Ron and I had a great evening on our last night in Las Vegas. I’d been wanting to try the $6.99 steak dinner special at Ellis Island which was rated as the #1 value by the Las Vegas Advisor. Ellis Island is a casino right behind the Strip with a pleasantly lived-in vibe and the place seemed to have a higher concentration of locals than tourists — always a good sign. And the meal was a great value as promised — although the prime rib (10.99) that I saw at another table looked like enough for 3 meals.
At the suggestion of DCCN board member Cindy Hutchins, we saw Barbra and Frank: The Concert That Never Was at the Riviera. (To continue the frugal theme, we got half-price tickets. And a $5 tip to the hostess got us ringside seats.) The show was put together with a certain amount of with and panache and provided a pleasantly entertaining 90 minutes… It was filled with great singing, great arrangements and terrific songs (although shows like this always make me wish that the artists would trust the audience enough to do something really quirky from the songbook — Maybe Love Is Only Love instead or Hello, Dolly! or It Happened In Monterray instead of Fly Me to the Moon). The music direction from Rob Hyatt was superb. We saw the alternate cast, David diCosta and Nancy Lee. Interestingly, diCosta who only vaguely resembles a young Sinatra was vocally a dead ringer. Lee was much more effective visually but slightly less vocally. However, the alternates were ultimately imitiating the original cast imitating Streisand and Sinatra — and the extra level of disconnect occasionally showed.
We then blew the budget and went to the Baccarat Bar at the recommendation of Vegas-based blog reader and diva Karen Michaels to hear David Osborne. It was terrific being in such close proximity to so much money changing hands while listening to great music. Osborne played a terrific range of material. I was especially impressed by a set of Joplin songs that he played with a lighter touch and finesse that I’ve ever heard applied to the material.