Talking With Steve Solomon – April 23, 2015

FotoFlexer_Photo Steve Solomon

This week, Ira spoke with Steve Solomon. To listen to the interview click below.

Steve Solomon, the author and star of the three time award-winning, critically acclaimed show: “My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish and I’m in Therapy, is bringing his newest project, “Cannoli, Latkes & Guilt” to the Troesh Studio Theater at the Smith Center, April 29 through May 3.

A native of Brooklyn, Solomon grew up in the multi-ethnic neighborhood of Sheepshead Bay. This was the perfect training ground for a dialectician and comedian. Steve learned at an early age how to use his gift for imitating accents to his advantage.

He also realized that he was a prolific writer of jokes and stories. He submitted dozens of his stories to periodicals, friends and stand-up comics he knew in the business. With the coming of the Internet and e-mail, Solomon now had an outlet for much of his comedy writings.

Using humor, dialects and sound effects in teaching, he was a real life version of Gabe Kaplan’s “Welcome Back Kotter.” Eventually, Solomon became a physics teacher and an assistant to the superintendent on Long Island.

Solomon left his academic career behind and turned his attention to his latent love of making people laugh. As he puts it, “I decided follow my heart and become an impoverished comedy writer and performer.”

http://www.thesmithcenter.com
http://www.stevesolomon.net

Talking With Elizabeth Blau – April 16, 2015

FotoFlexer_Photo Elizabeth Blau

This week, Ira spoke with Elizabeth Blau. To listen to the interview click below.

Elizabeth Blau is founder and CEO of Blau & Associates, a restaurant development company. She also owns and operates Andiron Steak and Sea in Downtown Summerlin, Honey Salt in Summerlin, and Made LV at Tivoli Village.

Blau’s food service career spans nearly three decades. She is widely credited with helping to transform Las Vegas into a world-class culinary destination.

She parlayed her extensive experience and expertise in the restaurant industry to found Blau & Associates in 2002. Blau assembled a team of experts and turned the firm into one of the foremost restaurant development companies in the field. Blau & Associate’s client list includes Celebrity Cruises, Destination Hotels and Resorts, the Kor Group, One and Only Resorts, Montage Resorts, Paragon Gaming, the Ritz Carlton Hotels and Resorts, Trump Casinos, Viceroy Hotels and Resorts and Wynn Resorts, among others.

Blau also maintains partnerships in four successful Las Vegas ventures. She and her husband, Kim Canteenwalla, opened neighborhood hot spot Honey Salt in 2012. Located on the west side of Las Vegas, the restaurant has gained attention locally and nationally for its sophisticated yet low key approach to seasonal American favorites inspired by the food the power couple serves at home.

Blau’s longstanding friendship with celebrity chef Kerry Simon resulted in their fifth collaboration together; they opened Simon Restaurant & Lounge at Palms Place in 2008 with partner George Maloof. Buddy V’s at the Venetian is a collaboration between Blau and the world famous “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro. Blau and her husband opened their west side restaurant, Made LV, an American tavern located in Tivoli Village, and recently opened Andiron in Downtown Summerlin.

http://www.elizabethblau.com
http://www.honeysalt.com
http://www.buddyvlasvegas.com
http://www.made-lv.com
http://www.andironsteak.com

Talking With Dom Irrera – April 9, 2015

FotoFlexer_Photo Dom Irrera

This week, Ira spoke with David Osborne. To listen to the interview click below.

Dom Irrera is headlining at the Laugh Factory at the Tropicana Las Vegas, April 9th through the 12th. Showtimes are 8:30 and 10:30. For ticket information, go to troplv.com and for everything about Dom Irrera, go to domirrera.com

Irrera’s stand-up material was honed in a multi-generational Italian household in South Philadelphia with his mother, sister, grandmother, uncles and cousins all under one very big roof. A great-grandmother even lived across the street. Together, there were three floors and four generations of family.

His first big break was his performance on Rodney Dangerfield’s “Nothing Goes Right” comedy specials for HBO. In 1989 Irrera’s own HBO “One Night Stand” earned him his first CableACE award for Best Stand-Up Comedy Special.

In 1995 Irrera won a second CableACE for the Showtime stand-up series he hosted, “Full Frontal Comedy.” That same year he received a second CableACE nomination in the writing category for his work on Comedy Central’s animated series, “Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist.” He also starred in a solo stand-up special for HBO in ’92, titled “Command Performance.”

Irrera has performed on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “The Late Show with David Letterman,””Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” “The View,” and made several appearances on “Oprah.”

In addition, he voiced the character Ernie, the demolitions expert, on Nickelodeon’s “Hey Arnold.” Other notable animation work includes multiple seasons voicing Duke The Dog in “Barnyard.”

Irrera’s film work includes a featured role in Robert Townsend’s “Hollywood Shuffle,” a cameo in the Coen Bros. Film, “The Big Lebowski,” “The Fourth Tenor,” starring old pal Rodney Dangerfield, and he played himself in the Rodney Dangerfield / Dom De Luise film, “The Godson.”

http://www.troplv.com
http://www.domirrera.com

Talking With Tony Orlando – April 2, 2015

FotoFlexer_Photo Tony Orlando 4-2-15

This week, Ira spoke with Tony Orlando. To listen to the interview click below.

Tony Orlando is performing at the South Point Casino April 3-5.

Orlando, born and raised in New York City, began hitting the national charts at the age of 16 with “Halfway to Paradise” and “Bless You” as the first vocal artist to sign with Epic Records. He later routed his musical career to the nonperformance side and became one of the youngest vice-presidents for CBS Records, heading their April-Blackwood music label.

Through no plans of his own, Orlando was coaxed into putting his voice on a demo record for a song titled “Candida,” for his friends Hank Medress and Dave Appell at Bell Records. The record was released under the name of the record promotion director’s daughter, Dawn.

“I think it is really the rule of show business that every big break you get, you back into it without knowing it at the time. A few weeks after recording Candida. I had forgotten all about it. And then Hank Medress calls me and says, ‘Hey man, we’ve got a hit.’ The crazy thing was, the song kept climbing the charts till it hit number one,” said Orlando.

Hoping lightning would strike again, Medress had Orlando record “Knock Three Times.” The song not only became number one, it was the top song of 1971, selling over six million copies worldwide.

Realizing it was probably safe to give up his successful career at CBS Records, Orlando decided to jump full force into what was already a meteoric rise to the top. Along with Telma Hopkins and Joyce Vincent Wilson, Tony Orlando and Dawn became an international sensation.

In 1973, he recorded Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree. The song was number one for the year, became Orlando’s theme song and grew into an American anthem of hope and homecoming, reunion and renewal.

A string of hits continued including “Sweet Gypsy Rose,” “He Don’t Love You,” “Who’s In The Strawberry Patch With Sally,” “Cupid,” “Steppin’ Out (Gonna Boogie Tonight)” and “Mornin’ Beautiful.”

Orlando then set his sights on television which resulted in his highly rated weekly variety series on CBS. Breaking new ground, it was the first multi-ethnic variety show on television. Orlando, of Hispanic and Greek origins, and Hopkins and Wilson, African Americans, were an instant hit. The show, which ran for four seasons from (1974 – 1976), welcomed the biggest names in show business each week as Tony’s guests, including his boyhood idols, Jackie Gleason and Jerry Lewis.

The friendship forged by Orlando and Lewis was a strong one. He has guested on Jerry’s Labor Day Telethon for 25 years, nine of those as the New York host. Orlando and Lewis also teamed for an unforgettable series of shows in the early 1990’s, taking the stage at the Las Vegas Hilton and Riviera hotels. Only two other entertainers share the distinction of performing with Lewis: Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr.

Orlando has been a recipient of three American Music Awards and a People’s Choice Award. For outstanding achievements to the entertainment industry, he was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

http://www.southpointcasino.com
http://www.tonyorlando.com

Talking With Bob Anderson – March 26, 2015

Bob Anderson

This week, Ira spoke with Bob Anderson. To listen to the interview click below.

Bob Anderson is starring in “FRANK –The Man. The Music,” in The Palazzo Theater at The Palazzo® Las Vegas. The show honors the life and music of Frank Sinatra, and features a 31-piece orchestra under the musical direction of Vincent Falcone.

Taking audiences on a musical journey through the legendary crooner’s timeless hits, “FRANK – The Man. The Music.” highlights three distinct areas of Sinatra’s career: the recording studio, television specials, and personal appearances. The authentic concert recreation marks a return to the era of Las Vegas glitz and glamour that the singer made famous.

Anderson moved to Las Vegas from Detroit at the age of 22 and got his start performing with Nancy Sinatra as a singer in her show at the Sahara Hotel and Casino. When Sinatra took him with her for a performance on the “The Merv Griffin Show,” Griffin discovered his ability to recreate the voices of others, a skill that made him a regular on nearly every talk and variety show in the country. Anderson went on to have his own showroom in Las Vegas for more than a decade and in 2002 was inducted into The Casino Legends Hall of Fame.

http://www.palazzo.com
http://www.bobanderson.com

Talking With Tony Butala – March 19, 2015, 2015

FotoFlexer_Photo The Lettermen

This week, Ira spoke with Tony Butala. To listen to the interview click below.

Tony Butala, is the original and founding member of The Lettermen. The group will be performing at the South Point March 20-22.

The one change Butala would have made in the 50 plus year career of one of the most popular vocal groups in history is a surprising one. “We chose the wrong name!” he exclaims. “In the late 50’s, when you started a vocal group and wanted to stand out from the crowd, all you had to do was use a novel new name that would give your group a unique look and image.” “If you are a new group in today’s world and want to get noticed, you have to dye your hair purple or pink, multi-pierce your face, ears and tongue, and even then you may not be different enough to get any notoriety.”

The Lettermen name first appeared in February 1958 on the marquee of the Desert Inn Hotel Resort Showroom in Las Vegas Nevada, where Butala, Mike Barnett and Talmadge Russell performed in the record-shattering revue, “Newcomers of 1928,” which starred big band leader Paul Whiteman, silent film comic Buster Keaton, singers Rudy Vallee and Harry Richmond, film star Fifi D’Orsay and the sneezing comedian Billy Gilbert.

The vision of The Lettermen was of three very strong soloists who also had the ability and showmanship to perform and entertain an audience, but who also had the discipline needed to be group singers. The sound they came up with was a sound between the big band vocal groups such as the Modernaires, Pied Pipers, Mills Brothers, Four Freshmen and the early R&B rock groups such as the Ink Spots, Flamingos and the Platters.

They have continually recorded, and formed their own Alpha Omega Records in 1979. Some of their newer CD albums, now numbering over 75, are: “The Lettermen – Favorites,” “The Lettermen – Best Of Broadway,” “The Lettermen – Live In The Philippines,” their holiday CD “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” and their 2010 release “The Lettermen — New Directions.”

http://www.southpointcasino.com

http://www.thelettermen.com

Talking With Jim Breuer And Barbara Cook – March 12, 2015

FotoFlexer_Photo Jim Breuer-Barbara Cook resized 3-12-15

This week, Ira spoke with comedian Jim Breuer and singer Barbara Cook. To listen to the interview click below.

With more than 20 years of stand-up comedy experience, Jim Breuer, who will be performing at the South Point Hotel and Casino March 13-14, remains one of today’s top entertainers. Named one of Comedy Central’s “100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time,” Breuer is one of the most recognizable comedians in the business.

Even as a young student at Valley Stream Central High School in Long Island, NY, Breuer knew he wanted to be a stand-up comedian. After spending several years working comedy clubs across the country, he settled in as a regular on the New York comedy club circuit. After being in New York for only seven months, Breuer landed a gig on the nationally syndicated show, “Uptown Comedy Club,” where he spent two seasons. Later he appeared on ABC’s “Home Improvement” starring funny man Tim Allen, before making his big break which came in 1995 when he joined the cast of NBC’s legendary “Saturday Night Live.” During his four years on SNL, Breuer quickly became popular for his original character “Goat Boy” and his dead-on impressions of actor Joe Pesci.

Following his success on SNL, Breuer starred alongside Dave Chappelle in the cult favorite film “Half Baked.” He has since appeared in the popular films “Zookeeper,” “Dick,” “Titan A.E.” and “Beer League.” On the small screen, Breuer hosted MTV’s popular “Beach House” and VH1’s “Web Junk 20.” His other television appearances include “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” and “The Marriage Ref.” Breuer is also a frequent guest on the Howard Stern Show.

In 2008, Breuer set out for his “Breuniversity Tour” with his 85-year-old father and a film crew. The footage that was captured blended together to create “The Jim Breuer Road Journals,” which showcased what life is like on the road with a comedian and his father. Videos from that tour also sparked the making of his documentary “More Than Me,” which was shown at the 2009 Montreal Film Festival. In July of 2009, Breuer’s one-hour Comedy Central special “Let’s Clear the Air” premiered with topics that included what “success” really is, his SNL days and life with his elderly parents, his wife and his three daughters.

In 2011, Breuer embarked on a national tour with three of the country’s top comedians, Dave Attell, Bill Burr, and Jim Norton, for “The Anti-Social Network” tour. That same year, Breuer’s acclaimed autobiography, “I’m Not High: (But I’ve Got a Lot of Crazy Stories about Life as a Goat Boy, a Dad, and a Spiritual Warrior),” was released on paperback. In the memoir, Breuer sheds light on his early struggles, his rise to fame and the many lessons he’s learned along in an extremely funny, yet personal and touching way that fans have never seen before. Up next, Breuer will be working on his new highly anticipated one hour comedy special, an addition to a heavy metal comedy album.

http://www.southpointcasino.com
http://www.officialjimbreuer.com

Barbara Cook, who will be performing in Cabaret Jazz at the Smith Center, March 13-15, has audiences around the world for more than 50 years. Considered “Broadway’s favorite ingenue” during the heyday of the Broadway musical, Miss Cook then launched a second career as a concert and recording artist soaring from one professional peak to another.

Whether on the stages of major international venues throughout the world or in the intimate setting of New York’s Café Carlyle or Feinstein’s at the Regency, Cook’s popularity continues to thrive – as evidenced by a succession of seven triumphant returns to Carnegie Hall (the most recent being her celebratory 85th Birthday concert) where she made a legendary solo concert debut in 1975 , and an ever-growing mantle of honors including the Tony, Grammy, Drama Desk and New York Drama Critics Circle Awards, her citation as a Living New York Landmark and her induction into the Theatre Hall of Fame.

The recipient of a 2011 Kennedy Center Honors, in 2010 Miss Cook returned to the Broadway stage after a 23-year absence, and was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance, in the musical Sondheim on Sondheim, directed by James Lapine, for the Roundabout Theater Company.

In 1974, Cook began a creative partnership with musical arranger, accompanist, composer, dance arranger and conductor Wally Harper, a shining model of artistic collaboration and enduring friendship, which lasted for nearly thirty-one years until his death in 2004. Numerous recordings mark the journey of this unique partnership, beginning with Barbara Cook at Carnegie Hall, a live recording of their legendary 1975 Carnegie Hall debut, now freshly re-released by Sony Records. A subsequent engagement at Carnegie Hall in September 1980 was captured on It’s Better With a Band, produced and arranged by Mr. Harper. Ms. Cook and Mr. Harper traveled the world together and performed a number of times at the White House – for Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush and Clinton.

In September 1985 Cook appeared with the New York Philharmonic as Sally in the renowned concert version of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies. She also recorded Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel and The Disney Album for the MCA record label. Nominated in 1986 for an Olivier Award for her one-woman show at London’s Albery Theatre, Ms. Cook received the Drama Desk Award in 1987 for her Broadway show A Concert for the Theatre. In October 1991 Cook’s appearance as a featured artist at the Carnegie Hall Gala Music and Remembrance: A Celebration of Great Musical Partnerships underscored her commitment to two important causes: the advancement of the performing arts and support of AIDS research. Miss Cook was one of the only American performers chosen to perform at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Arts Festival in the fabled Sydney Opera House. Musical America selected her as their 2007 Vocalist of the Year, the first pop singer to be so honored by this classical performing arts organization.

http://www.thesmithcenter.com
http://www.barbaracook.com

Talking With Matt Kazam – March 5, 2015

FotoFlexer_Photo Matt Kazam

This week, Ira spoke with David Osborne. To listen to the interview click below.

Matt Kazam stars in “40 Is Not The New 20,” which explores, in a one-man comedy production, how much the world has changed in the past 40-plus years.

Kazam is a veteran comic with 25 years of experience who has entertained at all the nation’s top comedy clubs, casinos and theaters. He has performed stand-up comedy more than 6,000 times in 45 states and seven countries and at more than 1,000 corporate and private events.

Growing up in New York City, he started performing shows for family and friends at the age of three, but it wasn’t until graduating college at George Mason University with a degree in finance, that Matt finally took the plunge as a full time stand-up comedian.

He has made numerous television appearances on NBC’s “Last Comic Standing,” Fox’s “Big Red Couch,” Comedy Central’s “Stand-Up Stand-Up,” VH-1’s “Fools For Love,” TLC’s “Two For Vegas,” The Discovery Channel’s “Lux List,” WGN’s “The Bob & Tom Show” and has served as the opening act for Chris Rock, Pauly Shore, Kevin James, Robin Williams, DL Hughley and Drew Carey.

Besides performing stand-up comedy, Kazam has taught stand-up comedy classes at the Washington DC Improv’s Comedy School and has been a guest lecturer at The Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC, where he provides continuing education programs in the areas of public speaking and humor for some of the country’s leading thinkers, professionals and artists. He is also the creator of the seminar “Stand Up And Public Speak” and recently expanded his corporate training programs adding a sales training seminar called “Stand Up & Sell.”

http://www.rivierahotel.com
http://www.mattkazam.com

Talking With Laura Lee O’Connell and Lori Legacy – February 26, 2015

FotoFlexer_Photo Laura Lee and Lori

This week, Ira spoke with Laura Lee O’Connell and Lori Legacy. To listen to the interview click below.

Laura Lee O’Connell and Lori Legacy are cast members of “Menopause The Musical” inside The Improv at Harrah’s Las Vegas. It is the longest running scripted show in Las Vegas.

O’Connell is known for her award-winning original plays, one woman shows and memorable characters. For more than 20 years, her performances have been featured at art festivals, colleges, in playhouses and theatres. Her original play about literacy was featured on PBS and airs nationally. She was also named a Kentucky cultural treasure. Laura Lee has been recognized with a major grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women, the National Endowment of the Arts, and the National Endowment of the Humanities for her original plays. She toured with “Menopause the Musical” in several cities for long show engagements. O’Connell has been in the Las Vegas cast of “Menopause the Musical” since the beginning.

Legacy has performed in “Menopause the Musical” for the last 9 years. Prior to that, she was performing in “Honky Tonk Angels” in Las Vegas, where she portrayed such artists as Barbara Mandrel, Tammy Wynett and of course, her favorite, Dolly Parton. Ms. Legacy traveled for 7 years with “Legends in Concert,” paying tribute to Parton in Hawaii, Australia, Canada and other venues. Lori has entertained audiences since the age of 10, when she started out as a ventriloquist.

http://www.harrahs.com

Talking With Randal Keith and Kerry O’Malley – February 19, 2015

FotoFlexer_Photo KeithOmalley2

This week, Ira spoke with Randal Keith and Kerry O’Malley. To listen to the interview click below.

 

Randal Keith and Kerry O’Malley both star in Steve Wynn’s ShowStoppers, with performances Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with an additional show on Friday at 10 p.m. at Wynn Las Vegas.

Randal Keith starred as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables on Broadway and the national tours in the U.S., Canada, China and South Korea. Keith is also one of the few performers to have played every male role in “The Phantom of the Opera” on the first national tour and in Las Vegas’ “Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular.” He has also starred as King Arthur in “Spamalot” at Wynn Las Vegas.

Keith received an LA Stage Alliance Ovation Nomination for his portrayal of Governor/Innkeeper in “Man of La Mancha.” Other performance highlights include “Sunset Boulevard,” “Guido in Nine,” “Evita,” “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” and “Young Frankenstein.” He can also be heard on the soundtrack for the animated film “Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return” as well as his solo CD, “Life has Been Good To Me.”

Kerry O’Malley, a graduate of Duke University and the American Repertory Theater Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University, has an extensive background performing in theater, film and television. Her film repertoire includes “Terminator: Genisys,” “Annabelle,” “Case 39,” “The Happening,” and “Earth to Echo.”

On television, O’Mallay was a series regular on A&E’s “Those Who Kill”; recurred on Showtime’s “Shameless” and “Brotherhood,” and HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire”; and guest starred on “The Mentalist,” “Hart of Dixie,” “Criminal Minds,” “Survivor’s Remorse,” “Masters of Sex” and many others. On Broadway, she has played leading roles in “Into the Woods,” “White Christmas,” “Annie Get Your Gun,” and “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.”

http://www.wynnlasvegas.com