Category Archives: Las Vegas Shows

“Circus 1903” at Paris is Family-Friendly Spectacle With Thrills and Laughs Galore

“Circus 1903” at Paris Las Vegas is the newest show to open on the Las Vegas Strip, and it’s full of family-friendly variety acts, belly laughs and mesmerizing elephant puppetry.

In fact, the show’s so good, you might say it’s “Absinthe,” but without the dirty jokes. Given “Absinthe” is one of the best shows in Las Vegas, that’s saying something.

Circus 1903

Something you need to know about early circuses is they were intense. We’ll wait. (Thanks to “Circus 1903” for all the pics, by the way.)

The anchor of “Circus 1903” is its host and ringmaster, Willy Whipsnade, played to perfection by David Williamson. Williamson commands the stage, and his whip-smart jokes are the perfect through line for the show.

Williamson masterfully creates the old-timey circus vibe, while occasionally winking to the audience with references to iPhones and current pop culture accompanied with the aside, “Which wasn’t a thing in 1903.”

Williamson not only cues up each variety act, he also supplies ample comic relief while interacting with kids from the audience for several segments of the show. The humor is never corny or strained. It’s spot on throughout the evening, and provides a great contrast to the thrills in the show.

And thrills there are.

Circus 1903

No circus would be complete without a high-wire. Previously, it was just a wire, but recreational marijuana is now legal in Las Vegas.

Good circus-style variety acts are hard to come by. The popularity of circuses has flagged in recent years because audiences have so many more entertainment options, many involving CGI.

But “Circus 1903” has pulled together a diverse collection of acts, each with a distinct personality.

Right out of the gate, audiences are left breathless thanks to The Flying Finns, Artur Ivankovich, Ilya Kotenyov and Petter Linsky. As you might have guessed, they’re not from around here.

These three fearless performers from Finland are masters of the teeterboard, and soar above the stage at Paris untethered and without a net.

Circus 1903

The technical term is “Sproing!” Well, that’s our word for it.

The Flying Finns are followed by an equally dazzling performer, The Sensational Sozonov, with a “rola bola” act.

A rola bola is a balancing board set atop a variety of things its impossible to balance upon. The Paris Theater may need to reinforce its seats because we were on the edge of ours the whole time The Sensational Sozonov was atop his pillar of OMFG. (Probably not its official name.)

Circus 1903

We didn’t entirely know equilibristics were a thing until this very minute. Oh, like you did.

The variety acts come fast and furious, some gripping (Los Lopez on the high-wire), some awkwardly entertaining (contortionist Senayet Assefa Amara), some whimsical (acrobatic cyclist Florian Blummel) and some just downright impressive (juggler Francois Borie).

Circus 1903

Our pal Jeff Civillico seems to be on a bit of a hiatus from performing on The Strip, so “Circus 1903” gave us our juggling fix.

The final act, Les Incredibles (Anny Laplante and Andrei Kalesnikau), was a show-stopper.

Essentially, a petite woman is lofted into the air repeatedly, with each catch more heart-stopping than the last. The “human trapeze,” or Russian cradle, has a long history with the circus which we do not have time to look up because we are drinking heavily as we write this.

The couple previously performed in Cirque Du Soleil’s touring show, “Corteo.”

Circus 1903

We did find out the woman being tossed is called the “flyer,” her partner is called the “catcher” or “caster.”

These two made quite a splash on “America’s Got Talent.” Here’s a look at why this couple (yes, they’re a married couple) has such massive chiropractor bills.

Not all the acts in the program appeared in the show we saw (arialist Lucky Moon and acrobats Fratelli Rossi took the night off), so presumably the performers can be swapped out without the quality of the show suffering.

In addition to the comedy and variety acts, the big draw of “Circus 1903” is the life-size, lifelike pair of elephants, Queenie and Karanga (or Peanut).

Circus 1903

Karanga means “peanut” in Swahili. Yes, we sometimes take notes.

The adult elephant takes three puppeteers to operate, and the smaller takes one. In the program, credit is given to the three Queenie puppeteers as operating her “Head,” “Heart” and “Hind.”

Imagine having “Puppeteer, Elephant Hind” on your resume.

Circus 1903

It took awhile, but circuses finally figured out you don’t need to make animals do tricks to have a good time.

The movements of the elephants are majestic and uncannily realistic, brought to life by the same folks who made the stage version of “War Horse” a hit. Here’s a look at these remarkable creations.

“Circus 1903” is a lavish production, and the Paris Theater, formerly home to “Jersey Boys,” feels like a great fit.

The production feels like a fine fit for Las Vegas overall, as the visual nature of the show lends itself to appealing to international visitors. That’s why Cirque du Soleil is so popular in Sin City, by the way. You don’t have to understand English to enjoy the eye-popping visuals, and there’s no plot to follow.

“Circus 1903” cleverly side-steps a couple of potential pitfalls. Since there are no live animals, there are no protests. Also, the show’s music is pre-recorded, so it’s saving big bucks by not having to pay for union musicians.

“Circus 1903” is scheduled to be at Paris Las Vegas through Dec. 31, 2017, although we trust there’s an option to extend if the show does well.

Circus 1903

All the performers in “Circus 1903” bend over backwards to entertain audiences. Hey, you try writing a million photo captions.

Tickets start at $49, and the show is suitable for all ages. The show is at 7:00 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, with two shows on Saturday and Sunday, 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. (dark on Mondays).

If you take in “Circus 1903” at Paris, let us know what you think. And give Peanut a big, wet kiss on the trunk for us. Which, for once, isn’t a euphemism for anything.

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Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 58: Inside Carrot Top

Scott Thompson, better known as Carrot Top, is one of the most successful comedians in the history of Las Vegas residencies.

His began his stint at Luxor back in 2005, and the comic continues to pack them in.

We’ve got an exclusive interview with Carrot Top in this hastily slapped-together episode. Thompson talks intimately about fame, haters and his hilarious show on the Las Vegas Strip.

Carrot Top

Carrot Top’s show at Luxor was recently extended through 2020.

Rounding out this week’s episode is a listicle of useless gambling terms and all the Las Vegas news we could put together in under five minutes, including myriad announcements of Las Vegas casinos investing bajillions in renovations.

Take a listen as we celebrate passing 200,000 downloads, despite lackluster reviews, horrible production values and misguided modesty like you wouldn’t believe.

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“The Miss Behave Game Show” is a Bawdy, Boisterous Bash at Bally’s Las Vegas

A new show, “The Miss Behave Game Show,” has opened at Bally’s Las Vegas, and it’s an offbeat, rowdy, irreverent evening of interactive entertainment on the Las Vegas Strip.

Miss Behave Game Show at Bally's

We probably should’ve said “Spoiler alert.”

The “Miss Behave Game Show” production is a relatively modest endeavor, with a streamlined cast of four and a no-frills set, mainly comprised of Sharpie scrawls on pieces of cardboard.

Miss Behave Game Show

We are not making this up. The entire set cost upwards of $14.

What the show lacks in Las Vegas spectacle it more than makes up for in originality, audaciousness and audience enthusiasm.

The show takes place in a little-known space at Bally’s, the recently-converted Back Room, adjacent to the casino’s Indigo Lounge. The discreet entrance is in the walkway to BLT Steakhouse, just across from Tequila Taqueria Bar & Grill.

Upon entry to the theater space, guests are split into two halves, depending upon what kind of smartphone they use. At the performance we attended, it was “iPhones” and “Everybody Else.” (Technically, the “Others.”)

Miss Behave Game Show

There’s a 90% chance you’re one of those “I don’t do audience participation” people. There’s also a 90% chance you’ll get over yourself at “The Miss Behave Game Show.”

That audience split sets the stage for a game show-inspired format where the groups complete in dozens of cleverly-themed “rounds,” vying for the most points and bragging rights.

“The Miss Behave Game Show” is hosted by a character named (wait for it) Miss Behave, played by multi-talented comedian Amy Saunders.

Saunders is brash, brilliant at improv and manages to keep the often raucous proceedings on course.

Saunders’ silent sidekick and assistant (at left, below), Tiffany, is played by Bret Pfister.

Miss Behave Game Show

Now, you don’t even have to attend to be part of the show. Careful, though, if you text this number, yours is likely to appear on a screen everyone at the show can see.

The show seems to have a large gay following (longtime Strip female impersonator Frank Marino was in the audience during our visit), due in no small part to the charismatic flair and flirtation of Pfister.

Miss Behave Game Show Bally's

We’re sitting down and we just herniated something.

While the production is a showcase for the talents of Amy Saunders, there are two stand-alone variety acts thrown into the mix to shake things up.

First, there’s Marawa the Amazing (real name, Marawa Wamp).

Her few minutes onstage don’t do her hula hoop wizardry justice, but that’s why Al Gore invented the Internet.

Miss Behave Game Show Bally's

Wamp holds the world record for keeping 200 hula hoops aloft at once. Her site says she currently holds eight world records.

Another amusing, bewildering diversion in the show is billed as the Evil Hate Monkey.

The hirsute Evil Hate Monkey is part ballerino and part stripper. It’s impossible to describe, so we won’t even try.

One of the most remarkable feats on the “Miss Behave” stage is when the tutu-wearing Evil Hate Monkey repeatedly jumps up and down “en pointe,” like it’s no big deal. It’s a throw-away sequence that shows the depth of the talent in this deceptively frivolous show.

Miss Behave Evil Hate Monkey

So much WTF, so little time.

The laughs come fast-and-furious in “The Miss Behave Game Show,” and the sheer number of “rounds” means even if one falls flat, there are other killer segments to come.

Part of the fun of the show is the fact there are no “rules,” per se. At various times, audience members just shout out requests for more points, and Miss Behave often grants their requests. Get greedy, though, and she’ll take points away.

Rounds include themes like “The Laid Lottery” (audience members stand, and sit based upon how long it’s been since they’ve had sex), “You’re So Vain, You Probably Think This Selfie’s About You” (audience members take selfies and text them to a number provided), “Stand Up Last” (last person to stand gets a point for their team), “The Age Lottery” (last one standing is the oldest in the room) and “Shout Loudest” (this isn’t rocket science).

The rounds, or “games,” are inventive and the only downside is guests who have seen the show previously sometimes ruin the twists, but then again, no rules, and cheating is encouraged.

Miss Behave Game Show Bally's

Suck it, Dave Chappelle. Everybody get your phones out.

Ultimately, “The Miss Behave Game Show” is a wild night out, the perfect playground for tipsy tourists to lower their inhibitions and become part of the show.

As the show progresses, audience members become bolder, and because of that, no two performances will ever be the same.

The party atmosphere is amplified as entire portions of the show are devoted to simply playing iconic hit songs as the performers, and many audience members, just boogie.

The show culminates with a chaotic ball fight. No, the plastic kind. Freak.

“The Miss Behave Game Show” is a cheeky, subversive and sexy breath of fresh air, and well worth a look during your next Las Vegas visit.

See “The Miss Behave Game Show” Wednesday through Sunday at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $49.99. Find out more at the official Web site.

You may want to get your drink on before arriving at the show. Our Captain Morgan and diet at the bar inside the venue was $15. On the bright side, shots of a colorful, unknown liquor were distributed during the show for as little as a $1 tip.

Miss Behave Game Show at Bally's

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“Circus 1903” is Coming to Paris Las Vegas

Paris Las Vegas has found a replacement for the now-closed “Jersey Boys,” and it’s going to be an absolute circus.

“Circus 1903,” a family-friendly, circus-inspired production (with no live animals) opens July 25, 2017.

Circus 1903

“Circus 1903” is all the best parts of a circus, without the protestable parts.

The show features aspects of a traditional circus, including variety acts, but “puts a fresh, innovative and more humane spin on them.”

Here’s a look.

Expect fire-breathers, knife-throwers, jugglers, acrobats, aerialists and the like.

Bonus points if they can skip the clowns. They haven’t been funny since, oh, 1903.

Circus 1903

Oh, and there will definitely be bendy women. In Las Vegas, it’s the law.

Think “Absinthe” without the raunch.

A highlight of “Circus 1903” is puppetry from Significant Object, the team behind the Broadway show, “War Horse.”

The puppeteers bring realistic elephants to the stage instead of actual animals. We are personally a big fan of this.

The show currently traveling the country runs about two hours, but expect that to be shortened at Paris. Because Las Vegas.

The show’s official Web site says it will run through Dec. 31, 2017, but you can bet if it does well it’ll be around beyond that date.

“Circus 1903” would seem to be a great fit for Las Vegas. It’s visual, like a Cirque show, there’s not a lot of dialogue or story to follow (important for international visitors), and variety acts allow the ability to swap out acts to keep the show fresh over time.

And what’s not to love about a baby elephant? We’re ready to “step right up”!

We look forward to our first look at “Circus 1903” when it opens at Paris Las Vegas, and thanks to John Katsilometes for giving us just enough clues to solve a long-standing Las Vegas show mystery.

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“Wow Splash” Show to Open at Rio Las Vegas

The Las Vegas resort we don’t quite know what to make of is getting a show that we also don’t know what to make of. “Wow Splash” is coming to Rio Las Vegas in July 2017.

“Wow Splash,” which sounds like it was poorly translated from another language (we’re pretty sure it was), is a straight-up knock-off of a Cirque du Soleil show. Then again, that’s not always a bad thing. Just ask everyone who loves “Le Reve.”

Wow Splash

Attractive, limber performers, check. Wet clothes, check. Yep, all the hallmarks of a successful Las Vegas show.

The description of the “Wow Splash” show must be seen to be believed.

Please keep in mind this is completely real and in no way intended to be ironic.

“Downtown, steaming heat, nighttime, who are the people one would meet at this time and place? Street gangs, a strange panhandler, three sailors who stopped for the night, teenage cheerleaders, officers Jason and Suzy, and the one [and] only, Jason, the street sweeper who sees all and knows all, but right now he’s busy staring at a beautiful woman’s picture on an advertising board.”

Gangs, panhandlers, sailors, cheerleaders, police officers and an omniscient street sweeper. Got it.

Wow Splash

We’re think there’s more splash than wow, but you never know what’s going to click with audiences in Las Vegas.

But wait, there’s more.

“A good enough reason for him to try to climb up and step into the beauty’s world, trying to get a closer look. In the meantime, some thugs fight when suddenly a fire extinguisher erupts, washing the stage in water. The water seems to have magic powers, everyone on stage calms down and the street becomes a playground. A massive and transparent water pool is the heart of the show. International virtuoso artists jump into the water from different heights, dancing, flying and even splashing water on the audience in the front rows.”

First, we are not cleaning this up.

Second, please ignore the existence of “O,” thanks.

Wow Splash Las Vegas

It’s all fun and games until somebody puts an eye out.

To finish things off, the show says, “As in past ‘Wow’ shows, ‘Wow Splash’ includes 3-D animation, extravagant costumes, changing settings, big screens and beautiful dance and music. Prepare to be wowed.”

Here’s a look at this moist, game-changing and immersive stage extravaganza coming to Rio Las Vegas, and to which we are definitely not being invited to media night.

Despite all the P.R. flotsam, the show’s previous incarnation has gotten rave reviews on TripAdvisor, so despite all the evidence to the contrary, we’ll reserve judgment until we see it. Sorry, further judgment. You know what we mean.

Everyone loves a good Cirque-style show, right? Variety acts. Skimpy costumes. No dialogue to slow things down. Nonsensical storyline. What’s not to love?

The show will take up residence in the Rio’s Crown Theater, former home of “Rock of Ages” and gang-related gun violence.

Thanks to Johnny Kats at the Las Vegas Review-Journal for the heads up about “Wow Splash.”

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Criss Angel Loses Consciousness During Show at Luxor

Magician Criss Angel has made national headlines for passing out during a straight jacket escape during his show at Luxor.

The medical emergency happened about 15 minutes into a performance of “Mindfreak Live” on March 10, 2017.

The illusion in question is fairly badass. Angel is suspended over the stage, upside down, in a straight jacket. Rather than just merely contorting to escape, Angel spins feverishly until he gets free.

About two minutes into the escape, the show’s crew realized Criss Angel had lost consciousness, lowered him to the stage and Angel was rushed to Spring Valley Hospital.

Criss Angel

We feel compelled to mention this photo of Criss Angel has not been Photoshopped in any way.

By the following morning, Angel had been cleared by physicians, and was released.

To Criss Angel’s credit, the magician returned to the stage the following night. He performed the straight jacket stunt without incident.

Criss Angel has performed his straight jacket escape so many times, and makes it appear so effortless, it’s easy to forget how physically strenuous, and potentially dangerous, it is.

Hanging upside down can cause a rush of blood to the head (hence the term “head rush”) which can cause dizziness and vertigo and a sudden change of blood pressure. The medical term is “postural hypotension,” which we’re thinking would make a great band name.

The effects of being inverted can be exacerbated by dehydration and certain kinds of medication.

We’re glad to hear Criss Angel appears to be fine, and trust he’ll get a bump in ticket sales resulting from this unfortunate incident. Hey, Vegas doesn’t stop being Vegas just because somebody blacks out.

While his show has been disparaged by some, and Angel is a relatively easy target for satire, his show is one of the most successful magic shows in the history of Las Vegas (and possibly the world), and success is always the best revenge.

Criss Angel casino chip

Criss Angel’s show opened at Luxor in 2008. That’s an estimated metric ass-ton of inverted straight jacket escapes.

Criss Angel performs “Mindfreak Live” Wednesday through Sunday at 7:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. The show is dark Monday and Tuesday, although that’s probably a poor choice of words given the recent mishap.

Find out more about “Mindfreak Live” at the official Web site.

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