The talented entertainers who grace our stages in Las Vegas help draw in hundreds of thousands of tourists each year but some of their most enthusiastic and noisiest of fans are our local children who get to meet the stars through the Smith Center’s various education and outreach programs.
Many artists who have previously performed or who are currently performing in nightly shows are taking the time to volunteer their off-stage hours to share their artistry with local children. Clint Holmes, who stars at the Golden Nugget, is teaching master classes, and blond beauty, actress and singer Susan Anton has been coaching student competitors at the Nevada High School Musical Theater Awards.
Candy Schneider, vice president of Education and Outreach at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, organizes this starry effort for students and hopes that it will raise awareness among students and artists who might like to participate in these programs in the future.
She penned a special story for the Las Vegas Review-Journal about the Las Vegas artists who pay it forward to our local students:
Las Vegas’ talented entertainers help make our city a global destination — but that’s not where their work as artists ends. Many top-tier performers in town also promote the arts among local students and often at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, Southern Nevada’s world-class performing arts center.
As a nonprofit group, The Smith Center provides a variety of impactful education and outreach programs for Southern Nevada students at no cost to participants. Here are just a few examples of renowned Las Vegas performers who help make this possible, by offering students a rare chance to learn from the best.
• Master classes
Imagine you’re a high school student who dreams of a life on stage. Now imagine performing in front of world-class artists and receiving personal tips from their international careers. Hundreds of Southern Nevada students have had this chance, thanks to such artists as Las Vegas headliner Clint Holmes and Las Vegas-raised dancer/choreographer Chaz Wolcott giving master classes at The Smith Center and in local schools.
Clint, who has enjoyed residencies with the Palazzo Theater and the Golden Nugget, has provided one-on-one coaching to musical theater students on singing and lyrical interpretation. Chaz fresh off a multiyear tour with Disney’s “Newsies,” taught workshops on musical theater, audition technique and jazz dance.
• Nevada High School Musical Theater Awards
Many Nevada high school students vie to showcase their singing and acting talents at the annual Nevada High School Musical Theater Awards hosted by The Smith Center. They don’t just come to compete, however. This event also offers opportunities to work directly with many of Las Vegas’ most accomplished artists.
These include Keith Thompson, who has repeatedly served as the event’s music director. This Las Vegas composer remains best known for his work as music director/conductor for many Broadway productions, as well as “Jersey Boys” in Las Vegas. The students’ ensemble routine this year was staged by dancer/choreographer Noah Rivera, showcasing Danny Austin’s original choreography. Not only featured in “Jersey Boys.” Noah has also performed on Broadway, including playing Tin Man in “Wicked” and serving as understudy to Lin Manuel-Miranda in “In the Heights.”
The event’s competing students further received vocal coaching by industry veterans, including: Ashley Loren (Satine) in “BAZ: Star Crossed Love” at the Palazzo; Bruce Ewing, who performed in “Phantom – The Las Vegas Spectacular” at The Venetian Las Vegas; Rachel Tyler, who currently performs in “Le Rêve: The Dream” at the Wynn; and beloved local actress/vocalist Susan Anton.
• Disney Musicals in Schools
Las Vegas artists also participate in The Smith Center’s Disney Musicals in Schools program. This assigns professional teaching artists to help local schools develop their own theater programs, by training classroom teachers to teach students choreography, singing and dancing. Little do the tots at these schools know that many of these teaching artists offer world-class performing experience.
Some of these teaching artists include Kathy Ortiz, a former dancer and tumbler with “Les Folies Bergere” at the Tropicana Las Vegas; Marcus Weiss, who has graced Las Vegas stages as a Blue Man, a clown in “Le Rêve: The Dream,” and the clown understudy for Cirque du Soleil’s “O”; plus Kate St-Pierre, a respected vocalist and multidisciplinary artist known for singing in Cirque du Soleil’s “KÀ.”
• An ongoing impact
The incredible expertise these artists impart plays a vital role in fostering students’ love of the arts. The Smith Center team is grateful for these gifted artists who pass on their knowledge. We look forward to watching all that our community’s promising students achieve.
To learn more about The Smith Center’s Education and Outreach programs and how to participate, visit www.TheSmithCenter.com.