Desert Companion

Ones 2 Watch: Hot artists on the rise

The dancer - Bernard Gaddis

He's leaping outside the box with his visceral - but disciplined - approach to dance

It's a waltz, to be sure, but, oh, how we get there: Snapping their fans open with a confidence that startles, the female dancers confront the audience with a supermodel strut and a sensual roll of their bodies. This recent rehearsal at the Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater studio in Holsum Lofts is for a historical piece about Henry VIII's reign. But the title alone suggests this isn't some stuffy costume drama: "Opulence."

The crooner - Rick Faugno

This silver-throated song-and-dance man keeps spreading his wings

Rick Faugno It's been a busy summer for Rick Faugno. He spent three weeks in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., filming the title role in the movie Virgin Alexander, then returned to Las Vegas to rehearse a Sun City presentation of his one-man show, Songs My Idols Sang (and Danced)! He and fiancée Joyce Chittick, a choreographer, are hatching a program of duets, as well as getting married Sept. 2 at the Springs Preserve. Oh, and there's the little matter of Faugno's "day job" - playing Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys at Palazzo.

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The soprano - Alisa Thomason

If song is a universal language, her voice speaks volumes So this tall, willowy soprano finds herself stuck in Pahrump of all places... Sounds like a set-up to a joke, but it happened to Alisa Thomason - and it's just one of the curious stops she made on her way to Las Vegas, where the singer is earning a reputation for her strong but supple, Italianate voice that can handle anything from Adina in Elixir of Love to Gershwin jazz standards. Certainly, Thomason has a near-lock on technique. But to her, singing is about more than minding your octaves.

The painter - Aaron Sheppard

His slowly evolving, thoughtful paintings have put him on the art scene's fast track

Submitted for discussion: The most important part of a painting is not its surface. Rather, it's the volume of space in front of the image - that zone where the artist works, translating thought, memory, emotion and experience into movements that result in marks on the surface; and where the viewer later stands and tries to extract all of that into a meaningful visual experience.

That said, let's meet Aaron Sheppard...

The composer - Sandy Stein

His music and sounds give robots soul and insects voice

Sound design is an aspect of theater in Las Vegas that's generally conspicuous by its absence. It usually ranks low on a show's list of priorities, relegated to a few music cues here, the stray sound effect there.

Not when Sandy Stein is at the mixing board. Within a relatively short time, he's established himself as a talent to watch- or, rather, to hear. The "total theatre" tour de force that was Insurgo Theater Movement's recent production of R.U.R... 

{Fall cultural guide...}

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