Ross Mollison visited Imperial Palace some 14 years ago, to see a then-new Vegas act Human Nature. Mollison had more than a passing interest in that show. His friend Wayne Harrison was a director of the Motown revival.
Two years later, in April 2011, “Absinthe” moved into Vegas at Caesars Palace (Harrison was a creative developer of that show, too) and became such a juggernaut that it led to multiple Spiegelworld productions on the Strip. “Absinthe” celebrates its 12th anniversary Monday night.
In the meantime, the Asian-themed Imperial Palace would undergo multiple facelifts, for a time the Quad and eventually Linq Hotel. Coming around (if not in the round) full circle from his first visit, Mollison is now a partner in the hotel with Caesars Entertainment. The Linq is home to “DiscoShow,” at the Glitterloft showroom taking over the former I.P. sports book.
“The thing I always said about the Imperial Palace was, no matter what you said about both Imperial Palace and the place next to it, O’Shea’s, is the people in those places were having as much fun as any casino in Vegas,” Mollison says. “It’s like with Circus Circus. You can’t deny that when you go in there, people are having a blast.”
Mollison is forever interested in creating or shaping architecture to fit his artistic needs. This project is a significant overhaul, costing $40 million, or as Mollison explains, “That’s rounding up from $38 million, or $39 million, with $40 million including contingency costs.”
Originally planned to open by the end of 2022, “DiscoShow” is now on a path for a summer 2024 premiere. Six months of construction on the 500-capacity venue is ahead.
The show actually was originally announced in October 2021 as one of three concepts in Spiegelworld’s partnership with Caesars Entertainment. The change is in the backed-up opening date, which was initially to be by the end of 2022. The total investment of $75 million also might need to be adjusted, with “DiscoShow” taking more than half that outlay.
Spiegelworld and Caesars are also partnering in a full overhaul of Warner Theater at Caesars Atlantic City for “The Hook” production and second Superfrico restaurant outpost. A show yet-to-be named show at Caesars Palace New Orleans, the former Harrah’s resort is also on the companies’ blueprint.
The Harrah’s venue is also being overhauled; that date was originally to be late-summer 2024. Check back for amendments to that plan, too.
We have learned Spiegelworld is a fluid company, with show titles, timelines and production costs. Fine with us, when it means the end result is something as wondrous as “Absinthe,” “Atomic Saloon Show” and the recently revamped (and renamed) “OPM.”
“DiscoShow” is the retro-dance production that showcased in New York City in August 2018. As then, the show will require audience members to stand (how disco dancing was meant to be performed). The audience will (willingly) take part in a comic tutorial from Finnish dance instructor Ake Blomqvist, a character inspired by the late dance master of the same name.
Comic actor Eli Weinberg is expected to take that important role. Weinberg is a Mollison favorite who portrayed Blomqvist in New York.
Mollison says “DiscoShow” will feature a 20-person cast. Steven Hoggett, of the Broadway production “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” is on the creative team. Chic co-founder Nile Rodgers also has been listed as music producer, though how or even if the contemporary music trailblazer is involved is yet to be determined.
“We’re hoping he will be (involved), we’re just going through that whole process of getting creative team members together,” Mollison says.”But certainly, we’ll be showcasing some of his fantastic music.”
Spiegelworld continues to add restaurants as a kind of side dish to its production portfolio. “DiscoShow” will be coupled with a French-American diner, seating 200. That project is inspired by the late New York City eatery Florent and named for eccentric restaurateur Florent Morellet, who was HIV positive and known to post his T-cell count on the restaurant’s wall menu, listed with that day’s specials.
Whether wielding a script, checkbook or a sledgehammer for a photo shoot showing “Glitterloft” construction, Mollison is all about having a good time.
“We’re hiring artists and putting contractors to work,” the Impresario says. “We continue to have fun and do things that I’ve been passionate about, that people love, and that’s why we are investing so much money.”
Longtime Neil Diamond tribute artist Rob Garrett has found a home at Alexis Park. Billed as an “indefinite residency,” Garrett is performing at 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. Steve Gerard is on keys, Sheila Cloud on drums, with a set list certain to tickle Diamond fans.
Cool Hang Alert
Column fave Skye Dee Miles is at Easy’s Cocktail Lounge at Aria on Monday, Friday and Saturday night. Miles rules these cabaret scenes. Easy’s is open 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursdays through Mondays. Reservations are “strongly encouraged.” Go to Easysvegas.com for info.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.