A project like The Smith Center for the Performing Arts doesn’t come along very often.  The opportunity for a PR professional to work on such a project and be part of history is truly once in a lifetime.  After arriving in Las Vegas over one year ago, I noticed that one thing was missing…a performing arts center.  However, I also knew that in another year the hopes and dreams of having a cultural hub were about to be realized.  Best of all, I was going to be part of the amazing team working on it!

Over the course of 2011, the community was energized by exciting announcements – the pre-Broadway season including Million Dollar Quartet and Mary Poppins, the ability to buy tickets to shows like PSY by 7 Fingers (one of my favorites) and David Sedaris, the arrival of the Carillon Bells, the topping off of the bell tower and hard hat tours.  Just like a snap of the fingers, the year was over and we were going full steam ahead preparing for the opening!

Fast forward to March and the opening was days away.  March 2 marked the first time we were able to showcase the breathtaking performing arts center to media and community members.  The months of preparation was worth it when we witnessed the overwhelming sense of joy when people arrived at the stunning venue and walked through the doors.  After all, bringing happiness through the arts and restoring pride to the community is what The Smith Center is all about!  From there on, Las Vegas embraced The Smith Center through amazing behind the scenes features, cover stories and television specials.  It was amazing to see the whole city behind this inspiring project!

The Smith Center officially opened on March 10 with incredible fanfare.  The performers who attended were the who’s who of Broadway and music – artists I never thought I would be able to see live and in person, let alone performing together on one stage.  The evening was hosted by the incomparable Neil Patrick Harris, who was nothing short of brilliant.  Between seeing Jennifer Hudson perform “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” Willie Nelson team up with Merle Haggard and Emmylou Harris or experiencing Carole King’s infectious energy, it is hard to come up with a favorite moment for the evening.  However, being the Broadway geek that I am, seeing Broadway legends come together to perform some of Broadway’s biggest hits blew me away.  And yes, I believe I even had watery eyes when Cheyenne Jackson, Montego Glover, Sherie Rene Scott, Laura Osnes and Benjamin Walker sang “Seasons of Love.”
With the opening behind us, we look forward to the exciting shows that will grace Reynolds Hall, Cabaret Jazz and the Troesh Studio Theater and the thrilling announcements of shows to come including the full 2012-2013 Broadway Las Vegas season.   Leading off with the smash-hit musical Wicked, the new Broadway season will leave you wanting more!  Thankfully, The Smith Center is here to stay and I thank my lucky stars I could be a small part of it!

˜Michelle Willmoth

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* Photos (Getty images)

Video Link – http://www.eonline.com/videos/Stars_Land_in_Vegas_for_Glam_New_Venue/179757