Updated April 9, 2022 - 7:52 pm
Dionne Warwick is going to do what is best for Dionne Warwick.
That is true of calling off plans to attend the UNLV College of Fine Arts Hall of Fame Dinner, while making it to Clive Davis’ 90th birthday party in New York City the next night. Certainly it is the case when Warwick’s residency at the Stirling Club at Turnberry Place was dropped abruptly on Thursday.
Two Las Vegas institutions might have been left high and dry in this whirlwind week. But Warwick held fast to her decisions Saturday in an exclusive interview.
“I am at the stage of my career where I am doing what I want to do,” Warwick said in a phone interview from New York. “I’ve made adjustments, too, but I have to decide what is best for me.”
Warwick was to play at The Stirling Club for two or three nights per week through mid-December. Dates in January were also being held for the show. Instead, she performed just a half-dozen shows.
Warwick said her Vegas residency was undercut by a dispute over a new lighting and sound system being installed in the venue. Show producers Steve and Tom Mihm had followed Warwick’s wishes in bringing in a new audio/video setup for her upcoming performances.
But that equipment needs to come down for The Stirling Room’s non-Warwick events, and that process is not cheap.
“The cost of taking them down and resetting them would be $10,000,” Warwick said. “The decision was made then to just shut the show down.”
But Steve Mihm and Stirling Club operator Debra Kelleher said that Warwick’s health, and also sluggish ticket sales (ranging from between 50 and 75 percent in her early run) played into that decision. Both Kelleher and Mihm said the producers, along with Warwick’s son and manager Damon Elliott, made the decision collectively on Thursday.
Stirling Club owner Richard Ditton said his team had nothing to do with the final call.
“We were were given no notice this was going to happen,” said Ditton, who as of Saturday afternoon had not heard from Warwick.
Ditton, who also owns the Incredible Technologies game-device company, bought the Stirling Club for $12 million March 2018. He ultimately approved the Dionne residency and accompanying renovations to The Stirling Room. He and Kelleher are now reviewing entertainment options.
Kelleher is optimistic her refreshed venue will attract top-level, live entertainment.
“This is a beautiful room, it is a great place for live performances,” Kelleher said. “It was a great room for Dionne.”
Warwick said she regretted missing the UNLV event, but there was no chance of her sitting out Davis’ 90th birthday party.
“That event took precedence, because Clive Davis is the one who revived my recording career, and he was turning 90 years old,” Warwick said. “I did a lot to be there. The UNLV situation, I’m really sorry I couldn’t make it, and we had to make arrangements to present the award to me on video. But again, I had made the arrangements for the Clive Davis party prior to the event at UNLV.”
Warwick accepted the award from UNLV College of Fine Arts Dean Nancy Uscher in a video clip. Warwick was in a wheelchair for that segment.
“I said that once I get myself together, I want to do something special at UNLV,” Warwick said. “The dean wants to do that, too. She’s definitely wonderful.”
Warwick was inducted at UNLV with fellow legend Paul Anka, ballet-dance great Cynthia Gregory, and the late actor and visiting UNLV professor Michael Tylo. Receiving the Koep Dean’s Medal were UNLV jazz music director Dave Loeb; Southern Paiute artist and activist Fawn Douglas; and jazz trumpet virtuoso, arranger and composer Kenny Rampton.
In New York, Warwick was a VIP guest at Davis’ celeb-laden event. The recording legend sang “That’s What Friends Are For,” standing next to a grand piano and performing alongside smooth-sax star Kenny G. at Casa Cipriani in Lower Manhattan.
Warwick was on the scene with Barry Manilow, Patti Smith, Art Garfunkel, Earth Wind & Fire, and Alicia Keys. Bruce Springsteen performed remotely. Mark Ronson led a mash of classics spanning Davis’ career. Warwick had considered leaving the industry in her days with Arista in the 1970s, to which Davis said, “You might be done with this industry, but this industry isn’t done with you.”
But is Vegas done with Dionne Warwick? She is not one to say never again.
“If we make a deal that is awfully nice, I would do it,” Warwick said. “We would need to make it really, really nice.”
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.