Las Vegas is awash in unique entertainment experiences, but there is simply nothing that compares to the Tournament of Kings production at Excalibur.
It's one of the last Vegas dinner shows (and the famous meal has made this resort the leading purchaser of Cornish game hens in the country) as well as a nostalgic throwback to an era when themed casinos were all the rage. When you're in this 900-seat equestrian arena, you're an eating, drinking, cheering part of the show.
"The audience is looked at as an additional player, definitely," says longtime director Phil Shelburne. "With the food, the audience participation and the entertainment value of what's taking place on that stage, it's a pretty good triple threat, and that's what has kept the show vital. We just hope when you walk away from the show, you had a good time." Mission accomplished.
"When the show (with David Letterman) first ended it was kind of jarring. I was busy as all get out and then bang, nothing to do. I said I was going to slow down and that didn't work; there's no money in slowing down. But I made a record last year and got busier and cheered up. It became easy to see I've just got to keep playing the piano, that's what keeps me happy. I used to get asked all the time to come play Las Vegas, but I had no time to put together an act. You gotta have a show out here, you can't just come out and play 'Louie Louie' and expect people to go back to the tables happy." Listen to the complete conversation with Paul Shaffer, who returns to Cleopatra's Barge at Caesars Palace this week, on the All The Vegas podcast at allthevegas.com.
Celine Dion may be the one single performer who has had the greatest impact on Las Vegas entertainment. Now that she's announced her final dates at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace in June, we are in catch-her-while-you-can mode. She's back on the Strip Oct. 30-Nov. 17, and tickets are now on sale.
One iconic Vegas resident is saying goodbye, but two other acts are returning. After his run at the House of Blues, punk rock legend Billy Idol is back for a 10-show series at the Pearl at Palms opening Jan. 18. And Texas blues-rock heroes ZZ Top will return to the Venetian Theatre for an eight-show limited engagement starting that same night.
Jennifer Lopez's Sept. 22 performance of All I Have was reported to have set a new record as the single highest-grossing night at the Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood Resort. A group of her Hollywood superfriends were there to celebrate, including boyfriend Alex Rodriguez, actresses Jessica Alba and Sofia Vergara and pop stars Selena Gomez, Dua Lipa and Becky G.
The one-two music-festival punch of Life Is Beautiful and iHeartRadio attracted a galaxy of diverse stars. Justin Timberlake, who headlined iHeartRadio, took in Absinthe at Caesars Palace, Olympic gold medalist Shaun White and Jersey Shore star Ronnie Ortiz-Magro were spotted at Life Is Beautiful's Black Tap pop-up, and actor Jeremy Renner partied with Dutch DJ Sam Feldt at Marquee Nightclub after Feldt's festival performance.Brock Radke is an award-winning entertainment reporter who has been covering the city since 2000, and interviews key movers and shakers on his All The Vegas podcast, available at allthevegas.com