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Debut of "Praise",
Don Rickles: "Devilish as Ever", Michael Martocci Opening Act, Plus More...

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There's a little show that will be making its Las Vegas debut Sunday afternoon (March 29) at 2 p.m. in the South Point Hotel Casino Showroom. Larry Hart's concert of "Praise," an irreverently reverent gospel experience, is literally a work of "love" for the Grammy Award winner.

The show stars Hart and a cast of eight, including special guest star, Mary Williams, and Broadway star, Linda Hart (Larry' sister).There are six sensational female singers, and the costumes for the entire cast are beautifully designed, which ads another touch for a potential trip to Broadway.

"Praise," is inspired by the world's 10 major religions and in a fun and entertaining way celebrates the rural roots of gospel music, while fusing it with the idea of higher consciousness. The original 90-minute, fully orchestrated non-secular musical was written and conceived by Larry Hart, who is a multi-platinum and Grammy winning recording artist. "Praise" is a condensed version of a future Broadway show and is being presented by Griffin Productions Group.

Special guest Mary Williams, a former Shirelles member, and who replaced Mary Wilson of the original Supremes, to tour with Diana Ross. Larry's sister, Linda, was the first to play Velma Von Tussel in "Hairspray." The rest of the over-the-top experienced cast includes: recording artist Diane Spann, rock sensation Jill Rock Jones, gospel dynamo Jennifer Wainright, commercial and casino singer Jeneane Marie, jazz vocalist Paris Red and Korean-American songstress Jenevi.

The ladies' outfits are another show-stopping element. The designer costumes by Lorenzo Valentino and Michael Flach, feature vintage designs by some of greats such as Chanel, Oscar de La Renta and Bob Mackie.

Hart is part of the successful musical family that has recorded 25 gospel, two country and two pop albums. As a songwriter, Larry has sold more than 30 million albums. He received his first Grammy Award nomination at the age of 16, and won the Award at age 19. Hart's first theater musical was "Larr! Bear," which starred Ozzie Osborne, Bruce Villanche, Andrea McCardle, Linda Hart and Andrae Crouch. His second was "Sisterella," which received 12 N.A.A.C.P. Theater Award nominations and won eight. "Sisterella" was voted "Show of the Decade" by European theater fans. Hart directed and starred in all productions of "Sisterella," produced by Michael Jackson, Robert DiNero and Miramax Films.

Tickets are priced at $25, $30 and $35 with tax included. For reservations or to purchase a ticket call the South Point box office at 702-797-8055.

As promised we (Vera Goulet, Mr. and Mrs. Mike Merrick, Mrs. Annette Falcone and Nancy Barr) took in the Don Rickles show at The Orleans last Sunday. As usual, Rickles killed with his comedy routine, and for a guy 82-years young, it's not so easy to keep it going for 60 minutes under those hot lights. But, Don doesn't miss a beat, and is as devilish as ever. However, what I truly enjoyed was the nearly 40 minutes of listening to a bright, young singer named Michael Martocci.

Vince Falcone, a very close friend of this writer, who for 10 years conducted for the late, great Francis Albert Sinatra, had been telling me about this young singer from New Jersey, who sings the Sinatra songs like they're supposed to be sung. Vince, who conducts for a bunch of stars, has been working with Martocci for a couple of years. Rickles was told about the singer and hired him as an opening act.

Well, gang, believe me when I tell you this... he is terrific! His phrasing is right out of the Sinatra song book and his voice, well, what can one say after Rickles told Falcone, one night, "I swear it's like hearing Frank on stage again." And if anyone knows how the songs are to be played and sung, it's Falcone... he also has some of the original arrangements that Frank gave to him over the years.

Martocci opened the show with "Come Fly With Me," followed by "The Lady is a Tramp" and "Skin." "Fly Me to the Moon" and "The Best is Yet to Come" were wonderfully performed by the nattily attired singer. "Summer Wind," one of this writers favorite, along with "One for my Baby" were well received by the sold-out audience. And of course, the closer was non-other than a great, "New York, New York."

All I can tell you is that should you see the name Michael Martocci appearing somewhere, anywhere, don't pass up the chance to see and listen to a wonderful singer. And, please believe me, Martocci is not an impersonator, but simply elected to devote his voice to "The Man." You'll be glad you did, believe me!

Well, gang, that's about it for this week.
I'm Outa here!

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