If your idea of fun involves relaxing in plush seats and being transported to another realm by the passionate and talented-beyond-belief entertainers on stage in front of you, there’s no better place you could possibly slip away to than Las Vegas. With acrobatic shows, high-profile artist residencies, and everything in between, the entertainment capital of the world is home to a steady stream of winning performances. Now might be the best time in a long time to visit and lose yourself in a show.
From a new Cirque du Soleil extravaganza to residencies from Lady Gaga, Gwen Stefani, and Bruno Mars, this fall Las Vegas will serve up the kind of iconic performances that only come around once every 20 years. Here, in no particular order, are six shows worth working into your upcoming vacay itinerary. Snap up your tix, then get excited to sit back and be wowed!
Cirque du Soleil R.U.N
The latest Cirque du Soleil extravaganza brings together an all-star creative team including Marilyn Manson’s former guitarist, filmmaker Robert Rodriguez, and others. The result: R.U.N, a live-action thriller premiering at Luxor Las Vegas in mid-October. Sources say special effects will collide with the edge of human abilities in ways that are brand new to the Cirque brand. The show follows two clans in an adrenaline-filled adventure in which a gangland bride leads a series of fast-paced chases, combat high jinks and stunts through the fictional dark underground of Las Vegas.
Along the way, guests will be taken through a gritty, cinematic story featuring bold, rebellious characters with zero sense of fear. The finished product will undoubtedly be a feast for the senses. There’s no better way to celebrate Cirque’s 35th anniversary.
Lady Gaga Jazz & Piano
Yes, Lady Gaga’s songs get nightclubs around the world moving. Yes, she’s legendary for her over-the-top outfits and her outspoken stage banter. But as the artist born as Stefani Germanotta showed us in “A Star Is Born,” she also happens to be a stunning piano player. This is the basis for her second of two Las Vegas shows at Park Theater inside Park MGM. Jazz & Piano puts Gaga on stage with a grand piano and an orchestra. As for the set list, it skews more toward Cole Porter and Billy Strayhorn and hits of the 1920s, 30s, and 40s than the progressive pop of her other Vegas show, Lady Gaga Enigma.
Of course, Gaga also plays a few stripped down versions her greatest hits (“Born This Way” has never sounded this good). Perhaps the most exciting part of Gaga’s J&P show is the possibility of a surprise guest; since the run began in January 2019, she’s brought Tony Bennett and Bradley Cooper to the stage for duets.
Atomic Saloon Show
Spiegelworld productions are known for being wacky, and Atomic Saloon Show, which just opened at the Grand Canal Shoppes inside The Venetian Resort, is no exception. The adults-only variety show tells the tale of Boozy Skunkton, a hotel owner on a mission to create the greatest saloon show the world has ever known by casting the “most abnormally sexy but sensationally amoral” troupe of entertainers in existence. Among her ragtag group are comedians, gymnasts, and acrobats, all of whom perform in a modern spin on vaudeville.
Before the show, be sure to giddy on up to one of the theater’s two bars and grab a grapefruit punch-filled flask to sip from while you watch. Another tip: If you’re going with a group, ask the box office about a private booth—you and up to five friends can watch from the comfort of your own box. Finally, ask your usher about some of the curious fixtures and décor that surround you; each item has a unique story, and employees are eager to share.
Don’t expect to walk away with digital proof that you saw Bruno Mars’ residency at Park Theater at Park MGM; concertgoers are required to put smartphones and smartwatches in signal-proof bags before they enter. The good news: The lack of technology frees you up to live in the moment and enjoy Mars’ music unencumbered. It also means you won’t be able to help but groove to hits like “24K Magic,” “That’s What I Like,” “Locked Out of Heaven,” and, of course, “Uptown Funk.” Mars began his residency back in 2016 and he’s tweaked the show every year since, adding elaborate dance numbers and new tunes all the while.
VIP ticket packages include an hour of open bar before the show. Be sure to visit Mars’ site for a playlist of songs he likely will perform.
Piff the Magic Dragon
Mr. Piff (comedian John van der Put dressed in a dragon costume) has made the most of his near-finish championship performance in “America’s Got Talent” back in 2015. Today, the British transplant’s eponymous comedy show in Bugsy’s Cabaret at Flamingo Las Vegas is one of the most sought-after tickets in town. To call the bit zany would be an understatement; Piff co-stars with Mr. Piffles, a chihuahua also dressed in a dragon costume, and together the duo performs card tricks and other acts of derring-do.
Though Piff’s a magician, his sorcery also lies in his ability to make crowds laugh—in 2018, he won Best Comedian in the Best of Las Vegas awards. Don’t let the dragon costume fool you; this show isn’t G-rated. Another word to the wise: Arrive early for good seats; though tickets have seat numbers on them, audience members are encouraged to claim spots as they wish.
Gwen Stefani - Just a Girl
Everybody’s favorite Hollaback Girl ends her Vegas residency this November, which means time is running out to see her own the stage at Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino. As you might expect, Gwen Stefani - Just a Girl is high-octane, with Stefani singing the title song, as well as a mix of No Doubt hits and solo oldies such as “Underneath It All,” “Don’t Speak,” and “Spiderwebs.” Video sequences with clips of Stefani’s childhood play intermittently, creating an intimate vibe. Those with the resources can double-down on intimate by springing for a VIP package that includes a meet-and-greet with Stefani or a table with bottle service.
For the rest of us, the General Audience/Standing Room option is a good bet, since it gives you close access to the stage. Feel good bonus: $1 from every ticket sold is donated back to Cure 4 The Kids Foundation in Las Vegas.