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. Michael Jackson ONE

    South Strip | Theater

    After traveling the world as The Immortal , Cirque du Soleil's salute to Michael Jackson took on its second iteration in a remodeled Mandalay...Read More

  • 2. Criss Angel—Believe

    South Strip | Theater

    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 pyrotechnics...Read More

  • 3. 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

  • 4. 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, most nights, impressions and clowning...Read More

  • 5. Hollywood Theatre

    South Strip | Arts Centers

    Magic maestro David Copperfield has come to dominate the schedule about 40 weeks a year, but an occasional concert act or comedians will fill...Read More

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  • 6. House of Blues at Mandalay Bay

    South Strip | Arts Centers

    The Las Vegas branch of this chain uses recurring dates by Santana to reclaim some of the lucrative baby boomer dollar it lost to other venues...Read More

  • 7. Jabbawockeez PRiSM

    South Strip | Dance

    The only Las Vegas performers who don't show their faces star in this rare show, one that greatly appeals to the younger nightclub demographic...Read More

  • 8. Jeff Dunham

    South Strip | Theater

    The ventriloquist was an unsung Las Vegas performer for a good 10 years before his popularity exploded. Now Dunham and his puppet sidekicks...Read More

  • 9.

    South Strip | Theater

    KÀ is Cirque du Soleil's bold interpretation of live martial-arts period fantasies like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in the adventures...Read More

  • 10. Mandalay Bay Events Center

    South Strip | Arts Centers

    This arts center also has a great outdoor venue, Mandalay Beach, set up for general-admission concerts in the hotel's lushly landscaped pool...Read More

  • 11. MGM Grand Garden

    South Strip | Arts Centers

    The biggest concert names, including the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, and Rush, play in this sports arena, which will likely see its reign as the...Read More

  • 12. South Point Showroom

    South Strip | Arts Centers

    When developer Michael Gaughan sold the Orleans to Boyd Gaming and built the South Point, many of the acts followed him to this stylish yet...Read More

  • 13. Tournament of Kings

    South Strip | Theater

    One of the last vestiges of Las Vegas's "family" phase is 20-plus years of this Arthurian stunt show in a dirt-floor arena, with the audience...Read More

  • 14. Zombie Burlesque

    South Strip | Theater

    The only 2014 show that turned out to have staying power, Zombie Burlesque was rewarded for being daringly original and narrow—it proudly...Read More

  • 15. Zumanity

    South Strip | Theater

    Early 2015 brought what Cirque du Soleil calls a "refresh" of its one Las Vegas title that deliberately shuns the family market to indulge in...Read More

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