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Las Vegas’ Spiegelworld threatens to pull out of festival

Updated August 2, 2019 - 3:58 pm

You are certainly aware whenever Spiegelworld hits town.

The company behind “Absinthe” at Caesars Palace and “Opium” at the Cosmopolitan is back at it with its new show, “Atomic Saloon Show,” premiering this month at Edinburgh Festival Fringe. “ATS,” in shorthand, debuted Thursday night and will run at the festival through Sept. 25. The show debuts at its customized, second-level theater where The Act was once staged at Venetian’s Grand Canal Shops on Sept. 8.

Characteristically, the Speigelworld crew has hit the legendary festival in Scotland with considerable fanfare. Upon arrival, company founder Ross Mollison has threatened to end his financial investment in the event because of confusion regarding the U.K.’s ongoing Brexit stand-off with the European Union.

“Atomic Saloon Show” is the first of five international Spiegelworld productions, and the only show targeted for Las Vegas, to premiere in Edinburgh. The company has planned to debut one show per year through 2019.

But that business relationship is unsteady. The Fringe would lose an estimated $25 million if Spiegelworld pulls out. Mollison says he is investigating in a move to Berlin or Paris to premiere these new shows.

The “Improssario” says fear of unstable financial markets in the European Union is the reason. As a member of of the U.K., Scotland would be among the countries breaking from the EU.

“Uncertainty is the enemy of strategic planning. Our business … already has so many uncertainties. Are people going to buy tickets? Are they going to like it? How are we going to build new shows?” Mollison told The Guardian in a story published Tuesday, two days before his show’s debut. “To add to that, this whole Brexit thing. The uncertainty of what is the law, what is the visa situation, what happens with visas next year if you’re not part of the EU? I have no idea.

“It’s just another thing we have to worry about. It’s very disappointing that, on the eve of us launching this show, this debate is still going on.”

To put Mollison’s comments in context, his company often mixes hyperbole with reality and often uses The Gazillionaire character in “Absinthe” to make official statements. But in a text message Wednesday, Mollison said he is serious.

“We have a five-year plan to grow Spiegelworld in Edinburgh, but we are now looking at Paris and Berlin as back up,” he said, adding that the other shows planned for future Festivals are to tour Europe and Australia.

“Atomic Saloon Show,” a Wild West-neon-disco production, showcases Spiegelworld acrobats and dancers in aerial acts, musical numbers and comedy segments. The BBC has said the show is among 35 “must see” productions in a festival hosting more than 4,000 performances and events.

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.

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