For Myron Martin, the significance of this season’s Broadway series is clear: “Las Vegas is now one of the most important cities in the country when it comes to Broadway tours.”
The 2019-20 lineup at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts boasts an eclectic mix of Broadway debuts, Smith Center returns and Tony Award winners.
“We got everything we went after,” said Martin, president and CEO of The Smith Center.
Center officials unveiled the lineup Tuesday evening at Reynolds Hall before an audience of season ticket holders. SiriusXM On Broadway’s Seth Rudetsky hosted the announcement, which included performances by cast members of upcoming shows including “Wicked,” “Mean Girls” and “The Band’s Visit.”
This season, The Smith Center saw more than 11,000 subscribers thanks to the drawing power of hits such as “Dear Evan Hansen.”
Paul Beard, vice president and COO of The Smith Center, caught a performance of “Dear Evan Hansen” before it was a hit. “(Martin) and I knew it would be a huge show. So we went to the agent immediately and said we’ll commit to this now,” he said. “Six months after we did that, it was a feeding frenzy. That’s what we try to do is be proactive and get the best shows committed here and put a season together so we don’t disappoint audiences.”
This season features returning numbers including “Wicked” and “The Book of Mormon,” both of which will make their third run at The Smith Center.
“Someone not bringing ‘Wicked’ back is dropping the ball,” Martin said. “It’s just too big and too popular and too good.”
Season ticket holders are able to reserve tickets for all 10 shows but can also choose to take in as few as seven. However, Las Vegas audiences have proven they’re not so eager to miss a show. This year, 70 percent of Broadway subscribers bought tickets to all 10 shows.
A number of family-friendly shows are included in the season’s lineup. Among them, “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical” is making its Smith Center debut.
“We have a tradition here of around Thanksgiving, we have a Broadway show,” Martin said. Most years, the venue sells out during Thanksgiving week. Extra “Grinch” performances should meet this year’s demands.
While Martin won’t spill on his favorites of the newly announced season — he compares it to a parent choosing a favorite child — he does share his daughter’s top picks.
“She’s 15, so she’s looking forward to ‘Mean Girls,’ ” he says. “She’s also looking forward to ‘Anastasia.’ And she loved, loved, loved ‘Once on This Island.’ ”
Tony-nominated “Mean Girls,” written by Tina Fey and adapted from the 2004 titular movie, made its Broadway debut last April. “Anastasia,” another film-to-Broadway Tony nominee, boasts everything that Beard said Smith Center audiences will love. “It has great sets, great costumes, music. It’s a wonderful story.”
Love story “Once on This Island” is bringing an immersive set design replete with sand and water to Reynolds Hall. “It won best revival in a really tough field,” Beard said. “It’s a brilliantly realized production.”
Another revival taking the stage this season is “Jesus Christ Superstar.”
“It’s an Andrew Lloyd Webber show that’s stood the test of time,” Beard said. “This time, it’s staged similarly to the one on NBC with John Legend.”
Legend nabs a writing credit alongside Sara Bareilles, Lady Antebellum, Panic! At the Disco and Steven Tyler and Joe Perry in Tony winner “SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical.”
“The Band’s Visit,” which landed 10 Tony Awards in 2018, will make its first visit to Las Vegas, rounding out the season in June 2020.
“That’s the most different show we have,” Martin said. “It’s an interesting book, and the arc of the story and type of music and where it takes place make it different to me from the rest.”
Another first is “Escape to Margaritaville,” for which Martin thinks audiences can expect those namesake cocktails to make an appearance in the theater lobby.
Most shows on the 2019-20 lineup, which kicks off with “The Book of Mormon” on July 30, will stay for one week with the exception of “Wicked,” which will stay for two and a half weeks.
As demand for The Smith Center’s Broadway season grows, the effect is not lost on Martin. “We’re about to start year seven,” he said. “I knew in my heart of hearts that there was pent-up demand for these shows. I’ll be honest — we dreamed really big when we dreamed about what The Smith Center would be. And the reality is bigger than any dream I ever had.”
2019-20 Broadway Series
■ “The Book of Mormon,” July 30-Aug. 4:Winner of nine Tony Awards, including best musical, “The Book of Mormon” — written by “South Park’s” Trey Parker and Matt Stone — riffs on Mormon beliefs.
■ “Anastasia,” Aug. 20-25: Based on the 1997 film of the same name, the musical tells the story of Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia, who searches for her family alongside two con men.
■ “Wicked,” Sept. 11-29:Currently running at the Gershwin Theatre, “Wicked” is the sixth-longest-running production on Broadway. The story centers on Elphaba, who grows up to become the Wicked Witch of the West, and Glinda, the popular girl who grows up to become the Good Witch.
■ “Jesus Christ Superstar,” Nov. 5-10:The remake of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1970 rock opera is refreshed with new storytelling and added dramatic tension.
■ “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical,” Nov. 26-Dec. 1:Based on the beloved children’s story, “The Grinch” topped the Broadway box office in its first week, ending “Wicked’s” 100-week top-grossing streak.
■ “Escape to Margaritaville,” Jan. 7-12, 2020:In this 2017 musical featuring Jimmy Buffett songs, people come to get away from it all — and stay to find something they never expected.
■ “SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical,” Feb. 4-9, 2020:Featuring a who’s who of today’s biggest songwriters, this Nickelodeon adaptation stars real people — not sponges — in a critically acclaimed musical.
■ “Once on This Island,” March 10-15, 2020:Based on the 1985 novel “My Love, My Love,” “This Island” is a love story set on the Caribbean sea.
■ “Mean Girls,” Aug. 14-19, 2020: Tina Fey’s catchphrase-filled musical tells the story of the “Freshmen, ROTC Guys, Preps, JV Jocks, Asian Nerds, Cool Asians, Varsity Jocks, Unfriendly Black Hotties, Girls Who Eat Their Feelings, Girls Who Don’t Eat Anything, Desperate Wannabes, Burnouts, Sexually Active Band Geeks, The Greatest People You Will Ever Meet, and The Worst. Beware of The Plastics.”
■ “The Band’s Visit,” June 23-28, 2020:Raking in 10 Tony Awards last year, “The Band’s Visit” tells the story of an Egyptian police orchestra that ends up in the wrong town in Israel and encounters its residents.
New VP of development
The Smith Center also announced Tuesday the appointment of Daniel Neel as vice president of development.
With more than 30 years of development and financial services experience, Neel comes to the Smith Center from the Animal Foundation, where he oversaw a $35 million capital campaign.
Myron Martin, Smith Center president and CEO, said in a news release that Neel will oversee strategic fundraising, particularly an upcoming endowment campaign.