Las Vegas

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, and with as much ballyhoo as possible.

The star power that made the old "supper club" days glitter with names like Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin is echoed in this decade's return of big names to the Strip, but this time primarily in large theaters devoted to recurring concert engagements, or "residencies," by everyone from Lady Gaga to Usher. Star magicians such as David Copperfield, Criss Angel, and Penn & Teller call Las Vegas home, and drive to work each day as commuters. Cirque du Soleil still dominates the Strip with spectacle and jaw-dropping acrobatics that present little or no language barrier to the city's large numbers of international tourists. Perennial pop stars such as Bruno Mars and younger-skewing production shows (such as the break-dancing Jabbawockeez) fight an ongoing battle to lure younger audiences that nightclubs have skimmed from the ticketed shows.

Shows are no longer treated as loss leaders for the gaming tables. Granted, a high credit line or enough points on a player's card can still work miracles for a hard-to-score ticket. But those who aren't big players are fully aware it will almost surely cost more than $100 for middle-of-the-house seats for the Cirque shows or star residencies. Meanwhile, the less-in-demand 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 is as likely to come from America's Got Talent as a recording studio, as evidenced by magicians Mat Franco or Piff the Magic Dragon. The names change, but there's something for everyone and still no other place in the world to find such a concentration of acrobats, singers, "dirty" dancers, magicians, and comedians—all continuing the razzle-dazzle tradition Las Vegas has popularized for the world.

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  • 1. Blue Man Group

    South Strip | Theater

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

  • 2. Celine Dion

    North Strip | Concerts

    Celine Dion transcended her divisive 1990s pop stardom to become a Las Vegas perennial with a loyal, international following. Aging gracefully...Read More

  • 3.

    South Strip | Theater

    KÀ, Cirque du Soleil's biggest Las Vegas production, opened in 2006 and still stands as an amazing monument to the sky's-the-limit mentality...Read More

  • 4. LOVE

    Center Strip | Theater

    Meet the Beatles again—well, sort of—in a certified home run for Cirque du Soleil. Before he died, George Harrison persuaded the surviving Beatles...Read More

  • 5. Mac King

    Center Strip | Theater

    The reigning king of Las Vegas afternoons was set to celebrate his 20th anniversary at Harrah's Las Vegas before the pandemic hit the pause...Read More

  • 6. O

    Center Strip | Theater

    More than $70 million was spent on Cirque du Soleil's theater at Bellagio back in 1998, and its liquid stage is the centerpiece of a one-of...Read More

  • 7. Penn & Teller

    West Side | Theater

    Eccentric comic magicians Penn & Teller are more popular now than when they settled into the Rio in 2002. Ventures such as their durable...Read More

  • 8. Absinthe

    Center Strip | Theater

    Sometimes it’s not the elements but how they are combined. Absinthe became one of the most popular shows on the Strip by turning Cirque du...Read More

  • 9. Atomic Saloon Show

    North Strip | Theater

    The Strip's third naughty revue from Spiegelworld took its theme from the Western saloon vibe of an inherited venue in The Venetian's retail...Read More

  • 10. Carrot Top

    South Strip | Theater

    After years on the college circuit, the prop comic moved his trunks full of tricks into the Luxor, where he became one of the Strip's longest...Read More

  • 11. Colosseum at Caesars Palace

    Center Strip | Arts Centers

    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 time...Read More

  • 12. Criss Angel—MINDFREAK

    Center Strip | Theater

    Criss Angel lives up to his Goth-rock image with the loudest magic show in town, full of blistering music (some by Korn's Jonathan Davis) from...Read More

  • 13. David Copperfield

    South Strip | Theater

    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 year...Read More

  • 14. Donny Osmond

    Center Strip | Concerts

    No one should question either Donny Osmond's work ethic or his showmanship. What began as a "late career" reunion with sister Marie turned into...Read More

  • 15. Fantasy

    South Strip | Theater

    Fantasy is a topless show (un)dressed up as a variety show, with power-pop singing by its female host and magic or acrobatic acts to widen...Read More

  • 16. Hollywood Theatre

    South Strip | Concerts

    Magic maestro David Copperfield has come to dominate the schedule about 40 weeks a year at the MGM Grand. The old-Vegas booths are cool, but...Read More

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  • 17. House of Blues at Mandalay Bay

    South Strip | Concerts

    The Las Vegas branch of this chain books one-night concerts which tend to skew toward younger, heavier hard-rock bands and all-ages shows. That...Read More

  • 18. Jabbawockeez JREAMZ

    South Strip | Dance

    The only Las Vegas performers who don't show their faces speak with their feet in a show that appeals to the younger nightclub demographic....Read More

  • 19. Las Vegas Little Theatre

    West Side | Theater

    Las Vegas's oldest community theater has branched out beyond the Neil Simon basics. Its main-stage season of six or more titles is augmented...Read More

  • 20. Las Vegas Philharmonic

    Downtown | Music

    Formed in 1998, the Philharmonic performs a nine-show season under the baton of Donato Cabrera, offering monthly concerts during the school...Read More

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