Here are your top Vegas shows

Sep 19, 2005 2:03 AM

As summer fades into history, it’s a good time to look at the night life scene in Las Vegas. Toward that end, here’s my interpretation of the best offerings in town.

It’s official: the best show in Las Vegas is "Avenue Q" at Wynn Las Vegas. With its exciting grand opening, VIP party to die for, red carpet celebrities such as Mimi Hines, Mark Haml and tons of New York hotshots, the show has splashed big time in Las Vegas.

For the city’s No. 1 entertainer, my vote goes hands down to Celine Dion. To do what she does is simply miraculous. Not only does she make every performance sound like a once-in-a-lifetime event (which it very well could be), she does it in front of thousands of people week after week after week.

In second place, I anoint Sir Elton John. He’s the consummate entertainer, a true renaissance man, workaholic, composer and a real diva. In a show created by David Charpell, Elton John brings to Las Vegas a show that is at once visual, musical and spectacular.

Third in entertainment is the Cirque do Soleil production of "O" at Bellagio. What a marvelous spectacle — an entire show performed above, on and under water. Pure genius melded with surreal performance. As a corollary we can also add Cirque’s "Mystere" at Treasure Island. Not the damp spectacle of "O" but highly visual and entertaining. Which is the trademark for all the Cirque shows.

In the fourth position on my list of lists, "Jubilee" at Bally’s stands out as a nostalgic reminder of the day Golden Era in Las Vegas, when showgirls in feathers and gowns ruled the stage. Of course, the show is modernized with fast-paced musical and dance numbers and breathtaking special effects, but it’s all grand and brilliant, and what this town was built on.

Five is a live spot for me: my dear friend Clint Holmes is the best male entertainer in Las Vegas. He’s got the style, the voice, the presence and the "it" quality every great entertainer needs.

Las Vegas traces its flamboyant roots to fleshy T&A productions, and my sixth category honors two of the best in Sin City, "Skintight" at Harrah’s and "Fantasy" at Luxor. These quality shows celebrate the beauty of women without denigrating them. They’re both inspiring and entertaining; quite a combination.

In my seventh category, Frank Marino and "La Cage" at the Riviera rein supreme as the best small-room production in town. It doesn’t have the budget (or ambition) of the huge extravaganzas, but the hard-working cast and crew stage a classy female impersonation show that appeals to all audiences (leave your sexual preference at the door — you’ll love the show).

Category number eight is for the best comic, an honor I’ll bestow on George Wallace at the Flamingo. George is not only funny, but he is clever, relevant, and unassuming — a rare feature for a stand-up comic. As a runner-up, David Brenner at the Hilton does a great job as well.

I wanted a category for specialty acts so I created number nine that honors Penn & Teller, the wacky comic magicians at the Rio, and the Blue Man Group, currently at the Luxor but who will soon move to the Venetian. There are larger than life acts that have commanded attention from network and cable TV specials. The reason? They’re highly entertaining!

Downtown has its own ambiance, so why not it’s own category, which is blessed with Gordy Brown at the Golden Nugget. Gordy is a true entertainer and can play anywhere, so those who frequent downtown shouldn’t miss him.

Variety is the spice of life and hypnotists in Las Vegas spice up the entertainment scene. The best one in town is Anthony Cools at Paris. He’s young, hip and brilliant and has his audiences both spellbound and amazed at his feats. Also, honorable mention to Jeff Bleacher’s show at the Hard Rock, which draws a Hollywood crowd that rocks out to Jeff’s crazy antics.

Finally, we the surge in popularity of Broadway-style shows popping up in Las Vegas, let’s honor Mamma Mia at Mandalay Bay in our 12th category. It must be good, it’s entering it’s third year. Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland never came close to achieving that kind of run here.