A Modern Legend in Vegas, Spiegelworld’s Ross Mollison Looks Back on 10+ Years in Sin City and What’s Next
In a city that seems to have explored every possible entertainment permutation, it takes quite a production to cause a stir. Yet Las Vegas-based Spiegelworld has been a consistent Sin City disruptor since debuting “Absinthe” – a refreshingly irreverent blend of circus, burlesque, and vaudeville – at Caesars Palace in 2011, and continues to evolve both its existing shows and entirely new concepts.
“When people come to Vegas, they want something different,” said Spiegelworld’s charismatic Australian founder and Impresario Extraordinaire, Ross Mollison. “They’re looking for a unique experience, and I think that’s where we come in.”
Spiegelworld unveiled its debaucherous, outer-spacey “Opium” at the Cosmopolitan in 2018. Then came the comedically sexy, Wild West-themed “Atomic Saloon Show” at the Venetian’s Grand Canal Shoppes the following year. Last fall, the company debuted its first dining-entertainment concept, Superfrico, at the Cosmo. The throughlines are Spiegelworld’s signature wit, good-natured subversion, and customizable, grown-up fun.
Spiegelworld takes its name and core concept from 19th century Belgian spiegeltents – large tents decorated with mirrors that served as mobile dance halls. Mollison began producing immersive Spiegelworld productions in New York City in 2006, with “Absinthe” debuting inside a 650-seat spiegeltent at Caesars Palace five years later. The ongoing but consistently updated production was declared “the No. 1 greatest show in Las Vegas history” by Las Vegas Weekly in 2016.
“Spiegel itself is a mirror. And I love the fact that it’s a reflection of you; it’s a reflection of everybody on stage; it’s a reflection of what’s happening,” said Mollison. “To put a circus in such an intimate environment, in the round, is a really extraordinary experience.”
Spiegelworld has grown bigger by staying smaller. At a time when much of the entertainment world was focused on ever-larger productions, Mollison boldly ventured in the opposite direction. Spiegelworld presents world-class-caliber talent in cozy settings with tiny stages. “Absinthe” has a stage the size of a large dining table, and both “Opium” and “Atomic Saloon Show” seat only around 200 people. Yet Mollison travels the globe seeking inspiration and performers, and to workshop in-development Spiegelworld productions (he spoke to us from Scotland’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe).
In 2021, Spiegelworld opened Superfrico adjacent to the OPIUM Theatre in the Cosmopolitan’s Chelsea Tower. The one-off eatery offers an adventurous “Italian-American Psychedelic” menu amidst walls of eclectic artworks and innumerable impromptu amusements, including performers spontaneously spilling over from the theatre next door and into the restaurant itself.
The Superfrico experience can be curated for each guest. You can grab a single cocktail or stay all night. If you’re running late, don’t worry – they’ll get you into “Opium” on time and still have a table waiting for you afterwards. Guests can eat elsewhere and just catch the show, or even hit up the side bar, Ski Lodge, for some wintery fun. It’s intended for today’s Vegas visitors, who average only three nights in town and want to pack in as much as possible.
Mollison’s extravagant mind constantly has new visions for Vegas, the latest being “DiscoShow,” which Spiegelworld plans to debut at the purpose-built Glitterloft at the LINQ Hotel on New Year’s Eve. Conceived in partnership with legendary disco godfather Nile Rodgers of Chic, its LED floor and walls will immerse guests in the 1970s heyday of New York discotheques in a transportive, visceral manner that extends far beyond mere nostalgia.
“It’s going to be intimate, and it’s going to be comedic and fun,” said Mollison. “It’s going to be beautiful, and it’s going to be musical. And it’s only going to be in Las Vegas.”
While Spiegelworld has been a runaway Sin City success (Mollison said Superfrico had 11,000 full reservations as of late summer), its focus remains on creating fresh, one-of-a-kind experiences rather than simply scaling up existing ventures.
“We’re not trying to make ourselves for everybody,” said Mollison. “We’re trying to make ourselves for that market who is adventurous and is looking for something new.”
-Paul Rogers, Vegas Guide Writer