Performances and Artists
It felt like a Broadway opening. In fact, two Broadway stars were on stage. And two more were waiting in the wings.
It was the long awaited announcement of the 2016-2017 Broadway Las Vegas Series lineup, presented before invited donors and media on February 24th in Cabaret Jazz, and sponsored by Ford.
Myron G. Martin, President and CEO of The Smith Center, was joined by Penn & Teller (recently on Broadway themselves) to give an enthusiastic audience the rundown on The Smith Center’s exciting mix of freshness and nostalgia, solid hits and groundbreaking musicals, and stories about songwriters and song moguls. The audience got a taste of the season and a sense of the shows from a “sizzle” video reel. But the audience also got a taste of live performance (more on that in a moment).
Martin grouped the shows into categories, allowing the audience the opportunity to savor the broth of Broadway: For nostalgia and excitement, the shows were The Sound of Music (August 2-14, 2016); Irving Berlin’s White Christmas (November 22-27, 2016); An American In Paris (April 11-16, 2017); and The Phantom of the Opera (May 31-June 11, 2017).
Penn & Teller, speaking about their experiences on Broadway (or at least Penn was talking), would add enough entertainment value to the presentation. But when Martin introduced a musical that is in a category by itself, Fun Home, winner of five Tony Awards and due to run January 3-8, 2017, he had a surprise up his sleeve. Alessandra Baldacchino, who plays young Alison in the musical about seeing your parents through grown-up eyes, sang the signature song, “Ring of Keys.”
“Imagination has always played a key role on Broadway,” Martin told the audience, announcing the arrival to The Smith Center of Finding Neverland (February 14-19, 2017) and Matilda The Musical (March 14-19, 2017).
The sound of a generation, strong as ever, was the final category. Motown The Musical, Barry Gordy’s story with more than 40 hits, will enthrall audiences January 17-22, 2017; and Beautiful – The Carol King Musical, will feel the earth move September 20-October 2, 2016. In real-time proof that a classic pop song can be sung by an artist from a younger generation, Martin pulled the last rabbit out of the hat (theoretically Penn & Teller could have done that) by introducing Broadway’s Julia Knitel, who sang “Natural Woman.”
Penn & Teller, a video of great upcoming Broadway shows, and live appearances by two of The Great White Way’s current artists. It was a great night for those who attended and an excellent example of the numerous benefits that you can enjoy if you become a Member of The Smith Center. To borrow a line from a song from another Broadway musical: Who could ask for anything more?