Smith Center
-By Myron Martin

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In this installment, I’d love to talk about you…and how a great show just might move you, if you let it.

While I never expect it, every once in a while, a great show moves me so much that it shakes me to my core. Really. Live theater can wake up your emotions and cause you to experience wonderful things. It can take you back to childhood; remind you of special family memories; and elicit feelings of fear, longing, desire, grief, romance, happiness, and even love. Certain songs still take me back to high school. What about you?

The Smith Center presents a number of highly evocative shows. The beauty of art is that it causes you to think, it makes you feel otherwise deeply guarded feelings, and it can allow you to laugh, to cry and to experience the beauty of the human condition.

The magic of live performance is that you are there in the room with the actors experiencing their characters firsthand. Sometimes their story is one that particularly resonates with you, and sometimes you simply find a way to relate to them in a personal way.

I hope that the next time you come to The Smith Center, you will get there a little early, have a refreshment, use the restroom before the show, relax, turn off all of your technology, and truly give yourself up to the experience. Imagine what might happen if you totally tune in. I’m a grown man who doesn’t hold back when a show moves me. I laugh, I cry and I don’t apologize for it. Giving yourself to a show may require a little more of your attention, but you may find that payoff is well worth the investment. Where else but live theater can this happen? Will it always happen? No way. Like the line from A Chorus Line, sometimes I feel nothing. Sometimes I can’t relate. But, wow, when it does happen, it’s amazing.

This also means that you, and those around you, must abide by the rules of theater etiquette. I admit that Las Vegas audiences still have a way to go, but we’re getting there. Steve Sebelius wrote an article for the Las Vegas Review-Journal that kindly started with, “Welcome to the theater, now shut up!” He had a point. This isn’t your den, and this isn’t Netflix. Please arrive on time and do your best not to talk or otherwise disturb your neighbors—especially in a theatrical production with deep dramatic tension. And do a little homework. Take a look at what you are coming to see and decide if you think it is appropriate for your kids. Sebelius wrote the following about music performances:

“Shut up: Seriously, this is basic. While somebody who has spent their life practicing the performance of music is on the stage, please be quiet. Don’t talk. Don’t yell, whistle or shout your approval. Don’t rustle your feed-bag. Don’t cough, if you can at all help it. Just listen and appreciate. And then, at the end of the song (not near the end, but after the song is over) signal your approval with applause.

Eat before you go: There are many fine restaurants in the downtown area at which you can eat before seeing a concert. Avail yourself of one of them, or eat at home. Then, come to the theater and practice a little abstinence. Yes, they do sell concessions at the theater and yes, they come in noisy little packages and yes, that’s inviting trouble. But just because they’re for sale doesn’t mean you have to bring them into the theater. A beverage (to sip silently) is fine. Anything else, wait for the end.

Shut up: Really, I can’t stress this one enough.

Remain seated and keep your hands and arms inside the train: If you must leave to use the rest room or take a phone call, please wait until a song or composition is complete, and the audience applause can cover your exit. The acoustics of the Smith Center are excellent…

Shut up: If you remember nothing else, remember this. Seriously.”

The Smith Center was built for the people of Las Vegas, and its ongoing mission is to inspire people through the grand gift of live performance. Take advantage of it. Bring a friend. And maybe, just maybe, the magic will happen and your life—at least in that moment—will be enhanced in a brilliant new way.

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