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. 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

  • 3. 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

  • 4. 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

  • 5. 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

  • 6. Kids Planet

    Amusement Parks

    Considering that summer regularly brings temperatures of 115 degrees to the Las Vegas Valley, this indoor playground, on the Summerlin/Spring...Read More

  • 7. Mystère

    North Strip | Theater

    Since 1993 Cirque du Soleil's new-age circus has been the town's most consistent family show. Mystère most purely preserves the original Cirque...Read More

  • 8. 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

  • 9. 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

  • 10. 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

  • 11. Zarkana

    Center Strip | Circuses

    Created for New York City's Radio City Music Hall, Cirque du Soleil's Zarkana spent two summers there before landing at Aria. Because it wasn...Read More

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