‘Stealing Chaplain’ – Las Vegas Indie Headed for the Big Screen

Locally-produced comedy benefits from sHortage of Hollywood theatrical releases…


“Keep digging. Otherwise the next grave we’re digging is our own”. So says ‘Cal’, a con man desperate to stay alive while embroiled in a daring Las Vegas scam. That’s the premise of STEALING CHAPLAIN, a brand-new comedy filmed on location in Sin City.

STEALING CHAPLAIN is an independent production that’s about to hit big screens across the country. It’s being released at a time when theater chains are starving for new titles. For local producer Ken Bressers of Dystopian Films, this came as a stroke of luck, one that he swiftly pounced upon.

After the relative failure of director Christopher Nolan’s expensive (and downright awful, IMHO) TENET on U.S. screens, tentpole features like Pixar’s SOUL, Disney’s MULAN remake, WONDER WOMAN 84 and the latest James Bond film have either been postponed or diverted to streaming services. As a result, chains like AMC, Cinemark and Regal have relied on running retro classic titles…or have shut down altogether.

“Knowing we’ve got a quality movie ready to deliver and that theaters are drying up, we approached several theater chains directly, and they loved the idea” said Bressers. “Beginning November 13, we will be opening in over a hundred movie theaters across six major chains, and we’re still in talks with several others.” Stealing Chaplain is currently in theatrical release in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Stealing Chaplin is a comic caper focused on two British con men who dig up and ransom the corpse of legendary comic actor Charlie Chaplin. It’s inspired by the true story of a pair of crooks actually exhuming and stealing the body of the silent comedy star. Ken oversaw a production also starring The Sopranos star Al Sapienza and The Patriot actor Peter Woodward.

Eagle-eyed viewers will recognize a number of local performers who are featured in Stealing Chaplain. It even includes a cameo appearance from “Mr. Las Vegas” himself, Wayne Newton. Dani Elizabeth, fiance of comedic magician Murray SawChuck, is the popular emcee of CRAZY GIRLS at Planet Hollywood. Handsome Brent Barret of PHANTOM – The Las Vegas Spectacular (and former entertainment director for THE VEGAS ROOM) is on hand, as is sultry Cheryl Prater, a frequent host and guest at ROCKING COMEDY SHOW with Jay Bird

  Cheryl Prater has been in numerous Vegas-centric films and TV series

It was at a Halloween day private screening of the 1984 classic Nightmare on Elm Street (hosted by Jay) that Cheryl Prater first told me the STEALING CHAPLAIN news. She was undoubtedly excited by the chance to reach a large-scale audience in her latest role. In a year filled with endless bad news, this was a solid reason for cast, crew and friends to celebrate.

Bressers echoed those sentiments: “If Charlie Chaplin taught us anything; it was that laughing in times of difficulty sometimes is the best medicine. In light of everything going on in the world at the moment, we are very pleased to be partnering with Cinemark Theatres, Marcus Theatres, Malco, Starlights, and more to deliver Stealing Chaplin to an audience in need of an escape!”

Escaping to movie theaters has long been a popular Las Vegas pastime. Fremont Street’s historic El Portal Theater, built in the 1920s, was the city’s very first air-conditioned structure. Casinos throughout the valley have multi-screen theaters under their roofs, and the West Wind 6 Drive-in is filled with hundreds of cars every evening.

Several local movie producers and directors have turned Las Vegas into their own private Hollywood. Directors Joe Lujan and brothers Sonny and Michael Mahal use local talent and locations for outrageous cult horror films like Art of the Dead, Bus Party to Hell and the Immortal Wars franchise. Along with Sharknado actress Tara Reid, their films feature handsome future stars like Mark Justice, Ben Stobber, and burlesque performer Ronnie Nanos.

Even Gregory Popovich of David Saxe‘s POPOVICH COMEDY PET THEATER got bit by the movie-making bug. His endearing “Popovich and the Voice of the Fabled American West” had an exclusive run at Brenden Theaters at The Palms Casino Hotel. So, it’s no surprise that Stealing Chaplain benefits from the talent of many Las Vegas entertainers.

With all of the new precautions that have been standardized to make your movie-going experience safe and enjoyable, there’s no better time to head out and experience a new film. Enjoy this trailer for STEALING CHAPLAIN and see it on theater screens beginning November 13th. Visit the official Facebook page for more information and showtimes. 

5 Reasons To Revisit ‘VEGAS! The Show’


Epic production revisits decades of legendary Sin City superstars…

Click HERE to read this article and purchase discounted tickets through the awesome BestOfVegas site.BestOfVegas

Las Vegas earned its title as the City of Entertainment through years of world-class headliners. From Tom Jones and Tina Turner to Dean Martin and Gladys Knight…they all paved the way for the stars of today. And you can revisit every one of these legendary performances in VEGAS! The Show.

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The long-running VEGAS! The Show (at Saxe Theater inside Planet Hollywood’s Miracle Mile Shops) is as fresh as the day it opened nearly a decade ago. It’s a large-scale treat with massive sets, superb choreography, an outstanding setlist and much, much more. Whether you’re new to Vegas entertainment or a longtime devotee, VEGAS! The Show is a journey through the decades that’s not to be missed. Here are five reasons why:

THE PRODUCTION DESIGN IS UNRIVALED – The sets, costumes, and props for VEGAS! The Show have a wonderfully authentic feel. From the glamorous showgirl headdresses, tuxedos and top hats to the retro-cool chic of a 50’s soda shop, you’ll believe that you’re actually experiencing a trip through time.

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Various segments take you to the groovy days of Sonny and Cher, the gritty streets of Sinatra’s New York City, a naughty can-can at the Moulin Rouge and a visit to the candy store with Sammy Davis Jr. There are even a two-level bandstand and a mock-up of the Neon Boneyard, downtown’s final resting place for those iconic neon signs.

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A WHIRLWIND OF VARIETY ACTS – Following JUBILEE‘s well-established format, the larger sequences in VTS are punctuated by a collection of specialty acts. You’ll never know who will step out from behind the curtain, from acrobat Yasu Yoshikawa and juggler Michael Holly to the troupe of riotous physical comedians known as The Quiddlers. Each one is guaranteed to amaze, amuse and keep the show moving at a breakneck pace.

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LIVE BAND and SINGERS – Many of today’s productions have recently eliminated live musicians as a cost-saving measure. Not so at Vegas! The Show, where audiences are treated to a crackerjack eleven-piece band. Piano, horns, drums, and guitars bring you a musical experience that no pre-recorded track could ever emulate. VTS‘s amazing singers do double-duty, offering authentic recreations of familiar stars while delivering stunning vocalizations in their own style. Which brings us to…

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AN ALL-STAR CAST – Since the very beginning, Vegas! The Show has been a whos-who of Sin City stars, both current and in-the-making. Ballroom dancers Alejandro and Sarah Domingo became featured performers in Palazzo’s BAZ. Broadway star Josh Strickland (Disney’s Tarzan) was a lead singer for many years. Eric Jordan Young and Jaclyn McSpadden have gone on to outstanding musical productions like Cocktail Cabaret, BAZ and Postmodern Jukebox.

Today’s line-up is just as impressive. America’s Got Talent alumnus Samantha Johnson delivers stunning renditions of the hits of Gladys Knight, Lena Horne, and Tina Turner. Vocalist JT Seumalu belts out Wayne Newton‘s “Danke Schoen” then smoothly shifts gears to an Elvis gospel tune. Elijah Rock is wonderful as host “Ernie”, who takes you through the years while crooning Sammy’s “Candyman” and “Once In A Lifetime”. He and many more are accompanied by over a dozen stunning dancers.

NONSTOP HITS – Get ready for a rousing parade of timeless favorites. “Midnight Train To Georgia”, “I’ve Got You Babe”, “What’s New Pussycat”, “If I Can Dream” and “Shining Star”…they’re all here. Disco, funk, jazz, lounge standards and the big-band era get the VTS treatment in epic style. Seumalu brings the show to an emotional climax with “Rocketman” as videos of hotel implosions return us to present-day Sin City.

The Golden Era of Entertainment may have come and gone, but thanks to Vegas! The Show, the legacy will live on for a long time to come.

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VEGAS! The Show performs nightly at 7pm (dark Sunday) with an additional 9pm performance on select evenings. Tickets start at only $54 via BestOfVegas and can be purchased by clicking HERE

Photos: Sam Novak, Vegas! The Show, JT Seumalu/The Quiddlers via Facebook

Whitney Phoenix Strikes a Chord at Bellagio Las Vegas


Iconic pianist celebrates 21 years of entertaining resort’s guests….

Update 6/1/20 – Whitney Phoenix will be on hand when Bellagio reopens its doors to guests on June 4th and 5th. He’ll then resume a regular performance schedule of Tuesdays 3pm-8pm, Wednesdays 8pm-1am and Thursday/Friday 3pm-8pm. For more information and up-to-date news visit WhitneyPhoenix.com

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There are those who lament the golden era of Vegas….a time when tuxedos, gowns and roses were the norm. Visitors sipped champagne while enjoying the lush entertainment of glamorous singers and musicians. While times have changed, the timeless elegance of Whitney Phoenix and his music remain.

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For more than two decades. Mr. Phoenix has been creating memories at Petrossian Bar and Lounge. Situated just off Bellagio‘s main lobby near the famed Fiori di Como ceiling, this refined gathering spot welcomes new arrivals and serves as a gateway to the gaming floor. And with Whitney on the stunning one-of-a-kind Steinway grand, atmospheric music is elevated to world-class entertainment.

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You might think that fans of Pitbull and Calvin Harris might not have an appreciation for the stylings of a piano maestro, but that is far from the case. Whenever Mr. Phoenix plays, young and old alike gather to listen. Crowds form all around the circular lounge, often lining up six deep. Even bustling travelers stop to relish what they’re hearing, applauding after each song, medley and concerto.

With his silver hair and custom tuxedo jackets, Mr. Phoenix presents a striking figure. His poised elegance and gentle smile are even more intriguing when you learn of his military background in the Marines. He also served as an instructor in the Armed Forces School of Music. Expressive and engaging, the maestro inhabits each piece, giving it life and heart in a way that few artists can.

Much like fellow prodigy Elton John, Phoenix began formal instruction at the age of eight. Four years later he was performing solo concerts on his way to a lifetime of success and noteworthy achievements. He became popular in Las Vegas through regular appearances at Imperial Palace (now Linq Hotel), Caesars Palace and MGM Grand.

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Marianne LeMoine Phoenix has been Whitney’s wife and collaborator for 24 years. The two met in 1993 when she hired him to do vocal arrangements. “I ran out of money to pay him so we made other arrangements” she jokes. An accomplished vocalist and comedienne, Marianne’s current production 50 Pounds From Stardom is a labor of love for which Whitney serves as musical director.

A former back-up singer for Dolly PartonDebbie Reynolds…and one very special night with Diana Ross, Mrs. Phoenix laughs about the days when she hung out with Wayne Newton and his entourage, raising cane in places like the New Frontier and Stardust. She’s proud that her husband continues the quality of classy, elegant entertainment that Vegas was founded on.

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As Whitney drew applause for a stunning full-length rendition of Queen‘s Bohemian Rhapsody, Mrs. Phoenix recounted how her husband began playing here “not on the very first day, but the day before.” The pair had arrived, elegantly dressed for his initial shift and expecting him to play at the grand opening gala. Instead, workers were still laying mosaic tiles on the lobby floor and the lounge’s staff was organizing glassware and bottles.

Click HERE to continue reading…

Photos: Sam Novak