Went to the Suncoast Hotel and Casino Sunday evening to watch a young lady perform a new show, “Freckled for Life.” The young lady, of course, is Kelly Clinton-Holmes, who has been a friend of this writer since 1983. I’ve watched her grow as a talent, from that first evening at the old original Maxim Hotel, when she performed in a talent showcase hosted by Frank Link. I was there with Robert Goulet (as Goulet’s publicist I often was with him when he was performing at the old Dunes Hotel), and some members of Robert’s band. Goulet loved going to the Maxim on Sunday evening between his shows, and often discovered a talent he would ask to be his opening act.
Anyhow, getting back to Kelly, she was eventually hired as a featured singer with the Maxim house band, “Mainstream,” (my roommate at the time, Denny Denman, was a member of the group). And the rest, as they say, is history!
So, I was not surprised at what I saw and heard Sunday evening: a talented lady that should’ve been on the big stage a long time ago with her own show. Fortunately, in show business, it is never too late to be discovered—as long as you grab the “gold ring” when it’s offered.
The show, assembled by Clinton-Holmes, is a story (mini-bio) of her life, beginning with early childhood in New Jersey, her shocking move to Las Vegas at age 12, growing up with a mother who seemingly was quite strict, smoked a lot, but loved her daughter and son, John. During a skit about her Mom (Ellie), Kelly had quit college after three weeks, and was told by Mom, that she had a choice: get a job or get the heck out of my house. She got a job washing cars at a car wash.
One of the original songs (number three in the show) was a story of how it feels to be “freckled” as a young child, and learning that you get new ones every day of your life. It is really a cute and funny song. The Carol Burnett theme song came next (her idol from childhood when she would sit in front of the TV and watch her), followed by a hilarious sketch about her mother (who was in the audience laughing right along with the rest of us), and included the “Dragnet Theme” song,” Mom’s love of Frankie Valli, the song, “My Eyes Adored You,” and a rousing “When The Saints Go Marching In.” This included being informed that they were moving to Las Vegas, and how she declared she was not going to move (she was 12 at the time). This bit had the audience in stitches. Another original song, “PMS Blues,” is truly a classic.
While Kelly is off stage, making a quick change for her impression of “Cher,” her very special guest star (and a favorite of just about everyone in our little village), Bill Fayne, performs two beautiful songs, “With a Song in My Heart,” and an original written by Bill and Clint Holmes (Kelly’s very proud husband), “I Sing.” It was truly wonderful to hear Bill’s great voice once again in full bloom!
A video screen slowly glides down, and before you know it, you are watching Las Vegas Sun columnist, John Katsilometes and Trish McCrone, interviewing “Joan Rivers,” about her red carpet experience at The Smith Center, with “Carol Channing,” “Lady Ga Ga.” and a top-notch screamingly funny, “Joe Pesci” (all performed by Clinton).
There are a number of other highlights throughout the production. But number 16 on the rundown is a tribute to a wonderful partner, a fantastic talent, and her best friend, Kelly’s husband, Clint Holmes, titled “It Amazes Me.” The closing number is another tribute to her husband, and to the audience, “You’re The Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me.”
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Kelly takes her new “One Woman” show, “Freckles and 80-year-old Bones,” into the Metropolitan Room in New York, beginning May 7 through the 11th. She will continue to host Sunday and Monday nights at the Bootlegger, and will be on hand when the Stirling Club closes on May 18, at Turnberry Place, where she has been the entertainment director for a great many years.
All I can say is, like the movie starring Judy Garland, “A Star is Born,” depicts, stars are born, not created. Kelly Clinton-Holmes is a shining example of that!
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Starring Mary Wilson of the Supremes, John Gavin’s Stormy Weather: the Lena Horne Project, opens for two-nights at The Smith Center, Friday, May 11th at 8:30 and Saturday, May 12, at 7:00 p.m., is all about Hollywood’s first African-American goddess, from Lena’s reign at MGM’s “dream factory” to a fabled night club seductress and civil rights icon. Stormy Weather is a living, breathing biography featuring rare audio clips, video footage, true stories, and, of course those fabulous songs sung by the great Mary Wilson: “As Long As I Live” (Harold Arlen-Ted Koehler); “Where or When” (Richard Rodgers-Lorenz Hart); “Yesterday When I Was Young” (Charles Aznavour-Herbert Kretzmer), and of course, “Stormy Weather” (Harold Arlen-Ted Koehler).
The production is based on the celebrated book entitled, “Stormy Weather: The Life of Lena Horne (Simon & Schuster 2009) written by Gavin, who also narrates this multimedia theatrical experience. Mike Renzi (seven-time Emmy Award Winner) who served as the musical director for Lena Horne’s show, “The Lady and Her Music,” on Broadway in 1981, created the orchestrations for this show. Tickets are available and start at $51.00. Call 702-749-2000 for further information.
The F.I.O.R.E. club will hold its monthly meeting this coming Thursday, May 10th, at the usual time of 11:30 a.m., at the Italian American Club on East Sahara Blvd. This is a group of usually guys, who are all presidents, and who are maybe, or maybe not, Italian, who get together to do strange and meaningless things to have some fun, and give away useless things during a drawing. Nelson Sardelli, one of the presidents, has opened the doors to ladies once again. Of course the lunch is not free, it’s $22.00, but who cares if we spend our life savings to have some fun? The guest speaker this month will be a lady of some fame, the first and only lady to ever be a General Manager of a National Football League team, the Philadelphia Eagles, Susan T. Spencer.
Well, gang, that’s about it for this week. I’m outa here!
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