weather icon Clear

‘Atomic Saloon Show’ swings in opener at Edinburgh

Updated August 7, 2019 - 6:57 am

EDINBURGH, Scotland — The Kats! Bureau is Assembly George Square Gardens, the heart of Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The espresso is flowing, we’re between drizzles and someone with a brogue accent (I think Scottish) asked, “What is chaos about, sir?” I said, “Once more?” which I say a lot during this trip.

Then he pointed at my open umbrella, which is from — I’m not kidding — Kaos Nightclub and Dayclub in Las Vegas. I told him where I was from and about the club, and he said, “You need money for honey in Las Vegas.”

I said I’d pass along that phase to our tourism officials.

More from this scene, and elsewhere:

Swing both ways

The VIP premiere of “Atomic Saloon Show” was Tuesday night, a 10:10 p.m. performance for an audience peppered with Spiegelworld staffers. Founder Ross Mollison led the group, rejoicing in the slamming opening performance of the show, which will open Sept. 8 at its renovated Atomic Saloon (the old Act space) at The Venetian’s Grand Canal Shoppes. The show is playing at Palais du Variete Spiegeltent, with a nearly in-the-round design and atmosphere — folding chairs, a small central stage — similar to the “Absinthe” Spiegeltent.

We’ll post a full accounting of the opening night performance and an interview with Mollison in a subsequent post. But the opening song, performed by Colin Cahill as Blue Jackson the Singing Cowboy, addresses a cowpoke’s dual thirst for lust and fisticuffs. This ditty might need some editing (at least in the title) before it hits the Strip.

Elsewhere, saloon proprietor Madame Boozy Skunkton, played by onetime “Zumanity” clown character Petra Massey of Spymonkey, puts out an actual bush fire onstage and notes, “This is a brothel! It’s no place for romance!” Ace comedy director Cal McCrystal, who celebrated his 60th birthday on Tuesday, littered the script with hokey zingers: “I’m like a saloon door, I swing both ways!” And nun character Sister Maria Immaculator Chorizo Perez Perez Perez Lopez performs “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy” with a ping-pong ball and a xylophone, which seems innocent enough (cough).

Spiegelworld has found a show that matches the high standards of lowbrow comedy and dazzling acrobatics set by “Absinthe” and “Opium” on the Strip. Fringe audiences are said to be a tough nut to crack for comedy, but the audience Tuesday loved the production. We’re checking back again Thursday for another look-see.

The Festival scene

During my spree of shows I’ve enjoyed the diversity for which Edinburgh is famous. Australian comic Sam Taunton, performing in a curtained Edinburgh University classroom or conference room, performed a great stretch about WiFi. “Where is it, the WiFi? It’s here! In the air! I’ll open the door and let it out!” He’s not played Vegas ever, but would be a good fit as host or middle comic at the city’s comedy clubs, for starters.

The Black Blues Brothers musical comedy tribute performed street acrobatics to the music of the Blues Brothers, or songs featured in “The Blues Brothers” movie (“Flip, Flop & Fly,” “Sweet Home Chicago,” “Shake Your Tail Feather” by Ray Charles). The quintet dresses Jake and Elwood Blues, performing such acts as a flaming limbo routine and five-man human pyramids in a Prohibition Era set.

Brought to the stage by Italian production company Circo E. Dintorni, the show drew an energetic standing ovation, a classic example of how dazzling acrobatics can be — if you haven’t been exposed to a steady diet of Cirque du Soleil and Spiegelworld and such shows as “Celestia” and “V — The Ultimate Variety Show.” Blame or credit those companies for widespread exposure to this medium.

So, I watched the Black Blues Brothers performance as if I was a producer or director of a Strip show. I’d want to break it down to a single, great act — or a series of few solid, five-minute acts — and use those artists in rotation in a show like “Absinthe.” That’s the approach Spiegelworld has used to fill its productions with inspired international artists, many of whom have performed at the Fringe.

Piffles at 10

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Mr. Piffles’ debut with Piff the Magic Dragon. A year into portraying the costumed dragon, character creator John van der Put was performing his first hourlong show and needed a gimmick.

A young woman running the venue had a chihuahua, so Van der Put snagged the pooch and used him in his act. Then he went out and adopted Mr. Piffles. The unlikely Strip performer was a rescue dog from the coastal city of Dundee, 60 miles or so north of Edinburgh. That’s the canine sidekick used in the show today.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. Las Vegas Sands operates The Venetian.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
Juan’s Flaming Fajitas in Las Vegas celebrates National Fajita Day
Cook Ruben Fuentes and general manager Taylor Pulliam of Juan’s Flaming Fajitas in Las Vegas prepare steak and shrimp fajitas with the restaurant’s signature fiery treatment. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pasta Shop Ristorante serves a watermelon-shrimp salad
Pasta Shop Ristorante & Art Gallery in Henderson serves a summer salad that combines watermelon with greens, feta and shrimp. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Factory Kitchen in Las Vegas makes classic affogato
Jorge Luque, pastry chef at The Factory Kitchen at The Venetian in Las Vegas, makes affogato with two simple ingredients - house-made gelato and fresh espresso. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review Journal with image from The Factory Kitchen)
The Cereal Killerz Kitchen serves over 100 cereals
Christopher Burns, owner of The Cereal Killerz Kitchen at Galleria at Sunset mall in Henderson, makes a Milk & Cookies Shake from his more than 100 varieties of cereal. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer in Las Vegas makes a State Fair CrazyShake
Bianca Zepeva, a shaker at Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer at The Venetian in Las Vegas, makes a State Fair CrazyShake with a kettle corn rim, caramel, corn-based ice cream, popcorn brittle, crushed kettle corn, sprinkles and a cherry. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
Balboa Pizza Company makes Thai peanut chicken wings
Irma Perez, kitchen manager at Balboa Pizza Company at The District at Green Valley Ranch in Henderson, near Las Vegas, brines chicken wings for 24 hours before roasting and frying them and finishing them in various styles such as Thai peanut. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
New Venetian pool deck
Final touches are currently being added to the hotel’s main tower pool deck, which consists of five pools. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Who is Vegas Vic? (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada State Museum Director Dennis McBride explains the origins of the Vegas icon.
Slater’s 50/50 in Las Vegas serves a 4-pound Big Island Feast Burger
Cindy Sun, general manager of Slater’s 50/50 in Las Vegas, makes the Big Island Feast Burger with 2 1/2 pounds of the house bacon/beef blend, Napa-cilantro slaw, six slices of American cheese, a can of grilled Spam, six slices of chargrilled pineapple, four fried eggs and a drizzle of teriyaki and serves it with macaroni salad. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Get a first look of MSG Sphere construction in Las Vegas
Representatives of The Madison Square Garden Company give the first glimpse of progress Tuesday of the under-construction MSG Sphere — a first-of-its-kind performance venue with high-tech audio and visual capabilities.
Shark Week cupcakes at Freed’s Bakery in Las Vegas
Brittnee Klinger, a cake decorator at Freed’s Bakery in Las Vegas, makes Shark Week cupcakes with ocean-blue buttercream, fondant fins and a blood-red strawberry filling. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Fans and friends recall Elvis opening in Las Vegas
Fifty years ago on July 31st 1969, Elvis Presley opened at the International hotel in Las Vegas. He went on to do 837 consecutive sold-out shows at the property.
Hot peach cobbler at Beaumont’s Southern Kitchen at Texas Station
Michael Ross, room chef/pitmaster at Beaumont’s Southern Kitchen at Texas Station in Las Vegas, makes peach cobbler by baking peaches in a cast-iron pan with batter and crumble, then topping with Haagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream and bourbon-caramel sauce. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Water Grill opens at The Forum Shops at Caesars in Las Vegas
Water Grill, from a 30-year-old California company opening its first Las Vegas location, specializes is fresh seafood including 16 types of oysters. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Cat's Meow comes to Las Vegas
New Orleans-based karaoke chain opens new location in Neonopolis. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making the Loco Moco Breakfast Burger at Broken Yolk Cafe in Las Vegas
Manny Menina, line cook at Broken Yolk Cafe in Las Vegas, stacks 8 ounces of beef, 2 strips of bacon, hash browns, caramelized onions and 2 fried eggs on 4 King’s Hawaiian slider buns to make the Loco Moco Breakfast Burger. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
SecretBurger at China Poblano at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
Carlos Cruz, executive chef of Jose Andres’ China Poblano at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, makes the SecretBurger off-menu, one-night-only ‘All Quacked Up’ with a kimchi pancake, Peking duck, house-made hoisin sauce, a fried duck egg, pickled micro-vegetables, caviar and gold flakes and serves it with a Stillwater Artisanal Ale. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Famous Blue Angel statue commemorated in downtown Las Vegas mural
The 16-foot tall Blue Angel statue that stood above the Blue Angel Motel for six decades is featured in a mural spanning three walls at a downtown Las Vegas building. James Stanford designed the “A Phalanx of Angels Ascending" mural based on his photography, and Cliff Morris painted the mural at 705 Las Vegas Blvd. North, near the Neon Museum. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Making Castle Frites at the new Frites at Excalibur
Tom McGrath, district manager/executive chef at Frites at the Excalibur in Las Vegas, tops his beef-tallow fries like a loaded baked potato - with white and yellow cheddar, sour cream, bacon and chives. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hello Kitty Cafe on Las Vegas Strip - VIDEO
The Hello Kitty Cafe opens Friday, July 12th, 2019, between New York, New York and Park MGM on the Las Vegas Strip. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Amano Las Vegas' Fat Baby Sandwich
Chef Jason Weber of Amano Las Vegas has created a sandwich stuffed with pasta, and it's a hit. (Mat Luschek / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A class at Melissa Coppel Chocolate and Pastry School in Las Vegas.
Melissa Coppel, who teaches classes in various countries around the world, attracts students from far and wide to her eponymous school in Las Vegas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Havana Lobster at Boteco in Las Vegas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Marcus Fortunato, co-owner of Boteco in Las Vegas, learned to make Havana Lobster from the chef at El Figaro, a favorite of former Cuban President Fidel Castro.
Chef Gustav Mauler Is retiring
Las Vegas chef Gustav Mauler announces his retirement on Sunday, June 30, 2019.
Bellagio Conservatory unveils Italian summer exhibit
The Bellagio's Conservatory & Botanical Gardens have opened the gates to its summer display. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
A.D. Hopkins on his debut novel
Veteran journalist introduces readers to “The Boys Who Woke Up Early.” (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Seven Magic Mountains restoration complete
Artist Ugo Rondinone’s iconic Seven Magic Mountains receives a complete painting restoration in June 2019.
Making off-the-menu bean curd rolls at Mr. Chow in Las Vegas
Senior chef tournant Cesar Laran has created secret bean curd rolls at Mr. Chow at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. To make them, he rolls bean curd sheets around a filling of carrots, celery and shiitake mushrooms, then smokes them with oolong tea and sugar. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making Bread Pudding French Toast at Esther’s Kitchen in Las Vegas
James Trees, chef/owner of Esther’s Kitchen in Las Vegas, slices house-made blueberry bread pudding, coats it in egg yolks and mascarpone, fries it and tops it with spiced walnuts, Lyle’s Golden Syrup and creme fraiche. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Celine Dion closes 1,141-show residency on Las Vegas Strip - VIDEO
Hear from Celine Dion about her 16 years on the Las Vegas Strip and what the future has in store for her. (Caesars Entertainment)