‘Opium’ gives Spiegelworld its second hit on Las Vegas Strip

Updated March 15, 2019 - 4:45 pm

The Kats! Bureau at this writing is the Pac-12 men’s basketball tournament at T-Mobile Arena, where I ask, “Where is this Bill Walton person I have been hearing so much about?”

Colorado has just dusted Oregon State 73-58, and the afternoon kicked off with Washington edging USC 75-72 to fill out one side of the semifinal bracket. UCLA — hey, there’s Walton! — and Arizona State are up next. Later, in the dinner-show headlining matchup, it’s Oregon and Utah.

Earlier, Excalibur headliners Australian Bee Gees sang the national anthem, to explosive response. The U.S. anthem, I should say. No entries from Australia this year.

More from this scene, and elsewhere:

Opium at 1

On a wild night in June 2014, Spiegelworld founder and “Impossario” Ross Mollison took the stage at Rose. Rabbit. Lie. at the Cosmopolitan and proclaimed, “‘Vegas Nocturne is a hit!’ ” Critically, yes. But 12 hours later, the show announced it was closing, a manic and inspired production that was never able to offset high production costs.

Ever since, Mollison has looking for a show other than “Absinthe” he can proclaim a hit on the Strip. He has it with “Opium,” which has run the calendar for its one-year anniversary in the same venue that staged “V.N.” Opium has tightened its narrative considerably since its comparatively far-flung opening performances.

There is so much cool stuff in this show: The spellbinding Opium Bubble Man, who actually spins bubbly magic. Todd Vader’s swishy, sword-swallowing act. The human-dog balancing routine of Yuri and Sputnik. Our pithy host, Captain Kundon, in a pink wig with an uncommonly long chuckle. The stilted robot Rob (who I swear is based on someone of that name in Las Vegas) and his plucky sidekick, Chip. Contortionist Major Tom (a “Vegas Nocturne” holdover when he went as Captain Frodo) and his trusty tennis rackets. The nimble bubble dancer Leeloo. And a transgender act I won’t describe in detail, lest I spoil the show’s greatest surprise.

The show is selling well enough to turn a profit, from my best intel (Mollison himself). At the end of the one-year anniversary show, Mollison took the stage in a David Bowie/”Life on Mars” costume. Donning an orange-hued wig, powder-blue suit and matching eyeliner, Mollison said from the stage, “We made it a year. We have a lot of people who have come here to create something new in entertainment in Las Vegas, and that’s very important to us. It’s not just something we do here, but we do it at Caesars Palace as well.”

Mollison thanked his host hotel, his crew and director Matt Hodges. He did not proclaim, “Opium is a hit!” He didn’t need to. The OPM 73 spacecraft is cruising steadily to Uranus, snickering all the while.

The Brava network

On the topic of Spiegelworld-related artists, Voki Kalfayan, who originated the Gazillionaire character in “Absinthe,” is bringing spiritual healer Talia Brava to Inspire Theater on Fremont Street and Las Vegas Boulevard for two shows at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Brava is billed as a growth healer for the next generation (as this generation seems a lost cause), and known as the hyper-ego of second-generation leadership trainer and comic actress Lucia Brizzi.

“I am everywhere and nowhere,” Brava says. “I am where I am supposed to be, and never complete.”

Sounds like my Instagram feed. Anyway …

“My appearance is a spectacle,” Brava says, explaining that, “Brava is God. Talia Brava is the channel to God. And Talia is a hot woman who is a relatable goofball with a perfect body. Make sure you include that I have a perfect body.”

Brava is joined by an array of “Brava Babies,” as part of her cult, including Jayson Michael and Dimitri Blizzeard of “Chippendales” at the Rio; contortionist Anastasia Strizhanova; hoop performer Yasu Yoshikawa; 9-year-old magician Nigel, and the man billed as her stalker and original, unpaid Baby Brava, John Wyatt.

Brava says she came up with her concept of spiritual healing by watching Tony Robbins on Netflix and thinking, “I can do this (expletive).” Las Vegas is a Utopia for her followers. “This is a place for underground freaks who have no other place to be to call home. The next generation is not looking for leadership inside a church, but in the entertainment pop-star sphere. Lady Gaga, Gwen Stefani, Cher are all stationed here. I need to be, too.”

Eagles in the Garden

Expect an announcement, soon, that the latest version of the Eagles is to play four dates in late summer at MGM Grand Garden. This is Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit, with Vince Gill and Deacon Frey (son of the late Glenn Frey) in their only North American appearance of this year.

Great line

From Caesars Palace President Gary Selesner, watching “Opium” while seated next to Mollison from a VIP enclave: “I’m hiding from Carl Icahn.”

Cool Hang Alert

Andy “Mister” Wright is producing another of his “Epic Rock Battles” throw-downs at House of Blues at 10 p.m. Friday. “Queen Vs. The Beatles” is the concept, Ava’s Avengers the charity. Tickets are $10, a mere pittance, and hit the Live Nation website to purchase.


Roseanne Barr is in town. Maybe she’ll drop in on her old friend Andrew Dice Clay during one of his shows at the Laugh Factory at the Tropicana this weekend. And, maybe I know things. Clay is onstage at 10 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday as the club mark its seventh anniversary…

My ears perked this week at some buzz about Ringo Starr possibly presenting his own series of rock stars at Opaline Theater at the Venetian. That’s the long-latent, former “Rock of Ages” and Blue Man Group theater …

Bummer that keytar artist and comic performer Sarah Hester Ross didn’t work out in “Ester Goldberg’s Totally Outrageous Brunch” (her raunchy song about redheads was cut because it didn’t suit the suits at SLS Las Vegas, and she wanted to be more involved in the show’s comedy elements). You can still catch Ross’ Big Bang dueling piano act at from 9:45 p.m.-1:30 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays at Dick’s Last Resort at Excalibur …

On that topic, Dennis Blair is a fine bassist, which he shows in Ester’s National Emergencies band. But he’s also one of the most accomplished stand-ups in Las Vegas, having opened for George Carlin, Rodney Dangerfield and Joan Rivers. Why not tap into some of that comedic expertise in a comedy show? …

Note to self: Visit the under-development Notoriety, Best Agency Chief Executive Officer Ken Henderson’s multi-theater project at Neonopolis, soon. Hearing some positive accounts and a targeted June launch. Maybe the twin openings of that venue and Don’t Tell Mama later this month, Neonopolis will finally become a serious entertainment destination …

At opposite sides of the “Opium” post-show party at Rose. Rabbit. Lie., new column faves the Naked Magicians and cast members from “Puppetry of the Penis,” all having a swingin’ time …

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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