From: Norm Johnson

For: June 16, 2015


If you were to ask this writer if I had ever been to a play such as the one’s I’m scheduled to see on Thursday and Friday (June 25—26) at the Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City, I would have to answer you truthfully. NO! In my 82 years on earth I can’t remember ever seeing Amadeus, Taming of the Shrew, Charley’s Aunt, or Henry IV Part 2 in a theater. In fact, I have never been to Cedar City, except when passing though on my way to another destination. That’s what is so darn intriguing to me. I will be experiencing something totally new. For me, gang, this is something really special. I have been invited by the public relations people of the festival numerous times, but something was always in my way—such as a cruise, other media events in our little village, or maybe I had a summer cold. Here again I must be honest, I wasn’t really excited about going period.

Well, this year a friend of mine said I must go to the festival. I must see these plays at least once in my life. Hey, I wanted to make everyone happy. So, I accepted the invitation. I could’ve stayed to see South Pacific on Saturday, but I saw it with one of the best singers ever, Robert Goulet numerous times. When you have watched the best,  I simply passed on it and will thus be driving home on Saturday Now I’m off to Cedar City Wednesday, June 24, stopping in Mesquite for a visit at the CasaBlanca Resort’s fantastic spa, and for a great relaxing massage. While I’m gone one of my daughter’s will be staying at the old abode, with my watch-cat.

Now for your reading pleasure this is an excerpt of an interview from the festival blog:  

The festival was able to snag a few minutes with David Ivers, who plays Salieri and Tasso Feldman, who plays Mozart to discuss their views on this gripping and powerful play.


Amadeus, winner of a Tony-award for best play and the academy award for best film, is a provocative, intriguing, beautifully breathtaking work by Peter Shaffer.  Overshadowed by the young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, court composer Antonio Salieri struggles to escape his own obscurity. In his quest to be remembered, he lies and cheats. But against the background of the world’s greatest music, did he also murder?

Festival: “Tell us your thoughts about the play?”

David:” It’s an event! It’s like an opera in the sheer size and scale of the piece. The music is like the third lead. Peter Shaffer, constructs the play and text that work in harmony with Mozart’s music, it's brilliant how music is woven in. There’s all this underscoring when certain events are being talked about. And even though we have heard so many of these compositions by Mozart, in the play, Salieri is hearing them for the first time. That’s what so wonderful about it. That's also what's challenging.” 

Festival: “Talk about the contrast in your character's personalities?”  

Tasso:   “He's someone who doesn't want to conform. Maturity is societal – it’s all about constraints. People say “you should behave.”  When you’re a newborn, you’re free, but society wants to snuff you out- sacrifice the child in us. People put you in a box. That’s what society is trying to do to Mozart. “Know your place.”  “You should be better behaved.” It’s constant. Mozart says “it’s all about my music. If I behave I lose the music.”

David:   “Salieri made a bargain with God. If he served God and was rigorous in his virtue, then he would be blessed with the ability to serve mankind through his music. What he finds is that God touched somebody else, who wasn’t virtuous and doesn’t care about rigorously serving mankind, in Salieri’s opinion. It’s not just that Salieri is jealous of Mozart’s talent. It’s that he possesses the ability to hear meticulously how brilliant it is. He says in the play, "I was born a pair of ears." He understands from the composer’s point of view and to not be able to do that yourself…that’s why he feels, ‘why not me?’” 

Festival: “What are some discoveries you're making with this play?”

Tasso: “The name Amadeus means to be loved of God and this play is about our relationship with the divine. Through Mozart's musical talents he's an open channel to God, essentially God's voice into the world.” 

David:  The idea of creating perfection inside of imperfection (and the reverse) is unsettling. Here Mozart can put God's voice on paper, but when he opens his mouth it is not godlike. It's also an amazing case study in absolute convictions one way or the other. There’s something sinister about it. The play is packed with reactionary, emotional responses. Both characters share an emotional response to the universe. It’s thrilling.”

Amadeus opens in preview on June 25 and plays through September 5. You can purchase tickets at or 800-PLAYTIX

If you would like to learn more about the play, including complete cast, director interviews and costume designs go to





A vigorous trio of comedians will take over the stage at the Laugh Factory this coming week (June 21-28), inside the New Tropicana Hotel, with Bob Zany headlining what is sure to be a “Madcap” night of zingers. Assisting Zany will be Greg Vaccariello, who never holds back on subjects close to him, and hosting the evening is Las Vegas resident, Steven Roberts. Show times are 8:30 and 10:30 p.m., nightly.


Bob Zany is wry, sarcastic, insulting, lovable, who lives up to his name... zany! Bob has appeared on over a thousand national TV shows from, “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” to a 17-year stint co-hosting “The Jerry Lewis Telethon.” It all got started for Zany, when in 1977, at the tender age of 15, the native Southern Californian appeared on the infamous “Gong Show.” Halfway through his stand-up routine, which he read from a piece of paper, he was pulled off the stage by a man dressed like a nun wielding a net. Eleven years later, he made a triumphant return as a celebrity judge. Bob has appeared in numerous films, including “Joe Dirt,” with David Spade, and he played Matt Damon’s attorney in Stephen Soderbergh’s, “The Informant.” According to the Los Angeles Times, “He simply reaches into a bottomless grab bag of jokes. It’s like watching Magic Johnson lead a fast break – so smooth and effortless that it would be easy to overlook just how much talent and skill is behind the process. He’s also a naturally funny guy, a distinction at a time when stand-up is cluttered with people who aren’t.”


Greg Vaccariello has been performing stand-up comedy nationwide for more than twenty years. His style is best described as physical and animated as well as observational, mixed with stories of married life, stepchildren, family dysfunction, small dogs and other wacky events that we see every day. Vaccariello is also an actor and has appeared on such hit shows as “Hope & Faith,” “Ed,” “The King of Queens” and “Law and Order,” as well as “The Tonight Show” and “The Late Late Show.”

Steven Roberts is the host for The World Series of Comedy, a stand-up comedy festival that travels across North America to cities such as Chicago, Boston and Winnipeg, Canada. Originally from El Paso, Texas, Roberts also enjoys performing all over the city of Las Vegas, which he now calls home.

The Laugh Factory is located on the mezzanine level of the New Tropicana Hotel. Tickets are priced at $34.95 and $44.95. For further information call 702-739-2411 or 800-829-9034.

    One of my longtime friends, and one heck of an entertainer, will be checking into the South Point Resort, out on South Las Vegas Blvd July 3-5, where he and his partners will stage a tribute to three iconic entertainers: Neil Diamond (Rob Garrett), Frank Sinatra (Gary Anthony), and Elvis (Justin Shandor).  After performing at the Westbury Music Theater in New York last year before more than 2500 people, followed up by a recent successful two month tour in Southwest California (Coachella Valley), and Southwest Arizona, AMERICAN TRILOGY is back in Las Vegas for these three special nights to join America in celebrating its 239th birthday.

 What distinguishes American Trilogy from other tribute shows is that these three particular performers have either collaborated or connected in one way or another during their prolific, illustrious careers. The show will focus on the mutual respect and admiration the men had for one another and the love and gratitude they shared for their country. They personified the American Dream, becoming three of the biggest megastars of our time. In addition to performing solo segments backed by a 7-piece live band, the show includes interaction between each of the performers before the audience gets treated to the ultimate trifecta as the stars unite for a moving, upbeat, patriotic finale.

Band member include Steve Gerard (Musical Director/Piano), Jay Boyer (Keyboards/Synthesizer), Keith Neal (Lead guitar/Vocals), Steve Henley (Rhythm guitar/Vocals), Daryl Slade (Bass guitar/Vocals), Billy Carmody (Drums), & Russine Zellner (Vocals). Tickets are $20/$25/$30 and can be purchased online by going to>>
Well, gang, that’s about it for this week. There will be no column next week as I will be on the road. I’m outa here!