The toyetic residency celebrated a milestone at Resorts World Theatre

If anybody yearns for the Vegas residency of yore (meaning more than just a glitzed-up tour stop with dialed-in sound in a state-of-the-art Strip showroom), look no further than Resorts World and the uniquely over-the-top productions offered by the A-listers who call its theatre home.

Katy Perry has been an inaugural headliner since the mega-resort opened on the site of the former Stardust, in the Northwest corner of the shiny corridor of Las Vegas Boulevard. She just celebrated her 50th concert at the venue with a sold out crowd on Friday night (Apr 7th).

Out of context, Perry’s residency is very memeable: Giant toilets and a talking turd, a monstrous sofa, and even a jaded Manhattan rat. In context: Play is a brilliant structure for a Katy Perry sit-down event. Known for creating bright and delectable worlds on tour and in her music videos, Perry dials it up to 11 with her Vegas conceit: All of her cuddly creations (including freakin’ Left Shark) are part of “Perry Playland,” and Katy herself is the Barbie doll at the center of the world.

Presented in five acts, each of the 20 hits she performs take place in an accompanying setting as doll-Katy is tossed about her deceptively cheery world. “I Kissed a Girl” takes place after the porcelain performer “eats shrooms,” “Swish Swish” sees Katy dance with trash in a dumpster. And “Hot n Cold” takes place in that now-viral bathroom setting, complete with famous poop. Why the oversized props? Katy Perry is the size of a doll, after all.

Vocally, Perry was on-point, hitting each note as if she could still record her decade-old hits the same way today. Her excellent band tightly concocted her pop confections without ever overbaking them into hard-rock. Perry and her fans are proudly pop, a fact she speaks of with reverence while sitting atop a huge cereal box next to a gigantic rat in a trash can. (“I could have been a Joni Mitchell type, but then I put things on my tits.”)

Perry is a down-to-earth pop star. A dance off featuring two randomly-selected audience members takes up a good portion of the latter third of the show. Also, she seemed genuinely interested in a dialogue with a gay U.S. Air Force U-28 Draco pilot. She quizzed him on aliens and Chinese spy balloons. But the pilot demurred.

Nothing compares to the sheer joy of this concert. Never before has this reporter ran out of a concert mid-set to buy merch. That’s how infectious Katy Perry’s sincerity and love of her crowd is, not to mention the contagiousness of the music itself. It all blends together into pure, playful perfection.

Also unique for a pop star: Perry is unafraid to discuss her religious upbringing–she began her career as a Christian artist–and personal faith, but in a secular and loving way. To that end, she discussed her belief in signs from the universe. Perry’s aunt and grandmother worked a revue show at the former Stardust casino on the Strip, the site of which is now home to Resorts World. Perry calls being asked to open the hotel a sign that had been meant to be.

Along with Carrie Underwood’s Reflections residency, Resorts World is home to two of the most creative shows currently playing in Las Vegas. Las Vegas is home to some of the best big rooms for live headliners in the world. Yet, there has been a trend of late for name acts to come in and do little more than a slightly-expanded road gig, such as Pitbull in 2019.

But at Resorts World, something different is happening. They are carving for themselves a role in ushering in a renewed ideal that Vegas is not just a place to see shows, but is the showplace of the nation. Here’s hoping Katy and her Katy Kats return to Play many more times with shows currently scheduled through April 15th at the state-of-the-art 5,000-capacity venue.