Spiegelworld’s Ross Mollison readies ‘Absinthe’ to move to the Cosmopolitan

Gazillionaire with Joy Jenkins.
Photo: Christopher DeVargas

Vegas Nocturne closed at the Cosmopolitan on July 12, 2014, after only 100 performances. The producer of the show, Ross Mollison—whose company, Spiegelworld, also produces the wildly successful Absinthe—concluded the show’s run with the flourish of a true impresario: He led a Champagne toast, gave profuse thanks to the cast and audience, and proudly declared, “Vegas Nocturne is a hit.”

Two years later, he’s been proved right—Vegas Nocturne recently completed a successful run at House of Yes in Brooklyn. But more intriguing is the fate of that vacated showroom at the Cosmopolitan, a theater space that Spiegelworld helped design and build: On October 21, Absinthe will pull up stakes at Caesars Palace—and move into Nocturne’s former digs, opening there November 1.

“It’s a great theater space; it has incredible intimacy,” Mollison says of the venue, adjacent to Rose. Rabbit. Lie. “I’m excited to see the Gazillionaire perform in that room.”

If you’re not familiar with Absinthe, here’s what you should know. It is, in the broad strokes, a variety show, though it has notes of Cirque du Soleil, cabaret and green spirit-induced psychosis. It’s co-hosted by the Gazillionaire, a gold-toothed, pencil-mustached rakehell, and Penny Pibbets (or her cousin, Joy Jenkins), who floats in and out of horny delirium. They introduce acts ranging from high-wire walkers to tap dancers to burlesque performer Melody Sweets, and the tone of the show swerves wildly from luminous to filthy and back again.

And thanks to this move, which even the Gazillionaire called “a deal I couldn’t pass up,” Absinthe is about to grow and evolve in ways that he, and Mollison, can’t yet predict. “[The new space] will accentuate the comedy to an even greater extent,” Mollison says. “When we built the structure at Caesars, we were very concerned about how cavernous it was. It really is just a large commercial tent.”

In the former Nocturne space—which will be completely separated from Rose. Rabbit. Lie. and probably renamed—Spiegelworld has an opportunity to create an Absinthe space that’s completely unique to the tone of the show, with its own décor and staging configurations. And while the Cosmopolitan space isn’t as conducive to aerial acts as the tent, Mollison is confident his team can pull off some surprises: “We’ve done Absinthe in really, really small spaces in the past,” he says, musing aloud about the new room’s high-wire possibilities.

Mollison is effusive in his praise of Caesars Entertainment—“They’ll always be part of the Absinthe family”—but is thrilled to be returning to the Cosmopolitan, where “being off-brand is the whole character.” He’s looking forward to continuing the show’s hot streak of accolades and packed houses there: “There’s not too many one-star reviews on Yelp,” he says, chuckling.

One last thing: Mollison says that Vegas Nocturne’s Brooklyn run isn’t close to the last we’ll see of the show. He intends to bring Nocturne back home, once he finds the right room for it. “It’s a great Las Vegas story,” he says. “I hope to see it back in Las Vegas soon.” Might we suggest a recently vacated space at Caesars Palace?

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