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'Wicked' at the Smith Center: Is six weeks enough?

He's 4 feet 10 inches tall, 80 pounds and all of 8 years old, but he' s trouble, as I would only realize a couple hours after meeting Zachary Murray.

"'Wicked' is my favorite show. Or maybe my second favorite, after 'Shrek,'" he told me, as he wiped the tartar sauce off a crab cake during the cocktail hour preceding the Sept. 28 preview of "Wicked" at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. When I asked him what he liked about the show, his hazel eyes lit up: "It's such a great story! Haven't you seen it?"

No, I haven't. And I may never get to, at least here in Vegas, thanks to Zach and the legions of other Las Vegas kids marking their calendars for the phenomenally popular show's Aug. 29, 2012, opening at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts downtown.

See, the show's only running six weeks here. At the announced eight performances per week in the 2,050-seat Reynolds Hall, that's 98,400 tickets total (including comps and season tickets) for all the Zachs out there -- not to mention their parents, like Tanya Murray, who said she was so excited to finally be able to see at home some of the many Broadway shows she and her family have taken in during their annual trips to New York.

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For them, the Smith Center landing "Wicked" fulfills the venue's promise to culture-hungry Las Vegans: a place where locals can see adult as well as family-friendly theater performances in their original formats (2 1/2-hour shows like "Wicked" on the Strip are typically trimmed to 90 minutes).

That promise is driven home by one of the debut performances scheduled at the Smith Center. Earlier this month, President Myron Martin announced a series of educational concerts for Clark County School District students following the venue's March 2012 opening.

That's right about the time tickets for "Wicked" will be going on sale.

Which raises the question -- actually asked of Martin and the show's producer David Stone by an audience member at last evening's preview: Is six weeks enough?

"We had a long discussion about that, and we decided it was important for us to do it off-Strip for people who live here, even if we only get it for six weeks," Martin said.

Stone's answer: "We do sell out quickly. In Washington, D.C., we sold out in six hours, and some people were not happy. So, make sure you get your tickets early."

If I should miss that six-hour window, I know one person who will undoubtedly have seats. The only question is, will Zachary Murray sell me his?

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