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December 19, 2014

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Skaters’ defection to ‘V’ means others are taking shots at ‘Absinthe’

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Tom Donoghue/DonoghuePhotography.com

The Skating Aratas, shown during an appearance in “Absinthe” at Caesars Palace.

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  • Jubilee, David Saxe and Tiger Martina
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  • Gazillionaire, Penny and Stephanie Dianna Sanchez
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Absinthe at Caesars Palace

Absinthe at Caesars Palace. Launch slideshow »

'Vegas! The Show' First Anniversary

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Black magic woman: Melinda "The First Lady of Magic" Saxe stopped performing in 2002 and moved to Arizona but is planning a return to Las Vegas.

Neither “Absinthe” nor “V – The Ultimate Variety Show” features an act depicting a tug-of-war, but maybe they should.

The announcement Thursday that “Absinthe” would be returning to the Roman Plaza at Caesars Palace has sparked a spirited competition between that show and “V” for circus-inspired, variety-show supremacy in Las Vegas.

“Absinthe” has been a media and fan favorite since it opened at Caesars six months ago, while during that span, “V” has been outshone even by its own sister production, “Vegas! The Show.”

Both shows are produced by David Saxe. “V” is staged at V Theater at Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood. “Vegas! The Show” is down the walkway at Saxe Theater. For more than a year, “Vegas! The Show,” loaded with top talent and an impressive array of vintage Vegas set pieces, has been drawing most of the attention among the cache of shows in the Saxe entertainment empire.

But without fanfare, the longtime Vegas producer also has been toiling away while revamping “V” to go toe-to-toe -- or more appropriately, skate-to-skate -- with “Absinthe.”

Today, Saxe and a spokesman for “Absinthe” confirmed that the Skating Aratas are no longer going to be in the tented showcase at Caesars. Saxe said he has signed the husband-and-wife team of Vittorio and Geniia Arata, and the two will be featured in a bolstered version of “V – The Ultimate Variety Show” that will relaunch in mid-October. Or at around the time “Absinthe,” with a different skating act and a more structurally sound performance tent, debuts.

“What (the Aratas) will be doing for us will be better by far than what we saw in ‘Absinthe,’ ” Saxe said during a phone conversation Thursday afternoon. “It’ll be more up-and-down, more dangerous. They’ll step it up, if that’s possible.”

Saxe said the Aratas approached his show as they were left without a contract beyond the original six-month run of “Absinthe.” By the time the show had secured proper approval to continue business at Caesars Palace, it was too late. They had, to borrow a term, skated off to the competition.

Also in the Saxe show is his sister, Melinda The First Lady of Magic, who has not performed in a ticketed show anywhere since her days at the Venetian in 2001. She left for Arizona to start a family but has been lured back by her brother, whose first job as a teenage producer was her show at Bourbon Street.

Saxe promises a refurbished production and theater space within the month at Miracle Mile Shops.

“We’ll have a new stage, a giant LED wall, and we’re looking forward to a big relaunch,” Saxe said. “We wanted ‘Vegas! The Show’ to be the best show in town, and now we want ‘V’ to be in that class, too.”

As for “Absinthe,” aside from the Skating Aratas, the full compliment of acts that have made that show so appealing are set to return. That includes the Gazillionaire, Penny Pibbets, Melody Sweets, the Esteemed Gentlemen of the High Wire and Angel Porrino, brought in during its original six-month run to perform her topless tapping-in-a-bubble routine.

Thus far, the show has been rightfully viewed as an underdog to the formidable influence of Cirque du Soleil. Now it faces competition from a somewhat unexpected source, with one of its own signature acts leading the challenge.

It should be fun, which at the end of the show -– both shows, in this instance -- is the whole point.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at twitter.com/KatsWithTheDish.

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