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Bold stroke may fall to bean counters


Just about everyone agrees it’s time for something new in Las Vegas entertainment.

Everyone, apparently, except the incoming owners of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

On one hand, you can’t deny too many ticketed shows are actually part of the problem; the clutter of topless or tribute shows canceling one another out. But collectively? Shows are losing their historic claim to Las Vegas fame as more and more billboard space goes to DJs and celebrity chefs.

If the working model is broken, or at least cracked, a bold attempt to try something new came from a place that least needed to try it. After all, the trade publication Nightclub &Bar put The Cosmopolitan’s Marquee club at No. 2 on its Top 100 list, estimating $85 million to $90 million in 2013 revenue.

All the more impressive that Cosmopolitan CEO John Unwin looked beyond electronic dance music and 20-something patrons when he assembled Rose.Rabbit.Lie. The reinvention of the “supper club” as environmental theater seemed to be a viable way to reach people who may have outgrown techno but still want to “do” something instead of just “watch” something.

But last week appeared to bring the unbundling of Rose.Rabbit.Lie. and the separately ticketed “Vegas Nocturne.” The latter seemed headed for closure as soon as today, based on what employees had been told at this writing.

What a shame.

“Nocturne” was an exciting attempt to blend a club atmosphere with formal entertainment, even if it may have been too successful at blurring the line for its own good.

I had questioned how the producers would distinguish “Nocturne” from the larger operation, and whether the same performers popping up as environmental entertainers on the restaurant and bar side were making it too tempting to skip the show and nurse the pricey drink.

But I was hoping for answers as innovative as the problems that created them.

Instead, it sounds as if the incoming private-equity Blackstone Group will opt for a simpler, more common model. Key personnel for show producer Spiegelworld have been told Blackstone Group doesn’t like the cross-pollinated deal of pooling ticket revenue with food and drink sales, which was apparently subsidizing the show.

At this writing, Spiegelworld was apparently being bought out, free to move “Nocturne” elsewhere, leaving Rose.Rabbit.Lie. as a more conventional restaurant-club.

Makes sense, I suppose, if you figure that two other hybrids — Beacher’s Madhouse at the MGM and 1923 Bourbon &Burlesque at Mandalay Bay — stopped short of formal showtimes and ticketing.

Still, I wonder whether Unwin’s farsighted vision has been betrayed by the shortsightedness of his new bosses.

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.