Smith Center Revisited
The first weekend of April, three of us attended our first concert at Cabaret Jazz in the Boman Pavilion of the Smith Center for the Performing Arts. As fans, we were welcoming Clint Holmes to the Smith Center. (He’ll appear there the first weekend of every month.)
What did we think? The place was packed. Holmes’ program was wonderful and totally different from anything else of his we’d ever seen. And the ambiance? Pretty good, but not perfect.
One of us sat at ground level (the $51 seats) and said all was fine except one of her table companions talked a bit too much as the show began and then occasionally decided to sing along…and she hadn’t paid $51 to hear him.
The other two of us sat in the balcony (they call it the mezzanine) which surrounds the oblong performance space. In the balcony ($38 seats), you must have an even number of guests because each of the small cocktail tables accommodates just two chairs. (If you are a party of four, you buy tickets to two tables and push them together.)
The balcony chairs are tall so that one can see over the balcony railing. The railing is high, so where we sat, we moved the chairs forward pushing the table out of the way so we could see the show. (We saw a few folks in the balcony standing for long periods.) The tall seats are metal and for us, were not comfortable unless you sat way back in the chairs which meant legs dangled. The acoustics were wonderful, but next time, we are going to pay the extra money and purchase seats on the interior of the main floor. We’ll report then on those seats.
This past Thursday, we returned to Smith Center to attend an evening with storyteller David Sedaris in Reynolds Hall. The performance appeared to be a sellout, and the audience loved the show. We noted the dress for this show seemed much more informal than seen previously at the Smith Center.
Outside Smith Center in Symphony Park, we saw a wonderful display of three-dimensional five-foot-tall heart statues, each one custom painted by a local professional artist. The hearts, we learned, will be auctioned May 12 in a benefit sponsored by the Las Vegas Chapter of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. In the meantime, local Las Vegans are invited come to Symphony Park and even bring a picnic basket to enjoy this newest public park and its heart art.
Once a year, my husband and I go to New York City to attend as many Broadway shows as we can. This year’s trip a week ago coincided with Clint Holmes’ appearance at the Cafe Carlyle at the Carlyle Hotel, some say the finest (and most exclusive) hotel in New York.
Reviews for Holmes were glowing. “A brainy showman whose sensitivity to lyrics is matched by his fearlessness as a performer” – NY Times. “There’s no doubt that Holmes is probably one of the greatest entertainers around as he finds the poetry within the songs putting his unique stamp on each one” – Examiner.com. A number of celebrities — Chita Rivera, Michael Douglas, Susan Lucci and Brian Stokes Mitchell, among others — have attended his shows.
We wanted to see the Carlyle (the hotel where John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe secretly met following her rendition of “Happy birthday, Mr. President”). Of course, the fact that Holmes was headlining didn’t hurt.
The Café Carlyle is an intimate space for only about 90 people. The maître d’ welcomes return visitors by name and calls newcomers “sir” and “madam”. The tables are very close together, so close you can’t help but meet new friends. (We were able to talk with sculptor J.Seward Johnson Jr. whose metal sculptures are in public areas in Green Valley.) The Cafe costs? WAY up there. To hear Clint Holmes at Café Carlyle, the cover charge was $45 at the bar and either $75 or $85 at a table. Dinner was extra. My Café Carlyle mimosa cocktail cost as much as an entire Las Vegas dinner: $26.
As to the Broadway shows we saw in New York, all were excellent. Broadway showcases the best talents in the country. We typically take the New York Times’ recommendations for shows, and the Times was right on target, as far as we were concerned. The shows we saw (and recommend) were: “End of the Rainbow”, “Once”, “Anything Goes”, “Other Desert Cities”, “Peter and the Star Catcher” and “The Columnist”.
Walking to and from the shows in New York is always so much fun. The streets are crowded, but New Yorkers and tourists seldom actually bump into each other. The shows we saw typically attract a mostly-white crowd, but the streets of New York are a banquet of people of different colors, languages, ages and occupations. Once again, I made a video of some of the sights and sounds from the Broadway/Times Square area. The premise of this year’s video is that although Las Vegas tried to build an urban environment called “CityCenter”, a real American city is much more interesting than just a group of tall buildings.