The School of Hard Knocks – Miss Margarida’s Way Stars One of The Smith Center’s Own

It’s been a quarter-century since the last professional production of the critically acclaimed immersive theatrical experience Miss Margarida’s Way took the stage, but now the dictatorial eighth-grade teacher is returning to school audiences at The Smith Center, Oct. 22–25.

A one-woman show, the dark comedy starring local actress and employee of The Smith Center Annette Houlihan Verdolino, takes showgoers back to the first day of eighth grade—and they’re the students! Ruling over the “class” is the despotic Miss Margarida, who unleashes her own dreadful brand of scholarly instruction upon her unsuspecting pupils.

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“We’ve wanted to do this show for a long time and finding Annette to play Miss Margarida has been a dream come true,” said director Troy Heard. “Our team is excited to see where the show will take us and to share this unique experience with Las Vegas.”

Houlihan Verdolino, a longtime patron of The Smith Center herself, currently is employed at the center as a patron services representative, monitoring the phones to assist with ticket purchases, general questions and information about the featured shows and their performance artists. She also works in the box office.

“I am a big theater, music and dance nerd, and tend to geek out over every show that comes through,” said Houlihan Verdolino.

And, as an educational theatre major from New York University, she finds one aspect of manning the box office especially meaningful and rewarding.

“One of my favorite things is the Round-Up Donation we ask patrons to make when they purchase tickets, because that goes to support the Arts Education and Outreach programs here,” she explained.

A 30-year-veteran actress, Houlihan Verdolino recalls that she dreamed of performing onstage ever since she first knew what a dream was.

“I’ve been lucky enough to do shows in New York and London, and I was the Iowa housewife in Menopause the Musical here in Vegas for six years,” she said. “I’ve been touring with Menopause for the last two-and-a-half years, all over the country.”

A little more than a year ago, she was approached by Heard, her friend and the artistic director of Table 8 Productions and Onyx Theatre, and asked to play the part of Miss Margarida.

“He just asked me to do it. How many times does that happen? No audition!” said the actress. “I’m still a bit in shock that he thought that highly of me.”

But it’s not surprising Heard focused on her for the part, because even though she says it’s the hardest role and production she’s ever done—not to mention “terrifying” carrying the full-length production onstage by her lonesome—she finds it all very “exhilarating.”

“I hope to make this an experience for the audience, the class,” she said. “I hope for all of us together to be a part of a night of theater that is truly challenging, thought-provoking and relevant.”






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