Kabuki to take Las Vegas stage atop the Fountains of Bellagio this summer

The coveted Japanese art of Kabuki is set to make its Las Vegas debut this summer atop the famed Fountains of Bellagio. Working together to honor this ancient form of artistic expression and to deliver onlookers an entertainment experience unlike any other, MGM Resorts International and Japan’s premier Kabuki producer, Shochiku, will bring Japan’s coveted entertainment to Las Vegas with the Japan Kabuki Festival in August 2015 and May 2016.

Famed Kabuki star Ichikawa Somegoro in front of the iconic Fountains of Bellagio. Photo credit: PR Newswire

With five performances of a Kabuki play scheduled to take place from Aug. 15 – 16, 2015, the free Kabuki spectacle titled “Koi-Tsikami – ‘Fight with a Carp’” featuring Kabuki star Ichikawa Somegoro will be staged at the Fountains of Bellagio.

Tracing its roots back more than 400 years to its conception, the revered theatrical experience that is Kabuki could be compared to that of a Cirque du Soleil-type performance in the fact that the performance heavily relies on dramatic stage makeup that represents the character’s emotions and intentions as well as dramatic body movements (though not acrobatic) through which the story is told.

Rendering of projected backdrop against the Fountains of Bellagio water screen.

Not only will this inaugural Kabuki spectacle be the first of its kind in Las Vegas, but it will be the first time that a set of such advance technology will be performed in Kabuki and integrated into the fountains alike.

The performances this August will play out the dramatic story of a young man who falls in love with a woman who is actually a carp; the female carp in the story has taken the form of a human woman in order to seek revenge on humans after her (carp) fiancé was murdered by man.

With only two members of the performing cast, the climax of the storyline will be the epic battle that will take place between the female carp, which will be portrayed via projection, and the young man that fell in love with her. A vibrant display of the battle scene will be projected against the backdrop of a fountain-made water screen making for a dramatic, never-before-seen show.

The Japan Kabuki Festival that will be held in May of 2016 will feature spectacle shows inspired by Kabuki and other elements to celebrate Japan’s Kabuki culture. In Japanese heritage, the first week in May is a culturally significant and ceremonious time in Japan known as Golden Week, which will be honored through the festival during this time.

As a top tourist destination in the world with a large percentage of tourists helming from Japan, Chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International James Murren said at a press conference yesterday, “Characterized by the originality of the performance and the universally appealing stories, Shochiku has presented Kabuki for so many years, all around the world in literally 40 different countries and thanks to the very important commitment by the Kabuki community, we have now come to an era where we can expand the entertainment components beyond what has been possible in Kabuki in the past.”

Murren continued, “…I’ve come to learn about the beauty and diversity of [Japan] and I am so excited to be able to bring a piece of that legacy and beauty back home here to Las Vegas.”

Exact times for the August 2015 and May 2016 performances and festivals have yet to be announced.


Trading one desert for another, I moved to Las Vegas from Arizona nearly three years ago. It was something about the sparkling lights and the all-encompassing entertainment factor that persuaded me to swap cacti for casinos and dry heat for well…even drier heat. And while I do love a good show, I will always keep true to my country girl ways seeing that I am an absolute sucker for a good country concert and will always indulge the opportunity to go out country dancing! But in a city that undoubtedly has some of the world’s best cuisine, a wild assortment of endless experiences, and of course phenomenal shows, Vegas certainly has that unparalleled good time vibe that can make a city slicker out of just about anyone… including myself!