Country star duet set for Smith gala

A classic duet featuring country legends Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard is planned for The Smith Center's star-studded grand opening on Saturday.

And as promised by Smith Center president and CEO Myron Martin, the debut will offer a deep and eclectic mix of talent, from Grammy, Emmy and Tony winners. Even an Oscar winner in Jennifer Hudson.

Also joining host Neil Patrick Harris, Hudson, Nelson and Haggard will be four-time Grammy winner Carole King, jazz trumpet legend Arturo Sandoval, rhythm and blues/gospel star Mavis Staples, country greats Emmylou Harris and Martina McBride and Train's Pat Monahan.

Look for some magical stage matchups.

It figures, of course, that the performing arts center would include Broadway talent and producers George Stevens Jr. and his son Michael Stevens covered that as well.

The list includes: Tony winner Brian Stokes Mitchell ("Kiss Me Kate," "Man of La Mancha" and "Ragtime''), Laura Osnes ("Grease," "South Pacific" and Anything Goes"), Cheyenne Jackson ("Glee," "30 Rock," "Finian's Rainbow" and "All Shook Up"), Sherie Rene Scott ("Aida," "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," "Little Mermaid" and "Women on the Verge"), Montego Glover ("Memphis" and "The Color Purple") and Benjamin Walker ("Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson" and "Inherit the Wind").

Music director for the band will be Rob Mathes, currently producer and director/arranger for Sting and music director of the Kennedy Center Honors since 2003. He was the music director of President Barack Obama's inaugural concert "We Are One" at the Lincoln Memorial.

Martin couldn't have been more excited after the center's first show on Friday.

Country star Randy Travis donated an autographed guitar, signing it, "What a pleasure. One of the best sounding rooms we've ever played."

Then he turned to his tour manager and said, "This may be THE BEST sounding room we've ever played!"

That, said Martin, "says more than anything I can write to convey our absolute joy in how great the building turned out."


Actor Dennis Quaid was in town Friday for his first meeting with the man he'll be portraying in an upcoming CBS pilot -- legendary Clark County Sheriff Ralph Lamb.

Also attending the meeting in a Bellagio suite was executive co-producer Arthur Sarkissian and writer Greg Walker.

Lamb hit it off with Quaid. "He's kind of a cowboy-type guy. Good looking, hard as a rock. He was a great listener, seeing who he's going to play."

Cowboy-turned-sheriff Lamb, 84, was a Las Vegas lawman for 31 years, the last 20 as sheriff.

Sarkissian produced the three "Rush Hour" films co-starring Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker.


In a wide-ranging update of Cirque du Soleil's projects, Daniel Lemarre, company president and COO, said Saturday the touring Michael Jackson show has been a big success and the "more theatrical" version is on track to open May 13, 2013, at Mandalay Bay. Three options for the "Viva Elvis" show at Aria are being discussed, Lemarre told reporters in "Mystere" Theater at Treasure Island, but the company isn't ready to announce plans. It will be "more modern," he said. ...

Las Vegan Steve Schirripa is on "The View" Monday promoting Wednesday's 9 p.m. premiere of "Nothing Personal," in its second season on Investigation Discovery. Thursday he joins the chef show "The Chew" on ABC.


Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, with a large group at Gustav Mauler's Spiedini (JW Marriott) on Saturday.... Identical twins James and Oliver Phelps of "Harry Potter" fame, celebrating their 26th birthday at Sugar Factory American Brasserie and Chateau Nightclub & Gardens. At another table: singer Ryan Cabrera, with friends. ... Travis, with his entire band at Gold & Silver Pawn on Friday to meet members of the "Pawn Stars" reality TV show. They took photos with Richard "The Old Man" Harrison, who turns 71 today. The Sunshine Mint presented Harrison with a commemorative coin bearing his likeness. Travis was in town to perform at the Smith Center on Friday. Members of the band Korn also showed up Friday and got a tour of the shop just as Travis' group of 20 was departing.


"Gas stations are considering hiring security guards. Why are they getting security guards? We're the ones getting robbed." -- Jay Leno

Norm Clarke can be reached at 702-383-0244 or Find additional sightings and more online at Follow Norm on Twitter @Norm_Clarke.


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