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‘Absinthe’ celebrates a crazy 8 on Las Vegas Strip

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April 05, 2019 By John Katsilometes

A veteran Las Vegas Strip entertainer walked into the “Absinthe” eighth anniversary party on Monday night, looked at the spectacle that had spilled across Caesars Palace’s Roman Plaza and said, “Yeah, we have money.”

Yes we do, “we” being The Gazillionaire and his Spiegelworld minions who celebrated the tented juggernaut that is “Absinthe.” Two shows a night, seven shows a week, nearly all of them sold out. Requisite bedlam ensues, every performance.

As we were reminded just this week, simply putting up a great show in a unique facility is not enough to succeed in Las Vegas. “Fuerza Bruta,” using “Absinthe” as an inspiration, planned to use a six-month residency as a launching point for a longer run on the Strip. Instead, the dazzling acrobatics show is folding up its tent Sunday.

And “Celestia” at the Strat, another tented acrobatics production, has only produced a question mark, its opening delayed at least until May.

But “Absinthe” rolls along. The latest sideshow extolled by Spiegelworld founder and “Improssario” Ross Mollison is the Absinthe Electric Oak. This is the 35-foot-tall, LED-illuminated tree at the Spiegeltent entrance. Rarely do you encounter a person so excited about an inanimate object as Mollison is about this Burning Man-inspired, hallucination-come-to-life at Caesars Palace.

It is pretty cool, for sure, nothing else like it in VegasVille, prompting rival performers to remark about the company’s deep pockets. Catch it on Instagram.

The eighth anniversary party featured other frivolous amenities — a trailer fashioned as a speakeasy, a temporary beach adorned with hanging beach balls, chair massages and food kiosks around the courtyard. The Gazillionaire didn’t light stogies with C-notes; maybe that’ll happen at the 10th anniversary event.

This was all possible for the right reasons: “Absinthe” remains the best-in-class production show on the Strip, artistically and commercially, during the length of its residency. Mollison’s capacity to recruit ready-made acts that fit his vision is peerless. Such comparatively recent acts as the three-man Water on Mars juggling team and Silicon Valley Girls balancing act are inspired complements to the Frat Pack high-wire team; skaters Billy andEmily England; Duo Vector (original cast members Lucasz Szczerbaand Misha “10-Pack” Furmanczyk); and the tap team Mollison snagged from David Saxe Production lo so many years ago, Sean andJohn Scott.

The show thrives, despite the loss of original artists who played The Gazillionaire and Green Fairy, or the departure entirely of Penny Pibbets, and just chugs along. The depth of talent eager to perform in a Vegas hit show seems bottomless.

The success of “Absinthe” led to serious overtures from Cirque du Soleil a while back to purchase Spiegelworld, similar to how the company snapped up the Blue Man Group and, more recently, The Works Entertainment. No dice. Spiegelworld is its own thing, bolstering its second Strip show, “Opium,” and developing No. 3, “The Atomic Salon Show,” at the former Act space at Venetian’s Grand Canal Shoppes.

Caesars Palace, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, The Venetian/Palazzo. Impressive resort lineup, Improssario. To think, this all started with “Absinthe,” a raunchy little circus show that opened more than a decade ago in a tent under the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s traveled a long way, a gazillion miles, ever since.


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