Following the announcement of the final shows of Katy Perry’s PLAY residency—the final ten shows will take place between October 04 and November 04, in the well-appointed Resorts World Theatre at Resorts World Las Vegas—I decided there was no better time than the present to go see the show, one more time, if for no reason other than to see how it’s held up since last I saw it (opening night, back on December 29, 2021).  And you know what?  I liked it even better the second time around!

Here's the thing.  While there are arguments to be made about this artist being a better singer than that one or such-and-such performer being a better dancer than another, I can think of few (if any) entertainers who time and again have presented better, more memorable spectacles for their fans than has Katy Perry.  [Exhibit A: Her epic performance during the Pepsi Super Bowl XLIX Halftime Show, which won two Emmys and set the world record for viewership (Go, Left Shark!); and Exhibit B: Her emotive live performance of “Firework” (possibly the most eloquently-written and elegantly-scored anthem celebrating anyone and everyone who’s ever identified as ‘other’) on the National Mall, as the finale of Celebrating America, which aired as part of the post-inaugural celebration of President Joe Biden.] *

She’s penned (often alongside power producers Dr. Luke and Max Martin) and performed some of the most influential and lasting pop songs of the past fifteen years; not to mention that her music videos continue to break viewership records, with seven of her songs having been viewed more than a billion times each (yeah, that’s billion with a ‘b’), and two of them, “Dark Horse” and “Roar,” each having been viewed more than 3.5 billion times. As one of my friends so succinctly put it, “She’s the very best music video performance artist there is.  Full stop.” **  

And while the first time around, I was there in an editorial capacity, taking notes so I could report back to you, dear reader, about such things as the sets, costumes, art direction, choreography, and production; this time I was able to focus on the show from the perspective of a concert-goer, and just soak in the sheer Katy Perry-ness of it all; and as such was able to enjoy things I hadn’t noticed the first time around.  To wit, I was particularly taken with and moved by the stripped-down arrangement of “Part of Me,” that she performed just past the halfway point of the show.   

What also elevated the whole night was partaking in the ‘Firework’ VIP Experience, which includes a meet-and-greet with Perry and a photo, as well as a tequila toast by Perry.  Now, I’ve been to more meet-and-greets than I can count, and it’s usually a fairly simple routine, in which you wait in line, and when you get to the front of the line you are brought to the artist who thanks you for coming (at which point you tell the artist how great they are and how much their music has made a difference in your life), then you look at the camera and smile for the photo, after which you express your thanks, and the next person comes in.  But Perry really takes her interactions with her fans seriously, and while I was watching others go through their meet-and-greets I was blown away by how much time Perry spent talking with each person (or group).  We’re talking 3-4 minutes of one-on-one time, here (as opposed to the de rigueur 30-45 seconds, normally allotted for these sorts of interactions).  Frankly, I have difficulty staying focused on people whose company I actually enjoy for three to five minutes; so for Perry to do so with relative strangers and actually listen and genuinely engage with each of the few dozen people of all ages who’d ponied-up for the experience, impressed the heck outta me.  What’s more, when it came time for her toast, she went around the room and acknowledged each and every person with whom she’d just interacted, including “the couple who named their cat ‘Katy Purry,’” and “the cute blond guy in the cool black shirt,” (aka, my friend, Charles), not to mention “the guy who came to a New Year’s Eve party I threw a few years ago” (me). *** 

As I mentioned to Perry, “You know that each one of these people is now going to go home, and for the next year will find a way to work ‘that time Katy Perry and I were talking, backstage, at her concert…’ into nearly every conversation they have, right?”  In reply, she chuckled, coyly joked “Geez, I hope not,” and followed it all with a wink, a smile, and a hug, before we posed for our photo.

Of course, it’s all about the show, so I’ll leave you with what I wrote after opening night (which still sums the whole thing up, rather nicely): Is it campy?  Is it corny?  Is it crazy?  Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes!  All of which makes for a great Las Vegas residency.

The setlist for Katy Perry: PLAY in the Resorts World Theatre at Resorts World Las Vegas, is:

ACT 1: Henry of Horror
1.   E.T.
2.   Chained to the Rhythm
3.   Dark Horse
4.   Not the End of the World

ACT II: Flushed
5.   California Gurls
6.   Hot N Cold
7.   Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)
8.   Waking Up in Vegas

9.   Bon Appétit
10. Daisies
11. I Kissed a Girl

Act IV: Trashun
12. Lost
13. Part of Me
14. Wide Awake
15. Never Really Over
16. Swish Swish
17. When I’m Gone
18. Walking on Air

ACT V: Perry Playland
19. Teenage Dream
20. Smile
21. Roar

22. The Greatest Love of All [George Benson cover]
23. Firework

Katy Perry: PLAY
Resorts World Theatre | Resorts World Las Vegas
Click HERE for tickets and info

Get into it!

[Editor’s Notes: With 118.5 million viewers, according to Nielsen, Katy Perry’s performance during the Pepsi Super Bowl XLIX Halftime Show, on February 01, 2015, was seen by more people than the game, itself (which averaged 114.4 million viewers), making it the highest rated television program of all time, following the Apollo 11 Moon landing in 1969.  The record held until it was broken by the 121 million concurrent viewers of Rihanna’s performance in the Apple Music Super Bowl LXII Halftime Show, on February 12, 2023.  Not coincidentally, both the Pepsi Super Bowl XLIX Halftime Show and Celebrating America were produced by acclaimed television producer Ricky Kirschner. // ** “Wide Awake” (1B views), “Hot N Cold” (1B views), “Bon Appetit” feat. Migos (1.2B views), “Firework” (1.4B views), “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” (1.4B views), “Dark Horse” feat. Juicy J (3.5B views), and “Roar” (3.8B views) // *** On December 31, 2018, I accompanied Todd-Avery Lenahan to FIZZ in Caesars Palace, which Perry—who performed until just after midnight at the annual NYE shindig Caesars throws for its whales, high-rollers, and VIPs—had rented out, so her dancers, her band, and the members of her tour could enjoy a stylish New Year’s Eve after-party.]

From Liberace, the Rat Pack, and Elvis; to Celine, Elton, Bette, and Cher; to Britney, JLo, Lady Gaga, and Adele: How Las Vegas's residency shows became a billion dollar business [Part 2 of 3]