Category Archives: Las Vegas Shows

“Absinthe” and “Piff the Magic Dragon” Lead Return of Las Vegas Shows

Two of our favorite Las Vegas shows are reopening and we’re fully engorged with anticipation at the news.

“Absinthe” reopens at Caesars Palace on Oct. 28, 2020.

“Piff the Magic Dragon” reopens at Flamingo on Oct. 29, 2020.

Shows are back on the Las Vegas Strip! Even more importantly, laughter is back, and it’s about damned time.

Absinthe balancing act

The thrills, and wildly inappropriate humor, are back.

Both shows have implemented strict safety protocols to assuage COVID-19 concerns and are setting the stage for others to follow suit.

For example, “Absinthe” will have “cabaret-style seating” inside the show’s tent outside Caesars. This seating will allow parties of two to five to reserve tables positioned no less than six feet apart.

The venue also has a new air purification system, guests will be temperature screened, masks will be mandatory and table service will be provided to avoid the need for guests to line up at the bar for drinks.

“Absinthe,” of course, is one of the most popular and successful shows in the history of Las Vegas.

The show features one jaw-dropping variety act after another, and the festivities are hosted by The Gazillionaire and his assistant, Penny Pibbets.

Spiegelworld produces “Absinthe” at Caesars, as well as “Atomic Saloon” at Venetian and “Opium” at Cosmopolitan.

The company’s founder (sorry, “Impresario Extraordinaire”), Ross Mollison, says his other shows will return “very soon.”

Ross Mollison

Producer Ross Mollison is responsible for some of our favorite Las Vegas things. No, he didn’t invent Captain Morgan. Nobody’s perfect.

We trust “Opium” will no longer have performers spitting bananas into each others mouths, and cast members throwing dinner rolls into the audience at “Atomic Saloon” is likely to be nixed. Bummer.

“Absinthe” will have performances Wednesday through Sunday at 7:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. starting Oct. 28, 2020. Tickets here.

“Piff the Magic Dragon” is a hilarious comedy-magic show featuring demented genius John van der Put, his showgirl assistant Jade Simone and Piff’s pup, Mr. Piffles.

We rank Piff’s show among the very best, and funniest, in Las Vegas and we tend to hate everything.

Piff’s show has a lot of audience interaction, with audience members being asked up on stage (we’ll never live that down), but we assume there will be workarounds for those elements for the time being.

“Piff the Magic Dragon” will temporarily move into the Flamingo Showroom. The room can accommodate 250 people, the current limit for gatherings in Nevada.

Piff performs Thursday through Sunday at 7:30 p.m. starting Oct. 29, 2020. Tickets here.

Piff

Girlie, squirrelly and surly.

Some Las Vegas news is more fun to share than others, and this update is particularly gratifying.

While Las Vegas has been slowly recovering, the lack of shows has been painful.

It’s apropos “Absinthe” and “Piff” are among the first shows to reopen, as they represent the kind of Las Vegas shows we personally love, stuffed to the gills with originality, irreverence and mirth.

Also on the mirthy tip, it’s worth noting stand-up comedy shows have reopened at The Strat (L.A. Comedy Club) and Downtown Grand (Delirious Comedy Club).

The return of must-see Las Vegas shows like “Absinthe” and “Piff” isn’t merely a relief for the casts and crews whose lives and livelihoods have been on hold for seven months, it’s an invitation to experience unbridled, sometimes raunchy, joy in Las Vegas again.

The way Mother Nature, and The Gazillionaire, intended.

Caesars Palace Confirms Usher Residency at Colosseum in 2021

It took a minute (about 11 months, actually) for our scoop to be confirmed, but Caesars Entertainment has officially announced an Usher residency in 2021.

While the realm of live entertainment remains in flux, Usher is slated to start a 12-show run at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace on July 16, 2021.

Usher Caesars residency

Fun fact: Usher’s godfather is Ben Vereen, the actor who now winces whenever he hears the name David Foster.

We can’t wait to have conversations like this when Usher begins his Las Vegas residency!

googie “What do you do at the Colosseum?”
googie “Usher.”
googie “You usher?”
googie “No, I just work there.”
googie “What’s your job?”
googie “Usher.”
googie “The residency?”
googie “No, I usher.”
googie “You’re an usher for Usher?”
googie “Yes, and this is my dog, a collie.”
googie “Where? Are you sure it’s a collie?”
googie “Collie. See him?”
googie “Could you say that again to make sure people get it?”
googie “Collie. See him?”
googie “Nice. Hungry?”
googie “I’m going to order a salad.”
googie “Don’t even think about it.”

Oh, how we will laugh.

The announcement of Usher’s residency at Caesars harkens back to a time when, you know, there were shows in Las Vegas.

Here’s the tentative schedule: July 16, 17, 21, 23, 24, 28, 30 and 31, also Dec. 28, 29 and 31 and Jan. 1, 2022.

Not to make everything about us, but we brought the boom about this residency in Oct. 2019.

Usher Tweet

Modesty precludes us from saying how modest we are.

The show will feature Usher’s hits as well as new music. You know, a Las Vegas residency.

Usher’s hits include “U Remind Me,” “Yeah!,” “Love In This Club,” “DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love” and others.

Tickets start at $59, or $10 less than we would’ve preferred because we are 12.

We’d better damn well have concerts by mid-2021, or else.

Carrot Top Featured in Unfortunately-Named Videogame, “Killing Carrot Top”

One of our Vegas heroes can now claim videogame immortality.

The unfortunately-named “Killing Carrot Top” is an old-school, text-based RPG-inspired (role-playing game) videogame available free online.

Killing Carrot Top

Dibs on the band name Malevolent Assemblage.

The game, created by Jay Winbrenner, is set “in a collapsed dystopian world ruled by ’80s character comedians hellbent on exterminating what little remains of the human race.” Sounds like a party.

Players are “the world’s last bastion of hope of stopping this vile scourge,” and the goal is to “traverse the nightmarish post-apocalyptic landscape and confront the Lord of Laughter himself, Carrot Top.”

Basically, you’re up against a slew of comedians (dubbed the “Illuminati of Laughter”) from the ’80s and ’90s, including Emo Philips, Tim Allen, Pauly Shore, Howie Mandel, Andrew Dice Clay, Victoria Jackson, Bobcat Goldthwait and Yakov Smirnoff.

Many of these folks have performed in Sin City, so we can legitimately claim this story is at least somewhat Vegas-related.

Killing Carrot Top

He’s tougher than you’d think, buddy.

Oh, and let’s not forget Gallagher, referred to in the game as “Archfiend of Magnanimous Wreckage.”

Gallagher

We caught Gallagher at Golden Nugget. Wreckage confirmed.

Players enter their name, then get hit points, weapons and armor, then make their way to “Ha Ha Tower” to do battle with some top-notch comedy talent.

There’s a fair amount of humor (or attempts at it) throughout the game, as well as pop culture trivia, so get ready to flex your “Home Improvement” and “Police Academy” knowledge.

Remember, using the Internet for answers is cheating, which we pretty much did for every question, but that’s beside the point.

The entire game leads the player to a final confrontation with Carrot Top, of course.

Carrot Top

We love us some Carrot Top.

The final battle begins, “You open your eyes and see Carrot Top himself, suspended in some extra-dimensional endlessness, wrapped in muscle, smeared in oil.”

Let’s just say Carrot Top isn’t going down without a fight.

Carrot Top videogame

Dibs on the band name Unfathomable Black.

Hopefully, Carrot Top sees this as an homage to his iconic status both in Las Vegas and the world of comedy. It’s hard to get too upset about being named the “Lord of Laughter.”

In our interactions with Mr. Top (real name: Scott Thompson), he clearly has a sense of humor about himself, so we figure this game isn’t going to cause him any sleepless nights.

Carrot Top’s comedy show at Luxor is consistently named one of the best in Las Vegas, and he was recently named the best Las Vegas comedian of all time by Las Vegas Weekly. We’re inclined to agree.

“Killing Carrot Top” is a throwback to a time when videogames were simpler and, frankly, much less entertaining.

Still, for those seeking a piddling distraction, “Killing Carrot Top” is an amusing (wait for it) time-killer.

“Le Reve” to Close Permanently at Wynn Las Vegas

The inside word is the popular show at Wynn Las Vegas, “Le Reve,” will close permanently.

“Le Reve” is water-based, Cirque-style show (no association with Cirque du Soleil) and has been closed for several months due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Le Reve Wynn Las Vegas

Performers in “Le Reve” had dozens of holes drilled in their shoes to let the water drain out.

We quite enjoyed “Le Reve,” and the closure of the show is yet another blow to the Las Vegas entertainment community.

“Le Reve” means “The Dream” in French, but the COVID-19 crisis has become a nightmare for Las Vegas theatrical productions, including their casts and crews.

The show employed about 90 performers (all SCUBA-qualified) prior to the shutdown, as well as 140 technical staff members, including a team of about 16 divers (who spent the entire show submerged).

The “Le Reve” theater features a 1.1 million gallon water tank.

Le Reve closed

Up to 1,000 towels were used each day at “Le Reve.”

“Le Reve” opened at Wynn Las Vegas in May 2005, but it’s been “re-imagined” a time or two since then.

Le Reve Wynn Las Vegas

Sorry, no snark this time. Even our photo captions are bummed about this.

The future of the $75 million “Le Reve” theater space is, well, fluid.

Here’s a look at “Le Reve” in 2015.

We received this statement from Wynn Las Vegas: “As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent physical distancing requirements for which an end-date cannot be predicted, but are necessary to keep our guests safe, we have been forced to close the award-winning show ‘Le Reve — The Dream’ at Wynn Las Vegas. ‘Le Reve’ has performed more than 6,000 shows since it was launched in 2005 and has been voted ‘Best Production Show’ in Las Vegas for nine consecutive years, a record number, by the Southern Nevada Concierge Association.”

Big Cat Magic Show in a Tent Approved for Las Vegas Strip

A magic show featuring big cats has been approved for the Las Vegas Strip. The show will take place in a tent near McCarran International Airport.

What could possibly go wrong?

Magician Jay Owenhouse’s show was approved by the Clark Co. Zoning Commission over the objections of both animal rights activists and, initially, Clark County staff.

Jay Owenhouse magician

As far as we can tell, everyone in the Owenhouse family is super likable. So, there’s that.

Jay Owenhouse, who bills himself as the “Authentic Magician,” isn’t really a well-known quantity in Las Vegas.

Owenhouse has said his animals participate in the show “because they want to.” We’re thinking he might want to start billing himself as an “Animal Psychic Comedy-Magician.”

To his credit, Owenhouse has a pretty much spotless record of animal treatment over the last 25 years.

As is required of all performers using big cats in their shows, Owenhouse says he’s an advocate of conservation and believes exotic animals raise awareness of the plight of the creatures in the wild.

Owenhouse says he’ll spend $150,000 for a “sanctuary” at the site, just across from Mandalay Bay.

Owenhouse Vegas

Seems legit.

The 51-foot-tall show tent will accommodate 312 people. We trust that’s the number without social distancing.

Owenhouse magic show tent

This whole situation is a little tense.

Owenhouse’s show is a family affair, with his camera-friendly kids both taking part in the show and assisting with promoting it.

PETA jumped in with their take about the show. Hint: They’re against it.

Concerns about animal exploitation aside (some would say constant aircraft noise is inherently abusive, or at least stress-inducing), this is just a weird situation overall.

Clark County approved waivers of Animal Control permit requirements and development standards, including a rule that limits the length of time such an operation can take place (20 days is the usual maximum).

Owenhouse claims his show opens mid-September and will run six months. Good luck with that. Few, if any, shows in Las Vegas at the moment due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Here’s the site in question.

Owenhouse tent site

What will it take to turn this into an entertainment venue? A lot.

KTNV Channel 13 here in Las Vegas did a pretty good overview of the situation.

While we lean heavily toward animal advocacy, we’re on the fence about this show.

We like kitties, but shows using big cats and other exotic animals have fallen out of fashion due to concerns about animal welfare. (Not to mention the whole Roy Horn thing, indelibly etched in the minds of many Vegas watchers.)

Big companies like Sea World and Ringling Bros. have overhauled their practices or eliminated the use of exotic and wild animals altogether. (It’s worth noting Ringling Bros. closed for good in 2017.)

It’s possible the COVID-19 crisis will make the debate about this production moot. It’s unknown when Las Vegas shows will be able to open.

Rest assured, animal rights activists are gearing up for a fight if plans for the big cat show in a tent moves forward.

This saga will be one to watch! Even in the middle of a pandemic, there’s still plenty of appetite for a rip-roaring drama on the Las Vegas Strip. Emphasis on “roaring.”

Cirque du Soleil Files for Bankruptcy Protection

We first broached the possibility of a bankruptcy for Cirque du Soleil back in April 2020, and we’re sad to report the company has done just that. Sometimes, we hate being right.

While news coverage of Cirque’s bankruptcy has focused on “immense disruption” caused by the COVID-19 crisis, Cirque du Soleil was in deep financial trouble prior to the closure of its shows, 44 in all, including six Las Vegas productions.

What kind of trouble? Roughly $1 billion in debt, largely due to leveraged loans.

Cirque du Soleil

Let’s hope the sun isn’t setting for Cirque.

Read our story to learn more about some of the WTF moves leading to Cirque du Soleil’s staggering debt.

Cirque furloughed about 3,500 employees in March 2020. Now, those employees are terminated.

The company has signed an agreement with its existing investors to take over Cirque’s liabilities and invest $300 million to keep the company afloat. A Canadian government body called Investissement Quebec will contribute $200 million in debt financing.

Yeah, it’s confusing. We just want our bendy people and creepy clowns back!

It’s expected that once Cirque’s capital is restructured, most of its Las Vegas shows will return: “O,” “Zumanity,” “Love,” “Ka,” “Mystere,” and “One.”

Insiders believe one or more Las Vegas shows won’t be back. Likely candidates are “Zumanity,” “Love” and “Ka.”

Among Cirque’s challenges, there’s no clear timeline for reopening their shows.

Here’s hoping Cirque du Soleil can get its act together. Cirque shows are as much a part of Las Vegas as roulette wheels, strip clubs and people mistakenly using an apostrophe in “Caesar’s Palace.”