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.

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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  • 1. Blue Man Group

    Center 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

    Center Strip | Concerts

    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 to...Read More

  • 3. 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

  • 4. Mac King

    Center Strip | Theater

    The reigning king of Las Vegas afternoons—he celebrated 15 years at Harrah's Las Vegas in 2015—seems more like a ragtime-era court jester with...Read More

  • 5. 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

  • 6. Absinthe

    Center Strip | Theater

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

  • 7. 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

  • 8. Donny and Marie Osmond

    Center Strip | Concerts

    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 allows...Read More

  • 9. Elton John

    Center Strip | Concerts

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

  • 10. Human Nature: The Motown Show

    Center Strip | Music

    Human Nature features a vocal quartet that enjoyed '90s fame as an Australian "boy band" and has reinvented itself as keepers of the Motown...Read More

  • 11. Legends in Concert

    Center Strip | Theater

    The durable Legends is one of the longest-running shows in Las Vegas and inspired many imitators. But its production values seemed more modest...Read More

  • 12. Nathan Burton Comedy Magic

    Center Strip | Theater

    The likeable magician whom many came to know on America's Got Talent puts a fun spin on familiar illusions—behold! The "Microwave of Death...Read More

  • 13. Rod Stewart

    Center Strip | Concerts

    Wearing age 70 as comfortably as a mop of sandy hair, Rod Stewart breezes through a gentle-rocking showcase of his hits. You can almost see...Read More

  • 14. ShowStoppers

    Center Strip | Theater

    It's actually advertised as Steve Wynn's ShowStoppers , and it's certainly not misleading for the casino mogul whose name is on the building...Read More

  • 15. The Axis

    Center Strip | Arts Centers

    The 7,000-seat concert hall, previously known as the Aladdin Theatre for the Performing Arts, was the only part of the original Aladdin to survive...Read More

  • 16. V — The Ultimate Variety Show

    Center Strip | Theater

    This midpriced variety show has held its own against the splashier Cirque-type productions for more than 10 years. It has magic, juggling, and...Read More

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