Las Vegas is typically known by its nickname, “Sin City.” The other “city that never sleeps” is dominated by gambling, girls, and much more. Because of that reputation, few people would ever associate the famed city with a center for the performing arts. But there is in fact a center for the performing and cultural arts in Las Vegas now in the Smith Center for the Performing Arts. Thanks to PBS, audiences that weren’t able to be in attendance at the celebration of the center’s opening can now re-live the concert event any time that they want.
from Dust to Dreams: Opening Night at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts chronicles the celebration held in honor of the center’s opening. What can be said of this performance but it was an impressive show from a who’s who of the music and entertainment community. Performers the likes of Jennifer Hudson, Mavis Staples, John Fogerty, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and more than can be named here took part in the two-hour long celebration of the arts coming to Las Vegas at long last. Host of the Tonys and star of CBS’ How I Met Your Mother served as emcee of this presentation. What’s interesting to note about his presence in this performance is how much different it was in comparison to what audiences have become accustomed to from the actor. This isn’t a bad thing, either. If anything, it only serves to heighten the enjoyment of the overall presentation. Add in expertly mixed audio and video, and audiences get what is in retrospect one of the best live recordings of 2012.
The very first thing that can be noted of from Dust to Dreams is that it opens and closes in fine fashion. The opening number performed by trumpet player Arturo Sandoval. Sandoval’s performance was an outstanding opener for the two-hour event. His control over his instrument shows the result of his years of training. This is especially the case when he hits the final high note of his opening number. Far too often, some overzealous performers hit high notes in songs, thinking they sound good. But in reality the performers in question are blasting out the notes, resulting in a very harsh sound. That wasn’t the case with Sandoval’s performance. His performance got the energy flowing and set the bar for what was to come through the rest of the show’s performances.
The performances that follow that of Sandoval hold the bar quite well. Whether the medley of songs from Man of La Mancha and West Side Story, the classic country of veteran artist Willie Nelson, or even the more rocking sounds of John Fogerty, this show spans the musical spectrum and will entertain audiences of all ages and musical tastes. Adding to the enjoyment of the concert is the presence of emcee Neil Patrick Harris. Yes, Harris was more subdued in his hosting duties here than as host of the Tonys. But this was an entirely different event. Even the performers had their time on stage limited as there were so many performers. What’s more, Harris did offer his share of pretty funny jokes when he was on stage. Audiences need to keep this in mind in considering his performance as emcee of this event. In doing so, those same individuals will enjoy the laughs that Harris shares when he is on stage.
The performance of host Neil Patrick Harris and that of the show’s performers make from Dust to Dreams quite the enjoyable live recording. One would be remiss though, to ignore the importance of the show’s audio and video mix. Going back to the show’s opening number by Arturo Sandoval straight through to the show’s closing number, the audio and video have been expertly mixed. There are some songs that absolutely soar throughout the course of this program. And then there are other, more subtle pieces that were captured so well. Whether one has a home surround sound theater or not, one can still experience so much. Those that do have home theater systems will appreciate the performances even more. That’s because the picture will look crystal clear on an HDTV and the sound will sound just as clear. This is especially true for those with surround sound. It is these aspects that make the overall presentation on this DVD so enjoyable. In retrospect, it makes this collection of performances one of the best live recordings of 2012. From Dust to Dreams is available now. It can be ordered online direct from the PBS online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=13233132&cp=&sr=1&kw=from+dust+to+dreams&origkw=from+Dust+to+Dreams&parentPage=search&searchId=1374600.
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