Sunday, July 20, 2014 | 7:30 p.m.
As Robin Leach wraps up a northern Italian lake district lifestyle before his traditional summer vacation under the Tuscan sun in Italy — plus Lake Como and Lake Maggiore this year — many of our Las Vegas personalities have again stepped forward in his absence to pen their own words of wisdom. We continue today with Myron Martin, president and CEO of the Smith Center for the Performing Arts.
It’s amazing to think that nearly two decades ago, with little more than the “can-do” spirit for which Las Vegas is known, community leaders set out to bring a world-class performing arts center to our city, and two years ago the Smith Center for the Performing Arts opened with great fanfare.
Now, just 28 months later, we recognized a milestone of having welcomed 1 million guests through our grand doors.
This was a project that many considered to be of utmost importance to the community because it was built for the community. I see this place as “the living room” for Las Vegas, one where residents from all parts of our valley can gather to be entertained and inspired.
When my friend Robin asked me to fill in for his column while he takes a well-deserved vacation, I knew instantly that I wanted to use the opportunity to acknowledge the amazing residents of Las Vegas. As I reflect on the first two years, I am overwhelmed with a special appreciation for this city.
I’m especially grateful to the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation for their vision; Don Snyder and our board of directors, major donors and city leaders for their leadership; and of course the patrons for embracing us. One million guests is a milestone, but it is only the beginning.
We dreamed big but, truly, it is the community’s support that has inspired us to keep reaching. Within just these two short years since opening, the Smith Center has surpassed many initial goals, and we look forward to fulfilling many more.
For instance, we have welcomed more than 120,000 students for performances, workshops and master classes. Recently, we partnered with Teller (of Rio headliner magicians Penn & Teller) and Harvard University’s American Repertory Theater to create William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” and in September, we will realize the dream of launching a national tour of a Broadway show with the Tony Award-winning musical “Kinky Boots.”
Along with performances, the Smith Center has hosted weddings, meetings and community events. This has been a place for marriage proposals, reunions and photographs.
There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t see someone taking pictures at the Smith Center — engagement, bridal and graduation photos and family portraits — and it makes me happy to know that these people are using the Smith Center as a backdrop for these important moments.
Not long ago, one patron shared a photograph he took of his wife before a performance of “Wicked” during its 2012 run in Las Vegas. Teachers in the Clark County School District, this was a rare date night without their kids. Not long after, his wife died unexpectedly, and the husband shared a photograph of that night at the funeral because she looked so happy.
Speaking about his wife, the husband recalled that this was one of their best nights out together, how his wife really wanted to see the show and how much they enjoyed themselves that evening. His only regret — knowing what he knows now — is that they didn’t take the kids.
So, when the upcoming return engagement of “Wicked” was announced, he was first in line at the box office to ensure that his kids and he got to sit in the exact same seats. I am sure that they will have their picture taken, and in that moment their family will be reunited. The Smith Center will always be a special place for this family and for many others who have come to be inspired, share joy and, yes, even mourn.
Our proudest moment may have been hosting the funeral for fallen Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Officer Alyn Beck. What appeared to be impossible became possible thanks to an army of volunteers and the cooperative production team from “The Book of Mormon.” On Saturday, June 14, we were the living room for our community, and for that I am very proud.
In recognition of the passion that the community holds for the Smith Center and the times spent together, we’ve created a forum for our guests, to share the memories that they have created over the last two years at the Smith Center, at TheSmithCenter.com/Moments. There, visitors can post stories, photos and videos reflecting their personal experiences at the Smith Center.
Thank you again, Las Vegas, for proving that a strong love of the performing arts exists here in our community. The world has taken notice. I look forward to seeing you soon in our living room.
Be sure to read our other guest columns today from nightlife guru Jack Colton and music hitmaker Zoe Thrall of Studio at the Palms. Our guest columnists this week include Boyz II Men singer Shawn Stockman, Elton John’s partner David Furnish, gorgeous “Fantasy” topless beauty Tracey Gittins, three cast members from “Jersey Boys” at Paris Las Vegas and “Mamma Mia!” at Tropicana, singer and Las Vegas resident Pia Zadora and Food Network chef and World Food Championships host Ben Vaughn.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
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Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.