“ICE CREAM BATH TUB” was printed on the setlist taped to the stage, cueing music for a rolling tub of Lucent Dossier Experience vixens writhing in pleasure as melted dessert was ladled on their bodies in the middle of a dance party. It was one of those gratuitous, improbable moments that affirms Las Vegas. And it was a confident declaration by Rose. Rabbit. Lie.
Since the July closure of its resident show, Vegas Nocturne, the Cosmopolitan’s immersive supper club has been humming along somewhat quietly—and in the shadow of pending litigation between the Cosmopolitan and Nocturne producer Spiegelworld over their broken partnership. But with weekend showcases planned through December, from genre-bending soul singer Eli “Paperboy” Reed to Dessy Di Lauro’s “feathered fro-hawk futuristic art-deco-centric Harlem Renaissance hep music,” Rose. Rabbit. Lie. is making noise.
Before things escalated to the bathtub last Friday night, Neighbor Boy and I were greeted by a pale juggler draped on a table next to weathered books and a Victorian lamp. “Flights of performances” remain vital to Rose. Rabbit. Lie.’s concept, according to a Cosmopolitan rep, though nothing popped out of the wall or danced on the bar in the Study as was the custom during Nocturne’s run. A few of the quirkier edges tied to that show appear to have been smoothed (i.e. the bookshelf is no longer a bed for Piff the Magic Dragon), but the eccentric-millionaire-kitsch vibe is intact. And the cocktails are still expertly crafted, from the luscious Monte Carlo with Templeton rye, Bénédictine and rose and wormwood bitters to the Mark Twain’s aromatic blend of Monkey Shoulder Scotch, lemon and star anise. In fact, one of my favorite bartenders in Las Vegas, Rustyn Vaughn Lee, was working in the Study.
In the Ballroom, a French maid furiously dusted while sailors, flappers and other characters worked the room to a crackling, old-timey song. Then musicians stepped to drums, keys, upright bass and a DJ deck, and we were welcomed to Lucent Unprohibited, created exclusively for Rose. Rabbit. Lie. by Lucent Dossier’s avant-garde circus troupe. “There are no rules,” said the smarmy emcee in his all-purpose accent. “It’s going to be a little In-N-Out, a little Double-Double, a little Animal Style.”
From the Charleston to pop and lock to a contemporary tribute to double-jointed shoulders, the dancing was good. The aerial routines were great. The singers crushed crowd-pleasers like “Rock With You” and “Sexy Motherf*cker.” The emcee said dirty things like, “Love is in the air, or at least it’s all over your mattresses …”
The format was loose (as one staffer put it, “less of a block of entertainment, more of a flow”), lively and fun, even with excessive audience-dance-party interludes and one flat moment when an aerial device was dramatically placed and hung empty for too long. “I’ll run and jump on it if no one else will,” Neighbor Boy said.
He never saw Vegas Nocturne, so he doesn’t miss Captain Frodo’s contortions (and tiny shorts) or the haunting opener that was all balance and sharp breaths. This show was not as complicated or memorable, but it’s a $20 ticket versus $115. I liked that some numbers were more atmospheric, so I could socialize and get down on perfect little caviar tacos and Manchego-Nutella grilled cheese. Maybe the club is auditioning acts like Lucent Dossier, or maybe it will keep us guessing as the “grand social experiment” continues. Rose. Rabbit. Lie. isn’t quite the same, but I still left feeling like I spent the evening in a lavish, titillating alternate-world, and that’s been the idea all along.
Rose. Rabbit. Lie. Tuesday-Saturday, doors at 5:30 p.m. Cosmopolitan, 702-698-7000.