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Showrooms play host to lavish spectacles


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POSTED: Sunday, September 20, 2009

As a nongambler (15 minutes at the slots is the beginning and end of my gambling history), my favorite activity in Vegas revolves around the entertainment, which exists on a scale of its own.

One morning on our recent trip, I opened the newspaper to discover that Green Day was playing across the street that evening. You never know who will show up in that city. But I stuck with my original plan to see Cirque de Soleil's “;O”; at the Bellagio, a production so grand and breathtakingly original it makes the $165 tickets (orchestra seats; watch the trailer at http://www.cirquedusoleil.com) seem cheap. This is not a show that can travel, because of the 2 million-gallon pool that comprises the stage. Aerial maneuvers, synchronized swimming, fire dancers, acrobats, divers, trapeze artists and mesmerizing live music kept me on the edge of my seat—quite literally, I don't think I sat back in the chair—throughout the show. It doesn't need a review, though. Anything that survives in a theater of this magnitude for 11 years in a city of way too many choices is going to be really good.

I also saw “;Jersey Boys”; at the Palazzo Resort ($135 for orchestra and loge; http://www.jerseyboysinfo.com), the highly entertaining story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons—a group of blue-collar kids who became wildly successful pop singers. The presence of “;strong authentic Jersey language”; makes it inappropriate for youngsters and plenty of fun for adults. Again, with six stage shows running, including one on Broadway, plus one touring, it doesn't need another positive review.

I also managed to make it to Luxor, where “;Bodies: The Exhibition”; is on display next to “;Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition”; (combo tickets to both available for $53). The latter is a fascinating blend of the personal stories of those who died, the ship's history and displays of 300 artifacts found scattered 2.5 miles beneath the surface of the ocean. There's even a re-creation of the grand staircase and deck, complete with chilly air and a starry night and a real iceberg to touch.

Perhaps most impressive part of the Titanic display is the Big Piece. The 26-foot long, 15-ton slab of the ship's hull was salvaged several years ago, and now sits—where else?—in the Luxor in Las Vegas, where it's been since December. When they first brought it to the surface, rough seas caused the crew to accidentally drop the slab. It plummeted right back to the bottom of the ocean, and they had to begin all over again.