The Best Shows and Musicals in Las Vegas Right Now
Here are the most mind-blowing shows, from Magic Mike Live to Penn & Teller.
There’s a reason Las Vegas is known as the Entertainment Capital of the World, but with so many shows on so many stages on and off the Strip, where do you even begin? Allow us to help! These are the best-bang-for-your-buck shows in Vegas—some tried-and-true favorites, some attention-stealing upstarts, some screen-to-stage phenoms, and some deeply weird WTFs.
Lost Spirits Distillery
Not quite a show, Lost Spirits is designed to leisurely explore, rum snifter in hand, and get deliriously lost as you wander from stage to stage, exploring all the different hidden rooms and tucked-away performance areas. This is a truly immersive experience, where performances happen all around you just a few feet away as carnival barkers and sequined songstresses guide you through a vaudevillian circus of magic and sideshows. You’ll see a fusion of dance and aerial acrobatics, including capoeira, tango, flamenco, and aerial roller skates. There’s burlesque, belly dancing, snake charming, magic, mentalism, contortion, and juggling. There are some seriously strong strongwomen (former Olympic gymnasts). And while you might say you’ve seen all these types of things before, know this: this is the highest-caliber talent in the most intimate of venues. Even the most seasoned Vegas show-goer has never seen it done like this. Some acts perform only one day a week, so every night is a different experience, and new acts are constantly being added. The Séance Room is the latest addition, a separate show-within-the-show inspired by Thomas Edison’s scientific achievements and obsession with the spirit realm. Hosted by magician and mentalist Kent Axell, the Séance Room experience starts with some cheeky acts before attendees are spirited off to a private room with a massive séance table as its centerpiece. Axell sets the eerie, quiet tone as he demonstrates authentic 120-year-old artifacts from Edison’s era and walks guests through a hair-raising, electrifying experience.
Awakening has re-awakened at the Wynn after an extended period of further retooling. The $150 million+ production is visually breathtaking—the costumes are absolutely stunning, and the 60-foot, 360-degree prismatic stage (custom-designed with dichroic glass that incorporates large-scale LED screens) is an engineering feat, segmenting into a variety of different formations that lift up and down and rotate throughout the show. The puppetry is gorgeous. The music, not the two original songs, but the rest of the original score pumped through the speakers found in the headrests of every single seat in the round theater, is fantastic.
This new iteration is a fairly significant overhaul from its previous version, which suffered from disappointing ticket sales and disappointing audience reviews. Much of the production will have you watching in awe, mouth slightly agape, nailing those “Oh, WOW” moments that are now crucial to the success of any resident show on the Strip. Still, the less-convoluted plot is still convoluted; the inexplicably present dialogue, narration, and original songs underscore precisely why such things don’t exist in most Cirque shows, and some aspects of the show meant to appeal to the lowest common audience denominator are grating, effectively undermining the more spectacular elements of the production.
It closed again for a few weeks in September, so we’ll see. There are so many incredible things about this show, so we’re certainly hoping they keep working on it until they find the winning formula (which, FWIW, will likely not include bad acting, bad dialogue, unnecessary narration, head-scratching original songs, and tedious comedic relief).
When Spiegelworld introduced Absinthe to Las Vegas twelve years ago, it forever changed the Strip. Flashy productions with circus acts were nothing new, and more adult-oriented shows with naughtier themes and varying degrees of nudity weren’t either, but marrying the two under a big top was a whole new recipe for a hit show. The cast, characters, and acts have changed a lot over the years, but nowhere else will you see four women on sway poles soaring directly over audience members’ heads in the most over-the-top bottle service display in Vegas. The area around the Absinthe circus tent, now known as the Green Fairy Garden, is equally enticing with a 35-foot-tall oak tree sculpture featuring 120,000 LED lights, a casual smashed burgers and tater tots concept and hidden a cocktail bar.
Atomic Saloon Show
From the same twisted minds behind Absinthe and OPM comes the most rootin’-tootinest, rip-roarin’ Wild West show to ever hit the Strip. Giddy-on-up over to Madame Boozy Skunkton’s saloon-brothel and watch as her cast of characters–including a rhinestone cowboy, two very naughty nuns, sexy star-crossed lovers, and a bunch of strongmen–takes us on a journey through the Old West. If you think you’ve seen eye-popping acrobatics before, think again. Also, if you think pole dancing is just for women, really think again. The song selection is also especially stellar. Think: “Cotton Eye Joe.”
Mad Apple by Cirque du Soleil
New York-New York Hotel & Casino
Mad Apple ramps up the adult content with MC, comedian and illusionist Harrison Greenbaum. His crowd work is outstanding and worth the price of admission alone. There’s also juggling, sword-swallowing, Harlem Globetrotters-style acrobatic basketball tricks, a double wheel of death, a burlesque Lady Liberty, and sexy aerial duos reminiscent of Zumanity. Plus more “hairial” acrobatics (it’s a thing now!). Unlike any other Cirque show on the Strip, Mad Apple is a music-driven production with stellar vocalists backed by an excellent band. Expect to hear variations of NY-centric songs like “New York State of Mind” and “Empire State of Mind” and legendary New York artists like Run-DMC and Studio 54 disco.
What was the weirdest of the Spiegel shows is now, arguably, the best of the bunch. OPM–which, perhaps, can be described as an insane asylum in a spaceship–features eye-popping circus acts like a neck-twisting “hairial” act, a limbo queen made of rubber, and a sexy strong woman-contortion duo as well as some decidedly unique acts. Think a shrieking topless woman spinning and smashing plates, an intense straight jacket escape, and a duo that does things with bananas. But the crème de la crème here is the roller skating act which involves a male on roller skates holding a girl by one skate as she’s holding her other leg in full splits mid-air as he spins her around and around.
“O” by Cirque du Soleil
An aquatic tribute that pays homage to different performing arts disciplines from opera to, yes, clowns, “O” is simply gorgeous. Everything about the stage and its mechanics, down to the curtains and the lighting, is an intricate illusion. At times massive set pieces emerge, floating through the air, from the seemingly cavernous depths of the back of the stage. The stage shifts from solid floor to open water deep enough for high divers. There is so much happening everywhere you look that it’s impossible to really take it all in on one viewing. It is a visual feast and a piece of mechanical wizardry that serves to remind audiences this is why Cirque’s popularity is so enduring, and why this show in particular will celebrate 25 years of wowing audiences on the Las Vegas Strip later this year.
Magic Mike Live
SAHARA Las Vegas
Las Vegas is a place of equal-opportunity sexy shows with varying degrees of nudity—the Chippendales have long been mainstays at The Rio, and there are plenty of similarly ab-centric shows from Thunder from Down Under, Aussie Heat, etc. Magic Mike Live is different. This is a full-blown 360-degree theatrical production, not just a glute-clenching, ab-flexing, all-male beefcake parade. It is, dare we say, classier – and sexier for it – with fully choreographed dance numbers, super-sexy audience member seductions, and an overall sex-positive message that celebrates female desire. There is humor, heat, and still plenty of glute-clenching and ab-flexing, but this show also has heart. MML now offers a VIP Magic Pass for groups, so gather your squad and enjoy personalized service that includes a tasting menu at Bazaar Meat or Balla at SAHARA, a bottle of bubbles per guest, post-show meet-and-greets, and a variety of other secret specials and discounts throughout that property that only the Magic Pass will unlock.
Penn & Teller
Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino
There are 21-year-olds celebrating their milestone birthdays in Las Vegas today who have been alive for less time than Penn & Teller have been headlining Las Vegas—the magic-performing pair just celebrated their 22nd year as headliners. Pay respect to the elders and see for yourselves exactly why this dynamic duo has been successfully headlining Vegas for the last two decades. Theirs is the longest-running residency in Las Vegas history, and their unique blend of timeless magic and timely comedy keeps fans coming back time and time again.
Piff the Magic Dragon
Much like history’s greatest jesters, Piff uses self-deprecating humor to serve his own purpose and wears a ridiculous costume to distract from his stunning stage work. Mr. Piffles, the world’s only magic-performing chihuahua, also provides plenty of audience distraction as Piff performs the kind of illusions that will leave you thinking long after the show ends. His piercing-sharp humor makes him all the more suited to make a mockery out of the more ridiculous stereotypes of stage magic (and magicians).
REALITY SHOWS IRL
America’s Got Talent Presents Superstars Live
A lot of Las Vegas’s current headliner talent came from America’s Got Talent: Piff the Magic Dragon, Terry Fator, Mat Franco, Shin Lim, and Tape Face, among them. AGT’s Superstars Live highlights the fan favorites, viral acts, season winners, and all-stars from the show’s many seasons across many countries. AGT superfans will be absolutely thrilled to see names like Kodi Lee and Aidan Bryant live on stage. AGT Superstars Live delivers a good mix of performances, from dancers in programmed LED costumes to drum lines to death-defying knife-throwing to magic-meets-freestyle rapping.
RuPaul’s Drag Race LIVE!
A rotating cast of the fiercest queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race can be seen slaying their very own show at the Flamingo, and these showgirls know how to werk. RuPaul’s Drag Race LIVE! is an original production based on the Emmy Award-winning reality competition featuring hit songs from the past 14 seasons of Drag Race as well as original numbers and all-new elaborate costumes and choreography. The current lineup of performers includes Derrick Barry, Coco Montrese, Aquaria, Asia O’Hara, Jorgeous, Alexis Mateo, and the Pit Crew. Sashay! Shante!