Gambling aside, Las Vegas is best known for its sensational stage shows. Over the years, the city has showcased some of the best talent, beauty, and music of all time. But what shows have gone down in history? In this article, we explore the most famous stage shows in Las Vegas History.
Absinthe hit the Las Vegas stage in 2011. Described as a cabaret/circus hybrid, the show was originally supposed to play at the Fontainebleau. However, when the opening of this didn’t go ahead, Caesars Palace saved the day and allowed Absinthe to use their facility. Originally, this agreement was supposed to be temporary; however, 8 years later the partnership is still going strong.
Absinthe is hosted by The Gazillionaire, played by actor and performer Cirque du Soleil, and his assistant, Penny Pibbets, played by actress Anais Thomassian. There are three main roles in the show: The Gazillionaire, Penny Pibbets, and the Green Fairy. The main character, the Gazillionaire, is a sleazy, badly dressed salesman with pointy glittery shoes. His assistant, Penny Pibbets, engages the audience with her x-rated sock puppet. The final character, the Green Fairy, wears a green outfit and sings as she performs a burlesque style strip tease.
The second pick on the list is the strip-based stage show, ‘Jubilee!’. The show arrived in Vegas on 31st of July 1981 and was first produced by Donn Arden. Today, Arden is known for setting the standard for all the Vegas shows that celebrate female beauty. From its opening, Jubilee! could be enjoyed at Bally’s Las Vegas. When it closed in 2016, the show was crowned the longest-running Vegas production in history.
In the production, more than 100 showgirls burst through the curtains and do their thing on stage. To this day, the showgirls from Jubilee! are an icon of Vegas. They wore costumes designed by Bob Mackie and Pete Menefee. The original design drawings for these can be accessed online through the ‘Showgirls’ collection from UNLV Digital Collections.
Mystère is one of the six Cirque du Soleil shows in Las Vegas. Performed in a custom theatre at the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino, the show has been running since 1993. Making its debut on Christmas Day that year, it is now the company’s longest-running production. Much like the rest of the Cirque du Soleil productions, the show features a mixture of dance, circus skills, opera, and street theatre-style comedy.
The most memorable performers are probably the big babies, the Red Bird, the Taiko drummers, and the clown Brian Le Petit. Not only are they entertaining characters, but they also take famous circus acts and reimagine them with a modern twist.
The Beatles Love is another production by Cirque du Soleil. First appearing in 2006, the show combines the reproduced music of the Beatles with impressive, circus-based stage performances. Since its debut, the show has been playing at the custom-built theatre at the Mirage casino and hotel.
The show is written and directed by Dominic Champagne and is a joint venture between Cirque du Soleil and the Beatles’ Apple Corps Ltd. The first of its kind, the show is still going strong 13 years later.
Jersey Boys is another one of the most famous shows in Las Vegas. First shown in 2005, the jukebox musical features music by Bob Gaudio, lyrics by Bob Crewe, and book by Rick Elice and Marshall Brickman. Presented in a documentary style, the show depicts the formation, success, and break-up of the rock’n’roll group, The Four Seasons. The performance is split into four “seasons”, with each part narrated by a different member of the band. Each member goes on to explain the story from his own perspective. The musical features a range of famous songs including “Can’t Take My Eye Off You”, “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, and “December 1963 (Oh, What A Night)”. In addition to Las Vegas, the production ran in Chicago, Toronto, Melbourne, and London’s West End from 2005 to 2017.
The last pick on the list is Crazy Girls. Probably the most famous of the city’s burlesque productions, the showgirls perform erotic acrobatics. Making its debut in 1987, the show ran at the Riviera for 29 years. After the sudden closure of this location, it was moved to Planet Hollywood. While the show was popular from the get-go, the renowned “No ifs, ands, or …” marketing campaigned pushed the production to icon status. Showing a line of bare-cheeked women, the risqué campaign was disliked by many. This led to local elected officials fighting to remove it from billboards and taxicabs. Today, a bronze statue born from that photo shoot can be still be admired in Vegas.
If you’re planning a trip to Vegas, you don’t want to miss the productions above. While some of them have now retired from the stage, others can still be enjoyed during your visit. Deemed some of the most famous stage shows in Las Vegas history, they definitely won’t disappoint! With many of the shows housed in casinos, you may want to test your luck in-between performances. If you’re new to gambling, why not practice at an online casino before your visit?
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