Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013 | 2 a.m.
Shania Twain is a class act.
Her “Still the One” residency at the Colosseum in Caesars Palace launched in 2012, but she is 2013’s Entertainer of the Year in Las Vegas for more than her great show.
The year also seemed like all Britney Spears all the time, and it culminated in the world premiere of her two-year residency show “Piece of Me” at the new Axis at Planet Hollywood on Friday night.
Memorable meals this past year include a classic Italian steakhouse in downtown Las Vegas, an affordable fine-dining steakhouse in Tivoli Village, a late-night hangout with Steam Punk decor, pizza, pizza, pizza and … snow cream?
It was a terrific 2013 for arts and entertainment in the Entertainment Capital of the World.
A few things to look forward to in A&E in 2014: new restaurants by Giada De Laurentiis (in the hotel formerly known as Gansevoort) and Guy Fieri and new acts at the new venues the Chelsea (christened by Bruno Mars on Sunday night) and Rose. Rabbit. Lie. in the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and the Axis in Planet Hollywood.
And there will certainly be more.
For now, a look back at some of the A&E highlights of 2013 in Las Vegas:
Entertainer of the Year: Yes, her “Still the One” residency commenced in 2012, but Shania Twain stepped it up in 2013. She opened a kids clubhouse in North Las Vegas for underprivileged children. She was the grand marshal of the 2013 Great Santa Run. And she has been accessible to the media and fans, an unexpected attribute from an A-list headliner in Las Vegas.
Story of the Year: Britney Spears’ residency at the new music venue the Axis at Planet Hollywood is two years, it’s called “Piece of Me,” and its grand opening was Friday night. Brit Brit is definitely a “Work Bitch.” Just beware as she marks her territory with her “Perfume.” Depending on the critic, reviews have been raves and rants. For her fans (like yours truly), she will keep us dancing till the world ends.
Justin Timberlake and Beyonce
Concerts of the Year: One of the best parts of this job is all the concerts during the year and the variety of them, from Andrea Bocelli to Brad Paisley, Stone Temple Pilots to Jackie Evancho and Pet Shop Boys to Michael Buble.
The best of the year is a tie: Justin Timberlake because love or lukewarm about his music, the man knows how to sing, dance and entertain. I still wanted more of his “20/20 Experience” after three solid hours. And this was a year of seeing Beyonce’s “Mrs. Carter Show” twice … and loving it equally both times.
One Direction, Jonas Brothers, Backstreet Boys, New Kids on the Block and 98 Degrees
Loudest Concert of the Year: Hands down One Direction at Mandalay Bay Events Center. And thanks to all of them for the gift of re-living adolescence and the boyband phase. Or, rather, reigniting it.
Clay Walker, Austin Webb and Easton Corbin
Interviews of the Year: It was an unusual week because three phone interviews were scheduled within one week (a rarity for a senior editor who, well, edits vs. writes). And even more unusual because all three country singers — one legend (Clay Walker), one successful newcomer (Easton Corbin) and one really, really, really new newcomer (Austin Webb) — were all gracious, polite and gentlemen.
“Michael Jackson One”
Best Cirque du Soleil Show? I finally saw “Michael Jackson One” at Mandalay Bay last month after missing the grand opening night, choosing Beyonce instead. It was a, ahem, thriller from beginning to end. I’ve really enjoyed Cirque’s newer spectaculars on the Strip — the now-shuttered “Viva Elvis” and the soon-to-be-reimagined “Zarkana.” The streak continues with “One.” P.S. I finally saw Criss Angel’s “Believe” last month after living in Las Vegas the five years it’s been running, and I really enjoyed it.
Hakkasan and Light
Mega-Club and Restaurant of the Year: The five-level Hakkasan at MGM Grand is the best of everything: the best(-paid) DJs in the world, some of the best mixologists at Ling Ling Club and one of the best Chinese restaurants ever on the first floor. Part of the MGM Resorts family but competition, Light at Mandalay Bay features the best LED backdrop of any club on the Strip.
Andiamo Italian Steakhouse and Echo & Rig
New Steakhouses of the Year: A new steakhouse is always a reason to celebrate. Two new stellar steakhouses opening is almost overwhelming. Joe Vicari’s Adiamo Italian Steakhouse is a solid reason to visit the D Las Vegas downtown and has quickly become my go-to steakhouse in Las Vegas. It’s thankfully old school, and the menu and service also are top notch. Meantime, chef Sam Marvin’s Echo & Rig in Tivoli Village is an affordable fine-dining steakhouse with a stellar small-plate selection and casual and effortless elegance in Tivoli Village.
Pizza Rock and Five50 Pizza Bar
New Pizza Joints of the Year: A new pizza restaurant is always a reason to celebrate. Two new stellar pizza joints opening is almost overwhelming. Chef Tony Gemignani’s Pizza Rock in downtown was an immediately love affair for its variety of pizza, quality of pizza and cool new location. There will be many return trips. Chef Shawn McClain’s Five50 Pizza is a new late-night favorite at Aria; the pies are delicious and the small plates adventurous and pleasing to foodies, much like his nearby restaurant Sage, a favorite on the Strip.
Kumi and Rx Boiler Room
Best Pre- and Post-Mandalay Bay Events Center Hangs: Finally, two great places to go to before and after a concert at Mandalay Bay Events Center, chef Akira Back’s Kumi, the more-affordable sibling to his Yellowtail at Bellagio, before shows, and chef Rick Moonen’s Rx Boiler Room post-concerts, with inventive menu items and cocktails, ultra-cool Steam Punk decor and the best reason to hang out late night at Mandalay Bay and avoid the post-concert, parking-lot gridlock.
Kuma Snow Cream
New Guilty Pleasure of the Year: Addicted is one word to describe chef Jet Tila’s Chinatown dessert paradise. A silkier version of shaved ice (or a hybrid of shaved ice and ice cream), Kuma Snow Cream reminds of eating snow in the winter while growing up in Montana. Seriously. Except with seriously delicious and exotic fruits and flavors.
Crazy Horse III Gentlemen’s Club and Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club
Best Out-of-Comfort-Zone Times: I’m ending this list with a surprise. While I’d rather be at Chippendales in the Rio any day, I’ve had surprisingly fun times at Crazy Horse III Gentlemen’s Club (interviewing “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” star and Polish supermodel Joanna Krupa and “Pin Up” at the Stratosphere starlet Claire Sinclair were highlights) and Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club (for Sinclair’s birthday).
These are the people, places and events that made 2013 in Las Vegas exciting and memorable.
Don Chareunsy is senior editor for arts and entertainment of the Las Vegas Sun.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
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