When it comes to shows on the Las Vegas Strip, a unique theater space has become almost as important as what’s happening onstage. It’s the reason Caesars Palace just renovated the Colosseum, and Cirque du Soleil has done it from the beginning; you can see the evolution from the Mystére Theatre at Treasure Island to the recently refashioned R.U.N Theater at Luxor.
“The space is really important,” says Spiegelworld impresario Ross Mollison. “A lot of people bring a show in and put it into a showroom, but we built the Absinthe theater [tent] and we built a whole theater and restaurant when we launched Vegas Nocturne. Having a space that envelops the theatrical experience is important to us.”
Spiegelworld’s latest production takes the “immersive theater” tag to another level, thanks to a truly unique Strip venue that has been saturated with creativity and memorable details. Atomic Saloon Show opened in a third-floor space at the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian in early September and quickly caught fire with its sexy and hilarious cast of characters presenting a bawdy, modern and clever version of a Wild West-style cabaret.
But you could make a case that the space is the star. Formerly the Act nightclub located at the Palazzo side of the Grand Canal Shoppes, the Atomic Saloon is a two-story Victorian theater loaded with winding hallways, multiple bars, fascinating décor and secret rooms for VIPs and special events.
Upon entering, you’ll first notice the Traveler’s Bar, which boasts a serious cocktail menu and is open to everyone; you don’t need a ticket to the show to drink here. Also on this lower level is the Disco Room, a ’70s-style lounge with a collection of vinyl records, the tiniest dancefloor and an outdoor patio overlooking the Palazzo’s porte-cochere and Treasure Island.
The upstairs bar is called Robin’s Nest (named for the late Robin Leach), and there you can sit and enjoy a proper cocktail—an uncommon experience in a Vegas showroom. The corner space above stage left houses Mollison’s box, complete with plush sofas, custom artwork and a stripper pole. The second level also conceals the Opium Room, a close encounter coated in silver used as a celebrity hideaway or for bachelor or bachelorette parties.
The results of all these venue innovations and interesting discoveries go beyond a thrilling show experience that creates repeat visitation. It’s a great example of the current Strip trend merging nightlife with theater. Atomic Saloon Show is seeing guests stay after the early show, lingering at the bars until the late show begins, and Mollison is OK with that.
“It’s set up so you can go in and enjoy the environment before the show, and we can possibly open this venue up at 1 or 2 in the morning for people to just hang out,” he says. “We didn’t want the distraction of that when we launched the show, but we are making plans for that.”
Spiegelworld has been working on the same thing with Absinthe at Caesars Palace, installing the Electric Oak tree outside the tent and building new, better bars to keep people partying when the show is over.
Since Atomic Saloon’s venue was originally designed as a nightclub, Spiegelworld worked through challenges in creating its show space and situating the audience. It seats approximately 245 and offers a wide variety of perspectives, including cozy booths on the floor and comfy stools perched on the balcony. That means your experience will be a little different every time.
ATOMIC SALOON SHOW Monday-Tuesday, 8 p.m.; Thursday-Sunday, 7 & 9 p.m.; $48-$128. Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian, 702-414-9000.