By Tony Ault
Staff Writer 

Lucky Luciano's Hot Vegas Nights variety show is a hit in Hemet


Last updated 8/30/2018 at 9:19pm

Tony Ault

A Soboba Casino blackjack dealer, borrowed for the Aug. 24-25 "Lucky Luciano's Hot Vegas Nights variety show at Hemet's Simpson Center, explains the card game to guests at the show. The chips were earned with the price of admission and otherwise had no value.

The lights were dim. The blackjack tables filled. Music played in the background, but Lucky Luciano couldn't be there.

Local entertainer Michael Tennant stood in his place, making the long past, not-so-gangster "Lucky" a hit at "Hot Las Vegas Nights," a Las Vegas variety show with theatergoers, Aug. 24-25, at the Simpson Center in Hemet.

The onstage variety show kicks off the return of local theatrical productions at the Simpson Center, 305 E. Devonshire Ave.

Tennant is a drama teacher at Mt. San Jacinto College and the seasonal "Play With Your Food" dinner theater director. His troupe dressed in period costume, taking the crowds to a time when Lucky Luciano and the mob ruled in Las Vegas.

Simulated blackjack tables, manned by Soboba Casino dealers with gift bags for the winners, were open for play while snack foods were served nearby, all for $30 admission. Background music was provided by John Cuminiak.

Following the blackjack, games and table entertainment, Justin Fox took the stage to introduce the nights' onstage variety show. Announcer Tai Dooley introduced each of the many acts in the 90-minute variety show.

Kicking off the show was a Copper Clappers Skit with Michael Tennant and Frank Jaramillo. Jason Call followed with a Big City Hypnotist skit. Talented singer Carolyn Nagel sang "Wind Beneath My Wings," "Everywhere I am There You'll Be" and "My Heart Will Go on," in tribute to Bette Midler, Faith Hill and Celine Dion 

Paola Cifuentes gave a tribute to Audrey Hepburn, accompanied by Anthony Shields on guitar, with "Moon River." 

But no one could forget about the timeless music of Elvis Presley, by Michael Tennant.

A comedy act by Morey Sherman kept the audience laughing, almost to tears, with a little bit of adult fun and cartoon imitations.

Debbie Merriman, Tennant and Call played as Peter, Paul and Mary and brought warm applause from the audience of nearly 200 guests. Call continued singing with a Frank Sinatra imitation: "Music of the Night," "My Way" and "Feeling Good," which was made famous by the "Rat Pack" of Las Vegas.

Simone Gehlot, Jaramillo and Tennant sang "It's Me Again Margaret."

Next, Mike Eastman appeared for some audience participation and "The Magic of Professor Tango," followed by speed painter Mattea Roberts working on a black and white shadow painting of a dancer while Tennant and Shields performed "Vincent." Meanwhile Jaramillo and Paola Cifuentes performed a ballet behind the musicians. Tennant followed with "Holland Park."

The Lucky Luciano's Hot Vegas Nights Variety Show concluded with performances by the Musical Chain Gang from the Play With Your Food cast Tennant, Merriman, Cifuentes and Shaundra Sorrell backed by acoustic guitarist Shields, singing "Another Saturday Night," "Hello, Mary Lou" and "On the Road Again."

Tony Ault can be reached by email at [email protected]

Tony Ault

Michael Tennant, producer of the Aug. 24-25 "Lucky Luciano's Hot Vegas Nights" variety show onstage at the Hemet Simpson Center, jokes with a fellow "country" actor onstage at the event.


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