Absinthe (show)

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Absinthe Las Vegas.jpg
GenreContemporary circus
Show typeResident show
Date of premiere2006
LocationCaesars Palace, Las Vegas
Creative team
Writer and directorWayne Harrison[1]
ProducerRoss Mollison[2]
ChoreographerLucas Newland
Official website

Absinthe is a live show that premiered in 2006 and is playing on the forecourt of Caesars Palace, Las Vegas,[3] after opening on April 1, 2011. The show is hosted by The Gazillionaire,[4] played originally by actor and former Cirque du Soleil clown Voki Kalfayan[5] and his assistant, Penny Pibbets,[6] portrayed by actress Anais Thomassian.[5] In a 2011 interview in The Huffington Post writer Paul Carr stated that Anais Thomassian and Voki Kalfayan were both Armenian, "And, yes, they're a couple."[7]

A contemporary circus, the show is described by Stage and Cinema as "an uneasy cross between terrific variety acts and a stag party."[8]


Originally, Absinthe was supposed to open at the Fontainebleau Resort Las Vegas. The Fountainebleau closed and Caesars Palace allowed the producers to set up a temporary tent at the Roman Plaza.[9][10] Within 90 days of performances, after inspections by Las Vegas Fire & Rescue, the organizers were told to shut down production. Due to the success of the shows within those 90 days, Gary Selesner, president of Caesars Palace, purchased a spiegeltent[11] that met fire code standards from Germany and had it installed on site to replace the original tent.[10]

The show is directed by Wayne Harrison[1] with original choreography by Lucas Newland. It is produced by Ross Mollison[12] and owned by Spiegelworld.[11]

At the end of the show's 1,000th performance at Caesars Palace, the Absinthe cast celebrated by dressing up as zombies.[13] In April, 2014, Absinthe celebrated its 1,500th show. The show continued to run through 2019 at Caesar's Palace (and counting).[12]

Theme and features[edit]

Absinthe follows in the tradition of variety shows and vaudeville. It features burlesque performers, sideshow performers, and various international artists. It is also a parody of Cirque du Soleil and mocks aspects of the entertainment business.[11] Artists have included Melody Sweets,[14] Maxim Popazov, Atlantis, Ssens Duo, Ede Atlas Muz, Oxana Solamachuk, Duo Vector, The Esteemed Gentlemen of the High Wire[5] and Angel Porrino, who was featured on the reality TV show Holly's World.[15] Porrino was a feature act for almost three years, before the end of her involvement in March, 2014. In Absinthe, she tap danced topless in a giant balloon.[16]

There are three recurring roles in Absinthe: the Gazillionaire, Penny Pibbets and the Green Fairy. The Gazillionaire is a "sleazy snake-oil salesman...with bad teeth, bad suit, bad pointy glittery shoes." A comedian, he is the host of the show. He makes jokes at the expense of the audience and introduces the performers. The character Penny Pibbets, the assistant to the Gazillionaire and performed by Anais Thomassian,[11] performs a routine with a sock puppet that journalist Robin Leach described as "more than XXX-rated - not one word can be written here, it's that obscene!" Sweets is the personification of the green fairy. She wears a green costume and sings as she performs a burlesque style strip tease.[10] An additional character, Maxim, who is the Gazillionaire's butler, performs a chair balancing at the opening of the show.[12]

Performances are 90 minutes long[9] and take place in a 600 capacity[8] spiegeltent, with performances taking place on a stage that is only nine feet in diameter. Audience members sit in a circle around the stage, on folding chairs. Guests can drink alcohol during the show, and freely order beverages from areas in the back of the tent during the show. After the show ends, the exit opens to the beer garden at Caesars Palace.[11]


Writing in a review of Absinthe, Paul Carr of The Huffington Post, proclaimed "If I could only see one show my entire life," he said, "I'd want it to be that."[7] In 2011, it was named "Best New Show" by Vegas Seven Magazine.[17] Stage and Cinema described the show as "inevitably and thoroughly cringe-inducing," due to the vulgarity of the lead characters. Overall, the website noted a target demographic of 20- to 30-year-olds who have been "well-served alcoholically," in attendance.[8] Northwest Indiana Times writer Philip Potempa describes character Penny Pibbet's as being "too much of a vulgar approach to shocking the audience," as a character, he does, however, acknowledge the "all-so-amazing" performers, including Melody Sweets. He compares Sweets to the character of the Green Fairy played by Kylie Minogue in the 2001 film Moulin Rouge![9] Absinthe has been described as part of the burlesque revival in Las Vegas by USA Today.[18]

Gerard Butler,[19] Daniel Radcliffe,[19] Lacey Chabert,[20] Kaley Cuoco,[20] Channing Tatum,[21] James Franco,[22] Giada De Laurentiis,[22] Neil Patrick Harris and Olivia Newton-John are some of the celebrities who have attended performances of Absinthe.[10]


  1. ^ a b Hetrick, Adam (6 August 2008). "Spiegelworld Returns to Manhattan with Absinthe Aug. 6". Playbill.
  2. ^ "ABSINTHE Celebrates Two Successful Years on The Strip with a Zombie Invasion". VegasNews.com. March 30, 2013.
  3. ^ Pibbets, Penny (July 7, 2011). "Penny Pibbets' Las Vegas includes magic, clowns and 'Absinthe'". The Las Vegas Sun. Archived from the original on October 29, 2013. Retrieved October 25, 2013.
  4. ^ Domanick, Andrea (April 1, 2012). "A day in the life of the Gazillionaire and Penny Pibbets of 'Absinthe'". The Las Vegas Sun. Archived from the original on October 17, 2014. Retrieved September 7, 2013.
  5. ^ a b c Katsilometes, John (November 5, 2011). "Skating skirmish, too much anatomy raise eyebrows at returning 'Absinthe'". The Las Vegas Sun.
  6. ^ Pibbets, Penny (July 2, 2013). "Penny Pibbets: 'Absinthe' = 'Cosby Show' – sweaters + more unicorns". The Las Vegas Sun. Archived from the original on August 18, 2014. Retrieved September 7, 2013.
  7. ^ a b Carr, Paul (2011-04-17). "The Strip Diary, Day Thirteen: Strip Club Fun With the Stars of Vegas' Most Stupidly Dangerous Show". The Huffington Post.
  8. ^ a b c Zeff, Dan. "Las Vegas Theater Review: ABSINTHE (Caesars Palace)". Stage and Cinema.
  9. ^ a b c Potempa, Phil. "OFFBEAT: 'Absinthe' bawdy burlesque fun a great stage fit for Las Vegas". Off Beat. Northwest Indiana Times. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  10. ^ a b c d Leach, Robin (2014-04-16). "Wild, wacky and sexy 'Absinthe' celebrates third anniversary, 1,500-plus shows". Vegas Deluxe. Las Vegas Sun. Archived from the original on 16 July 2014. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  11. ^ a b c d e Weatherford, Mike. "Raunchy 'Absinthe' doubles as Cirque parody". Shows. Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  12. ^ a b c Leach, Robin (2014-04-17). "Photos: 'Absinthe' is sexier, raunchier than ever on third anniversary at Caesars". Vegas Deluxe. Las Vegas Sun. Archived from the original on 17 July 2014. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  13. ^ Katsilometes, John (March 29, 2013). "'Absinthe' goes zombie, but this show is very much alive". The Las Vegas Sun.
  14. ^ Domanick, Andrea (March 28, 2013). "'Absinthe' 1,000: Penny Pibbets, Melody Sweets and The Gazillionaire on hitting quadruple digits". The Las Vegas Sun. Archived from the original on October 5, 2013. Retrieved September 7, 2013.
  15. ^ Leach, Robin (April 19, 2011). "Angel Porrino debuts topless tap dancing act tonight in 'Absinthe'". The Las Vegas Sun.
  16. ^ "Angel Porrino Exits "Absinthe," Pasties, Tap Shoes, Balloon and All". Vital Vegas. 2014-04-02. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  17. ^ "Best New Show". Vegas Seven Magazine. July 28, 2011.
  18. ^ Sehlinger, Bob. "Burlesque resurges in Las Vegas". Best of Vegas. USA Today. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  19. ^ a b VegasNews.com (April 7, 2011). "Angel Porrino Joins ABSINTHE at Caesars Beginning April 19". VegasNews.
  20. ^ a b "Lacey Chabert and Kaley Cuoco Spotted at ABSINTHE in Las Vegas". VegasNews. October 2, 2012.
  21. ^ Chareunsy, Don (April 12, 2015). "Channing Tatum attends 'Absinthe' at Caesars Palace". Las Vegas Sun.
  22. ^ a b Chareunsy, Don (July 17, 2014). "'Absinthe' sock-puppet seductress Penny Pibbets talks National Sock Puppet Day". Las Vegas Sun. Archived from the original on October 13, 2014. Retrieved October 8, 2014.

External links[edit]