Shows and Concerts

Michael Jackson ONE Box Office

Michael Jackson ONE Box Office

*Updated 3/1/14

People are always asking “Which show should I see?” The answer to that depends on your tastes and budget, of course. There are glitzy production shows, magicians, comedians, and singers; there are headliners and lesser-known acts that nobody knows outside of Vegas. And there are five or six Cirque du Soleil shows. That doesn’t even take into consideration concert acts that visit Vegas while on tour.

There are a number of Vegas websites out there (such as with exhaustive lists of all Las Vegas shows–so I won’t reinvent the wheel.  I will give you a crucial piece of advice:  If there is show you really want to see, book your ticket well before your trip. Popular shows sell out fast here. However, if you’re looking for a last-minute deal and don’t care too much which show you see, half price tickets for mid-tier shows are often available at Tix4Tonight, which has several locations on the Strip.  As a solo traveler, you may have better luck scoring a last minute seat, but again, if you really want to see the show, book in advance.

Here is a small sampling of the kinds of shows available to you in Las Vegas:

Blue Man Group at the Monte Carlo: This was the first show I saw in Vegas, and it’s still one of my favorites.  It has terrific rock music with lots of drums and guitar (it is loud, though).  Despite the fact that the performers never speak, it’s very funny.  It’s hard to describe–and I wouldn’t want to give too much away, anyway.  Suffice it to say, it’s different from anything else I’ve ever seen and loads of fun.  At the end of the show, you feel you’ve just arrived at a rowdy party. I think this is a great show for solos.

Rock of Ages at the Venetian/Palazzo: I’ve seen this musical twice and I’d go back again and again. What can I say? With its ’80s rock theme, it’s speaking my language. Great music, lots of laughs and a feel-good ending. What more do you need from a show?


The Colosseum at Caesars Palace

Caesar’s Palace Colosseum : The Colosseum has hosted Las Vegas headliners such as Celine Dion, Elton John, Cher, Jerry Seinfeld, and Shania Twain. It is a 4,100-seat theater and is monstrously huge. If you go for the cheap seats, be sure to bring binoculars.  (Seriously.)  On the plus side, because of the size of the theater, the shows featured here have the ability to be really big-scale production shows.  They also have the ability to project the performer up on video screens.

Human Nature, The Venetian: Can four white guys from Australia capture the magic of Motown? Yes, they can. This is one of the best shows I’ve ever seen in Las Vegas. I found it tremendous fun, even though I saw it at the Imperial Palace, which had table seating (awkward for a solo). For the quality of the show, the price is great, too. Do yourself a favor and see this one.

Cirque du Soleil, multiple locations: Pick a Cirque show, any Cirque show. I’m surprised they haven’t renamed the town Cirque du Vegas. There are a number of Cirque du Soleil shows around the Strip for you to choose from, and they all have theater-style seating. These shows tend to be visually stunning spectacles filled with physical feats that boggle the mind.   (How flexible the human body can be!)  Yet they’re all different. There’s O at Bellagio, Mystere at Treasure Island, Love at Mirage, Zumanity at New York New York, Criss Angel’s Believe at Luxor, Ka at MGM Grand, Zarkana at Aria, and Michael Jackson ONE at Mandalay Bay.  Mystere was not my cup of tea, but I loved Ka and Michael Jackson ONE. I’ve also heard great things about the Beatles’ Love show. Your mileage may vary.

La Reve at the Wynn:  This show was created by Franco Dragone, former creative director for Cirque du Soleil, so it bears much in common with the Cirque shows.  For more details, Joanna Haugen has written a thorough review of the show.


Carrot Top

Carrot Top plays at the Luxor

Carrot Top, The Luxor: “Carrot Top” is of course that wacky comedian with the Bozo the Clown hair who uses props liberally in his act. Performances take place in the Atrium Showroom, which has theater-style seating.  I haven’t had the privilege of seeing him in person, but the videos I’ve seen are hilarious, and he consistently gets rave reviews.  Apparently, he’s a lot funnier than anyone thought.  Ticket prices here are pretty reasonable, too.

Terry Fator at the Mirage: An “America’s Got Talent” winner, Terry is a  ventriloquist/impersonator and headliner at the Mirage.  His “co-stars” (puppets) include Winston the Impersonating Turtle, Emma Taylor, and Vikki “the Cougar”.  Impersonations include Cher, Elvis Presley, Justin Timberlake, Garth Brooks, and more. I’ve heard this is a very funny show.

Menopause, the Musical at the Luxor: A musical dedicated to women who have gone through menopause.  I know, it sounds bizarre, but I have heard nothing but rave reviews about how funny this is (especially from women who have some experience with menopause). It includes musical parodies from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s such as “Puff, My God I’m Draggin” and the disco favorite “Stayin’ Awake, Stayin’ Awake.”

If you’re hoping for a more adult revue, you might try:

Zumanity at New York, New York (see Cirque du Soleil, above).

Fantasy at the Luxor: This show is a contemporary version of the classic Las Vegas showgirl show. Fantasy is brought to you by award-winning choreographer Cris Judd (otherwise known as the former Mr. J. Lo).


Rock of Ages

If you dig ’80s rock, you’ll have nothin’ but a good time at Rock of Ages at the Venetian/Palazzo

If the art of the nude male form is more to your tastes, there’s

Thunder from Down Under at the Excalibur (voted best Male Strip Show in the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s 2009 Readers Choice awards) and Chippendales at the Rio (which I believe needs no introduction).

Las Vegas Concert venues: If a traditional Las Vegas show isn’t your thing, and you’d rather catch your favorite musical act in concert, check upcoming concert listings and plan your vacation around that. Chances are, you’ll be here over a weekend, because that’s when most of them come to town. Las Vegas has a number of great concert venues, including the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Mandalay Bay Events Center, The House of Blues at Mandalay Bay, the Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel, the Planet Hollywood Theater, the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, the Las Vegas Hilton, and the PalmsBoulder Station often offers some good blues acts.  The Cannery and the Orleans Showroom get a lot of older acts. For a thorough listing of upcoming concerts, see LVOL.