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The Smith Center unveils Broadway musicals for 2019-20 season

Updated September 13, 2019 - 4:21 am

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.”

Contact Janna Karel at jkarel@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jannainprogress on Twitter.

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