“I WAS THERE”–THE THEME OF THE OPENING AT THE SMITH CENTER FOR PERFORMING ARTS
By Chet Yarbrough
Here it is 7:00 P.M. Saturday, March 10, 2012. Lights are lit, the stage is set, and the stars have arrived. It’s opening night. The tenor of the evening glows in the beautiful faces of ballerina poses in the outdoor gallery of the Las Vegas’ Smith Center for Performing Arts.
The crowd grows for the 8:00 P.M. performance. Beautiful women and “tuxed” men fill the foyer and balcony, waiting for the curtain call.
Many performance highlights become crystallized memories. Every Performing Art’s venue is represented in the opening celebration; i.e. from ballet to rock and roll. Perspective is given to the entire evening with a video presentation of Hoover Dam (the artistic inspiration for the Smith Center design), accompanied by a spectacular trumpet performance by Arturo Sandoval.
Master of Ceremonies is the multi-talented Neil Patrick Harris offering his sly humor and a performance that reminds older audiences of the great Danny Kaye.
Brian Stokes Mitchell’s incredible Broadway voice reminds one of thrilling performances of “Man of La Mancha” in New York. A magnificent classic violin performance by Joshua Bell demonstrates the incredible acoustic quality of the new Performing Arts theater. Bell’s deft violin strokes resonate throughout the hall giving full range to what a violin’s sound has to offer.
Seeing Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard strum their guitars and sing with resonant voices that belie their age is one of many highlights of the evening.
Mavis Staples is introduced by Carole King to give the audience a tingle of blues and what scat means. Then, a great surprise from Ms. King; i.e. she invites Martina McBride and Jennifer Hudson to join her in singing her classic song, “A Natural Woman”.
The evening ends with a perfectly attuned decision to have Jennifer Hudson sing “It’s My House” that reminds every one in the Las Vegas Valley of the importance of supporting the Smith Center for Performing Arts.
This was a great evening of entertainment at the Smith Center in a great place to live, Las Vegas.