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Las Vegas Spotlight: May 2009

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Buyi Zama in The Lion King
(© James Morgan)
Disney's The Lion King, which begins its run at the Mandalay Bay on May 5, features some incredibly talented actors, many with major Broadway credits. Alton F. White, who played Coalhouse Walker Jr. in Ragtime, will be the king of the lions himself, Mufasa. Thom Sesma, recently on Broadway in The Times They Are A-Changin' and Man of La Mancha, will be Mufasa's malevolent brother Scar. Patrick Kerr, who was just on the Great White Way in The Ritz and is well-known by TV fans as nerdy Noel Shempsky on Frasier, will play Zazu. Buyi Zama will reprise the role of Rafiki, which she played in the Australian production of the show.

Headliners flood Las Vegas in May. Two major acts at the Orleans Showroom this month: Paul Anka, who has racked up dozens of pop hits (for himself and for artists as varied as Buddy Holly, Barbra Streisand, and Robbie Williams), sings May 8-10. The sound will change from music to laughter when comedian, sports analyst, and political commentator Dennis Miller commands the stage from May 15-17. The Pearl Concert Theater at the Palms will host popular acts Robin Thicke and Jennifer Hudson (May 1), Jason Mraz (May 9), and Nine Inch Nails with Jane's Addiction (May 18). The Dave Matthews Band will rock the MGM Grand Garden Arena (May 8), David Spade will laugh it up at the Venetian (April 30-May 9), and B.B. King will bring down the House of Blues (May 16). UNLV invites actress/singer Lea Salonga for an evening of song (May 1), and humorist David Sedaris for an evening of wry observations (May 3).

UNLV's Nevada Conservatory Theatre ends its season with a bang, presenting the marvelous Meredith Willson musical comedy The Music Man (May 1-10) at the Judy Bayley Theatre. The classic tuner is about a charismatic traveling salesman, Harold Hill, who comes to River City, Iowa and convinces the people that the only way to stop corruption in their town is to organize a band -- for which he'll be happy to sell instruments and uniforms. Broadway vets Patrick Ryan Sullivan (Beauty & the Beast, Titanic, 42nd Street) and Teri Bibb (The Phantom of the Opera) take on the roles of Harold Hill and Marian the Librarian, respectively, in this production, directed by Michael Barakiva and choreographed by Mimi Quillin.

The Bermuda Avenue Triangle (May 1-17) is the rare play that is made for the locals. Las Vegas Little Theatre will be producing the broad comedy, which is about two recently widowed women who move into a Vegas condo together, but find that the retired life turns wacky after rescuing a mysterious stranger at Red Rock Canyon. The play was written by the husband-and-wife acting/writing team of Joseph Bologna and Renee Taylor. (Taylor is best known for playing Fran Drescher's mom on The Nanny.)

The Cat in the Hat is making mischief this month at the Faith Lutheran Chapel / Performing Arts Center, where they will be staging Seussical the Musical (May 8-16). The Stephen Flaherty/Lynn Ahrens musical brings beloved Dr. Seuss characters Horton the Elephant, Lazy Mayzie, Gertrude McFuzz, Yertle the Turtle, the Whos of Whosville, the Grinch, and of course the Cat himself together in one adventure that features wonderful songs like "Oh the Thinks You Can Think!" "It's Possible," "Alone in the Universe," and "Solla Sollew."

Tragedy strikes the College of Southern Nevada's Backstage Theatre when Insurgo Theater Movement, presents Medea (May 11-31) in a production co-sponsored by CSN and directed by John Beane. The Euripides play is a telling of the ultimate woman scorned, who kills her own children after being betrayed by her lover Jason.


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