Editor's note: Columnist Philip Potempa is reporting from Las Vegas traveling this week.
Last July, the Riverfront Theater, Chicago's summer tent entertainment destination downtown along the snaking Chicago River heralded the long-awaited arrival and U.S. premiere of the theatrical "hard-to-describe" but wildly entertaining "La Soirée."
I was not only blown away and absolutely entertained, but also thought it was the first such experience of its kind to hit America.
Well, surprise of surprises, Las Vegas is once again ahead of the game.
Launched on April 1, 2011 (yep, April Fools' Day), "Absinthe" entered the spotlight at the glimmering epicenter of the Las Vegas Strip aka the Roman Plaza at Caesars Palace. Due to critical acclaim and popular demand, "Absinthe," billed as the silly creation of a oddball, slick character dubbed "the filthy rich impresario, The Gazillionaire," (who serves as the master of ceremonies), it's earned the tag of Las Vegas’ "Best New Show."
Yes, it's much like "La Soiree," only better, because it's based right where it belongs, in the heart of Sin City and heralds a return to the bawdy, push-the-envelope era of Las Vegas late night naughty fun.
Produced under the umbrella of Spiegelworld, Impresario Ross Mollison says, "Las Vegas is the perfect place for us. With 'Absinthe' being so well received by both the critics and audiences alike, we felt that we needed to extend this production and make a home here at Caesars Palace."
The tent where the show is staged is comfortable, climate controlled and there's not a bad seat in the house.
"In keeping with the Caesars Palace tradition of delivering high-quality, innovative entertainment experiences to the Las Vegas Strip, 'Absinthe' has delighted both guests and critics alike," said Caesars Palace President Gary Selesner.
"With the addition of 'Absinthe' and some new dining venues, the Roman Plaza has become an exciting, Strip-side entertainment hub. We're pleased the show will remain a focal point of that experience and continue to make its home at Caesars Palace."
As for what to expect during the 90-minute no intermission span, it's definitely R rated, less for the amount of skin displayed, and more for the salty language and blue humor.
Purposely insulting, and taking turns with every demographic seated circling the stage, the Gazillionaire character maintains the flow of the show, with some help from his raucous assistant Penny Pibbets (a character I was less impressed with for too much of a vulgar approach to shocking the audience at times with random foul rants).
The all-so-amazing superstars of this truly unique ticket is the cast of eccentric international performers who allure and hold audiences in their control with the jaw-dropping acts from high wire trapeze and contortion to rollerskating feats, acrobatic antics and all held together with beautiful song chanteuse Melody Sweets, who dazzles in one song number bathing in a large goblet, splashing about in would-be Absinthe, that mythical potent French liqueur so strong, it must be serve dripped over a sugar cube.
In the 1952 classic film MGM musical "Moulin Rouge" starring Jose Ferrer and Zsa Zsa Gabor, Ferrer plays famed artist Toulouse-Lautrec who becomes drunk after a few sips of absinthe, known also as "The Green Fairy."
And in the 2001 remake of "Moulin Rouge!" by 20th Century Fox, Nicole Kidman's character is amused when Ewan McGregor's character falls into a drunken haze and is taunted by a floating green fairy played by Kylie Minogue after his absinthe experience.
After being banned for close to 100 years, absinthe is legal in the United States once again. The devilish and delightful green spirit has been given many nicknames like The Green Fairy, because it literally comes from European forests made from the flowers and leaves of an herb called wormwood, which gives the precious liquid its distinct green tint.
"Absinthe" show times in Las Vegas are 8 and 10 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, with no show on Monday and Tuesday. The schedule is subject to change without notice.
Tickets for reserved seating are available for $99 plus tax, with a VIP package available at $114 plus tax and a VVIP package available at $124 plus tax per person. The VIP package will include second and third row reserved seating and a complimentary split of champagne. The VVIP package includes front row cushioned seating and a complimentary split of champagne.
Tickets can be purchased online at Ticketmaster.com or by calling (800) 745-3000 or purchased in person at the "Absinthe" box office just outside the tent at Caesars Palace, or the box offices at Planet Hollywood, Bally's, Paris and Rio hotels and casinos. For groups of 10 or more, call (702) 853-5950 or (866) 633-0195 or Groups@BASEentertainment.com. FYI: AbsintheVegas.com.