What would Las Vegas be without the stage? Well, it would be a lot of gambling and bright lights, so perhaps not entirely all that different. Nonetheless, the Las Vegas Strip bears a long legacy of extravagant stage performances from rock stars past and present to the acrobatic magnificence of world-renowned production groups.

As of late, there have been a number of performances seamlessly blending the two. There’s never any shortage of new attractions in the entertainment capital of the world. However, this small handful drew massive crowds and critical acclaim in 2018.


Credit: Cirque du Soleil / YouTube

“The sensual side of Cirque du Soleil” has been a smash hit since its unveiling in 2003. The adults-only show features cabaret-inspired aesthetics with acrobatic flair focusing on eroticism, dance, contortionism, and comedy. In 2015, the show was refreshed with new material and performances not previously featured in the original act. Costumes include fur, leather, lace, tiny corsets, and cone bras.

The risqué subject matter was a departure from the previous work of the group, which is known for family-friendly performances. In many ways it signals an overall shift in the strip from the draw to family crowds toward an older legacy of Vegas as a paradise of vice, sensuality and taboo. The rebranding efforts appear to be a success as Zumanity continues to draw crowds at the New York-New York Hotel and Casino. Just make sure to leave the kids at home.


Credit: Ross Mollison / YouTube

Absinthe is another cabaret-inspired performance that takes pride in distinguishing itself from its predecessors. The performance takes place on the stage of velvet-lined Spiegelworld tent, a small circus tent at Caesar’s Palace, and features everything from hula hoops and trapeze artists to knife-throwing and strippers. True to its name, the show takes heavy influence from the cabaret of 1920s Berlin. In a sense, it’s also a parody of traditional Las Vegas-style shows. Needless to say, Absinthe is another adults-only event.

The Beatles LOVE

Credit: Cirque du Soleil / YouTube

When asked about the prospect of a reunion tour, John Lennon once cringed at the depressing prospect of rock stars past their prime milking the Vegas circuit to rehash old hits. It’s fitting then that the return of the Beatles into the cultural spotlight was a reimagining that breathed fresh life into the timeless cultural icons that were The Fab Four. The production company of the former rock group Apple Corps collaborated with Cirque Du Soleil to create an on-stage parade of the music and zeitgeist that carried the icons to their pinnacle in the 90-minute show The Beatles LOVE.

The 10-year anniversary saw the performance overhauled as it prepared for appearances by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and Yoko Ono. The soundtrack to the show is not a discography of the Beatles but, rather, a blending of their greatest works to present fresh sounds that remain true to their inspiration. Since its launch in 2006, the show has garnered a total audience of over 6 million.

Le Rêve - The Dream

Credit: Wynn Las Vegas / YouTube

The Wynn’s stage production has been a centerpiece of the casino-resort since 2005 and seen continual revision since. The Dream features performances in an aquatic theater, from diving to feats of strength and pyrotechnics. Over the past decade, the central theme of the production revolves around the choice between love and passion embodied in the otherworldly mental journey of the show’s female protagonist, who takes the audience through her dream states. In a case of art imitating life, Colby Lemmo and Josh Fried of the ensemble fell in love and married. In 2018, the show celebrated its 6,000th performance.

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