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Las Vegas

Las Vegas, Nevada, is known as Sin City. Situated in the midst of the southern Nevada desert landscape, Las Vegas in many ways epitomizes American excess. Giant mega-casino hotels are built almost overnight, decorated with lavish care and attention to create a fantasy-like atmosphere. The casinos have names that evoke romance and mystery - Luxor, Mandalay Bay, Treasure Island, Excalibur, Venetian, Hilton and the Flamingo.

Images of the Rat Pack, showgirls in elaborate headdresses and Elvis impersonators are inextricably associated with Las Vegas' legendary entertainment. Today, Las Vegas' entertainment scene still has plenty of its classic glamour, but has evolved to include much more. In addition to the iconic Las Vegas entertainment staples, the destination offers a lineup of award-winning magicians, Broadway productions, world-renowned concert headliners and unique-to-Las Vegas production shows.

                          Photo credit: Las Vegas News Bureau


Compared with other cities in the West, Las Vegas is a relatively recent arrival. It was founded in 1905, and for many years was merely a small settlement in the middle of the desert. However, several pivotal events would come together in less than twenty years to make Las Vegas what it is today:

  • The construction of Hoover Dam in 1928 brought thousands of workers to the area.

  • Nevada legalized gambling in 1931, and what is now downtown Las Vegas became an entertainment centre for the dam workers, with casinos and speakeasies.

  • Finally, in 1941, the luxurious El Rancho Vegas resort opened on what would later become the Las Vegas Strip. Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel later opened the Flamingo Hotel in 1946, starting the building boom and one-upmanship that would continue largely unabated for the next 50 years.

Fast Facts 2006 

* Cirque du Soleil and its sensational combination of acrobats and artistry dazzle audiences all along the strip. The group produces shows for a variety of properties including "Mystère" at Treasure Island, which has been credited with changing the face of entertainment in Las Vegas. "O" at Bellagio is the troupe's first foray into aquatic theater, featuring a cast of 85 artists performing in, on, and above a pool containing 1.5 million gallons of water. "ZUMANITY," an adult-themed production, opened September 2003 at New York-New York Hotel & Casino. In 2005, the fourth Cirque du Soleil show, "KÀ," debuted at MGM Grand in an unprecedented performance space. This June, "The Beatles LOVE" will open at The Mirage. The project was begun by the late George Harrison and Guy Laliberté, Cirque's founder. "LOVE" will be presented in a custom-built theater featuring 360 degree seating, high-definition projections with 100-foot high digital, moving images in addition to a panoramic sound system.

* "Le Rêve," French for "The Dream," now calls Wynn Las Vegas home. Franco Dragone produced this show which resides in the Wynn Theater, a 2,080-seat venue. Water serves as the backdrop for the more than 70 performers who move in and out of a one-million-gallon pool. The domed theater is constructed "in the round," the first of its kind in Las Vegas. The furthest seat in the 14-row theater is just 42 feet from the stage.

* Wynn Las Vegas recently announced the addition of a second Broadway hit, "Monty Python's Spamalot." Wynn Las Vegas will build a 1,600-seat theater for the $50 million show. The Las Vegas production will span 90 minutes, compared with the approximate two-hour version in New York City, which won three 2005 Tony Awards, including "Best Musical." The show is based on the movie, "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." It tells the story of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and their irreverent quest for the Holy Grail. "Spamalot" will open in 2007.

* In June, The Venetian will debut, "Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular." The show will be permanently housed in a $40 million theater. The 95-minute production will include every song from the original Andrew Lloyd Webber production. "Phantom of the Opera" has grossed more than $3 billion worldwide since its London debut in 1986. In January 2006, it became the longest running show in Broadway history, surpassing "Cats."

* Also joining the ranks of what is now being dubbed as "Broadway West" will be the debut of Mel Brooks' "The Producers" at Paris Las Vegas. The show is expected to open by the end of the summer. When the show debuts, it will be the only production of the Broadway musical west of the Mississippi. "The Producers" has won 12 Tony Awards, more than any other show in Broadway history.

* "HAIRSPRAY" begun its multi-year engagement at Luxor las Vegas in February 2006. Based on the New Line Cinema film written and directed by John Waters, in "HAIRSPRAY" its 1962 and plus size trendsetter Tracy Turnblad has danced her way onto TV's most popular show. But can she win over the heartthrob and integrate a television show without denting her 'do? Only in "HAIRSPRAY!"

* The longest ongoing Broadway production on the Strip is "MAMMA MIA!" at Mandalay Bay. The production based on the music of ABBA includes 22 of the group's greatest hits to tell the tale of one mother's preparations for her daughter's wedding day and the somewhat awkward situation that ensues.

* "Blue Man Group's" Las Vegas production can now be seen at The Venetian in their custom-built, multi-million dollar 1,750-seat theater. "Blue Man Group" is a colorful, interactive show. The groundbreaking performance-art trio playfully incorporates everything from PVC pipes to energetic, percussive music in their productions. "Blue Man Group -- Live at Luxor" opened at Luxor Las Vegas in March 2000.

* The Las Vegas Hilton's roster of entertainment continues to grow. Currently, Barry Manilow headlines with his production, "Manilow: Music and Passion." He sings his hits, as well as new music written specifically for the show. Manilow's show is expected to run through 2007. The off-Broadway show, "Menopause, The Musical" was recently added to the Hilton's lineup. Writer/Producer Jeanie Linders created the show as a celebration of women who are on the brink of, in the middle of, or have survived "The Change."

* If people eating light bulbs, transvestite contortionists and a raunchy host is up your alley, check out "Jeff Beacher's Madhouse" at the Hard Rock Hotel. Guests not only watch the show, but they also become part of the show courtesy of raucous comedy bits such as Karaoke Rock Star and Dance Idol contests.

* Celine Dion's "A New Day..." headlines five nights per week at the Coliseum at Caesars Palace. The show is produced by Franco Dragone, the critically acclaimed director of the Cirque du Soleil shows, "Alegria" and "O." "A New Day..." features 60 international dancers, musicians and artists and state-of-the art technology including multi-media elements displayed on one of North America's largest LED (Light Emitting Diode) screens. Dion is scheduled to perform in Las Vegas into 2007.

* When Dion is on break, Elton John's "The Red Piano" takes the stage at the Coliseum at Caesars Palace. John, one of the world's most successful touring artists and one of the top-selling solo artists of all time, teamed up with David LaChapelle to present his hits in a musical and visual extravaganza. John will perform at the Colosseum until 2008.

* The "Bad Boys of Magic" can also be seen at the Rio. The "Penn and Teller" show is an edgy mix of comedy and magic involving knives, guns, fire, a gorilla and a showgirl. While Penn and Teller supposedly reveal the secrets to their tricks, they still manage to leave audiences startled.

* "La Femme" at MGM Grand is a direct import from the legendary Crazy Horse in Paris, a production famous for celebrating the art of the nude since 1951. "La Femme" combines sensual choreography and unique lighting effects.

* For feathers, sequins, showgirls and tuxedo-clad dancers, "Jubilee!" is the multi-million dollar production show at Bally's Las Vegas. The over-the-top show features no less than the nightly sinking of the Titanic on stage.

* "Les Folies Bergere" at the Tropicana is another classic Las Vegas production, complete with sequined showgirls, glamour and pageantry.

* Master magician Lance Burton performs five nights per week in Monte Carlo's theater built in his honor. This is one of the few shows children of all ages are welcome. Expect flying cars, disappearing birds and perhaps an audience member or two dangling from the chandelier.

* The Mirage's Danny Gans is the man of many voices and uncanny impersonations. He has a repertoire of nearly 300 voices and can impersonate everyone from George Burns to Al Pacino to Kermit the Frog.

* "Legends in Concert," featuring superstar impersonators, is the popular, long-running show at Imperial Palace Hotel & Casino.

Entertainment Venues Classic Las Vegas showrooms may offer a close glimpse of superstars with seating to accommodate several hundred to more than 4,000 guests. Las Vegas' larger arena-style venues can host crowds well into the tens of thousands.

Event centers and arenas sell out regularly and have featured myriad celebrity acts including U2, the Rolling Stones, Josh Groban, Andrea Bocelli, Cher, Barbra Streisand, Madonna, Garth Brooks and many more.

* The MGM Grand Garden Arena is home to concerts, championship boxing and premier sporting and special events. The Arena offers comfortable seating for as many as 16,800 with excellent sightlines and state-of-the-art acoustics, lighting and sound. Prominent events to date have included world championship fights between Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson as well as Oscar De La Hoya vs. Bernard Hopkins and concerts by The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Bette Midler and the Barbra Streisand Millennium Concert. The MGM Grand Garden Arena also is home to the annual Billboard Music Awards and the annual Andre Agassi Grand Slam for Children Benefit.

* The Mandalay Bay Events Center is a 12,000-seat venue that has hosted performers as versatile as the destination itself. The Events Center has been home to capacity crowds for shows including The Black Eyed Peas, Tim McGraw, Keith Urban, Ricky Martin, Juan Gabriel, Barenaked Ladies, Andrea Bocelli and the Eagles. World championship boxing including Oscar De La Hoya vs. Fernando Vargas and Jermain Taylor vs. Bernard Hopkins, along with other major sporting events, are also held at the Events Center.

* The $95 million Colosseum at Caesars Palace is the contemporary interpretation of its ancient namesake in Rome. The 4,000-seat facility is home to Celine Dion's popular show, "A New Day..." The facility is adaptable to varied types of entertainment when "A New Day..." is dark. In addition to accommodating headliners, it can be configured to host special events, including conversion to a boxing arena.

* Similar to its Los Angeles counterpart, legendary and up-and-coming musical artists have made stops at Mandalay Bay's House of Blues, an intimate venue with a capacity of 1,800. Performers have included Norah Jones, Everclear and Cheap Trick.

* The Aladdin Theatre for the Performing Arts is a 7,000-seat, state-of-the-art venue. The traditional seating auditorium makes the theater an ideal place to see a concert, Broadway-style production, awards show and other types of entertainment.

* With a capacity of 1,400, The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino has played host to legendary acts such as Aerosmith, Blondie, Lenny Kravitz and No Doubt.

* In Las Vegas, concert-goers get the chance to enjoy musical performances indoors AND outdoors. During the summer, many properties showcase their performers poolside. Green Valley Ranch's Whiskey Beach and Mandalay Beach are just two places audiences can see musical acts such as the Go-Go's, Seal and Black Eyed Peas.

Comedy Clubs Mainstream comedians such as George Wallace, Dennis Miller, Rita Rudner, Ray Romano, Jerry Seinfeld, Drew Carey, Jay Mohr and Kevin James, as well as comedy legends such as Steve Lawrence, Eydie Gorme, Harvey Korman and Tim Conway and the Smothers Brothers, headline many hotel showrooms and are regulars on the Las Vegas Strip.

Comedy clubs host well-known and rising-star comedians in an intimate atmosphere. A sampling of such clubs includes: 

* The Comedy Stop at the Tropicana 

* The Improv Comedy Club at Harrah's 

* Comedy Zone at the Plaza Hotel and Casino 

* The Riviera Comedy Club at the Riviera 

* The Second City at the Flamingo Las Vegas

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