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‘Opium’ will soon join ‘Absinthe’ in warping Las Vegas’ entertainment scene

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Cast and crew members of Opium, hamming it up inside the Cosmopolitan.
Photo: Denise Truscello / Courtesy

It took a minute, but Spiegelworld—the live production company that continues to serve us Absinthe—has resumed its stealthy takeover of Vegas’ fringe theater scene.

In July 2014, Vegas Nocturne, Spiegelworld’s supremely eccentric show at the Cosmopolitan, ended its run after only 100 performances; shortly after, the Cosmopolitan and Spiegelworld took each other to court. (And Vegas Nocturne, inexplicably, went on the road and became an even bigger hit.) Less than three years later, Absinthe is an entertainment juggernaut set to stretch from five to seven nights a week in May, and the Cosmopolitan and Spiegelworld, having sorted out their differences, are bringing a new show, Opium, to the very space where Nocturne closed a few years ago. (Previews open March 13; visit spiegelworld.com for tickets and further details.)

That is, it appears to be Spiegelworld’s doing. The funny thing about Spiegelworld is the way its actual management structure (impresario Ross Mollison and president David Foster) seems to share ownership with its (possibly?) fictional impresario, Absinthe’s Gazillionaire, a line the company deliberately blurs. At a press event last week, Opium host Harry M. Howie—a fast-talking, gregarious and immediately likeable Australian “theatrical promoter, freelance newspaper columnist and numerologist”—acknowledged both the Gazillionaire’s and Foster’s support, though only the latter was on hand. (They’re different people; we checked. By the way, Foster also produces The Miss Behave Gameshow at Bally’s, though that show isn’t under the Spiegelworld umbrella.)

Then the show’s cast appeared, dressed in giant eyeball hats and tinfoil suits, and performed what can best be described as a pagan square dance to a wailing jazz sax and bongos. In the moments before the ritual, Howie insisted that he was expecting visitors from outer space; after the dancers collapsed to the floor, he made first contact. “Where did you come from?” he asked the prone figures. “You probably don’t know why you’re here, but it’s for a show. I guess we pretty much have a cast!”

Judging from Spiegelworld’s past record, that alien cast is no doubt loaded with ringers. And whatever shape Opium takes onstage—the producers are understandably cagey at this point, though Foster says that the show will spotlight comedy and music over acrobatics, which sounds like a flipped version of Absinthe—the cast will surely look great, thanks to costumer Machine Dazzle, whose designs are rightfully classified as wearable art. For the press event, Dazzle was dressed as a giant silver poppy, with a gown made of shiny silver forks and a veil of house keys.

Whatever Opium will be, it’s already a welcome addition to the Strip, which needs more of Spiegelworld’s carefully crafted lunacy, whether it knows it or not. Some things are just bigger than heaven and Earth. “The show is already written; it’s in the cosmos,” Howie says. “We’ve just got to pull it out.”

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