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September 21, 2014

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Absinthe’ now a permanent (or at least open-ended) fixture on the Strip

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Christopher DeVargas

The Gazillionaire and Penny Pibbets from “Absinthe.”

'Absinthe': March 28, 2012

Melody Sweets performs during the Wednesday, March 28, 2012, performance of Launch slideshow »

The Gazillionaire & Penny Pibbets

The Gazillionaire and Penny Pibbets from Launch slideshow »
Click to enlarge photo

"Absinthe" cast members Angel Porrino, Melody Sweets and Genevieve Landry wait to enter the stage area for the finale at Caesars Palace on Friday, Oct. 28, 2011.

“Absinthe” is sort of like the game of baseball. Not for the excessive use of pine tar, but because of its very structure.

Baseball is expected to be finite, lasting a total of nine innings. But baseball fans know that the game sometimes lasts longer, sometimes far longer, than those nine innings.

Theoretically, a baseball game can last forever.

Same with “Absinthe,” as we have learned just this week. “Absinthe” is about to become a permanent show at Caesars Palace. Permanent, in theory of course, because nothing lasts forever (just ask the “Phantom” cast about that). But certainly permanent in the sense that the contract between the show’s producers and Caesars Entertainment is now open-ended.

A contract that was originally set to term out in October now has no end, no tent post, as it were. Spiegelworld, BASE Entertainment and Caesars Entertainment representatives (along with “Absinthe” cast and crew members) are anticipating proper permit approval from Clark County officials to allow the show to remain in place for a long as it wants.

That should happen any day now. The show signed what was accepted as a one-year extension to remain at Caesars Palace last September, though no formal end date was ever disclosed. The original commitment upon the show's opening was for a six-month run.

This is all about the antiquated structure that is home to “Absinthe,” which should come as no surprise. The physical integrity of that structure has dictated the long-term viability of the show since it opened in the spring of 2011. The venue is a tent by definition, but referring to it as such seems a little lacking. It’s a standalone, heavily reinforced, in-the-round theater where the city’s most inventive production is staged.

But the problem with holding a show in such a facility is that the structure, no matter how solidly built, is not always stable enough to withstand severe weather. Nor is not ideally suited for the advanced staging technology required in a Strip production.

At the end of “Absinthe’s” original run last September, heavy rains created little pools atop the show's first antique tent and caused the structure to sag. Three shows were wiped out, and subsequently a new, sturdier venue was built so that the show could be staged at Caesars year-round. Just last month, a malfunction with that tent’s electrical system activated the venue’s sprinkler system. Five shows were wiped out as the system was reset and water mopped from the theater.

But at the end of this process, it is happy news that “Absinthe” is now a fixed production on the Strip. It is certainly a singularly entertaining production, filled with daring circus acts and bawdy humor. One change is being made: The Skating Kerkorians are leaving the show, and the skating act from Spiegelworld’s New York City production, “Empire,” are joining the Las Vegas cast (rolling skaters in and out of the show has become something of an “Absinthe” hallmark). Expect performers to come and go as “Absinthe” turns the calendar on the Strip, and I’d bet that one of its more prominent members won’t be in the show by year’s end.

You can guess who. We’re not saying -- yet -- because, like the show in question, we like a little chicanery.

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

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