Las Vegas Sun newspaper entertainment columnist Joe Delaney poses with his daughter, Kathleen Delaney | Courtesy of Kathleen Delaney

Native Las Vegan Continues Her Father’s Commitment to the Arts

Some fathers pass down their noses, mannerisms or sense of humor, but the late entertainment critic Joe Delaney passed down his love of the stage. Born and raised in Las Vegas, Judge Kathleen Delaney grew up in an audience. Her father was a Las Vegas Sun entertainment columnist from 1967 until his passing in 2002, covering everything from jazz to art to Siegfried and Roy. And according to Kathleen, although her father supported all forms of entertainment, he especially enjoyed theater.  

Kathleen accompanied her dad to her first show at the Union Plaza (now the Plaza) where she later technically went on her first date.

“When I was 10 years old, I sat with the son of one of the performers from the show [South Pacific]. We were seated in a little booth in the showroom by the stage and I still have the photo of us at age 10,” she says.

As a critic, Joe would point out the nuances of the performances to her and together they would dissect the show. They would often be in the crowd at the Desert Inn and Aladdin Theater for the Performing Arts. She says sometimes these shows were hard to find but because of her dad’s job they always knew what was going on. But the downside was Joe never wanted to sit up front and take away the experience from another audience member. As a result, he and his family would always sit in the back.

I was always annoyed and wanted to sit closer… As I got older, I understood that he needed to observe the audience’s reaction to the performance as well as the show itself.—Kathleen Delaney

“I was always annoyed and wanted to sit closer,” Kathleen recalls. “However, as I got older, I understood that he needed to observe the audience’s reaction to the performance as well as the show itself.”

She may have been in the nosebleeds but the long-distance exposure must have had an effect on Kathleen because she ended up studying theater in college. She even spent one summer in London attending plays in West End. “I never planned to be a performer or working backstage but I wanted the knowledge,” she says.

She is now passing that knowledge onto others. Kathleen purchases clusters of seats for various shows to give to her friends who would otherwise not be able to attend or might not know that much about The Smith Center.

“The first tickets I purchased for someone else to go was for the first run of Wicked in September 2012. I wanted to give the opportunity to a friend and her children, and I went with them,” she says.

Although her father didn’t live to see the opening of The Smith Center, Kathleen continues to support individually as a donor and season subscriber.  She is thrilled to provide others opportunities to enjoy the arts and share what her father shared with her.

Vegas Seven