Seeing a performance live is exhilarating, be it a musical, a concert, a Cirque du Soleil spectacular or a San Diego Chargers game at Qualcomm Stadium. There is so much fantastic Strip headliner entertainment in Las Vegas that I recommend to visitors — “Phantom — the Las Vegas Spectacular,” “Jersey Boys,” “Peepshow,” “Viva Elvis,” “Mystere,” Frankie Moreno, Rick Faugno, “Crazy Horse Paris,” Celine Dion, “Absinthe,” Sir Elton John and Human Nature.
Now I can recommend the Smith Center for the Performing Arts in downtown's Symphony Park, and specifically the stunning and top-notch Reynolds Hall. I had the pleasure of watching country legend and bronchitis-battling Randy Travis perform for nearly two hours during a “hard hat” opening March 2, a concert for the talented men and women who helped create the Smith Center. Travis’ voice wasn’t its best, but the beauty and grandeur of Reynolds Hall elevated him and the evening.
The sound and video system are crystal clear and flawless. The main floor is flanked by five stories of opera house-style box seats. Five stories! The art deco design is breathtaking — look up at the ceiling, and the golden kaleidoscope is spellbinding. It’s so nice to see live theater again without having to walk through smoky casinos or crowded shopping malls.
“Welcome to your new home,” Smith Center President Myron Martin said, beaming, before Travis took the stage. Indeed.
I remember fondly and vividly seeing “The Music Man” at Grand Street Theater in Helena, Mont., as a high school student (population 25,000 back in those days). It was especially cool because a classmate, Elizabeth Loos, played a darling Marian the librarian. From Montana to major metropolitan areas, the excitement and electricity from watching a live performance are still the same.
I’ve been fortunate in my journalism career to see stellar productions in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and New York. I will watch “Phantom of the Opera,” “Rent,” “Les Miserables” and “Wicked” again and again at the drop of a hat. The last show I saw in New York City a few years ago was the Green Day musical “American Idiot.”
Smith Center puts Las Vegas alongside these wonderful cities. One thing that elevates Smith Center, however, is its newness, so there is no pretension. Come one, come all! And Smith Center, bring on “The Color Purple,” “Mary Poppins,” “Million Dollar Quartet,” “Memphis” and “Wicked.”
As Smith Center welcomes, among others, Neil Patrick Harris, Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Merle Haggard, Jennifer Hudson and Joshua Bell tonight at its official grand opening gala, I can’t help but be excited for the future of the arts. I can’t wait to defy gravity with the Smith Center — and see Las Vegas soar to new heights.
Smith Center for the Performing ArtsThe Smith Center for the Performing Arts offers a blend of performances by resident companies and touring attractions. The 5-acre cultural campus features three performance spaces, which includes a main performance area with more than 2,000 seats. This downtown cultural center of Las Vegas looks to educate, entertain and excite community members.
To provide and preserve 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.
To entertain, educate, enrich and inspire the southern Nevada community.
Thanks to the generous support of our dedicated founders, members, donors and community partners, The Smith Center continues to provide a wide variety of services for Southern Nevada residents, including access to world-class performances, inspirational Education and Outreach programs for students and teachers, and a unique space to host events, meetings and special occasions. Celebrating our fifth season, we depend upon public support to fulfill our mission and serve as the Heart of the Arts® for many years to come.
With ticket sales covering just 75 percent of our operating budget for each season, the remaining 25 percent comes from the community we serve. Philanthropic support at all levels helps provide programming that entertains, educates, enriches and inspires. By giving to The Smith Center, you play a vital role in providing an important resource for our community.
There are many opportunities to volunteer and play a direct role with your community’s performing arts complex. Volunteers engage with staff and patrons to enhance experiences at The Smith Center, and can serve in various capacities including tour guide/docent, usher, security team member or community ambassador. As important members of The Smith Center team, volunteers help us remain financially sustainable and provide numerous services for the community. Please show your support for The Smith Center’s mission by gifting your time and unique skills.
Members’ annual support provides crucial resources for The Smith Center’s artistic programming, education opportunities and cultural enrichment each year. There are a variety of giving options and levels, and Members receive exclusive benefits and behind-the-scenes opportunities based on their level of support. To learn more, please visit www.thesmithcenter.com/support-us/members.
The Encore Society recognizes those generous donors who have included The Smith Center as a part of their estate plan. Corporate Sponsorship is available to companies to underwrite all, or part, of a program, performance or event.
Fanfare! is The Smith Center’s young progressional networking organization, open to anyone with an interest in the performing arts who is between the ages of 21-40. And our Show Dedication allows for the celebration of an individual or special occasion with unique recognition opportunities during a specific performance.
The Smith Center provides world-class performing arts and outreach and education throughout the Southern Nevada region.
The organization originally formed in 1996 as the Las Vegas Performing Arts Center.
BOARD OF DIRECTORSMyron G. MartinPresident and CEODonald D. SnyderChairmanDr. Keith BomanVice ChairmanMark TratosSecretaryMichael YackiraTreasurerDavid DunnAlan M. FeldmanRichard HaddrillFred HipwellNancy HousselsTodd-Avery LenahanScott MacTaggartJerry NadalJohn NelsonRichard PlasterRory ReidKim SinatraRoger P. Thomas
361 Symphony Park Ave Las Vegas, NVLas Vegas,
Don Chareunsy has worked in arts and entertainment at the San Diego Union-Tribune, Los Angeles Times and Hollywood.com.