Shows we wish were still in Vegas

While we admit that there is more than enough chill to go around in Vegas, the difference between Sin City and Netflix, another entertainment mecca, is that you simply cannot rewind Vegas to relive some of the most epic entertainment moments in history.

With Don Arden’s “Jubilee” bowing out of the limelight after their impressive 34-year run (the longest running show in Vegas history), we couldn’t help but think of other shows that we wish would stick around forever. While it’s the nature of the entertainment beast for shows to eventually skip town, in no particular order, here are some that we wouldn’t mind making a permanent return because they were just so dang good.

Photo credit: Joan Marcus

Photo credit: Joan Marcus

Phantom – The Las Vegas Spectacular

We will forever miss this show, which played at a custom-built theater at The Venetian from 2006 – 2012.  When the hotel announced it was spending $40 million to design a theater for “Phantom of the Opera” and renaming the show “Phantom – The Las Vegas Spectacular,” audiences knew they were going to be getting a little something extra in this version of the popular Broadway musical.

The theater was designed to closely resemble the Opera Garnier in Paris and it was lavish. Featuring plush red seats and curtains, gold statues and carvings, a hand-painted ceiling topped with an 80-foot wide dome and opera boxes filled with colorful mannequins lining the sides this theater was unlike anything on the Strip.

The centerpiece of the theater (and major plot point of the show) was the chandelier, which weighed 2,100 pounds and cost $4.5 million to create.  In this version of “Phantom,” the chandelier hung in four pieces, which assembled in dramatic fashion during the beginning of the show. During the show’s climactic scene, the chandelier fell 45 feet in three seconds and stopped only 10 feet above those seated beneath it.

Besides a stunning theater, cool special effects and beautiful costumes, “Phantom – The Las Vegas Spectacular” also featured an incredibly talented Broadway-caliber cast. Anthony Crivello was the Phantom, Kristi Holden and Kristen Hertzenberg played Christine Daaé and Andrew Ragone appeared as Raoul (Fans can now catch him in Steve Wynn’s “ShowStoppers”).

“Phantom – The Las Vegas Spectacular” definitely lived up to its name. Whether you were a longtime fan of the show or it was a first-time experience, you left the theater wishing the music of the night would never end. We wish it hadn’t.

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Toxic Audio

Before the hit movie, “Pitch Perfect” and the long-running TV series “Glee” existed, we had Toxic Audio. If you’re a fan of a capella, you would’ve loved their show. The quintet did everything with their voices, including the super-believable musical instrument sound effects.

Toxic Audio’s style was very jazzy and soulful, so they had us groovin’ in our seats the entire show. They mixed scat, beat boxing, record scratching and everything else in between. We love their covered versions of Minnie Riperton’s “Loving You,” Stevie Wonder’s “Ma Cherie Amour,” Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” Vicki Sue Robinson’s “Turn The Beat Around” and Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me.”

We could go on all day, but it’s better if you find them online and give them a listen. Their talent gave us the chills… even a tear or two with some songs! We’re crossing our fingers they sing their way back to Vegas.

Holly Madison in Peepshow

Holly Madison in Peepshow

Peepshow

Vegas is full of naughty nights and wild entertainment, but perhaps one of our all-time favorites that we just loved was “Peepshow” at Planet Hollywood.

“Holly’s World” and “Girls Next Door” star Holly Madison stared in “Peepshow,” which quickly became one of Vegas’ sexiest revues based on nursery rhymes told with a naughty twist. The show featured highly-stylized, modern burlesque-style dancing and tantalizing stripteases performed by a cast of gorgeous dancers. Talk about the ultimate bedtime story.

Developed by Tony award-winning director/choreographer Jerry Mitchell, “Peepshow” was a the perfect combination of naughty humor, lively music and all of the glamorous production elements found only in Vegas.

With an overarching theme of sexuality and empowerment, the show took audiences on a journey of a woman, “Bo Peep” played by Madison, who longed to find her perfect match. From the elaborate set pieces, sexy and dazzling costumes (or lack thereof), a variety of acts and a fantastical storyline, “Peepshow” will always be included on our list of shows that we would welcome back to Sin City in a (fast-paced) heartbeat.

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We Will Rock You

This show rocked Paris Las Vegas from September 2004 until November 2005.

“We Will Rock You” debuted in London’s West End before coming to Vegas. The musical told the story of a group of Bohemians who fight to restore the free exchange of thought, fashion, and live music in a future world where everyone dresses, thinks and acts the same and music is forbidden.

The best part about the show was that the score was entirely comprised of music by Queen. Audiences got to rock out to 20 of the legendary band’s hits like “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Are The Champions,” “Another One Bites The Dust” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.”

The talented cast really knew how to belt out the songs made famous by Freddy Mercury. Tony Vincent, who had originated the role of Galileo in the London production, reprised the role, which he alternated with Jason Wooten. Aspen Miller and Kacie Sheik shared the role of Scaramouche, Patti Russo was Killer Queen, and Ty Taylor was Brit.
The show didn’t feature over-the-top sets or massive production numbers but the music was awesome and we definitely miss singing along to it.

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Viva Elvis by Cirque du Soleil

We are pretty sure that Elvis will always be in Las Vegas in one way or another but “Viva Elvis” by Cirque du Soleil was one of our favorite shows that paid homage to The King. Sadly, in true Elvis fashion, it has also left the building.

Graceland may be home to his shrine but, in our opinion, Las Vegas knows how to honor the spirit of the entertainer unlike anyone else.
In 1969, Elvis performed his first show at the International (now the LVH – Las Vegas Hotel & Casino) to a sold-out crowd and he went on to perform regular engagements at the property for seven years — a total of 837 consecutive sold-out performances in front of 2.5 million people. Elvis’ enduring popularity in Vegas is a tribute to the bonds forged between the singer and the city during that seven-year run between 1969 and 1976. It’s a legacy that continues to this day.

Cirque du Soleil created “Viva Elvis,” which celebrated the life and music of Elvis through a blend of dance, acrobatics, live music and video clips and it was amazing.

The production featured 77 cast members including nine musicians and four female singers and the only male voice heard in the show was, of course, The King himself.

With an onstage band and acrobatic infused dance numbers reminiscent of a Broadway show, this show was more electric than one of Elvis’ famed rhinestone jumpsuits.

Just imagine 24 in-floor subwoofers booming the sound of original Elvis albums, films, concert recordings, interviews and home movies, this was more than a show; it was an authentic, immersive experience.
The show featured numbers that take the audience through the phases of Elvis’ life set to classic songs like “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Love Me Tender,” “Burning Love” and many more.

If we could hit rewind, we’d be back in the seats of “Viva Elvis” taking in the ballet dancers, roller skaters, acrobats, singers and dancers that personified Elvis’ legacy in that kind of all-encompassing, soul-touching way that only Cirque knows how to pull off.


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Avenue Q

Imagine a musical that’s like “Sesame Street”-meets-“South Park”-meets-“Ted”-meets “Reality Bites.” Sounds like the best combination ever, right? That’s why “Avenue Q” remains one of our all-time favorite Vegas shows.

Sadly, this popular Tony Award-winning Broadway show only lasted in Vegas for a few short months. While it didn’t take the spotlight like we expected, we’re still thinking about it a decade later. Its unique approach had actors who interacted with puppets (moved by “invisible” puppeteers) who acted human. The story is about a guy who learns after graduating from college with an English degree, life is not all rainbows and unicorns. (The struggle is real, son!)

This coming-of-age musical shows the challenges of adulthood in a very realistic, yet comical way. We’ll always miss you, “Avenue Q” and your catchy tune, “It Sucks To Be You” is forever in our memory.

Editorial contributions from Kristine McKenzie & Jeannie Garcia

Comments

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!