Everyone in Las Vegas has, by now, heard of the Smith Center for the Performing Arts. Most of the news has been good; a few naysayers (I have occasionally been among them) doubted the wisdom of $470 million spent for a cultural arts center when valley residents also clamor for better schools, world-class hospitals and handier transportation.
However, the Smith Center is paid for and is with us. Eating my past words, I must admit, an initial visit last week to the Smith Center was quite stunning. The Art Deco style of the building does not shout “new”, but it does shout “permanent”. The building is solidly constructed — lots of terrazzo, limestone and steel — with all details well considered. The doors are enormous and heavy. Even the trash cans looked as if they would last in pristine condition for decades. The grounds are well maintained, and the whole area is lit beautifully at night.
The concert we saw, by Tony Award winning tap dancer and choreographer Savion Glover, was amazing. He and three colleagues made the rhythms of tap dancing so exciting (“Bare Soundz” was the name of the program), one will never quite forget the evening. Our tickets bought months ago cost $46.70 each, and we sat in the second row, left of center.
How were folks dressed? “Up” is the answer. Yes, a few Levis and dressy casual clothes were spotted, but by and large folks wore their Sunday best or even their cocktail best. Lots of men wore coats and ties (not my husband), and women were spotted with designer duds (not me). This concert was an “occasion”. Indeed, visiting the Smith Center did seem to be very special. The clatter of a casino was far away, and the newness of everything gave the evening extra sparkle. Seats are wide. The aisle in front of our seats was also very generous, and I’m told attention was given to all the aisles in terms of customer comfort and convenience.
The weather was beautiful last Tuesday night and that, combined with the elegant atmosphere, made for a great memory. As the accompanying video shows, we chose valet parking ($8), which worked well for us, though yes, we had about a 15-minute wait for our car. (The wait is no different than waiting after a Celine Dion concert.) Someone else will have to comment on the ease or lack of it when using the surface parking around the Smith Center.
The only negative thing I had to say about the evening was that the very friendly ushers had a script which included the words, “two-hour show with no intermission”. My husband and I determined that the show “with” an intermission is two hours. Without, it was just an hour and a half…and that was fine. Looking at Glover dancing almost non-stop, we figured some replacement knees and hips must be waiting in the wings. What talent…and stamina. An hour-and-a-half was plenty.
So yes, I join the bandwagon by stating that the Smith Center is a plus for Las Vegas. I do get excited thinking that the new Mob Museum, the new airport terminal, the new Smith Center, the coming giant Ferris Wheels and even the Tour-Wayne-Newton’s-Home project mean that visitors have lots of new reasons to visit Las Vegas. With regard to the Smith Center, however, those folks who on a whim decide to spend the weekend in Las Vegas may miss out. For the best seats, reservations far in advance are recommended.