The first time I saw Katy Perry live, it was at Warped Tour 2008. “I Kissed A Girl” had just dropped, an overnight viral (and controversial) hit. Despite her quick rise to fame, she was placed on a side stage typically reserved for artists that the festival organizers thought would draw smaller crowds. They severely underestimated Perry, as the fans who showed up to see the up-and-comer spilled into the next stage’s space… and the rest is history.
13 years later, Katy Perry: PLAY launched at the new Resorts World Las Vegas, and it’s quite possibly my favorite Las Vegas show to date.
Photos courtesy of Resort World Las Vegas
Built in 2021, Resorts World Theatre is modern venue with the largest and tallest stage on the Strip. While at full capacity it can hold 5,000 concert-goers, the seating arrangement allows for a great view no matter what your seat number.
To say that this show is a spectacle would be an understatement. Perry has come a long way since her side stage days, her performances evolving into grand displays of trippy, over-the-top, and awe-inspiring visuals, characters and costumes that bring her music to life. The sets of PLAY include an oversized living room with anthropomorphic furniture a la Pee-wee’s Playhouse, a similarly giant bathroom with a talking toilet, the inside of a trash can, and a glittering cabaret staircase.
While larger than life theatrics have been a core part of Perry’s concerts for a while, I think this is where she really sets herself apart in Vegas, taking advantage of the space and possibilities that being on one stage for weeks at a time allows.
PLAY runs for 95 minutes, which is just enough time for her to play all of your favorite songs, with a few comedy bits— and an audience participation—sprinkled in between. Expect to hear new renditions of classics like “Waking Up In Vegas,” with a big band jazzy twist, and a rock version of “Hot N Cold,” which Perry actually introduced with “We’re gonna do this one Warped Tour style!”– a fun throwback for this blogger. 😄
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Perry has no shortage of radio hits to squeeze in, but also manages to throw in an acoustic version of “Lost,” a B-Side track from her debut album that longtime fans will enjoy.
If you’re seated in the upper section, you may have a chance to join Perry on stage. She hand selected two audience members to participate in a dance-off for a chance to win… a box of pizza. Perry also pulled a fan up on stage (literally pulled her up from the front row while balancing in high heeled boots) who was wearing a replica of her concert costume to appreciate the look. Dress to impress, and you may end up a part of the show!
While encores are becoming more rare these days, Perry returns to the stage after an initial exit and saves her most powerful songs for last, including a cover of Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All,” highlighting Perry’s undeniable vocal talent. “Firework” closes the night in an explosion of confetti, so don’t leave early!
At the top of the performance, Perry acknowledges the need to escape the real world— “It’s weird out there”— and invites the audience to step into Perry’s Playland.
PLAY is broken up into a five-act story following Perry playing herself as a doll (major Toy Story vibes). The opening video sequence shows the Katy doll being purchased from a toy store and brought home by a kid who’s rough with her, to say the least. He’s not the owner she’d hoped to end up with, and she’s frightened by her new world of GI Joes and gym socks.
In act two, we follow her into the bathroom for a duet with a turd who gives Left Shark a run for their money. Act three flings her out the window into a mushroom patch where we get to experience a hallucinogenic trip through her eyes. Act four follows her down into a trash can where she pours beer out of her bra made of cans and chats with a rat. Act five gives us a happy ending when the Katy doll finally finds herself with a new, loving owner who lets her shine.
If you don’t mind spoiling some of the visuals, Katy and her team describe the inspiration and concept behind the residency story in this video:
Despite the obvious connection to her #1 hit, “Waking Up In Vegas,” Katy Perry has deep roots in the city. During the concert, she shares a bit of family history and her ties to the old Stardust Hotel– the property that used to sit on the same grounds Resorts World Las Vegas is located today.
“My aunt was a topless showgirl and my grandmother was a seamstress for the show… so Vegas is very much in my blood.” Her father was a chauffeur in the city, who met and subsequently married her mother here as well. Katy Perry was quite literally made for Vegas.
PLAY is quintessential Perry— it’s colorful, it’s camp, it’s goofy and glamorous all at once. Perry is a powerhouse performer and raises the bar for all Las Vegas residencies. Whether you’re a casual fan of her popular singles, or you’ve been following her for more than a decade, a ton of fun is to be had for audiences of all ages.
Katy Perry: PLAY currently runs through October (Perry’s birthday month, which she mentions she’ll have “tons of extra energy” for). Get the best deals on PLAY tickets through Vegas.com.