‘AMERICAN STORM’ Showtimes are 10:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays in the Le Bistro Theater at the Riviera, 2901 Las Vegas Blvd. South, $59.95 (794-9433).
‘AMERICAN SUPERSTARS’ (B) Michael Jackson still has a career in this impersonator show that tries to keep up with a pop culture curve that quickly turns idols into laughingstocks. A versatile four-piece band pushes along credible impressions of the likes of Tim McGraw, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera in a revue that copies the “Legends in Concert” format, but also keeps that show on its toes. (4/8/05 M.W.) Showtimes are 7 p.m. Sundays through Tuesdays, and 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays in the Broadway Showroom at the Stratosphere, 2000 Las Vegas Blvd. South, $41.75; $49.50 for show, buffet, two drinks and a tower pass; $30.95, children ages 5-12, children younger than 5 will not be admitted and anyone younger than 21 must be accompanied by an adult (380-7711).
‘AVENUE Q’ (A-) The 2004 Tony-winning musical balances the edgy, satiric moments of its basic concept — a profane spoof of “Sesame Street” complete with authentic puppets — with the warmth of a traditional musical. The story of disenfranchised, underemployed young adults navigates a sometimes twisty road between the easy humor of R-rated puppet talk and plot threads we’re supposed to take seriously. But the creators steer beyond the initial novelty to incorporate bright social commentary and strong ensemble work. (9/8/05 M.W.) Showtimes are set for 8 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays, 7 and 10 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays at Wynn Las Vegas, 3131 Las Vegas Blvd. South, $88-$99 (770-9966).
‘BITE’ (C-) A revue promising topless vampires could have been either campy or erotic in an Anne Rice vein, but “Bite” turns out to be little more than “Crazy Girls” with fangs. A few moments point to the potential of the vampire theme, and a few others are spellbindingly awful. But most of it just rumbles along to a deafening bombardment of classic rock standards. (9/10/04 M.W.) Showtimes are 10:30 p.m. daily except Thursdays in the Theater of the Stars at the Stratosphere, 2000 Las Vegas Blvd. South, $40.95 (380-7711).
‘BLUE MAN GROUP’ (A) A custom-built theater at The Venetian changes the Blue Man Group experience more than any new material performed by a now-familiar trio of bald blue pranksters. Some fans may be disappointed the new show doesn’t do a whole lot more than transplant the first Las Vegas effort into upgraded surroundings. But the Blue Men do incorporate some of “The Complex” rock tour and spruce up older segments with impressive lighting effects. The blue guys may never be able to surprise Las Vegas again, but newcomers are still in for a unique collision of playground comedy and post-grad intellect. (10/14/05 M.W.). Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Mondays through Sundays, and 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. Saturdays in the Blue Man Group Theater at The Venetian, 3355 Las Vegas Blvd. South, $87.50-$126 through Sunday, and $98.50-$126 beginning Monday (414-7469).
‘BUCK WILD’ (C) A Vegas cheesecake revue dressed up as a country show is a hoot as long as the fun keeps coming with a campy wink, but gets itself into trouble when the time comes to actually perform country music. The topless aspects never quite blend into an overall tone that plays more like a theme park revue or ’70s-era variety television. But where else are you going to see a little person introduced as “Mini Rogers” (Melvin Rossi) sing a duet with a drag Dolly Parton (Steve Daily)? (9/23/05 M.W.) Showtimes are 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays at the Sahara, 2535 Las Vegas Blvd. South, $54-$65 (737-2515).
‘CHIPPENDALES: THE SHOW’ (B+) The 14-man revue has dressed up so it can dress down inside a dedicated theater that’s part of the Rio’s Ultimate Girls’ Night Out complex. Upgraded staging allows for more scenery, video and acrobatics, but the energetic ensemble is determined not to be upstaged by its surroundings. Director Brian Thomas and the Rio aspired to having Chippendales be more than just a cheap thrill, but the guys don’t seem to mind. (2/4/05 M.W.) Showtimes are 8:30 p.m. Thursdays through Tuesdays, 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays in the Chippendales Theater at the Rio, 3700 W. Flamingo Road, $41.45-$57.95 (777-7776).
‘CRAZY GIRLS’ (C-) The longest-running of the topless cabaret revues on the Strip must be doing something right to stay open since 1987. Tatty wigs aside, “Crazy Girls” stays in the game with strong solo numbers and a lustier strip-club vibe than some of its classier competitors. Judge its appeal by whether you think that’s a good thing. (11/12/04 M.W.) Showtimes are 9:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Mondays, in the Mardi Gras Plaza at the Riviera, 2901 Las Vegas Blvd. South, $45.50-$73, no one younger than 18 will be admitted (794-9433).
CELINE DION IN ‘A NEW DAY’ (B+) A supersized attempt to marry an adult-contemporary superstar to Cirque du Soleil-style spectacle proves to be an odd mix. Former Cirque director Franco Dragone creates a spectacular pop opera, and the sound system is as amazing as the visuals on a 40-foot high-definition video screen. But it has been up to the star herself to warm the edges of the baroque surrealism and demonstrate that a little personality can still do things millions of dollars worth of technology can’t. (10/1/04 M.W.) Showtimes are 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays in the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, 3570 Las Vegas Blvd. South, $87.50-$225 (731-7865).
‘DRAGAPELLA’ Showtimes are 9:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays in the Shimmer Cabaret at the Las Vegas Hilton, 3000 Paradise Road, $50.75 (732-5755).
’AN EVENING AT LA CAGE’ (B) The Strip’s sole surviving drag show now comes off more as mainstream variety show than campy farce, but it has updated its pop culture references by adding Jennifer Lopez and Britney Spears to its arsenal of lip-synced impressions. Most of the tributes zip along as fast as Velcro will allow, and host Frank Marino adds a parade of costume changes and raunchy jabs at celebrities. (9/24/04 M.W.) Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Mondays in the Mardi Gras Plaza at the Riviera, 2901 Las Vegas Blvd. South. $67.75-$78.75 (794-9433).
‘EROCKTICA’ (C) It’s the second go-round for a topless show that originally opened with a live rock band, trading its sassy edge for more musical versatility. Singing to tape allows Gabriella Versace and Ray-J (Raymond Jones) to bend the genres and throw in some power ballads. But the singing hosts steal the show from the topless dancers, who mostly strut around and get tangled up in swaths of fabric. (12-2-05 M.W.) Showtimes are 10 p.m. Wednesdays through Mondays in Club Rio at the Rio, 3700 W. Flamingo Road, $57.95 (777-7776).
‘FANTASY’ (B-) The former ‘Midnight Fantasy’ tightened up its structure as well as its title. Music video and concert choreographer Cris Judd was recruited in mid-2005 to add fresh musical numbers, which allow an impressive female chorus line to balance tightly wound motion with sensuality. It’s unpretentious eye candy that fills the basic requirements of the topless revue, though Stephanie Jordan’s sultry live vocals add a needed dimension. (9/9/05 M.W.) Showtimes are 8 and 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, 11 p.m. Saturday, 10:30 p.m. Friday, Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday in the Atrium Showroom at the Luxor, 3900 Las Vegas Blvd. South, $49.49 (262-4900).
‘FASHIONISTAS’ (B+) The most daring show to play the Strip in a long time is a boldly erotic story (without nudity) told in dance, adapted from a hard-core movie of the same name by porn mogul John Stagliano. The tale of a love triangle within the fashion industry could use clarification, and the presumed interest in “fetish fashion” will be as foreign to some as the droning industrial music is to others. But it’s fascinating to see what a true adult show can be when it’s independent of corporate casino input, and Stagliano delivers a committed vision full of style and humor. (10/15/04 M.W.) Showtimes are 9:30 p.m. Thursdays through Tuesdays at Krave nightclub in the Desert Passage mall, 3663 Las Vegas Blvd. South, $54.95-$87.95, no one younger than 21 will be admitted (836-0830).
‘FOLIES BERGERE’ (B) The city’s longest-running show opened in 1959 and is now one of the last souvenirs of old Vegas and its iconic showgirls. The current edition blends newer bits with classics such as the gymnastic Parisian cancan, and does a fair job of bringing its human performers to the forefront of a stage that’s now modest by Las Vegas standards. The “Folies” preserve a unique era of show business with a straight face, but if the revue has a long-term future it could use a more winking or revisionist approach. (1/7/05 M.W.) Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. (covered) and 10 p.m. (topless) Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and 8:30 p.m. (topless) Tuesdays and Fridays in the Tiffany Theatre at the Tropicana, 3801 Las Vegas Blvd. South, $67.90-$78.90, dinner packages available (739-2411).
’FOREVER PLAID’ (A) A charming salute to the harmony groups of the 1950s turns out to be more than the catalog revue it promises. Writer-director Stuart Ross balances fond tribute with mild satire in the story of four college-age nerds who were killed on the way to a gig, but brought back from the afterlife for a chance to finish the show. The quartet balances pristine four-part harmonies with nuanced comedy in a musical that is more elaborate than it wants you to notice, and full of surprises. (2/18/05 M.W.) Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 3 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays at the Gold Coast, 4000 W. Flamingo Road, $43.95-$49.45 (251-3574).
‘HAIRSPRAY’ (B+) Showtimes are 7 p.m. Mondays and Fridays, and 7 and 10 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays in the Luxor Theatre, 3900 Las Vegas Blvd. South, $74.50-$96.50 (262-4900).
‘JUBILEE!’ (B) This classic “feather show” is simultaneously one of the Strip’s greatest treasures and the silliest reminder of its excessiveness. New lighting installed in the summer of 2004 rightfully puts the focus on a revue that’s more about stagecraft and costumes than any real performance value. The “Titanic” and “Samson and Delilah” segments are still impressive in a campy way, but they end about 30 minutes before the rest of it. (10/29/04 M.W.) Showtimes are 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. Saturdays through Thursdays in the Jubilee Theater at Bally’s, 3645 Las Vegas Blvd. South, $58-$77, no one younger than 18 will be admitted (967-4567).
’KA’ (A-) Cirque du Soleil’s first attempt at linear storytelling ditches the dreamy surrealism in favor of darkly textured atmosphere. The result achieves new heights in automated stagecraft as it follows a twin brother and sister from a mythic dynasty through a series of wondrous set pieces, including a storm at sea and a beach full of whimsical puppets. But the most expensive live show ever staged in Las Vegas is hard to follow and fails to bring home the dramatic potential of the saga. (2/11/05 M.W.) Showtimes are 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays in the Ka Theatre at the MGM Grand, 3799 Las Vegas Blvd. South, $99-$150 (891-7777).
‘LA FEMME’ (B) You aren’t likely to remember the specifics of this arty, influential nudie show — imported from the Crazy Horse in Paris — as much as the overall concept. Symmetrical topless beauties are painted in kaleioscopic patterns of light, sort of like making a whole show out of James Bond opening credits. The resulting 70-minute confection is like taking the money you would usually pay for a dinner and instead going to Le Cirque just for dessert. (7/9/04 M.W.) Showtimes are 8 and 10:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Mondays in the La Femme Theatre at the MGM Grand, 3799 Las Vegas Blvd. South, $59, no one younger than 18 will be admitted (891-7777).
‘LEGENDS IN CONCERT’ (B) The pioneer of the much-copied impersonator format hasn’t survived since 1983 by accident. It takes itself less seriously than in the old days, sometimes inviting the audience to laugh along at the wackiness of impersonating everyone from Prince to Shania Twain. The Elvis Presley finale is the only given in what amounts to an old-fashioned variety show with rotating stars, but the overall presentation and performance level are impressive for the ticket price. (7/16/04 M.W.) Showtimes are 7:30 and 10 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays in the Imperial Theater at Imperial Palace, 3535 Las Vegas Blvd. South, $39.95-$59.95, includes one drink, $24.95-$44.95 for children 12 and younger, dinner packages available (794-3261).
‘LE REVE’ (B-) These dreams seem very familiar, as “O” and “Mystere” director Franco Dragone recycles imagery for a redundant aquatic show in-the-round. Subtitled, “A Small Collection of Imperfect Dreams,” the skeletal plot has the mythic Morpheus leading an Everyman through a sensual, often dark dreamscape. Gorgeous imagery doesn’t fully compensate for the underwhelming acrobatics. The collective effort shows how quickly innovation becomes formula. (5/13/05 M.W.) Showtimes are 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. Saturdays through Wednesdays in the Wynn Theater at Wynn Las Vegas, 3131 Las Vegas Blvd. South, $99-$121 (770-9966).
‘MAMMA MIA!’ (B) The stage equivalent of a chick flick, the musical blockbuster will thrill grown-up disco gals — ABBA fanatics can advance the rating by one letter grade — and offer frothy, escapist fun for everyone else. The gimmick of drafting ABBA songs as show tunes is far more clever than the story, which coasts a little too much on its own good will and a TV sitcom level of humor. But at last the Strip offers real theater well-crafted, even for a vehicle so light. (2/21/03 M.W.) Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 6 and 10 p.m. Saturdays in the Theatre at Mandalay Bay, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South, $49.50-$110 (632-7580).
‘MATSURI’ Showtimes are 4 p.m. Saturdays through Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. Fridays in the showroom at the Riviera, 2901 Las Vegas Blvd. South. $59.95-$69.95, $39.95 children 12 and under. The show opens Wednesday (794-9433).
‘MENOPAUSE THE MUSICAL’ Showtimes are 7 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, 2 p.m. Wednesday, 4 and 7 p.m. Saturday, and 2 and 5 p.m. Sunday in the Shimmer Cabaret at the Las Vegas Hilton, 3000 Paradise Road, $58.45 (732-5755).
‘MYSTERE’ (A) Now in its second decade, the first nontouring Cirque du Soleil show still impresses those who walk into the custom theater, but keeps its computerized stagecraft under the rule of its human masters. The giant stage and 36-foot turntable is one that serves to showcase, rather than compete with the acrobats. The playful surrealism is as timeless as a classic painting, and “Mystere” was equally well-constructed to be a show for the ages (2/13/04 M.W.) Showtimes are 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays in the Mystere Theatre at Treasure Island, 3300 Las Vegas Blvd. South, $60-$95 (800-392-1999).
‘O’ (A) Cirque du Soleil’s aquatic spectacular blends spectacular acrobatics and surreal theater into an overwhelming visual feast, in which the human performers battle for attention with the wondrous staging in and above a 150-by-100-foot pool. “O” flaunts its technology with great panache, and though emotion is sometimes lost in the pastoral dreaminess, the technological toys are mostly a means to an upbeat, humanized end. (05/07/04 M.W.) Showtimes are 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays in the Theatre at Bellagio, 3600 Las Vegas Blvd. South, $93.50-$150 (693-7722).
‘SKINTIGHT’ (B-) Of all the topless shows on the Strip, this is the only “equal opportunity” one to include male dancers and a dynamic frontman, Darryl Ross. In the course of three years, “Skintight” also has evolved from a disjointed, often bizarre dance revue to one that values its performers’ personalities more than their breast implants. (5/30/03 M.W.) Showtimes are 10:30 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays; 10 p.m. and midnight Fridays; and 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. Sundays in the Showroom at Harrah’s Las Vegas, 3475 Las Vegas Blvd. South, $54.95, no one younger than 18 will be admitted (369-5111).
‘SPLASH’ (C) This Riviera fixture has gone from cutting-edge to kitsch, but nonetheless managed to survive on the Strip for 20 years. Original creator Jeff Kutash used that cue to update the revue with a historical Las Vegas theme and video montages. The show still pilfers pop cuture, but has replaced tributes to Michael Jackson and Madonna with fresh cheese, including “Phantom of the Opera” on ice and a tribute to topless clubs. The cast at least seems to be in on the joke this time, and the motorcycle daredevil act is still one of the best on the Strip. (7/1/05 M.W.) Showtimes are 8 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturdays in the Splash Theatre at the Riviera, 2901 Las Vegas Blvd. South, $65-$80, no one younger than 18 will be admitted (794-9433).
‘THUNDER FROM DOWN UNDER’ (C+) This male revue from Australia has made a home on the Strip by keeping things simpler and a bit less graphic than its chief competitor, “Chippendales: The Show.” The costumes are variations of tank tops and jeans, and the show varies a bit each night as the dancers rotate the four “solo” spots. (8/29/03 M.W.) Showtimes are 8 and 10:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 8 p.m. Sundays through Wednesdays in Merlin’s Theater at Excalibur, 3850 Las Vegas Blvd. South, $43.95-$54.95 (597-7600).
‘TONY ‘N’ TINA’S WEDDING’ (B+) This interactive dinner-theater hit has been playing around the country since 1985, but it’s still one of the most inventive shows to hit Las Vegas in years. Creator Nancy Cassaro coached a local cast to balance subtlety with stereotype in bringing two extreme New York Italian families to life. Since the show goes on all around the warehouse “banquet hall,” it pays — especially at the most distant tables — to move around and talk to the performers who never break character. (2/15/02 M.W.) Showtimes are 7 p.m. Mondays through Sundays in the Calypso Room at the Rio, 3700 W. Flamingo Road, $84.87 (777-7776).
‘TOURNAMENT OF KINGS’ (B) The King Arthur pageant is ready for an update, but still whips up convincing stunt action as heroes and villains go at it with lances, maces, swords and battle axes in a dirt-covered arena. Heavy on audience-participation humor, it remains one of the few Las Vegas shows with family appeal, as well as rare show with dinner — but without cutlery. (1/27/06 M.W.) Showtimes are 6 and 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Mondays in King Arthur’s arena at Excalibur, 3850 Las Vegas Blvd. South, $55 (597-7600).
‘THE TRIBUTE TO FRANK, SAMMY, JOEY & DEAN’ (B) Las Vegas deserves a standing Rat Pack show, and this one pulls the audience into a fun atmosphere that gradually makes people forget about whether the stars look or sound like the legends. Luis Velez and Pete Willcox do look and sound a lot like Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin, respectively, while Sandy Hackett provides the cohesive comedy in the Joey Bishop role. (6/4/04 M.W.) Showtimes are 8:15 p.m. Saturdays through Thursdays at the Greek Isles, 305 Convention Center Drive, $51.50-$82, dinner packages available (737-5540).
‘V — THE ULTIMATE VARIETY SHOW’ (B) Producer David Saxe had the inspiration to fill a whole show with acts who fled to cruise ships with the demise of traditional floor shows. The stock company of jugglers, prop comics and magicians can be hit-and-miss, sometimes out of step with the new, hip Vegas. But they also demonstrate the simple value of a live performer interacting with an audience in the computer era. (7/9/04 M.W.) Showtimes are 7:30 and 9 p.m. daily in the V Theatre at the Desert Passage mall, 3663 Las Vegas Blvd. South, $59-$69, half-priced tickets for children 12 and younger (932-1818).
‘VIVA LAS VEGAS’ (B-) This revue in miniature has been at the Stratosphere since 1996, establishing the afternoon show as a budget alternative to ticket inflation. As such it’s no overachiever, but strikes an agreeably relaxed vibe as a pleasant collection of comedy, magic and production numbers by a singing host and quintet of showgirls. In recent years, Bruce Mickelson’s theatrical “Big John” — a sputtering Texan with a short fuse — has emerged as the star. (8/5/05 M.W.) Showtimes are 2 and 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays in the Theatre of the Stars at the Stratosphere. Children younger than 5 will not be admitted and anyone younger than 21 must be accompanied by an adult, 2000 Las Vegas Blvd. South, $16.85 (380-7711).
‘X’ (B-) This show that raised eyebrows when it opened in 2002 returns to the Desert Passage mall as not quite a “topless” show, thanks to county licensing issues that require strategic placement of “x”-shaped tape. It still offers fun dance routines to an impressive variety of music and a wit lacking in some of its cabaret competition. (11/19/04 M.W.). Showtimes are 10:30 p.m. daily in the V Theatre at the Desert Passage mall, 3663 Las Vegas Blvd. South, $55-$65 (932-1819).
‘ZUMANITY’ (B+) Cirque du Soleil’s naughty cabaret show is a bold attempt to explore new directions, sexing up the familiar acrobatics and blending them with European cabaret theater for an 18-and-older audience. The acrobatic pieces offer beautiful, sexually charged moments, and the weaker connecting material has been punched up to give more zest to the overall effort. “Zumanity” has proved to be a late bloomer, but could still keep searching for ways to exploit the musical and comic possibilities of the format. (9/30/05 M.W.) Showtimes are 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. Fridays through Tuesdays in the Zumanity Theatre at New York-New York, 3790 Las Vegas Blvd. South, $65-$125 (740-6815).
Reviews provided by: The Las Vegas Review Journal