weather icon Clear

‘Celestia’ gathers familiar acts under one tent on Las Vegas Strip

There are a few absolutes in Las Vegas entertainment. One is, if you roll with the Wheel of Death, you invite comparisons to Cirque du Soleil. It’s a lead-pipe cinch.

“Celestia,” the tented wonder at The STRAT, carries an inescapable similarity to the Strip’s predominant production company. I say this from experience, of course. The first Cirque show, and among the first production shows I’ve seen in Las Vegas, was “Mystere” in 1996. When “Celestia” trotted out its opening number, on a stage that looked like a vast oil-painting, I was reminded of the original delight of “Mystere.”

Ever since, Cirque has set the bar high, metaphorically and artistically.

That early act in “Celestia” was indeed flexible high bar, with a female acrobat being catapulted airborne by two chiseled gents operating the apparatus. Impressive, but boy-howdy, have we seen this before. The show has developed several human-balancing and contorting acts. The employment of the high bar, frequent use of trapeze, and aerial silks are all familiar among today’s Las Vegas stage shows.

While those acts might not have been invented by Cirque, they have been advanced and performed prominently in the company’s 25-year history on the Strip. Those acts, or numbers that are undeniably similar, are also routinely displayed in “Absinthe” at Caesars Palace, “Opium” at the Cosmopolitan, “V — The Ultimate Variety Show” at V Theater at Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood and “Wow — World of Wonder” at the Rio (“Celestia” uses a bow-and-arrow act; “Wow” closes with Silvia-Siliva’s own death-defying archery routine).

But even in the face of the similarities to those shows, “Celestia” is a lot of fun to experience as its primary characters embark on a celestial path filled with dazzling acrobatic performances, though I suggest not getting tied up in any storylines.

Certainly, it’s an ideal show for all ages. The grandiose, 30,000-square-foot tent provides a genuine, circus atmosphere, even as the air conditioning is no match for 100-plus-degree temperatures, and high-rising metal pillars on either side of the can block your view. The lighting is terrific, and videos played on the tent’s surface impressive. The show employs a live band and the sound is refreshing and refined.

Strat officials are justifiably proud of the venue, joking that its new production is the longest-running tent show in the city; one remarked to to me that’s because that show’s Spiegeltent isn’t really a tent.

Not unnoticed as “Celestia” opens, the “Fuerza Bruta” tent at Excalibur is being hauled away, numbing evidence that even great, tented, acrobatic-themed shows can falter on the hyper-competitive Strip.

“Celestia’s” most persuasive selling point is that it’s Cirque quality on a budget, starting at $29 without fees up to a top price of $89 (up to four times less expensive that Cirque’s non-discount rates). The show’s pricing is more in line with “Wow” and “V,” neither of which boast a show-closing Wheel of Death act.

As for that number, you’ll still find it in “Ka.” But that’s at MGM Grand, long way south on the Strip, and it costs a whole lot more.

Newton/Shenandoah future

Wayne Newton is due for more medical attention, with a right-hip replacement surgery set for the first week of July. The hip replacement is expected to be far less of a concern than his spine surgery that forced him to miss most of his May shows at Cleopatra’s Barge at Caesars Palace.

Newton and the hotel have already put his next set of dates, from July 22 through through Dec. 30, on sale.

And, keep watch of Newton’s movements during that run. As he said during our recent episode of PodKats!, he and his family might live at Casa de Shenandoah. “We’re deciding what we’re going to do with it, move back, open to the public or sell it,” he says. “I built it, and I built it for the loves of my life, and I’m not talking about my family, but my horses and antique car collection, which bring back such incredible memories.”

He especially wants to live near his horse stables. “That’s what kept me sane, my horses, through all of the ups and downs in my career.”

Newton moved off the legendary, 40-acre property on Sunset and Pecos in June 2013 to develop Wayne Newton’s Casa de Shenandoah museum and property tour, which closed to the public in 2018.

Romantic mayoral dinner

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and ex-mayor Oscar Goodman celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary Thursday night with a romantic dinner at Piero’s Italian Restaurant. She had the swordfish; he tried the veal. Said the former mayor, who is forever smitten, “We were like two high-school kids.”


Vinny “Vin A.” Adinolfi of Bronx Wanderers at Linq Hotel’s Mat Franco Theater burned out his voice and is under vocal rest until further notice. Colin Cahill, late of “Sex Tips” at Paris Las Vegas, has been filling in for Vin A. in the family rock ‘n’ roll revival … Through not formally announced, Cahill is set to play the Singing Cowboy in the upcoming Spiegelworld “Atomic Saloon Show” at Kraken Music Hall at Grand Canal Shoppes. That show opens in August; Cahill is a star in the making … I’m intrigued by SPI Entertainment CEO Adam Steck’s remarks that the new Thunderland venue at Excalibur will feature strolling “Bevertainers,” who performed and served drinks at the Rio until the program was discontinued a few years ago … You know who was made an offer to buy the Fuerza Bruta tent? Spiegelworld founder Ross Mollison. He had no interest. He already owns a tent.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
Green Eggs and Ham at Carson Kitchen in Las Vegas
Scott Simon, executive chef at Carson Kitchen in Las Vegas, makes a Green Eggs and Ham Flatbread with pistou, smoked mozzarella, tasso ham and eggs. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Lemon Semifreddo Dessert at Vetri Cucina in Las Vegas
Ashley Costa, pastry chef at Vetri Cucina at the Palms in Las Vegas, freezes lemon curd with whipped cream, sandwiches it between polenta-based crumiri cookies, sprinkles it with powdered sugar and drizzles it with argrumato, a lemon olive oil. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Museum of Selfies coming to Las Vegas - VIDEO
The interactive attraction offers several new selfie opportunities. (Museum of Selfies)
Show of Strength in 'A Choreographers Showcase' - VIDEO
"A Choreographers Showcase" pairs artists from Nevada Ballet Theater and staff from all facets of Cirque du Soleil to design an annual show. (Elizabeth Page Brumleyy/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
David Chang talks about what to expect at his new restaurant, Majordomo Meat & Fish - VIDEO
David Chang tells fans what to expect at his new restaurant, Majordomo Meat & Fish, at The Venetian on the Las Vegas Strip. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pink Lady and Rosey Mary cocktails at Therapy in Las Vegas
Terence Beach, bartender at Therapy restaurant in Las Vegas, makes original pink cocktails to benefit breast cancer research. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Torrijas dessert served at Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill in Las Vegas
Chef Christian Lee of Sugarcane at The Venetian in Las Vegas makes a dessert of torrijas, a Latin French toast, serving it with a caramelized-apple sauce and cinnamon ice cream. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
David Chang to sell Tasty Patties at Palazzo in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Chef David Chang has announced a casual concept that will accompany his new Majordomo Meat & Fish at Palazzo on the Las Vegas Strip. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Latkes, tzimmes at Market Place Buffet in Las Vegas for Rosh Hashanah
Ryan Swanson, Market Place Buffet room chef at the JW Marriott/Rampart Casino in Las Vegas, makes potato dishes as part of the resort’s Rosh Hashanah buffet. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
How Elphaba In "Wicked" turns green - VIDEO
Mariand Torres gets "painted" by makeup supervisor Joyce McGilberry for her role as Elphaba in "Wicked" at The Smith Center. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Hangover is served at The Crack Shack in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Khine Moore, executive chef at The Crack Shack at Park MGM in Las Vegas, makes The Hangover with a fried chicken breast or thigh dipped in honey-butter, sprinkled with Crack Seasoning and topped with an egg. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dessert Before Dinner winner Becky Quan
Nine of Las Vegas’ top women pastry chefs offered original creations built around Girl Scouts Trefoils shortbread cookies Saturday night at Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada’s annual Desserts Before Dinner Gala. The top dessert, as voted on by the audience, was an homage to Good Humor’s old-fashioned Strawberry Shortcake ice cream bars created by NoMad’s Becky Quan. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Chef Sammy D is cooking again in Las Vegas
Sam DeMarco served his first public meal since returning to Las Vegas on Sunday, with a pop-up brunch at 7th & Carson. And the veteran of the First Food & Bar, Rattlecan and Sam’s American has more in store for the downtown spot. The chef, known as Sammy D. to his friends, is taking on a consulting chef role with restaurant that will see some of Sunday’s offerings added to the regular menu. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Carl’s Donuts in Las Vegas celebrates National Cream-Filled Doughnut Day
Carl’s Donuts, a Las Vegas-based company that’s been serving the city since 1966, celebrates National Cream-Filled Doughnut Day with specialties themed to fall. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rick Harrison of "Pawn Stars" has a new store - VIDEO
Rick Harrison, the Pawn Stars co-star and owner of Gold & Silver Pawn, talks to the Review-Journal’s John Katsilometes about his soon-to-open Rick’s Collection retail outlet of mostly mid-century masterworks at the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pok Pok Wing at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas serves Pad Thai Thamadaa - VIDEO
Because of popular request, the 1-year-old Pok Pok Wing at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas serves Pad Thai Thamadaa, with shrimp, ground pork, neither or both. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trial by Fire cocktail at the Golden Tiki in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Adam Rains, head bartender (also Grand Poobah and a few other things) at The Golden Tiki in Las Vegas, makes one of the bar’s tiki drinks, (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gordon Ramsay renovating Las Vegas steakhouse - VIDEO
Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay is preparing to re-launch his Paris Las Vegas restaurant, Gordon Ramsay Steak. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Cats owners compete for top show awards
The annual Jazzy Cats event is taking place at the Rio Convention Center this weekend attracting cats owners from around the country and the world to compete for the top show awards. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Brooklyn Bowl in Las Vegas serves blackened Cajun catfish - VIDEO
Troy Remer, sous chef at Brooklyn Bowl at The Linq Promenade in Las Vegas, blackens Cajun catfish on the grill before serving it with mashed potatoes and collard greens. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Gold Encrusted Filet Mignon at Mr. Chow - VIDEO
This just may be the gold standard for the filet mignon. Mr. Chow at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas has introduced The Gold Encrusted Filet Mignon, which is coated with real 24-karat gold. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Working as a mermaid in Las Vegas - VIDEO
McKenzie Kawano works as a mermaid at the aquarium at the Silverton in Las Vegas. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pinkbox Doughnuts opens third store in Las Vegas area
Las Vegas-based Pinkbox Doughnuts, which opened its third store at 9435 W. Tropicana Ave., specializes in doughnuts such as the new Station Wagon, with Butterfinger; pink-velvet Pretty in Pink; and hybrid Glazed DoughCro Bites. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal, with image courtesy of Pinkbox Doughnuts
Starbucks brings back Pumpkin Spice early
Starbucks declares Aug. 27 the first day of fall as they make their pumpkin spice items available a full month early. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bachelor Party Fra Diavolo at Carmine’s in Las Vegas
Roberto Leon, a line cook at Carmine’s at The Forum Shops at Caesars in Las Vegas, makes Bachelor Party Fra Diavolo with eight pounds of lobster, a pound each of mussels, clams and shrimp, two pounds of pasta and two gallons of sauce. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
'American Idol' auditions in Las Vegas
“American Idol” was in Las Vegas Monday looking for singers to compete in its upcoming 2020 season. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegan part of the Harlem Globetrotters
Scooter Christensen, who grew up in Las Vegas, will play with the Harlem Globetrotters at The Orleans in Las Vegas Sunday, Aug. 25. (Mat Luschek / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MSG Sphere at The Venetian to cost $1.2B plus
Scheduled to open in 2021, it is expected to be busier than Madison Square Garden in New York. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Terra Rossa Returns To Red Rock. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Terra Rossa at Red Rock Resort is set to open on Aug. 26.
Hubert Keller’s Backyard Kitchen
Chef Hubert Keller of Fleur and Burger Bar shows off his backyard kitchen in Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)