It’s never a problem finding a show in Las Vegas. The only concerns are whether it’s already sold out and whether you can afford a ticket. This is a city that literally plugs itself in after dark and doesn’t even shift into third gear until after midnight. If you’re not a night owl, you had better take a nap in the afternoon so that you can really experience the fun side of Vegas.
Taking in a show is a fundamental component to any Las Vegas holiday.
There are dozens to choose from all along the Strip and around town, ranging from major headliners to struggling lounge acts. Entertainment is the fuel that keeps Vegas running, so you’ll never have to worry about boredom after dark.
Every hotel in town has at least one dedicated lounge that usually hosts live music of some kind. But the free-wheeling days of Sinatra and Sammy are long gone, and the hotel lounge has been largely relegated to the bottom drawer. Occasionally you’ll stumble across a decent singer or act but for the most part, this is free entertainment. Hunting for the worst lounge act can be a fun adventure in itself, as kitsch is still king in Vegas.
The current trend of Las Vegas shows is away from home-grown talent and towards major stars and big-time productions. Any show worth seeing is going to have a recognisable headliner and a production like something from Broadway or the movie lot. Unfortunately, this means ticket prices are accordingly expensive. While it’s still possible to catch a decent show for a reasonable price, the cheap shows pale in comparison to the surreal magic of the likes of Cirque du Soleil.
The shows in Las Vegas offer assigned seating or have a maitre d’. It’s highly suggested to make reservations or purchase tickets well in advance of any show, especially if it is a weekend night or one of the more popular productions. A tip for the maitre d’ is the best (and perhaps only) way to get a really good seat if not pre-arranged. You can easily find the details of every show in town online.
One of the positive changes in Vegas’ attitude towards shows is a substantial increase in live music and bands, especially rock and indie. Nearly every band and singer on tour in the US will make a stop at Sin City, playing at the Sam Boyd Stadium, the House of Blues or one of the larger resort theatres. While headliners still sign on for two-year engagements, it’s now common to find bands rolling through for a couple of nights.
In fact, many shows in Vegas are overtly sexual and not really suitable for kids. Be sure to check into this before bringing your 10 year old to Treasure Island’s Pirate performance. Sexy shows aren’t limited to male audiences in affirmative action Las Vegas. Adonis-like men and their ripped abs remind us what we’ll never have in shows like Thunder Down Under from Australia.
The Cirque du Soleil shows, although expensive, are worth every penny. The Bellagio’s O and MGM Grand’s KA are both absolutely stunning productions featuring impossible acrobatics and surreal musical themes. There are five other Cirque shows with a focus on music, sexuality and circus acts.
Magicians and comedians are another mainstay of the Vegas show circuit and performing here is something of a right of passage for any self-respecting entertainer. Illusionists like David Copperfield are still regular features, though Criss Angel’s Believe at the Luxor is impressive. For a more classic magic show, you can’t beat Lance Burton at the Monte Carlo.
The jokes roll out every night around the Strip, from the intelligent comedy of Penn and Teller at Rio to the magical leanings of Mac King at Harrah’s. You’d almost expect to see superstars like Cher and Bette Midler playing Vegas, and indeed these two divas are in long engagements at Caesar’s Palace.
At the fringe of Vegas showmanship are unique performances like the Blue Man Group, currently at the Venetian, and Broadway-style shows like the Lion King at Mandalay Bay. Jersey Boys and Phantom are two other long-lived popular musicals still running at the Venetian.
There are a handful of afternoon shows, mainly showcasing magic and comedy with a youthful and elderly audience in mind. These early shows are cheaper than evening performances but are just as good. Check out the magic of Dirk Arthur at the Tropicana or the illusions of Nathan Burton at the Flamingo.