It’s got songs. It’s got dances.
But the Celtic song-and-dance extravaganza “Riverdance” — which opens Tuesday at The Smith Center — isn’t exactly a traditional musical.
So how did “Riverdance’s” 20th-anniversary tour wind up at Reynolds Hall as part of the center’s Broadway Las Vegas series? And does it really belong there?
From a box-office standpoint, the answer to the latter question seems to be a resounding yes. (At deadline, only a few hundred tickets remained unsold for each of “Riverdance’s” eight Reynolds Hall performances.)
“From our point of view, it’s definitive for what it is,” according to Paul Beard, The Smith Center’s vice president and chief operating officer, who oversees the Broadway Las Vegas schedule.
“It’s played on many Broadway series,” he points out. And “it’s fresh in our building. We have not seen it before.”
But “that’s not a Broadway show; that’s a Radio City Music Hall show,” complains Adam Staple, a Monte Carlo poker dealer who subscribed to The Smith Center’s Broadway Las Vegas series “the first couple of years,” then dropped his season tickets when “I saw the lineups they were offering,” which he describes as “a disgraceful group of choices.”
Instead, Staple now picks and chooses which Broadway Las Vegas shows he attends at The Smith Center. (One on his list: the upcoming “Cabaret” revival, which arrives in mid-June.)
By contrast, Sun City Summerlin resident Shelly Melcer became a Broadway Las Vegas subscriber for the first time this season because it was “the first year I looked at the lineup of plays and thought I wanted to see all of them,” including “Riverdance.”
Subscriber Michael Antony, a Station Casinos trainer, has “never seen ‘Riverdance’ before,” but he’s “not looking forward to it,” he admits.
Yet he’s philosophical about the vagaries of subscribing to The Smith Center’s multiple-show seasons.
“Sometimes we feel like The Smith Center is doing us a huge cultural favor,” Antony comments. “And once in a while, we feel like we’re doing The Smith Center a favor.”
Either way, putting together the annual Broadway Las Vegas series resembles solving “a Rubik’s Cube,” according to Smith Center president Myron Martin. “So much of it starts with what’s going to go on tour.”
Beard “spends the better part of the year with all the agents who are planning to send shows on the road,” Martin explains.
And Beard “gets thrown a curveball every day,” he adds, when a particular show is on The Smith Center’s radar — but is touring back East when there’s an opening on the Las Vegas schedule.
Indeed, some of the shows The Smith Center hoped to book for the current season “were deferred because of routing,” Beard notes. (Instead, they’ll be on the 2016-17 Broadway Las Vegas schedule, to be unveiled Feb. 24.)
Next season is “pretty well locked,” Beard says, save for “a couple of i’s to dot and a couple t’s to cross.”
In other cases, likely prospects simply didn’t pan out, such as “The Last Ship,” which Beard expected to book at The Smith Center.
After all, “how could it miss,” he wonders — especially with a score by pop legend Sting and a stirring storyline, inspired by Sting’s own childhood, about Britain’s shipbuilding industry.
“It looked like it was bulletproof,” Beard comments.
Instead, “The Last Ship” sank on Broadway after four months — without a tour.
Unlike another short-lived Broadway musical, “The Bridges of Madison County,” which won Tony Awards for Jason Robert Brown’s score and orchestrations.
Although it “didn’t tear up New York,” Beard says, “we as well as our presenter brethren” at other performing arts centers thought “it was a very worthwhile show” that “looked like it would be a really good fit.” As a result, “the demand from the road caused the show to tour.”
(“Bridges” just finished its Los Angeles run and will open at The Smith Center on Feb. 23, following tour stops in Houston, Dallas and Tempe, Ariz.)
But Smith Center officials passed on “If/Then” when they learned its original star, “Wicked” Tony winner Idina Menzel — who previously performed a solo concert at Reynolds Hall — would not be with the show in Las Vegas.
“We had our heart set on Idina and we couldn’t get her,” Martin explained, so Smith Center officials moved on to “other options. It was a business decision.”
A nontouring show will conclude The Smith Center’s Broadway Las Vegas season in July: the musical comedy “Idaho,” a work-in-progress premiere that officials hope, “if all goes well, will go to Broadway,” Martin says.
Granted, “we won’t know if it’s as good as we think it is” until it’s up and running, “but we have a really good feeling,” he adds, citing “the bonus of getting to see something in the works. We’re thrilled to give our audience” that opportunity.
But some, such as Staple, remain skeptical.
“It’s a farce,” Staple says of “Idaho’s” inclusion in the Broadway Las Vegas schedule. “I know they have their hopes for it, but you know how tough it is to get a show to Broadway.”
Still, Antony’s willing to take a chance that “Idaho” just “might be crazy good,” he says. “If it pans out, it will be super-cool.” Then again, it might go “nowhere but the dinner-theater circuit.”
Yet he’s willing to chance it.
“We wait for The Smith Center to set the table,” Antony says. “It’s easier to blame them for a bad dish — and I don’t know if that’s completely fair.”
— Read more from Carol Cling at reviewjournal.com. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow @CarolSCling on Twitter.Like Neon Las Vegas on Facebook: