Talking to Spiegelworld boss Ross Mollison about upcoming show ‘We Are Here’

Mollison has brought Absinthe to Caesars Palace and Opium to the Cosmopolitan. Where will We Are Here wind up?
Photo: Erik Kabik / Courtesy

I know what you’re thinking. Spiegelworld just opened a new show, Opium, at the Cosmopolitan. What is all this about workshopping a third Vegas show, the disco-themed We Are Here, in New York City this summer for an opening next year? What does a disco show from the people who brought you Absinthe even look like? And how did they manage to wrangle the legendary Nile Rodgers into the musical plans? I needed answers, so I tracked down Spiegelworld founder Ross Mollison for a quick convo.

What sparked the idea for this show? I’ve always loved disco. It defines that whole era, even though it came out of a very politically difficult time. It was about different groups of people claiming the dancefloor for themselves. The documentaries I’ve seen about disco go on about the politics—it was about gay rights, it was about female rights, black rights. Then you talk to the people who were there and ask about a political movement, and they’ll tell you they were just having a great time. That’s not to undermine those movements, but ultimately it was about going out and having a blast, people dancing together and holding each other rather than standing apart.

Is We Are Here going to explore those themes? We’re not documenting history, but we’ll certainly make reference to history. There are so many extraordinary stories surrounding disco and it coming out of New York during that period, it would be crazy not to draw on some of them.

Steven Hoggett is the director, and Nile Rodgers the music curator. How did that happen? I asked every musician friend I have in the world, ‘Do you know Nile?’ Eventually Chrissi Poland who was in Vegas Nocturne said, ‘Of course.’ She connected me, and I called him up. He loves Vegas and the idea for the show. He’s one of those true artists who operates in multiple genres.

There are similarities between Absinthe and Opium. Will there be fewer similarities between those shows and We Are Here? Yeah, I think it will feel different. I think people are looking for the next thing [in Las Vegas], and this could be that next thing like Absinthe was in 2011. But I don’t think I’m going to go pitch [casino executives] and ask them to build me a $30 million theater. I don’t want that kind of pressure on us, and we like to build differently. I think it will be an incredibly immersive show, and it won’t take itself too seriously. But I don’t think there’s anything like it onstage in Vegas right now.

So there’s no venue yet. I don’t want a venue now. I want someone to come to me and say, ‘We want to do the next thing, and we want you and this team to get together with our resort and all the incredible marketing leverage and savvy that comes with it.’ We want someone to come in and say, ‘Yeah, this is right.’ Someone said that about building an arena at the back of Monte Carlo and buying a hockey team, and that’s the most exciting new show in Vegas.

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Brock is an award-winning writer and reporter who has been documenting life in Las Vegas for 20 years. He currently ...

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