The highly irreverent and wildly popular Spiegelworld show “Absinthe” is set to return to its tent at Caesars Palace on March 17, marking another COVID-era comeback for Las Vegas Strip productions that previously reopened in the fall only to close down again when statewide restrictions limited audiences to just 50 people heading into the holiday season.
Several resurrected Strip shows shut down again as soon as Gov. Steve Sisolak initiated the statewide pause around Thanksgiving that dramatically reduced showroom capacities, but “Absinthe” kept live performances going until mid-December, when the pause was extended and Spiegelworld officials assessed that the show was simply losing too much money to continue. It had reopened on October 28, the second Strip casino production show to come back after “X Country” at Harrah’s on Oct. 22.
When it returns on St. Patrick’s Day, “Absinthe” will perform at 7 and 9 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Tickets start at $149 and a new VIP table offering is priced at $1,000, including a bottle of Dom Perignon Champagne.
As of February 15, new restrictions allow showrooms and theaters to host 35% of the venue’s capacity or 100 people, whichever is less. State plans call for another increase on March 15, if COVID infection rates remain low, to 50% of the venue’s capacity or 250 people, which would mark a return to pre-pause levels. The Spiegeltent in front of Caesars Palace housing “Absinthe” formerly accommodated 660 guests per show.
Spiegelworld’s website notes its other two Strip shows, “Opium” at the Cosmopolitan and “Atomic Saloon Show” at Palazzo, will be reopening soon. But a statement from company founder Ross Mollison in today’s announcement indicates those comebacks are conditional.
“While we’re thrilled for ‘Absinthe’ to return, the largest obstacle ahead for us in getting our other two shows … back onstage, like many other producers in town, is the 25-foot ‘live entertainment moat’ that makes staging a show in an intimate venue nearly impossible,” Mollison said. “We hope that by demonstrating the efficacy of science-backed health and safety practices, including masks worn by guests and staff at all times, we can be given the same consideration as restaurant or cocktail lounge venues which don’t require such distance.”
The controversial 25-foot rule, a required distance between the stage and the closest audience member at all ticketed entertainment events, has prevented other small room shows from returning to live performances on and off the Strip. For example, Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club at the MGM Grand originally reopened in November in two larger ballroom spaces upstairs near the Grand Garden Events Center, a temporary solution to allow stand-up shows for larger audiences that wouldn’t fit in the club with the 25-foot distance. When audience size was restricted to 50 people, the club’s operations eventually moved back into the actual club. Now that larger crowds are allowed, the comedy shows have returned to the ballroom spaces.
The return of “Absinthe” is also significant because Spiegelworld had implemented additional safety efforts beyond what has been mandated and potentially created new trends for entertainment events in Las Vegas. It reshuffled the seating arrangement in the Spiegeltent by using only distanced cabaret tables and installed no-contact temperature checks and quick verbal health screenings for all guests and created a cashless, QR-code based cocktail service system to eliminate lines at bars.