Although Las Vegas has been synonymous with entertainment for decades, filled with showrooms and theaters galore, the one thing the city never had was a true performing arts venue—the kind of place where symphonies and true Broadway shows (not the cut-down versions that happen on the Strip) could spread their wings. The Smith Center changes all that, and should firmly establish Sin City as a cultural center to be reckoned with.
The buildings are stunning, designed with a timeless Art Deco style inspired by the Hoover Dam—notice the chandeliers, which look like an inverted version of the water intake towers. The whole thing is bright, modern, and dramatic, yet comfortable, familiar, and built to last. While many Vegas buildings attempt scope and grandeur, they feel impermanent somehow—as if they are just waiting to be imploded so the next big thing can be built. The Smith Center feels like the kind of place that will be here for centuries.
The main space, Reynolds Hall, is a finely tuned, Carnegie Hall–worthy, 2,050-seat concert venue that hosts philharmonics, headliners, and touring versions of Broadway shows like Hamilton and The Book of Mormon. The 240-seat Cabaret Theater is a classic nightclub-style space with big windows, giving it a sense of airiness missing in most theaters. It features a jazz series, and more intimate concerts from acts that run from swing to doo wop to funk. A third, 200-seat “black box”-style theater holds smaller theater and dance productions. Outside is a beautiful park that can also be used for performances, or just a place to sit and enjoy the view.
- Rick Garman