Friday, March 23, 2012

Culture Comes to Las Vegas

The mission statement of the new Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Las Vegas reads: “To build and establish a high quality performing arts center that is embraced by the community and recognized as a vital force by supporting artistic excellence, education and inspiration for all.”

Well, mission accomplished! Say hello to the most hotly anticipated cultural venue in Las Vegas history: a $450 million performing arts center that puts Las Vegas on a par with the world's great stages. Some musicians are even claiming it is THE best performing arts center in the entire world. If you’ve been debating whether to move to Las Vegas because of its lack of cultural events, wonder no more.

The Smith Center celebrated its gala March 10th opening by greeting lucky ticket holders with strawberries and champagne in the Grand Lobby of Reynolds Hall, one of three indoor venues at the Smith Center. Then they were ushered to their seats where they were treated to a once-in-a-lifetime line-up of legendary performances, ranging from music icons like Willy Nelson, Emmy Lou Harris and Carole King, to the who’s who of Broadway superstars.

The sold-out show featured incredible pairings of musical duos. Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard performed "Pancho and Lefty." Carole King and Mavis Staples combined on the hit "You've Got a Friend." American Ballet Theater's Marcello Gomes and Luciana Paris performed a dazzling tribute to the late Frank Sinatra . Jennifer Hudson, accompanied by a 70-member choir, closed the evening with a spectacular rendition of "Take Care of This House."

Theater goers were then treated to more champagne and strawberries as they left the venue with tears in their eyes and music in their hearts. One of my friends who was lucky enough to see the show mentioned how blessed she was to live so near such a fabulous place. She recently moved into Newport Lofts which is just blocks away - and she intends on taking full advantage of the new facility.
In the future, Reynolds Hall, The Smith Center's 2,050-seat auditorium, will host the Nevada Ballet Theatre, the Las Vegas Philharmonic and touring Broadway shows, as well as a variety of special concerts and comedy performances. This season’s Broadway shows include both Memphis and Wicked. I have seen them both several times and can’t WAIT to see them again at the Smith Center – they are fantastic!

The Smith Center also includes the adjacent Boman Pavilion, a 250 seat Cabaret Jazz club with a cozy intimate setting overlooking Symphony Park for both jazz and cabaret performances. Also in the Boman Pavilion, the Troesh Studio Theater serves as the Smith Center's version of a "black box" theater, with seating for 258. Nothing's booked yet for the fourth planned performance space, an outdoors concert venue in the adjacent Symphony Park, with lawn seating for 2,000 to 2,500.

So whether you live in one of Las Vegas luxury estates or a modest suburban home, make sure to check out the new Smith Center and truly enjoy all Las Vegas has to offer.

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