Wednesday, June 1, 2016

10 Greatest Vegas Acts of All Time

Las Vegas is the entertainment capital of the world, so it stands to reason that the Strip has produced some of the greatest stage shows of all time. Follow along as we count down the best of the best.

Mystère character Moha-Samedi

Debuting on Christmas Day in 1993, Mystère was the first Cirque du Soleil show on the Las Vegas Strip. It was also the first Cirque production with its own dedicated theater. Previous iterations of the French-Canadian import toured the country with a circus tent. Dozens of graceful acrobats take the stage at Treasure Island to celebrate the artistry of the human body by performing a number of aerial stunts and feats of strength.

Scott “Carrot Top” Thompson made his Vegas headlining debut in 1996 at MGM Grand. He appeared regularly at the hotel until 2003. A year later, he signed a lucrative contract with Luxor and continues to sell out the nearly 400-seat showroom. The man is an icon who created his own genre of comedy, blending straight-ahead stand-up with inventive props (he’s way beyond smashing watermelons).

8. Paul Oakenfold

The DJ booth journeyman left an indelible mark on the Las Vegas Strip nearly 10 years ago when he brought electronic dance music to the Palms’ short-lived nightclub, Rain. The show, on a Saturday nonetheless, became the gold standard. Dudes with laptops began commanding hefty paychecks for Las Vegas residencies and forever changed the club scene.

Showgirls performing in Bally's Jubilee!
7. Jubilee!

The traditional show girl revue capped off a 35-year run at Bally’s back in February. The longest running production show on the Strip, Jubilee! was a Las Vegas icon. It featured a nightly cast of 66 singers and dancers. A weekly matinee version of Jubilee! was put on every Sunday, during which the women would keep their tops on.

6. David Copperfield

Widely considered the greatest illusionist of all time and certainly the most successful, David Copperfield has astounded Las Vegas audiences for 16 years. He is constantly reinventing his act, adding new illusions every year. Despite the overall waning interest magic shows, Copperfield sells out the 650-seat theater dedicated to his act, sometimes performing as many as four shows a day.

5. Siegfried & Roy

For more than three decades, Siegfried Fischbacher and Roy Horn performed six nights a week, two shows a day to sold-out theaters up and down the Strip. The two became synonymous with the Las Vegas Strip. The magic show, which prominently featured the duo’s beloved tigers, came to a tragic end when one of the tigers mauled Roy on stage in October of 2003.

4. Wayne Newton

“Mr. Las Vegas” performed more than 30,000 shows on the Strip since 1958. His timeless classics, such as “Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast,” “Danke Schoen” and “Red Roses for a Blue Lady,” had audiences swooning during residencies at Flamingo, Tropicana, Stardust and Bally’s. He most recently reclaimed his throne, helping to christen the newly opened T-Mobile Arena, the first venue of its kind on the Strip. The brief performance included the city’s theme song, “Viva Las Vegas.” The Killers also performed alongside Newton during the arena's grand opening.

3. Liberace

The archetypal, rhinestone-clad pianist began performing shows in Las Vegas as early as 1944. By 1955, the now shuttered Riviera Hotel and Casino paid the superstar $50,000 a week to perform. His opening act during those days was none other than Barbra Streisand.

2. Elvis Presley

The memory of Elvis will forever live on in Sin City thanks to the innumerable amount of middle-aged men with affinities for leather, rhinestones and Cadillacs. The Elvis impersonator is a ubiquitous hallmark of Las Vegas, like buffets, drive-thru weddings and Midwesterners willing to wait in line for hours to visit a pawn shop. But The King and the Strip didn’t always get along.

During his first Vegas residency at the New Frontier Hotel and Casino in 1956, Presley was booed off the stage. Newsweek likened his performance to “a jug of corn liquor at a champagne party.” More than a decade later in 1969, Elvis made his triumphant return to Las Vegas, starring as a headliner at the newly opened International Hotel. He went on to sell out more than 700 shows at the hotel and casino through 1976.

1. Rat Pack

Nothing says Las Vegas like the Rat Pack. Frank, Dean, Sammy, Joey and Peter epitomized the Strip of the 1960s. It started in 1960 when the gang was in town filming “Ocean’s 11.” When not on set the boys could be found cavorting around the Sands and performing at the casino’s legendary Copa Room. Later referred to as the “Summit at the Sands,” the watershed moment marked the city’s rebranding from a dusty Wild West town to a sophisticated and swingin’ city with international appeal.

The elder statesman, Sinatra was a Las Vegas fixture for 43 years, from his early days at the Desert Inn in 1951 to his final MGM Grand performance in 1994. The meteoric rise of Sinatra and the Strip are inseparable. Sinatra and the boys helped shape Las Vegas, be it the entertainment or political and social issues, and Las Vegas helped shape them.

Who makes your Top 10 Vegas Acts list? Let us know in the comments! Browse our listings to book tickets to today's hottest acts on the Strip!

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