Three times now I’ve sat inside a tent outside Caesars Palace to watch the ridiculously raunchy spectacle Absinthe (“Theater on the Edge”), and each time I’ve found myself shaking my head, watching my jaw drop open or laughing without restraint at a joke that would likely have the more politically correct members of my family heading for the exits. I know what’s coming—that Duo Vector will find some impossible way to balance on each other, that Penny Pibbets will simulate a few less-than-savory acts with sock puppets, that the Esteemed Gentlemen of the High Wire will probably, hopefully, God-willingly make it across—but given that the entire show teeters on the edge of complete chaos, it’s possible that on any night, something might go … differently. And that’s what makes Absinthe one of the most riveting shows on the Strip.
While Caesars Palace has changed its look by adding Absinthe’s Speigeltent to its exterior, the Tropicana (“New Directions”) has really undergone a transformation, not only with its façade but also its restaurant lineup, entertainment offerings and, soon, its nightclub and dayclub, courtesy of New York’s Bagatelle. Tropicana CEO Alex Yemenidjian has led the resort through more than $100 million worth of renovations that have positioned the 55-year-old property to compete with the heavy hitters along the Strip. So far, the resort bears little resemblance to what it looked like a mere three or four years ago.
Another vintage property wears its legacy just as proudly. Although the Riviera is also in the midst of major renovations and changes as well, one thing that’s not changing is the hotel’s so-called Sinatra Suite (“The Suite Life”), a place where the Chairman of the Board once held court during his run there in the early ’90s. It’s been alleged that Sinatra ordered the staff not to look him in the eyes during his stays there. Might that be true of guests who rent his suite these days? As I often say, nothing in Las Vegas is ever truly out of reach.