When local photographer Michael Childers talks about his adoration for the golden age of Las Vegas, there’s a twinkle in his eye.
“I love the vulgarities, excess, and the glitz and the glam, and I’m fascinated when I read about the history of Vegas from 1950 to 1970,” Childers said, citing performers such as Cole Porter, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and The Rat Pack as examples.
The fabulous entertainment featured in many of the hotels on the strip during that era is the theme of Childers’ annual show “One Night Only, Las Vegas: The Golden Age, 1950-1970” on Nov. 8 at the McCallum Theatre. The event, which benefits the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center, will feature live performances by Debby Boone, Clint Holmes, Jennifer Leigh Warren, Nita Whitaker and more.
Tickets go on sale Sept. 6 at mccallumtheatre.com and are $85, $105, and $195.
The 2022 edition of “One Night Only” featured performances by the likes of Alex Getlin, Billy Stritch and Teri Ralston, and raised $650,000 for the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center. Over the past 16 years, Childers’ “One Night Only” productions have raised approximately $4 million to help support numerous nonprofit organizations within the Coachella Valley.
The mission of the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center is to counsel physically, sexually and emotionally abused children and to focus on prevention, community education and breaking the cycle of generational abuse. No child is turned away due to a family’s inability to pay.
“One Night Only” raises awareness of the programs and workings of the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center that have benefitted over 23,000 children in the Coachella Valley since 1986.
John Thoresen, director and executive officer of the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center Foundation, described this year’s show as a “throwback” to Frank Sinatra’s legacy in Las Vegas with The Rat Pack and goes back to the roots of his wife and the center’s founder, Barbara Sinatra.
“Michael has a wonderful rolodex of performers that include Broadway, film and music stars. He’s obviously very convincing to get them to come and donate their time and effort to support the center and what we do.”
‘A great reputation’
The 17th edition of “One Night Only” directed by Scott Coulter and musical director Todd Schroeder features many new entertainers. What makes the event exceptional is even though many of the performers are not megastars, all are accomplished and bring something fabulous that fits into the theme of the production.
“It really is just like the title says, ‘One Night Only’ that you won’t experience again,” Thoresen said.
When Childers was asked about the challenges of keeping each edition of the show distinctive, he said “I can’t do what’s comfortable or what we did two years ago.”
“This show has such a great reputation across America,” Childers said. “Everyone wants to be in this show. I have continuous phone calls from managers asking, ‘Please put my client in your show.’ I’m lucky, and it’s a good place to be, because most people want to come to Palm Springs for a vacation, so it’s an easy sell.”
Palm Springs-based dance company Nickerson-Rossi Dance, which has been featured in “One Night Only” in previous years, will be back again this year. Childers said the company will perform a dance by choreographer Jonathan Sharp to a Nancy Sinatra song, and described the company’s performance in last year’s show as “very sensual, beautiful and pure.”
“Dance is expensive and takes longer to produce (for a performance), but I’m passionate about dance,” he said. “I’ve been photographing dance since the 1960s in New York with Alvin Ailey, many of the Joffrey Ballet companies in London, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Rudolf Nureyev. I like modern dance, but music is first in my life and dance is second.”
Nickerson-Rossi said he “believes in (Childers’) vision” and choreographing a dance to Nancy Sinatra’s “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” makes him feel “right at home.”
“The desert has embraced (The Sinatras) and I have done a lot of dance programming around them, so it was a perfect fit when Michael asked,” Nickerson-Rossi said.
Even though the show is successful each year, Childers hopes to attract a broader audience.
“I’d love to turn younger kids on to the show who wouldn’t like Broadway and are more into the (Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival),” Childers said. “We have country music, rock, pop and jazz. It’s not just Broadway.”
Brian Blueskye covers arts and entertainment for the Desert Sun. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @bblueskye.