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Las Vegas: Smith looks ahead to its second year of performances

March 11, 2013|By Jay Jones
  • Las Vegas' Smith Center has announced its lineup for the coming second season, which includes "Book of Mormon."
Las Vegas' Smith Center has announced its lineup for the coming second… (Smith Center for the Performing…)

The Smith Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Las Vegas is celebrating its first birthday and is looking ahead with a schedule of diverse productions.

The center, which opened March 10, 2012, hosted more than 450 performances during its first year, many of them in its acclaimed Reynolds Hall.

The coming weeks illustrate the variety of acts being booked by Las Vegas’ new showcase for the arts. Highlights include:

  • An evening with Burt Bacharach (March 28)
  • Reinventing radio: An evening with (NPR’s) Ira Glass (April 27)
  • Lang Lang, the celebrated Chinese pianist (April 29)
  • "Billy Elliot the Musical" (May 14-19)
  • Olympia Dukakis in “Rose,” a concert reading (May 21)

Billy Elliot is part of the center’s Broadway Las Vegas series. The 2013-14 season, which begins in August, will bring 10 shows to Las Vegas, including “Les Miserables,” “War Horse” and “The Book of Mormon.”

The calendar of events is the result of some experimentation, according to Myron Martin, the center's president and chief executive.

“In some cases, we knew what people were asking for and what they wanted [but] we wanted to take the temperature of the community,” he said. “It was a combination of us giving people what they want and exploring all kinds of new avenues.”

Although orchestras have praised the acoustics in the 2,050-seat Reynolds Hall, the first two Broadway shows left some patrons grumbling about sound quality.

“There were parts of the hall that weren’t being reached as well as they should have been with the speakers," Martin said. "It took us a good six months of constant work ... to really dial it in. I think today it’s as close to perfect as an amplified sound can have.”

The Smith Center has stayed true to one of its initial promises: to educate and interest young people in the performing arts. During its first year, more than 42,000 students and teachers attended live performances at the facility.

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