Top Shows to Watch in Las Vegas


Cirque du Soleil
Cirque du Soleil wows visitors to Vegas.

Over the last few years, Las Vegas’ entertainment scene has evolved from showgirls and lounge acts into a legitimate theater industry. While revues and concerts by the likes of Celine Dion and Elton John will be ubiquitous, Broadway musicals, revues and dance companies are all gracing the stages at some of the country’s biggest casinos. Here are just a few picks of current and upcoming shows.

Broadway West

While some of the bigger Broadway transfers like Hairspray and The Phantom of the Opera have ended their runs in Las Vegas, other Broadway and off-Broadway shows are still going strong.

The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, currently running at the Plaza Showroom, is the alternately sweet and salty country-western musical comedy about the oldest profession. Popular songs from the show include Hard Candy Christmas and The Bus from Amarillo.

A still-running Broadway hit, Jersey Boys, is playing at the Paris Las Vegas. The musical tells the story of the Four Seasons band using their own music, following the group from their working-class roots in the Garden State to fame and fortune in the 1960s...but with plenty of drama along the way. All of the band’s biggest hits are included, from Sherry to Walk Like a Man and Who Loves You, and Frankie Valli’s solo hit Can’t Take My Eyes Off You becomes an impressive showstopper.

At Planet Hollywood, the off-Broadway camp comedy Evil Dead: The Musical is based on the cult classic movie series—complete with chainsaws and rolicking songs. Fun Detail: The musical is presented in 4D, with plenty of splatter effects. (Audience members in the first few rows are handed ponchos, we hear.)

Defending the Caveman has been a popular pick for couples since it ran on Broadway in the mid-1990s. Now running at The Improv at Harrah’s, the one-man comic play studies the relationships between men and women and analyzes why we behave the way we do with plenty of pithy observations.


Can’t get to New York to see Mamma Mia!? No problem. Head to New York-New York instead and see Dancing Queen at the Broadway Theater. The musical celebrates ABBA and other music greats from the 1970s. And those who prefer a different decade will like Legwarmers, a tribute to the music of the 1980s at Planet Hollywood’s V Theater.

For pure spectacle, Cirque du Soleil is hard to top. The dance-troupe-cum-circus has no fewer than six shows running throughout Las Vegas, making it easy to appreciate the dancers’ feats. At the Mirage, Love is a psychedelic journey through the 1960s featuring the classic songs of The Beatles. At Treasure Island, Mystère is vintage Cirque, and O at the Bellagio incorporates the elements of air, fire and water into the show.


The Smith Center
The Smith Center is downtown Las Vegas’ new performing arts venue.


Magic is also a popular theme in the shows: At Aria Resort & Casino at CityCenter, Zarkana follows a magician on a quest, and Criss Angel Believe incorporates the popular illusionist’s work into the dancers’ routines. At the MGM Grand, is the troupe’s first production to feature a cinematic storyline, while Zumanity, in true Vegas fashion, is a more adult-oriented show with sensual overtones at New York-New York.

Coming Up

Rock of Ages, that long-running tribute to the insanity of the 1980s, will open at the Venetian in mid-December, with just about every big-hair song from the decade featured. Tickets are available at the Venetian box office at 866-641-7469 or 702-414-9000 or at

The Smith Center, downtown Las Vegas’ new performing arts venue, is continuing its series of recent Broadway productions. Upcoming shows include Anything Goes, February 5-10; West Side Story, February 26-March 3; Shrek the Musical, March 19-24; Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, April 16-21; Billy Elliot the Musical, May 14-19; Green Day’s American Idiot, June 11-16; and Catch Me If You Can, June 18-23. Availability is very limited; call 702-749-2000 for details.

Million Dollar Quartet, the Broadway (and then off-Broadway) musical about the legendary jam session with Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash, will make its Las Vegas debut in February at Harrah’s Showroom. Numbers that were performed at the famous impromptu gathering are recreated by the cast live onstage (there is no orchestra; the actors play the instruments their characters played). Songs include Perkins’ Blue Suede Shoes, Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues and I Walk the Line, Presley’s Hound Dog and Lewis’ Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.

We hear that the national tour of Priscilla Queen of the Desert will open in Las Vegas in the summer of 2013. No theater has been announced as of press time, but the show is expected to have a healthy run from June to August, giving fans of the cult classic film (and the musical’s disco-inspired score) plenty of chances to catch it.


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