Smith Center's opening night to be featured in PBS special

Las Vegas' new performing arts center steps into the national spotlight Sept. 21 when PBS telecasts "From Dust to Dreams: Opening Night at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts" as part of its "PBS Arts" initiative.

Staged in March, the gala features an all-star lineup from the worlds of music, television, stage and screen - many of whom returned to perform at The Smith Center following the opening-night gala, including classical violinist Joshua Bell and Tony winner Brian Stokes Mitchell, who performed last weekend as part of "Sondheim: A Life in the Theater."

Hosted by Emmy winner Neil Patrick Harris, the PBS special also features Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson, country stars Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Emmylou Harris and Martina McBride, singer-songwriter Carole King, trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, rocker John Fogerty, gospel great Mavis Staples and Train singer Pat Monahan.

Also representing the stage world: dancers Marcello Gomes and Luciana Paris of American Ballet Theater and Broadway performers Laura Osnes, Cheyenne Jackson, Sherie Rene Scott, Montego Glover and Benjamin Walker

"We set out to celebrate the best of the American creative spirit, whether it was classical, Broadway, rock, dance or soul on the occasion of the opening of a world-class performing arts center," director and producer Michael Stevens commented in a news release announcing the PBS telecast. "It's not every day that you get the chance to see such a range of artists, all at the peak of their respective talents."

The special spotlights a variety of collaborations among the performers, from Bell and Sandoval to King and Staples, who teamed up for King's "You've Got a Friend." Hudson and McBride joined King for the latter's "Natural Woman," and Nelson, Haggard and Harris performed Haggard's "Ramblin' Fever."

Smith Center president Myron Martin called the March gala a "historic night in Las Vegas" and described the production as "an extraordinary celebration filled with timeless and inspiring performances."

McBride, who said she was "so honored to have been a part of The Smith Center's opening night," added that "I am excited for viewers at home to see how magical the night was performing with some of the most iconic names in music."

The Sept. 21 "From Dust to Dreams" will be The Smith Center's first PBS showcase, but it won't be the last; the Canadian Tenors are scheduled to tape an upcoming PBS special at The Smith Center Aug. 5.

Contact reporter Carol Cling at or 702-383-0272.