Absinthe yanked the Las Vegas entertainment establishment’s pants down. When its spiegeltent hit Caesars Palace in 2011, the show was described by producer Ross Mollison as “a hallucination,” thrusting audiences into a fantastical cabaret from another century/planet. The sexier, raunchier acts raised eyebrows, and the intimate atmosphere shattered the fourth wall.
Kicking off 2014, Vegas Nocturne transformed a quiet wing of the Cosmopolitan into a fiendish wonderland inside a theater that is actually a nightclub—Rose. Rabbit. Lie., which celebrity blogger Perez Hilton recently called “the best thing to happen to #Vegas in years.”
Both shows are creations of Spiegelworld, which established itself in New York City in 2006 as a modern weaver of circus, cabaret, vaudeville and burlesque. But last week, the global operation (another current production, Empire, transitions from Australia to Japan this summer) announced it will move its headquarters to Las Vegas, as it is the “entertainment capital of the world.”
The move is smart for other reasons. Taxes and sundry business costs are more reasonable here than in NYC. And there is genuine hunger for Spiegelworld’s whimsically twisted, in-your-face take on show business. Cirque du Soleil has long dominated the Strip with its mind-boggling sets, sweeping scores and athletic spectacle. But there’s so much distance between all of that and the cheap seats. The scale of the productions mostly swallows up the one-on-one scenarios, like making real eye contact or banter or showering innocent spectators with bathtub water from your mouth.
Just because Spiegelworld’s new CEO and heads of marketing and production will be anchored here doesn’t mean Las Vegas will get another original show, but we hope we do. Because if the cast of Vegas Nocturne hangs out with audiences in the bar, then we figure Spiegelworld’s next venture will be even more personal. And if you’ve seen Bathtub Guy, you know that’s a very good thing.