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The Smith Center Is Worth The Wait, And Not Just For Locals

Where: 361 Symphony Park Avenue [map], 89106
March 5, 2012 at 7:46 PM | by | ()

The Smith Center For The Performing Arts is about to unveil itself to the world. Years in concept. Years in construction. You can read elsewhere of the millions of dollars spent, the struggle to convince investors, but we're joining the chorus in suggesting you put the Smith Center on your list for your next trip to Vegas. Hopefully, our galleries will give you a hint of how worthwhile this trip off The Strip could be. It's the first major cultural center in the city's history. It looks like a world class venue and they intend to make sure it is regarded as one.

The Smith Center itself has a very strong web presence. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook and you'll receive first notice of seats for sale. Even for supposedly sold out events, like the opening night gala.

Although, there is much touting of a European Opera House influence, we think they should be proud of how resolutely American it appears. Western State Americana with an unapologetic Art Deco style. The Hoover Dam, its era and influence, has been strongly and purposely merged into the designs. That beginning of Las Vegas is now twinned with a new cultural beginning for this city.

And, as for culture, the productions hosted here will be top notch. The Center really, really WANTS to succeed. Amazingly, not for money's sake. Investment from public and private partnerships, means the Center is debt free from the day they open the doors.

And, it has millions in reserve. Operators hope it will permit them to take artistic risks. Not right now, but in the future. The current mission gives a hint of being based on civic pride. To show the country that Las Vegas, finally, is no longer a barren cultural wasteland. On our tour, the emotions of finally achieving success and sharing it with press and public were raw and unapologetic. Tears were shed at how happy this mammoth task was finally at an end.

The details in the buildings are extraordinary at times. And, full of considered thought. From The Carillon bell tower chimes pleasing melodies and tones to hard-to-spot visual design references that incorporate the tower motif. From how to seat the audience in the boxes on a flat level (different height chairs, so not to disturb the acoustics of the hall) to subtle visual tributes to a major force behind the Center, Mary Smith. Look for designs incorporating her favorite iris flower ringing the ceilings of various rooms. It's a grand space, and often it's tough to visually take everything in.

Reynolds Hall is the focal point. 2,050 seats. Broadway shows and big name headliners. Acoustically, it's a deliberate marvel and purpose built for optimum sound. It looks like every seat is a winner. Prices will also be very competitive, but competition is fierce for tickets. This huge space actually has less seats than some Cirque productions. The program for the Hall is a little safe this year. Again, the push is awareness and to bring as many people into the Center and encourage a habit of visiting for local and visitors alike.

The more progressive programs appear to be originating with the The Las Vegas Philharmonic and the Nevada Ballet Theatre who will be based and rehearse in this facility. Chatter suggested they are very excited about utilizing this building with very high tech video capabilities to really push their productions to whole new areas.

Across from the Reynolds Hall is The Bowman Pavilion. It includes the Troesh Studio Theater where smaller productions can be staged. Only 240 people will fit into there. They also have the Cabaret Jazz room, highlighting evenings with sophisticated programming and a well rounded menu. Philharmonic Phizz champagne cocktails to a plate of boneless chicken bites. Prices at the Pavilion and at Reynolds Hall seem comparable to shows on The Strip. $3 for a soda and Miller Lite is $5.

The Smith Center is advertised as located near Downtown Las Vegas. But, if you are unfamiliar with the area, not really. If you are visiting from out of town and think you might want to walk from Fremont Street, we suggest you do not attempt it. The Center's website also recommends taking the Deuce to The Bonneville Transit Center stop and walking half a mile. Again, we recommend you do not.

If you are going to walk it or use public transportation, your best bet is probably the SDX express bus that takes you to the Las Vegas Premium Outlets - North. You could enjoy two locations that way, but if you buy anything there isn't much room to stash your purchases under the seats at the Reynolds Hall! Again, it's an annoying walk and after a wonderful time enjoying the arts, you don't really want to be hiking across a couple of busy roads to get home. So, either a car or a taxi is going to be your best bet. And, the taxi situation will be something that'll be needed to be worked out. For the moment, the emphasis is on locals and their needs. Getting them here. Wow them with the building and the performance and then bring them back.

Right now, it's also not a stand-alone tourist attraction. The Symphony Park next door does not hold enough park or art to merit a side trip for you. There are no restaurants directly close. And apart from The Outlet Mall, local business is not in line of sight. But, if you discover an event playing here that you are even halfway interested in seeing, the Smith Center is an extraordinary building that will provide a big part of the joy of your experience.

Archived Comments:

Can't wait

I was already looking forward to seeing the Smith Center in person but after seeing its gorgeousness in full color, I'm giddy with anticipation.

Bravo, Vegas.  Bravo.

So excited..

I'm pretty geeked out about this. Just bought tickets to see Million Dollar Quartet!


"Although, there is much touting of a European Opera House influence, we think they should be proud of how resolutely American it appears."

Why on earth would this matter to anyone but the kind of person who only flies United or AA out of blind patriotism?

re juliab

Matters to me. I'm from Europe. I'd prefer the "frozen music" of American architecture to be site specific and in polite opposition to any trend from Europa, past or present.


fair dos, though I don't think it matters at all. with you on what it actually looks like though - i see no europe in it at all. it really reminds me of the philadelphia railway station.

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