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. 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

  • 3. 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

  • 4. 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

  • 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. 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

  • 8. 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

  • 9. Defending the Caveman

    Downtown | Theater

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

  • 10. 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

  • 11. 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

  • 12. 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

  • 13.

    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

  • 14. Las Vegas Little Theatre

    West Side | Theater

    Las Vegas's oldest community theater has branched out beyond the Neil Simon basics. Its mainstage season is augmented by a black-box season...Read More

  • 15. Le Rêve

    North Strip | Theater

    Perhaps befitting the surreal dream implied in the title, it has been a long, strange voyage for this aquatic spectacle created by original...Read More

  • 16. 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

  • 17. 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

  • 18. 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

  • 19. 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

  • 20. 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

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