The best Cirque du Soleil show for you in Vegas

There's no shortage of colorful characters in "Mystère" at Treasure Island.

By Caroline Fontein

You’re in Vegas, and you want to see a Cirque du Soleil show. With seven productions on the Las Vegas Strip, it can be hard to figure out which one you’ll like the best. All of their shows are amazing, but they each offer something different, appealing to a wide range of audiences. To help you make sense of it all, here’s some insight into the world of Cirque and their productions in Vegas.

History of Cirque

For those unfamiliar with the French-Canadian production company, Cirque du Soleil probably doesn’t mean much. In Vegas, it’s the most prominent production company on the Strip.

Cirque du Soleil, which means circus of the sun, is an entertainment company founded by Guy Laliberté in 1984. Born in Quebec, Canada, Laliberté became interested in show business at a young age. After finishing school he started working as a street performer and eventually joined Les Échassiers de Baie-Saint-Paul, founded by Gilles Ste-Croix. The theater troupe consisted of stilt walkers, fire breathers, jugglers, dancers and musicians. Laliberté performed with the group as they traveled around the country.

In 1984 the Quebec government was seeking an event in honor of Canada’s 450th anniversary that would bring the festivities to people around the province. Laliberté came up with the idea for a touring group of performers and Cirque du Soleil was born.

Formed with the support of a government grant for the anniversary celebrations, Cirque du Soleil was initially set up as a one-year project. After the successful first year, the performance troupe received a second year of funding. During that time, Laliberté hired Guy Canon from the National Circus School to re-style the group into being a proper circus.  The result was a performance group that emphasized strong characters and incorporated circus styles from around the world.

Unlike other circus acts of the day, Cirque du Soleil didn’t incorporate any animals, helping to characterize the group as a more contemporary and cutting-edge performance troupe than other circus-style acts. The production company was also founded on creativity and puts an emphasis on bringing the impossible to life for live audiences.

Since its inception, Cirque has blossomed into one of the most prominent production companies for live performance today. Cirque has touring and permanent productions all over the world resulting in more than 5,000 employees worldwide including 1,300 artists. The company offers more than 100 types of occupations. Together the company’s employees and artists represent more than 50 nationalities and speak 25 different languages.

Cirque in Vegas

In 1993 “Mystère” was the production company’s first show in Vegas. Since then they have opened six more multimillion dollar productions. Each show features Cirque’s artistic combination of incredible acrobatics, innovative costuming and imaginative props.

The Shows

Criss Angel
Where: Luxor
When:7 p.m. Tuesday – Saturday. 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, Friday and Saturday.
About: Here audiences get to see Criss Angel performing illusions that have been stylized with Cirque’s unique presentation.
Who Likes It: If you’ve never missed an episode of “Criss Angel Mindfreak,” you know what it means to be one of The Loyals or if you just want to see a show that combines elements of Cirque du Soleil and magic, then this is the show for you.

Audiences who want action won't be disappointed at "KÀ" at MGM Grand.

Where: MGM Grand
When: 7 and 9:30 p.m. Tuesday – Saturday.
About:” is an action and adventure story. Unlike other Cirque productions in Vegas, this show has a clear plot that’s understandable to audiences of all ages. The show tells the tale of Imperial Twins who are separated after their palace is attacked by an evil tribe. From there each twin goes on an exciting journey through varied landscapes depicted by the show’s state-of-the-art stage. The show ends with an epic battle scene where the artists perform on a vertical platform.
Who Likes It: If you like action-adventure stories like “Lord of the Rings” and “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” or you want to see a show where both the performers and the stage do something cool, then this is the show for you.

Where: Mirage
When: 7 and 9:30 p.m. Thursday – Monday.
About: Listening to your favorite Beatles songs at home is one thing, but watching the images and emotions that you experience while hearing those songs come to life through  acrobatics, aerialists and a cast of colorful characters is unparalleled.  That experience is “LOVE.” The show’s music director’s Sir George Martin, (music producer for the Beatles) and his son Giles created a unique mix of the Beatles music especially for the show. You get to hear the Beatles music in a new way while watching stunning visuals created by Cirque.
Who Likes It: If you love the Beatles and have always wondered what it would be like to see their music, then this is the show for you.

Where: Treasure Island
When: 7 and 9:30 p.m. Thursday – Monday.
About: Featuring a variety of specialty acts and performers in a circus-style setting, this is a classic Cirque show. Each scene is a variation of a typical circus act like the flying trapeze or an aerialist routine. However, in “Mystère” the boundaries of those disciplines are pushed, presenting those acts in a new and exciting way that you won’t see in other productions. There’s also an element of comedy in this show brought on by some of the characters and their interaction with the audience.
Who likes it: If you feel like watching a fast-paced show with a variety of different circus-style acts and some comedy thrown in for good measure, then this is the show for you.

"O" at the Bellagio takes audiences into an aquatic wonderland.

Where: Bellagio
When: 7:30 and 10 p.m. Wednesday – Sunday.
About: Instead of a stage, the cast of 85 artists performs in a 1.5-million-gallon pool, transporting guests to an ethereal world of fantasy. The show is whimsical with the scenes transitioning from one to the next at a smooth, flowing pace. Throughout the show performers appear from underwater or are lowered in from above the stage. With divers, acrobats, gymnasts and a man that catches on fire every night, the imaginative world created in “O” is nothing short of amazing.
Who Likes It: If you feel like watching something entirely unbelievable, awe-inspiring and full of whimsy, then this is the show for you.

Viva Elvis
Where: Aria
When: 7 and 9:30 p.m. Tuesday – Saturday.
About: What happens when you combine Cirque with Elvis? You get one shake, rattle and rollin’ good time. “Viva Elvis” takes a biographical look at the singer’s life through the eyes of Cirque du Soleil. Some of the scenes are more abstract than others, but Elvis fans will love hearing the King’s songs and seeing the video footage of Elvis played throughout the show. With large dance numbers, this show has more of a Broadway feel that other Cirque productions in Vegas.
Who Likes It: If you’re in the mood to celebrate everything Elvis, then this is the show for you.

Where: New York-New York
When: 7:30 and 10 p.m. Friday – Tuesday.
About: Take a walk on the wild side with Cirque’s adult cabaret-style spectacular, “Zumanity.” The show features a series of specialty acts each themed by a different element of sexuality from playful lust to self-inflicted pleasure and pain. The show is hosted by Edie, “The Mistress of Sensuality,” played by a dynamic drag queen. While the topic matter may be taboo, “Zumanity” presents sex in an artful and sometimes comical way. The show encourages people to set their inhibitions aside and explore the sultry side of life.
Who Likes It: If you want to see incredible aerialists, gymnasts and other artists perform a series of vignettes all themed by sex, then this is the show for you.