’s unveiling at Hyde on April 9 when Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America holds its 71st convention here at Caesars Palace.

Southern Wine and Spirits head honcho Larry Ruvo is hosting their visit. Jasmine’s drink came about as SLS (formerly the Sahara) owner Sam Nazarian worked with French designer Philippe Starck and his wife Jasmine on their Strip transformation. Sam challenged his mixologists to create her cocktail, and when SLS opens Labor Day Weekend, it will have pride of place on the menu. Expect to see George and Rande here, too.


Season 4 of ‘Ink Master’

Walter “Sausage” Frank of Las Vegas competes on Season 4 of “Ink Master” on Spike. Launch slideshow »

After failing to complete his tattoo challenge on “Ink Master,” Las Vegas artist King Ruck found himself in the bottom three on Tuesday night’s episode. His human canvas volunteer couldn’t take the pain and passed out. But Ruck created a madcap idea to save himself from elimination and tattooed a rose on his leg to show his determination to stay on the Spike program.

The judges were so impressed that they voted him safe and kicked off the other two. Next week, two more contestants will be axed as the stress intensifies. The other Las Vegas competitor in the Top 10 from the original 20 competitors, Walter “Sausage” Frank, was in the Top Three.

* Nightlife expert Jon Taffer’s new Spike series “Hungry Investors” premieres May 11 with chefs Tiffany Derry and John Besh. The trio vet restaurants to decide which is worthy of a life-altering investment.

* Next Tuesday, Joey Fatone will don disguises for the new Oxygen series “Celebrities Undercover.” He’ll become an unrecognized trainee on a boy-band tour bus, and unknowing fans will get to vote whether he joins the band.

* Next Wednesday, my pal “Inside Edition” host Deborah Norville will be presented with the Leadership Award at the National Association of Broadcasters convention here, and then she’ll host her daily show from KLAS here and shoot story segments for later air dates.

Happy by Le Reve

‘HAPPY’ ‘LE REVE’: Singer-songwriter Pharrell’s Oscar-nominated song “Happy” from “Despicable Me 2” is sweeping America in a viral-video craze, and now to mark its ninth anniversary this month, the cast and crew from Steve Wynn’s “Le Reve — The Dream” at the Wynn have combined their talents to create a video version as only Las Vegas could. More than 50 dancers, synchronized swimmers, divers, acrobats, aerialists and technicians took part.

Swimmer Rachael Simon, who came up with the idea, said: “The second we heard the song, we knew that we had to do something unique with the talented and creative ‘Le Reve’ group. The song makes you move and smile. We had such a blast putting choreography to it.”

The three-minute video showcases a backstage tour of the performers primping pre-performance and running into eccentric and flexible characters. “Le Reve” is one of the rare large-scale production shows to officially allow audiences to take photographs — no flash, of course — inside the theater during performances.

MOVING-ART MARQUEE: It’s a new way to show off the work of distinguished artists, and cutting-edge Cosmopolitan execs are the first to bring it to the Strip. British artist Tracey Emin has created a series of digital neon artworks, “I Promise to Love You,” which will be shown changing hourly on the hour for more than three minutes on all the LED signage inside and outside the resort, including the 65-foot Strip billboard.

There are six pieces of glowing words that spell out by themselves to illustrate the power of love. Tracey in 2011 became the Royal Academy’s Professor of Drawing, and in 2012 Queen Elizabeth II honored her as Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for her contributions to the visual arts.


Queensryche with Geoff Tate plays House of Blues in Mandalay Bay.

Galactic resumes its run at Brooklyn Bowl in the Linq.

And Happy Birthday to “Rock of Ages” at the Venetian star Mark Shunock, who is celebrating at Mandarin Oriental.


Our full rundown of “The Week Vegas Goes Country” with Hunter Hayes, Florida Georgia Line, Rascal Flats and Keith Urban at the Linq, Darius Rucker hosting the star TPC Summerlin golf tournament, Luke Bryan hosting archery at the Orleans, Brad Paisley and FGL at Fan Jam at Mandalay Bay, plus five hours of CBS coverage from MGM Grand.

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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