Denise Truscello/Wire Image
Las Vegas Sun columnist John Katsilometes aims a pistol at the stage at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts during rehearsals for Nevada Ballet Theatre’s production of “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue” part of “A Balanchine Celebration,” set for Saturday and Sunday at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts.
Friday, Nov. 6, 2015 | 6 p.m.
On Thursday night, I turned to one of the stagehands for Nevada Ballet Theatre and said, “I can’t figure out what to do with my hat, if it should be on my head or in my lap. I feel like it should be on my head when I am aiming the gun …”
The response: “That’s a question for Philip.”
That’s always the response when sorting out what to do and when, and what to say and how to say it, in the upcoming NBT presentation of “A Balanchine Celebration: The Best of Ballet, Hollywood and Broadway.” The production is set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday (and you can still get tickets at TheSmithCenter.com).
“Serenade” and “Who Cares,” which is a tribute to George Gershwin, bookend the three-act presentation. I’m part of “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue,” in the bit role of the Gangster, who is being recruited to off the male lead dancers.
My partner in the speaking scenes is NBT artist Joshua Kekoa, who hails from Honolulu and was educated at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. This was ideal training for his role in “Slaughter,” in which he plays a Russian dancer whose confidence far outpaces his aptitude.
Philip, in this context, is Balanchine Trust repetiteur Philip Neal, a former principal dancer in New York City Ballet who has known NBT Artistic Director James Canfield and NBT Executive Director and CEO Beth Barbre since he was a kid. No Balanchine performance is revived anywhere without permission from the Balanchine Trust, and Neal represents the trust in this production.
He is the overlord. The Godfather, to use “Slaughter” lingo. And as such, he carries ample clout with NBT artists. It is Neal, with ballet mistress Tara Foy, who has worked with the company during the many hours of rehearsals for this show.
Some of the directives that have been issued to me, and to the dancers in the production, seem to make little sense until you’ve been backstage with a ballet company. What I’ve heard over the past eight days:
• “You need to be heavy-footed. Really heavy-footed. You’re walking like you’ve been inside a theater many times, which I’m sure you have.”
• “Dumb it down. This guy is sort of dumb. He’s tough, but he’s dumb, too.”
• “Lose the facial hair.” (Not for me, but for at least two members of the troupe.)
• “You hand me the money and the ticket, and I’ll hand you the gun.”
• “You’ll need to make it from the stage to the box in about 35 seconds, but Joshua can extend the scene if you can’t make it in that time.”
• “You have to act like, ‘I’m taking orders from this ballet guy?’”
• “You take the money and observe it. You’re thinking, ‘A-ha! I’ve got the money!’”
• “Remember, it’s hat, gun, hat. And when you sit, it’s hat-gun-sit, simultaneously.”
• “Really feel the spotlight. Go right to the light and feel it.”
• “Give a pause, like it just occurred to you that, yeah, maybe you should have worn a tux. It’s just occurring to you as you walk off.”
• “You want to hide the gun but also show it to everyone before you hide it.”
• “When you can’t shoot him, act like you’re really frustrated. ‘C’mon! I have to shoot this guy!’”
• “You’re looking around at the theater like a guy who has never been inside a theater. Really observe the crowd.”
• “When you walk out of the curtain, just push it aside really manly-like. Shove it out of the way. Don’t be delicate at all. Be in the character.”
• “The tie needs to be tied short, gangster-style.”
• “You need to slow it down. Everything needs to be slowed down. This is your moment. Enjoy it.”
Smith Center for the Performing Arts The 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 DIRECTORS Myron G. Martin President and CEO Donald D. Snyder Chairman Dr. Keith Boman Vice Chairman Mark Tratos Secretary Michael Yackira Treasurer David Dunn Alan M. Feldman Richard Haddrill Fred Hipwell Nancy Houssels Todd-Avery Lenahan Scott MacTaggart Jerry Nadal John Nelson Richard Plaster Rory Reid Kim Sinatra Roger P. Thomas
361 Symphony Park Ave Las Vegas, NV Las Vegas,
NV 89106 702-749-2000
Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.