Culture Smash

Culture Smash
An exterior shot of the new Smith Center (Geri Kodey)

It's hard for a city to boast about being the "entertainment capital of the world" when it doesn't have a performance hall worthy of the name.

Apart from hotel showrooms where you have to fight your way through phalanxes of slot machines to get to your seat, Sin City never really had a world-class performing arts center.

That changed with the opening earlier this year of the Smith Center for the Performing Arts

This $470-million addition to the Vegas cultural landscape provides a much-needed venue for plays, musicals and concerts that don't fit in with the spectacle-heavy razzle dazzle that dominates the Strip.

Rising dramatically in a palm tree-studded park in downtown Las Vegas, the Smith Center exudes stately elegance. It has a limestone facade and art deco touches evocative of another architectural triumph the Hoover Dam. Its most striking element is a bell tower that climbs 17 stories and houses a four-octave carillon with 47 bronze bells.

"We're in a city where we tend to build things out of stucco and tear them down every 20 or 30 years," said Myron Martin, the Smith Center's president and CEO. "At the Smith Center, we set out to build something elegant and lasting to rival the greatest performing arts centers in this country and around the world."

The Smith Center has three performance spaces, the largest of which is the 2,050-seat Reynolds Hall. The space has five tiers of seating, terrific acoustics and great sight lines.

Reynolds Hall is the venue for the Broadway Las Vegas Series, which brings in national touring productions of hit stage shows.

Yet to come in the 2012-13 season, which runs through June, are "Anything Goes," "West Side Story," "Shrek the Musical," "Disney's Beauty and the Beast," "Billy Elliot the Musical," "American Idiot" and "Catch Me If You Can."

Individual seats for the Broadway series start at a pocketbook-friendly $24.

The 258-seat Cabaret Jazz and the 250-seat Troesh Studio Theater offer more intimate settings. Christmas shows are on tap this month: singer Deana Martin at Cabaret Jazz and City of Lights Barbershop Chorus at Troesh.

Two resident companies the Las Vegas Philharmonic and Nevada Ballet Theatre make their homes at the Smith Center. 

The Smith Center's opening celebration, “From Dust to Dreams: Opening Night at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts,” was telecast on PBS in September. 

—Anne Burke, Custom Publishing Writer