Sci-fi satire ‘Opium’ brings warped humor to the Las Vegas Strip

Updated April 11, 2018 - 2:12 pm

The hotel with the slogan “The Right Amount of Wrong” now has the right amount of weird.

Employing satirized sci-fi as its backdrop, “Opium” has opened, for real, at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. The show is performed in hotel’s upper cosmos, or in this case the second-level Opium Theatre at Rose. Rabbit. Lie.

Newbies to the resort might need a map to find that venue, but it is worth the (star) trek. Certainly there is no show in Vegas quite like this interplanetary farce, which is like an episode of “Lost In Space” hijacked by Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

We’ve had a lot of fun with the cast of Spiegelword’s latest production, especially estimable producer/character Harry M. Howie. He’s set the tenor with a continual roll-out of such cast members as Tammy Babcock (a comic singer who plays cruise director Leslie) and Dr. Roger Regis and Nurse Raquel (health-care professionals who perform magic in the show).

On this ride we’ve enjoyed hot apple pies at two McDonald’s outposts — one at the D Las Vegas and another on West Tropicana Avenue. We’ve been carted around by two chauffeurs, including an Uber driver (who sure looks like Chip from the show) who barely avoided a serious collision on a return to the hotel.

We also met a burly and surly limo driver in a blue-satin jacket and black cap who might actually be in the witness protection program.

Enough with the hype, though. “Opium” launched with its red-carpet opening Sunday night. The most sensible —if that word can be employed — means of breaking down this show is with an FAQ (First-time Asked Questions for the just-opened show):

What is “Opium,” anyway? A color-splashed ride through space and time peppered with wild musical numbers, raunchy comedy and unique side acts. Expect one randomly exposed breast, a fair amount of spittle and the requisite mushed bananas.

Which cast member looks most like Harry M. Howie? Rob the Robot, dressed in a shiny silver two-piece outfit and matching plastic hairpiece. Rob claims he’s a “Roomba 5000” model (but far more advanced than his vacuum-cleaning namesake) and befriends Chip, his first and only best friend.

At one point, Rob falls to its knees to inhale confetti from the stage, much like a vintage Roomba. In any other show, this would be a standout moment. In “Opium,” it is entirely in context.

What is the specialty talent of Scottie, the ship’s maintenance man? Spinning up to (by my count) 20 hula hoops.

Are there bananas used in the show? Yes, two at least.

Is this an act you remember? Yes, for its projectile and regurgitating qualities.

What happens when Spiegelworld producers use bananas as props? Comedy gold, always.

Bubble girl in the show? Yes. Bubble girl in the show. Bubble is to Spiegelworld what trapeze is to Cirque du Soleil. Gotta have it.

Are all the side acts themed for space travel? Loosely, and only when necessary.

Who are the Many Moons? The band.

Where would we find Spacecrabs? He’s the drummer.

Best space-themed musical number? “Fly Me to the Moon” opens the night, fittingly enough.

Why does the gay sword swallower “Todd” seems so familiar? He was in “Vegas Nocturne,” in that same room, and as a sub act in “Absinthe,” and “Band of Magicians” which is still on, um, hiatus from Tropicana Theater.

Can I find a body balancer working with a Chihuahua? Of course. Yuri (who seems to hail from the former Soviet Union) and the little doggie, Sputnik.

The show unveils the iPhone 47. What is its chief defect? Short battery life.

Lou Tenant is, what again? A unicycle-riding, juggling lieutenant.

Why is he costumed in leather, as Freddie Mercury? So he can juggle and cycle to “I Want to Ride My Bicycle” and ‘Another One Bites the Dust.’ ”

But a band member sings “Bicycle,” and Lou Tenant lip-syncs “Another One Bites The Dust.” Why the inconsistency? Because it’s a Spiegelworld show. Just roll with it.

Who sings it loud and proud? Dusty Moonboots, towering at the center of the mischief, exploring all the keys.

Best costume model? Also Dusty Moonboots.

Love will keep us together? Yes, just ask Captain Ann Tenielle, who inspires that very number.

“Opium” means, what, exactly? It’s the lengthened version of Orbital People Mover 4.2 (OPM 4.2), which is the name of the spacecraft.

Doesn’t OPM also mean, “Other People’s Money?” Yes, but not in this case. Really.

How many random “space” references are in the show? My guess is 2001.

How is “Opium” different from “Vegas Nocturne,” which played the same theater four years ago? Smaller. Fewer acts. Reduced cast. Venue seating capacity is cut from 450 to 262. A zany cabaret show compared to a lavishly populated production. (Lest we forget, despite its financial troubles, “V.N.” was jammed with talent, showcasing such breakout acts as Piff the Magic Dragon, Sean and John Scott, “Bathtub Boy” David O’Mer, among others.)

How is “Opium” different from “Absinthe” at Caesars Palace? Same points as above. “Absinthe” is a juggernaut in part because it snared some of the best acts from the rubble of “Vegas Nocturne.” “Absinthe” performs regularly to sell-outs in a 600-seat venue and just celebrated its seventh anniversary. Intentionally, and wisely, the smaller-scope “Opium” is not trying to be a sequel to “Absinthe.”

OK, then, name a show with a similar vibe? “Zombie Burlesque,” a holy terror at V Theater at Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood. A righteously casted host, similar underground feel in a 250-seat theater, live band, no-holds-barred writing, expertly conceived costumes, spot-on choreography … “Z.B.” is the show that most reminds me most of “Opium.”

Who is brave? Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas Chief Executive Officer Bill McBeath. He hung in with Spiegelworld and the company’s artistic equity to finally land a follow-up to “Vegas Nocturne.” Now McBeath is betting on the space cadets in “Opium,” and you know what? So am I.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter and @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

Entertainment Videos
Brownie sundae at VegeNation in Las Vegas is completely vegan
Donald Lemperle, chef/owner of VegeNation in Las Vegas and nearby Henderson, NV, makes his sundae with ice cream made with coconut and almond milks, a brownie made with coconut flour and oil and organic sugar and cacao, and fresh fruit. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Taste of the Town: Henderson Booze District
Those who like to support local businesses and sample local products will find the best concentration in an unlikely spot: a Henderson industrial park.
Founder of theatre talks about a favorite play
Ann Marie Pereth, founder of A Public Fit Theatre Company, speaks to the Review-Journal about which play she would see every day if only given one option. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N interactive exhibit
The new exhibit features original and recreated props and plenty of interactive features. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Writer's Block and Lucy are open in Las Vegas
The Writer's Block and Lucy are open in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas ice cream shop offers everything in the kitchen sink
Have you ever wanted to eat an ice cream sundae out of a kitchen sink? Who hasn't, right? At Sloan's, located inside the Venetian, you can do just that. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Maxie’s in Las Vegas puts eggs Benedict in a box
Chef David Mangual at Maxie’s in The Linq Promenade in Las Vegas makes his eggs Benedict in a brioche “box” layered with spinach, bacon and tomatoes and topped with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caviar Twinkie Served at Stripsteak in Las Vegas
Stripsteak Executive Pastry Chef Vivian Chang and Chef Gerald Chin create a novel savory food item that looks like a familiar sweet treat at the restaurant in Las Vegas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
NAB attendees battle to qualify for Fortnite event
NAB is sponsoring an online video game event with Epic Games’ Fortnite allowing attendees to qualify to go head to head with top players. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Arctic Shrimp Sandwich at Saga near Las Vegas
Chef Gert Kvalsund, a native of Norway, founded Saga Pastry + Sandwich in Henderson to give Scandinavians a taste of home. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Guy Fieri and Sammy Hagar talk UNLVino
Guy Fieri and Sammy Hagar talk about the upcoming UNLVino vent. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Christie Brinkley at Smith & Wollensky
Christie Brinkley, in town for her run in “Chicago” at the Venetian Theatre, paid a visit to the Grand Canal Shoppes’ still-under-construction Smith Wollensky on Monday for a ceremonial first toast at the bar. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Two artists create a mural for peace in Las Vegas
2 artists create a mural for peace in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Inside Kaos nightclub and dayclub
A look at new club at Palms.
CinemaCon Brings Theater Professionals To Caesars
CinemaCon is not just celebs, it's also a place where theater owners can browse the latest in seats, projectors and concessions. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas restaurants provide a taste of ballpark food
The Las Vegas Ballpark, home to the Las Vegas Aviators, will serve food from Giada De Laurentiis and a team of favorite local restaurants. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Taste of the Town: Bobby Flay Opens Shark at the Palms - VIDEO
Bobby Flay opens Shark at the Palms; his first high-end restaurant in 15 years.
Chef Marc Marrone at T-Mobile Arena
Chef Marc Marrone has opened a bao cart at T-Mobile Arena. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio fountains celebrate 'Game of Thrones'
A medley of the theme for HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and the song “Winter Is Here” from the show premiered at the Bellagio Fountains water show on the Las Vegas Strip on Sunday, March 31, 2019. The new number will run in rotation through April 13. The series premieres its eighth and final series on April 14. (Mick Akers/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegan Aunt Chippy talks about being on Jimmy Kimmel's show
Concetta Potenza, Aunt “Chippy” to Jimmy Kimmel, talks about her first time being featured on her nephew’s show. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The "Flight Unknown" At Bar Centro at Bazaar Meats Las Vegas Features 5 Innovative Cocktails
The "Flight Unknown" At Bar Centro At Bazaar Meats Las Vegas Features 5 Innovative Cocktails (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Cotton candy crowns pancakes in Las Vegas
At Maxie’s at The Linq Promenade in Las Vegas, executive chef David Mangual fills pancakes with fruit and cream cheese and piles on pastel cotton candy, which is melted in a stream of chocolate syrup. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Bananas Foster Pancakes go up in flames at The Stove near Las Vegas
Chef Antonio Nunez at The Stove in Henderson, near Las Vegas, flames the pancakes tableside for a fiery presentation. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
El Loco Rollercoaster at Circus Circus' Adventuredome
The El Loco rollercoaster opened at the Circus Circus' Adventuredome in February 2014. It features a 90-foot ascent, followed by a drop that produces a negative 1.5 "verticle G," a 180-degree turn, and reverse 240-degree roll that turns into an inverted drop. The coaster reaches a maximum speed of 45 mph and is the only indoor coaster of it's kind in the U.S., and is the second indoor El Loco coaster in the world, according to MGM Resorts.
Bartending flair competition at the Nightclub & Bar Show
Highlights from the ten contestants who competed for the Shake It Up Flair and Classic Competition at the Nightclub & Bar Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Justin Kingsley Hall shares details on his next gig
Chef Justin Kinglsey hall shares some details about the newArts District restaurant he's developing with Kim Owens. (Al Mancini/Las Vegs Review-Journal)
Film prompted Carrie Hogan to found 2 farmers markets in Las Vegas
Carrie Hogan founded Fresh 52 Farmers and Artisan Market in Las Vegas after realizing she had to do something about the influence of factory farms on the food supply. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Seafood dishes being made at Pasta Shop near Las Vegas
Executive chef Edwin Martinez incorporates fresh pasta into Lobster Salmon and Saffron Shrimp Sauté at Pasta Shop Ristorante & Art Gallery in Henderson, near Las Vegas. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Andrew Carmean will be the only local participant in upcoming demolition derby
Andrew Carmean, a demolition driver, will be the only local participant in upcoming derby at the Plaza Hotel. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Masso Osteria first anniversary in Las Vegas
Scott Conant was in town Tuesday to host a one-year anniversary party for his Red Rock Resort restaurant Masso Osteria.
TOP NEWS
Home Front Page Footer Listing