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A Bold Encore The Smith Center Brings the Great White Way West By Lynn Wexler-Margolies

A scene from Les Miserables. August 7-11, 2013 Photo: Deen van Meer

T

he neon lights may be bright on Broadway, but they’re every bit as dazzling in Las Vegas. The Smith Center for the Performing Arts has announced a glittering, second-year lineup of 10 Broadway hits that will be presented in its 2,050-seat Reynolds Hall, beginning in August. That’s two productions more than during its premiere season. Collectively, the celebrated roster will represent 40 Tony Award wins.

“What an amazing year we’ve had!” gushes Smith Center President Myron Martin, who doubles as CEO of the year-old art deco hub that includes cultural, theatrical, musical and educational spokes. “Our first Broadway run has been extraordinarily successful, with ticket sales way beyond our expectations. But I think Broadway Las Vegas II, or, our second season of Broadway, is going to be even better.”

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Sponsored by Southern Nevada Ford Dealers, the season will run through July 2014 and offer many of Broadway’s most beloved musicals and plays to Las Vegas for the first time — a mix of timeless classics and recent smash hits. Martin chose the center’s Troesh Studio Theater, inside the Boman Pavilion, for the first-ever President’s Reception and announcement of the performances yet to come. To the patrons, sponsors and media gathered, he presented Joey. The 10-footlong, 8-foot-high mechanical puppet from War Horse whinnied, snorted, sniffed and galloped. Controlled and manipulated by three puppeteers, Joey is one of four horses the stage production will feature. He reigned supreme with the crowd on this day. “It’s hard to believe, but after 20 minutes you forget this horse is a puppet,” Martin observed. “War Horse is by far the most stunning production I have ever seen.” Martin was thrilled with the sample audience’s awed reaction to Joey, and “their appreciation for our response to the ongoing clamor

Scenes from War Horse. October 2-6, 2013 Photos: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

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from theatergoers for a ‘straight play’, or a non-musical if you like, which, of course, War Horse is.” “We originally planned to offer a seven- or eight-show season,” he continued, “but there were more great shows available that actually wanted to come to Las Vegas. The 2013-2014 season means that Broadway has fallen in love with Las Vegas.” Since its March 2012 opening, The Smith Center has sold more than 420,000 tickets, Martin says, for more than 450 performances. “But what excites me the most,” he says, “are the hundreds of school buses – 657 to be exact – that have pulled up to our front door. That means 42,287 students have come here to be inspired by and engaged in the arts, all within The Smith Center’s first 10 months.” Broadway Vegas II opens with the theatrical adaptation of Victor Hugo’s epic novel Les Miserables (Aug. 7-11). A story whose principal events take place in France in 1832, it captures the essence and resilience of the human spirit. Nearly 60 million people worldwide

Scenes from The Wizard of Oz. September 10-15 2013 Photos: Cylla von Tiedemann

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Scenes from Sister Act. October 15-20, 2013 Photos: Joan Marcus

have seen versions of the play, but this 25th anniversary iteration will feature spectacular new staging and scenery. Up next (Sept. 10-15) is The Wizard of Oz, with new songs from composer –producer Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist Tim Rice to augment classic tunes from the 1939 Oscar-winning movie inspired by L. Frank Baum’s novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Lloyd Webber has reconceived this production for the stage. Then comes War Horse (Oct. 2-6), winner of five Tony Awards. Adapted from Michael Morpurgo’s novel, which inspired Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-nominated film, it combines stirring music and innovative stagecraft to recount the powerful World War I tale of a boy and his beloved horse, and the remarkable courage, loyalty and friendship that follows. USA Today calls it “a life-affirming experience.” Martin calls it “an emotionally charged production.” Sister Act (Oct. 15-20) is a hilarious send-up, with disco diva and murder witness Deloris Van Cartier disguised as a nun and shaking up the convent in this adaptation of the 1992 film. The stage show is produced by the movie’s original star, Whoopi Goldberg. Evita (Nov. 26-Dec. 1), Webber and Rice’s Tony-winning classic, essays Eva Peron’s rise from the slums of Argentina to her perch as one of the world’s most powerful women, with her greed, ambition and fragile health marking a tragic, memorable tale. Mamma Mia (Jan. 7-12, 2014) follows the life of a mother, daughter and three possible dads. ABBA’s timeless and bubbly pop hits provide the heartbeat for this feel-good, upbeat, jukebox musical. MARCH 2013 DAVID

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Scenes from Evita November 26-December 1, 2013 Photos: Richard Termine

Flashdance – The Musical (Jan. 28-Feb. 2, 2014) is a pop culture phenomenon that started as a movie 30 years ago. It tells the story of a Pittsburgh steel mill welder by day and bar dancer by night, who dreams of becoming a professional performer. The stage production features the biggest hit songs from the original movie, plus 16 new songs. Winner of the 2012 Tony Award for best revival of a musical, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess (April 15-20, 2014) is the groundbreaking 1935 folk opera by brothers George and Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward. It takes place in Charleston’s Catfish Row, where beautiful Bess struggles to break free of her scandalous past, with the help of the crippled but courageous Porgy. With stunning new staging, the production includes such legendary songs as Summertime and It Ain’t Necessarily So. Once (May 20-25, 2014), winner of eight Tony Awards, including best musical, focuses on a Dublin musician, who’s about to abandon his dream when a young woman takes a sudden interest in his haunting songs. Actor/musicians play their own instruments onstage. “It takes place in an Irish Pub. The music is

contemporary, compelling … people are really going to like this show,” Martin promises. The final show in the series is The Book of Mormon (June 10-July 6, 2014). Winner of nine Tony Awards, including best musical, it’s an irreverent romp from South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. The production follows two eager young Mormon missionaries from Salt Lake City to Uganda. The New York Times called it “the best musical of the century.” Entertainment Weekly judged it “the funniest musical of all time.” “It’s pretty amazing that these extraordinary shows are coming right here to Las Vegas, on the Smith Center stage,” Martin says. “The first year we sold out all the Broadway shows. Season two is going to be spectacular. Without a doubt the second year will sell out even faster,” he predicts. Tickets to the 2013-2014 Broadway Las Vegas series are available for purchase now for current season ticket holders. Orders for new subscriptions for the 2013-2014 season begin in May. The date for individual ticket sales is yet to be determined.

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Scenes from The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess. April 15-20, 2014 Photos: Michael J. Lutch

One Year By The Numbers

84 Classrooms across the valley that have hosted a Southern Nevada Wolf Trap artist residency

4,380 Number of times the iconic Carillon Tower bells have run since opening night (Daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.)

277 Early childhood educators that have attended professional development workshops presented by visiting national Wolf Trap Teaching Artists

11,450 Subscribers to the 2012-2013 Broadway Las Vegas season

657 School buses that transported students to The Smith Center campus

457 Performances at The Smith Center since opening

420,000 Tickets sold to patrons over the past year

720 Southern Nevada teachers that participated in professional development workshops presented by Kennedy Center Teaching Artists

223 Volunteer-led tours of The Smith Center campus

5,575 Patrons that have attended tours of The Smith

1,092 Preschool children in Las Vegas that have benefited from Southern Nevada Wolf Trap artist residencies

166 Private and special events held, including weddings, meetings, receptions, dinners, fundraisers and more

3,667 Students and teachers that have participated in a classroom demonstration session presented by local, regional and national artists

47,475 Guests that have attended special events at The Smith Center

12 Couples that said “I do” at The Smith Center over the past year

42,287 Students and their teachers who have attended a performance at The Smith Center MARCH 2013 DAVID

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grill

Dina Titus Congresswoman, Writer & Educator Rep. Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, was born Alice Costandina Titus in Thomasville, Ga., on May 23, 1950. She evokes the girl next door — the neighbor who might bring you a cup of sugar before you even ask. Her sincerity is refreshing, especially for a politician. With a doctorate in political science, she is foremost a scholar, with a fervor for teaching and championing those without a voice. As a UNLV professor for 34 years, she taught American and Nevada government until her retirement in June 2011. She represented Senate District 7 in the Nevada Legislature for 20 years, and was minority leader from 1993-2008. She was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District in November 2008, and for the next two years was her party’s whip for the Western states. This past January she was elected to represent the 1st Congressional District. Titus has written two books and numerous articles on American, Nevada and atomic politics. She and UNLV Latin American political history professor Thomas Wright have been married more than 30 years. DAVID: How did your journey into academia and politics begin? TITUS: On my father’s side, my great-greatgrandfather served in the U.S. Congress and in the Georgia state Senate in the late 1800s. My uncle served in the Georgia Legislature, and my father ran for a City Council seat, though he didn’t win. On my mother’s side, all the local politicos gathered at my Papu’s restaurant to debate current issues. It somehow seeped into my blood. DAVID: How did you pursue those early influences? TITUS: During high school I went to a summer program at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va. After that they admitted me as a full-time student in the fall, without a high school diploma. I was learning in the heartland of American democracy at a time of great change in our country. We were in the midst of the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War. I think all of that inspired me to enter into the conversation, so I decided to major in political science. Soon after completing my Ph.D at Florida State University, I accepted an offer to teach at UNLV. DAVID: What brought you to public service? TITUS: Initially, I was approached to run. Making a difference was important to me,

and at the time I was an activist in women’s Democratic clubs. I’ve long been an advocate for women, the arts, education, children, seniors, the disabled, animals — those who don’t have the money to hire advocates to have their voices heard. Teaching certainly gave me a voice. DAVID: Is there an achievement in particular you’re most proud of? TITUS: Probably the opening of the Dina Titus Estates in 2006. I fought hard for that. It’s an … affordable housing complex in Las Vegas for those with disabilities. DAVID: What are your committee assignments in Washington? TITUS: The veterans committee, which is important because of the numbers of veterans we have in Nevada between our retired population and Nellis. And the transportation and infrastructure committee, which is critical for Nevada because of our dependency on tourism for a thriving economy. We have to work on ways to make it easier for people to come here: improving the airport, the interstate to Phoenix; the super speed train to Southern California. DAVID: What are your views on the president’s expanded use of his authority? TITUS: Well, I think it’s disturbing. More and more of those checks and balances have been lost. But I think some of the president’s actions have been out of frustration, because you can’t get anything out of the Congress. DAVID: You have always been a supporter for the State of Israel. TITUS: AIPAC’s educational group took Tom and (me) to Israel, our first time, in 2009. It was just incredible. In Washington, I’m a founding member of the Greek/Israeli caucus. I see the two countries as part of the same geopolitics in a difficult region. DAVID: What do you want your constituents to know about you? TITUS: I value telling the truth, hard work, and that my office has an open-door policy. We welcome all in our district to share what affects their lives. And I love the diversity. We’ve got the Asian westside, Hispanic eastside, arts district, downtown, Strip, airport, university. This is where it’s happening. We’re striving to have an office that reflects all of those interests and brings the people together. It’s a challenge, but an exciting one.

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Lynn Wexler - David Magazine March 2013 Issue  

Lynn Wexler's article on David Magazine, March 2013 Issue

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