Saturday, May 19, 2012 | 6:25 p.m.
In the early hours of Saturday morning, something unusual happened outside the Smith Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Las Vegas.
More than 60 people lined up near the building’s front door shortly before 7 a.m., each anxiously awaiting the chance to buy tickets for the smash-hit Broadway musical “Wicked,” which begins its six-week stay at the Smith Center in late August.
“When I heard it was coming to town, I knew I had to see it,” said Las Vegas resident Katherine Muniz, who was first in line Saturday morning. “I heard it was going to sell out, so I figured I’d get here at 4 a.m. just in case.”
About 100,000 tickets will be available over the course of 48 shows for “Wicked,” a parallel take on the Wizard of Oz, which tells the story Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, before and after Dorothy’s fateful arrival in the magical land.
Muniz said she planned to buy a ticket for herself and one for her mother as a birthday gift.
“I’m super excited. I’m glad that there’s more culture coming into town and more things for locals to do,” she said.
Wicked’s arrival is a major moment for the nascent Smith Center, which opened in March, said president Myron Martin, who was busy snapping pictures Saturday morning while wearing a “Wicked”-inspired green tie.
“In the world of Broadway, there’s nothing bigger (than “Wicked”). It’s been extraordinarily successful and popular,” Martin said as he stood on the Smith Center’s second floor, overlooking the lobby where people bustled about buying their tickets. “People who live here no longer have to leave town to see the biggest Broadway shows.”
Because of the show’s popularity, tickets are expected to sell out and the Smith Center decided to hold an on-site sale Saturday morning for die-hard fans before releasing the remaining tickets for sale online at 10 a.m.
The Smith Center has already hosted smaller Broadway musicals, as well as dance and orchestral performances, but Wicked will help the center reach a new, broader audience, Martin said.
“Everything about this show comes together in a way that makes it one of the great theater experiences people can have,” he said. “We’re creating wonderful opportunities for families and friends to come together.”
After purchasing her ticket and seeing the inside of the Smith Center for the first time, Sandy Mullally said she can’t wait for “Wicked” to arrive later this year.
“It’s past time we’ve had something like this,” she said.
Although Broadway musicals have had a long history playing at casinos in town, Henderson resident Betty Weller said she’s glad she’ll be able to avoid the Strip when she wants to see a performance at the Smith Center.
“I hope (at the Smith Center) there will be a nicer, bigger range of ages and more locals,” said Weller, who’s planning to take her granddaughter to “Wicked.” “At a casino, my granddaughter isn’t even allowed to stand in certain areas.”