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
Sourdough Cafe at Arizona Charlie’s in Las Vegas makes horseradish potato chips
Sean Gassaway, room chef at the Sourdough Cafe at Arizona Charlie’s Decatur in Las Vegas, makes horseradish potato chips by heating prepared horseradish to remove some of the moisture, mixing it with kosher salt and further dehydrating it, tossing it with house-made chips and serving it as a monthly special with a bratwurst on a roll, sauerkraut, spicy mustard and a cup of cheese dip. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Central Perk coffee shop opens for business
As part of Saturday’s “Friends” Fan Experience at New York-New York hotel-casino, the artist Nathan Sawaya debuts his life-size, 700-square-foot re-creation of the show’s Central Perk coffee shop that’s constructed entirely out of Lego bricks. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Binion's debuts a spinning bar overlooking Fremont Street Experience
Binion's debuted its spinning bar inside the Whiskey Licker Up Saloon. The Rotating bar only goes at one full rotation per 15 minutes overlooking the Fremont Street Experience. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Green Eggs and Ham at Carson Kitchen in Las Vegas
Scott Simon, executive chef at Carson Kitchen in Las Vegas, makes a Green Eggs and Ham Flatbread with pistou, smoked mozzarella, tasso ham and eggs. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Lemon Semifreddo Dessert at Vetri Cucina in Las Vegas
Ashley Costa, pastry chef at Vetri Cucina at the Palms in Las Vegas, freezes lemon curd with whipped cream, sandwiches it between polenta-based crumiri cookies, sprinkles it with powdered sugar and drizzles it with argrumato, a lemon olive oil. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Hard Rock Memorabilia Exhibition
The 2,600-square-foot exhibit, which is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays to Mondays through Jan. 31, spans eras and genres alike. There are numerous rare and never-before-seen items here, featuring artists from ZZ Top to Nine Inch Nails, Bo Diddley to Britney Spears. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Museum of Selfies coming to Las Vegas - VIDEO
The interactive attraction offers several new selfie opportunities. (Museum of Selfies)
Show of Strength in 'A Choreographers Showcase' - VIDEO
"A Choreographers Showcase" pairs artists from Nevada Ballet Theater and staff from all facets of Cirque du Soleil to design an annual show. (Elizabeth Page Brumleyy/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
David Chang talks about what to expect at his new restaurant, Majordomo Meat & Fish - VIDEO
David Chang tells fans what to expect at his new restaurant, Majordomo Meat & Fish, at The Venetian on the Las Vegas Strip. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pink Lady and Rosey Mary cocktails at Therapy in Las Vegas
Terence Beach, bartender at Therapy restaurant in Las Vegas, makes original pink cocktails to benefit breast cancer research. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Torrijas dessert served at Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill in Las Vegas
Chef Christian Lee of Sugarcane at The Venetian in Las Vegas makes a dessert of torrijas, a Latin French toast, serving it with a caramelized-apple sauce and cinnamon ice cream. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
David Chang to sell Tasty Patties at Palazzo in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Chef David Chang has announced a casual concept that will accompany his new Majordomo Meat & Fish at Palazzo on the Las Vegas Strip. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Latkes, tzimmes at Market Place Buffet in Las Vegas for Rosh Hashanah
Ryan Swanson, Market Place Buffet room chef at the JW Marriott/Rampart Casino in Las Vegas, makes potato dishes as part of the resort’s Rosh Hashanah buffet. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
How Elphaba In "Wicked" turns green - VIDEO
Mariand Torres gets "painted" by makeup supervisor Joyce McGilberry for her role as Elphaba in "Wicked" at The Smith Center. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Hangover is served at The Crack Shack in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Khine Moore, executive chef at The Crack Shack at Park MGM in Las Vegas, makes The Hangover with a fried chicken breast or thigh dipped in honey-butter, sprinkled with Crack Seasoning and topped with an egg. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dessert Before Dinner winner Becky Quan
Nine of Las Vegas’ top women pastry chefs offered original creations built around Girl Scouts Trefoils shortbread cookies Saturday night at Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada’s annual Desserts Before Dinner Gala. The top dessert, as voted on by the audience, was an homage to Good Humor’s old-fashioned Strawberry Shortcake ice cream bars created by NoMad’s Becky Quan. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Chef Sammy D is cooking again in Las Vegas
Sam DeMarco served his first public meal since returning to Las Vegas on Sunday, with a pop-up brunch at 7th & Carson. And the veteran of the First Food & Bar, Rattlecan and Sam’s American has more in store for the downtown spot. The chef, known as Sammy D. to his friends, is taking on a consulting chef role with restaurant that will see some of Sunday’s offerings added to the regular menu. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Carl’s Donuts in Las Vegas celebrates National Cream-Filled Doughnut Day
Carl’s Donuts, a Las Vegas-based company that’s been serving the city since 1966, celebrates National Cream-Filled Doughnut Day with specialties themed to fall. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rick Harrison of "Pawn Stars" has a new store - VIDEO
Rick Harrison, the Pawn Stars co-star and owner of Gold & Silver Pawn, talks to the Review-Journal’s John Katsilometes about his soon-to-open Rick’s Collection retail outlet of mostly mid-century masterworks at the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pok Pok Wing at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas serves Pad Thai Thamadaa - VIDEO
Because of popular request, the 1-year-old Pok Pok Wing at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas serves Pad Thai Thamadaa, with shrimp, ground pork, neither or both. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trial by Fire cocktail at the Golden Tiki in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Adam Rains, head bartender (also Grand Poobah and a few other things) at The Golden Tiki in Las Vegas, makes one of the bar’s tiki drinks, (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gordon Ramsay renovating Las Vegas steakhouse - VIDEO
Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay is preparing to re-launch his Paris Las Vegas restaurant, Gordon Ramsay Steak. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Cats owners compete for top show awards
The annual Jazzy Cats event is taking place at the Rio Convention Center this weekend attracting cats owners from around the country and the world to compete for the top show awards. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Brooklyn Bowl in Las Vegas serves blackened Cajun catfish - VIDEO
Troy Remer, sous chef at Brooklyn Bowl at The Linq Promenade in Las Vegas, blackens Cajun catfish on the grill before serving it with mashed potatoes and collard greens. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Gold Encrusted Filet Mignon at Mr. Chow - VIDEO
This just may be the gold standard for the filet mignon. Mr. Chow at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas has introduced The Gold Encrusted Filet Mignon, which is coated with real 24-karat gold. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Working as a mermaid in Las Vegas - VIDEO
McKenzie Kawano works as a mermaid at the aquarium at the Silverton in Las Vegas. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pinkbox Doughnuts opens third store in Las Vegas area
Las Vegas-based Pinkbox Doughnuts, which opened its third store at 9435 W. Tropicana Ave., specializes in doughnuts such as the new Station Wagon, with Butterfinger; pink-velvet Pretty in Pink; and hybrid Glazed DoughCro Bites. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal, with image courtesy of Pinkbox Doughnuts
Starbucks brings back Pumpkin Spice early
Starbucks declares Aug. 27 the first day of fall as they make their pumpkin spice items available a full month early. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bachelor Party Fra Diavolo at Carmine’s in Las Vegas
Roberto Leon, a line cook at Carmine’s at The Forum Shops at Caesars in Las Vegas, makes Bachelor Party Fra Diavolo with eight pounds of lobster, a pound each of mussels, clams and shrimp, two pounds of pasta and two gallons of sauce. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
'American Idol' auditions in Las Vegas
“American Idol” was in Las Vegas Monday looking for singers to compete in its upcoming 2020 season. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)