Las Vegas Performing Arts

The very name Las Vegas has been synonymous with a certain style of showbiz ever since Jimmy Durante first headlined at Bugsy Siegel's Flamingo Hotel in 1946. Through the years this entertainment mecca has redefined itself a number of times, but one thing has remained consistent: doing things big.

The star power that made the old "supper club" days glitter with names like Frank Sinatra

and Dean Martin is making a latter-day comeback in showcases by veteran concert acts Rod Stewart and Elton John. Nationally known performers such as Penn & Teller and Boyz II Men have come to roost on the Strip after years of living out of a suitcase. While Jubilee! hangs in there as a shimmering example of the "feather shows" that made an icon of the showgirl, Cirque du Soleil dominates the Strip with its technologically advanced shows presenting little or no language barrier to the city's large numbers of international tourists. Contemporary entries such as the break-dancing Jabbawockeez try to lure younger audiences the nightclubs have skimmed from the ticketed shows.

In the not-so-olden days, shows were loss leaders intended to draw patrons who would eventually wind up in the casino. Nowadays the accounting's separate and it can cost you more than $100 to see name performers such as Donny and Marie Osmond and $250 for Celine Dion. Meanwhile, the lesser names and production shows that run year-round have become a confusing, "never pay face value" circus of discount outlets and offers.

The new generation of resident headliners ranges from ventriloquist Terry Fator to "mindfreak" Criss Angel to pop star Britney Spears. There’s still no other place in the world to find such a concentration of female impersonators, "dirty" dancers, magicians, and comedians—all continuing the razzle-dazzle tradition Las Vegas has popularized for the world.

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Las Vegas Performing Arts

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Absinthe

Sometimes it’s not the elements, but how they are combined. Perhaps the setting, too. Absinthe takes circus acrobatics, raunchy comedy,...

Blue Man Group

The three bald, blue, and silent characters in utilitarian uniforms have become part of the Las Vegas landscape. The satire of technology...

Celine Dion

Celine Dion became a divisive pop star in the '90s, and so may be singing to the converted at this point. Too bad, because those willing...

Colosseum at Caesars Palace

The $95 million theater was built in 2003 for Celine Dion, who returned in 2011 to fill its 4,300 seats for 70 shows per year . By the...

Criss Angel—Believe

The star of television's Mindfreak lives up to his Goth-rock image with the loudest magic show in town, full of blistering music and...

David Copperfield

The master magician has made Las Vegas a part of his career since the 1980s and now roosts at the MGM Grand for more than 40 weeks per...

Defending the Caveman

Comedian/author Rob Becker's anthropological take on the battle of the sexes is a popular touring show that brought something new to...

Donny and Marie Osmond

The Mormon siblings who grew up in front of America still look and sound great, and their variety training on the Strip back in the 1970s...

Elton John

The pop and rock legend's return to Caesars Palace is called The Million Dollar Piano , based on embedded video panels that display...

Fantasy

Fantasy is a topless show (un)dressed up as a variety show, with power-pop singing by its female host and, most nights, impressions and...

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