DANCE CAPTAIN CONNIE CHAMBERS JAZZES UP 'MASTER MAGICIAN' SHOW
Connie Chambers is the dance captain for "Lance Burton: Master Magician" at the Monte Carlo Resort & Casino in addition to being a dancer and magician's assistant she also owns and operates Jazzed Cafe'& Vinotecha with her husband.
"It was the first wine specialty restaurant to open in Las Vegas," she quipped. "No there are a few that have opened but we were first. We moved to a new location on the west side of Las Vegas and sold out east side location before 9/11. Vinotechas means wine bar in Italian. We have electic wine on our list. Wine that you can't buy in the grocery story."
She said, "While I worked over Christmas holidays I saw a lot of our East Side customers at the restaurant. We had managers from Ruth Chris to try our Redwood Babera which is from a boutique winery. My husband seeks out good wines from our distributors. There's and Ialian Chianta that goes for $57 a bottle at the restaurant. We don't mark up the prices too high so people will try it."
She said, "We have live jazz from 7-10 five nights a week. We are open every night from 5 p.m. thru 1 a.m. weekdays and 5 p.m. thru 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. My husband spends full-time on the restaurant now. We try to ski and workout on our off-time."
Connie was a newcomer to the show when it opened at the Monte Carlo on June 21, 1996 and landed the position after auditioning with 140 other girls.
She said, "I teach the new girls the dance routines and make sure the dance moves are clean. I also work on the staging and choreography with company manager Mike Rome. Every once in a while we get together and do a rehearsal."
Connie said, "I learned to dance under a great teacher named Dee Hillier in Cleveland. When I was 18 she moved me into the advanced class and that was it. Next, I trained from ballet. My first job was actually at Yankee Stadium in a Disney show.
The Cleveland, Ohio native toured for one year with Jim Henson's Muppets. She said, "I moved to New York City and danced in the Muppet Show and that took me to LA. It was "The Muppet Show on Tour" and lasted a year. It was a hard job. I had to wear a 40-pound costume. I was Ralph the Dog and on the second half of the tour I was Baby Piggy."
She continued, "when the Muppet Tour was over, I moved to LA, met with an agent and went on a Motley Crue video and I got it and she signed me for the MTV video. I did movies and commercials for nine years in LA."
Connie said, "I was offered Dance Captain at 'Legends In Concert' at a nice salary and thought I would come out here for three to six months. I met a man and we both worked in 'Legends' and we opened a restaurant together called Jazzed Cafe' & Vinotecha. My fiancée and I own it together. It's a restaurant and wine bar. We carry 60 wines by the bottle. We also carry eclectic boutique wines. It's wines that most people haven't heard of, but like them immediately. It's so much fun that we work there before and after work. It's at 2055 E. Tropicana Ave."
She reminisced, "my very first job in magic was with Pamela McCovich in the Mayfair Theatre in Los Angeles."
She said, "I like to camp and go boating and love snow and water skiing. I would love to go back to Italy with my husband. He lived there for 10 years and speaks Italian fluently. I was there for two days and am trying to learn Italian."
She said, "My mom and dad live in Rome City, Indiana and are retired. They live on a lake and my dad's trying to start a little business to stay busy. They love watching this show and when Lance Burton's specials are on television. I have two sisters who are older than me."
Connie continued, "Lance's show was the only one that I wanted to be in because of the good word of mouth among dancers. Working for him is a dream. I love his dove act. That's the best 10 minutes in magic and I still don't know how that's done. When I meet people and they find out that I work in Lance Burton's show they're impressed."
She said, "My first professional job was doing a Motley Crue video `Girls, Girls, Girls' in LA afer I did `The Muppets on Tour.' I was only 22 years old. Dancing helped me escape Ohio."
She continued, "The worst part of living in Las Vegas is the heat and the best part is the wild nightlife and entertainment. Being close to Lake Mead and Mt. Charleston is a big plus too."
She said, "I have two dogs, crochet and do yoga. I would love to vacation in Italy. My husband lived there for 10 years.
What advice would Connie give to those considering show business? She answered, "work hard and have a passion for it. You have to love it."