The very name "Las Vegas" has been synonymous with a certain style of showbiz ever since Jimmy Durante first headlined at Bugsy Siegel's Flamingo Hotel in 1946. Through the years this entertainment mecca has redefined itself a number of times, but one thing has remained consistent—doing things big.
The star power that made the old "supper club" days glitter with names like Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin is making a latter-day comeback in showcases by veteran concert acts Rod Stewart and Celine Dion. Nationally known performers such as Penn & Teller and Carrot Top have come to roost on the Strip after years of living out of a suitcase. Jubilee! hangs in there as a shimmering example of the "feather shows" that made an icon of the showgirl, while technologically advanced shows such as Blue Man Group and Cirque du Soleil's O have modernized the spectacle. Female impersonators, "dirty" dancers, comedians—all perpetuate the original style of razzle-dazzle entertainment that Las Vegas has popularized for the world.
In the not-so-olden days, shows were intended to draw patrons who would eventually wind up in the casino. Nowadays the accounting's separate and it can cost you around $100 to see Elton John or Donny and Marie Osmond and $253 for Garth Brooks. To hold ticket prices around the $30 line bargain-hunters have learned to look to afternoon shows, such as the comedic magic of Mac King at Harrah's.
On the right weekend you still might run into one of the old names, such as Don Rickles or Tony Bennett. But the new generation of resident headliners ranges from ventriloquist Terry Fator to "mindfreak" Criss Angel to Cee Lo Green, who reinvented himself as "Loberace" for a test run at the Strip in 2012. The Cirque spectaculars continue to dominate, presenting little or no language barrier to the city's large numbers of international tourists.