A veteran Las Vegas Strip entertainer walked into the “Absinthe” eighth anniversary party on Monday night, looked at the spectacle that had spilled across Caesars Palace’s Roman Plaza and said, “Yeah, we have money.”
Yes we do, “we” being The Gazillionaire and his Spiegelworld minions who celebrated the tented juggernaut that is “Absinthe.” Two shows a night, seven shows a week, nearly all of them sold out. Requisite bedlam ensues, every performance.
As we were reminded just this week, simply putting up a great show in a unique facility is not enough to succeed in Las Vegas. “Fuerza Bruta,” using “Absinthe” as an inspiration, planned to use a six-month residency as a launching point for a longer run on the Strip. Instead, the dazzling acrobatics show is folding up its tent Sunday.
And “Celestia” at the Strat, another tented acrobatics production, has only produced a question mark, its opening delayed at least until May.
But “Absinthe” rolls along. The latest sideshow extolled by Spiegelworld founder and “Improssario” Ross Mollison is the Absinthe Electric Oak. This is the 35-foot-tall, LED-illuminated tree at the Spiegeltent entrance. Rarely do you encounter a person so excited about an inanimate object as Mollison is about this Burning Man-inspired, hallucination-come-to-life at Caesars Palace.
It is pretty cool, for sure, nothing else like it in VegasVille, prompting rival performers to remark about the company’s deep pockets. Catch it on Instagram.
The eighth anniversary party featured other frivolous amenities — a trailer fashioned as a speakeasy, a temporary beach adorned with hanging beach balls, chair massages and food kiosks around the courtyard. The Gazillionaire didn’t light stogies with C-notes; maybe that’ll happen at the 10th anniversary event.
This was all possible for the right reasons: “Absinthe” remains the best-in-class production show on the Strip, artistically and commercially, during the length of its residency. Mollison’s capacity to recruit ready-made acts that fit his vision is peerless. Such comparatively recent acts as the three-man Water on Mars juggling team and Silicon Valley Girls balancing act are inspired complements to the Frat Pack high-wire team; skaters Billy and Emily England; Duo Vector (original cast members Lucasz Szczerba and Misha “10-Pack” Furmanczyk); and the tap team Mollison snagged from David Saxe Production lo so many years ago, Sean and John Scott.
The show thrives, despite the loss of original artists who played The Gazillionaire and Green Fairy, or the departure entirely of Penny Pibbets, and just chugs along. The depth of talent eager to perform in a Vegas hit show seems bottomless.
The success of “Absinthe” led to serious overtures from Cirque du Soleil a while back to purchase Spiegelworld, similar to how the company snapped up the Blue Man Group and, more recently, The Works Entertainment. No dice. Spiegelworld is its own thing, bolstering its second Strip show, “Opium,” and developing No. 3, “The Atomic Salon Show,” at the former Act space at Venetian’s Grand Canal Shoppes.
Caesars Palace, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, The Venetian/Palazzo. Impressive resort lineup, Improssario. To think, this all started with “Absinthe,” a raunchy little circus show that opened more than a decade ago in a tent under the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s traveled a long way, a gazillion miles, ever since.
Don’t sell veteran stand-up Doug Stanhope short. As reported, his shows at the Plaza Showroom on May 24 and 25 sold out the 400-seat room the day they went onsale. A third show was added on May 24. That performance, too. sold out in just hours.
“Legends in Concert“ founder John Stuart is back in the tricute business with “Blond Invasion The Show,“ paying homage to Madonna, Britney Spears and Lady Gaga. The production opens April 16 at V Theater at Miracle Mike Shops at Planet Hollywood
This means Vegas presents three Gagas: The original at Park Theater, the character in the current “Legends“ show at Tropicana played by Tierney Allen, and the upcoming portrayal (xast members not announced).
This is a live event show-goers can’t get anywhere else,” Stuart says. “Instead of having a rotating cast of tribute characters, ‘Blond Invasion’ showcases platinum recording artists still topping the charts. You’ll hear their individual songs and as well as medleys. The cast is backed by a phenomenal troupe of male dancers and stage effects. It‘s really a big show.”
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts.Contact him at email@example.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.