‘CELESTIA’ Is Poised To Rise Again

Classic-style circus seeks new venue for its glorious tent extravaganza…


In the realms of media and show business, one of the most gratifying phrases you can use is “I told you so”. And this particular writer is looking forward to announcing in the near future that Intrigue Shows has found a new home for CELESTIA, the wonderfully-entertaining spectacle that launched at The STRAT during the summer of 2019.

When the pandemic swept through Sin City, its impact was devastating. Companies filed for bankruptcy, long-established productions announced permanent closure, and cast and crew from all facets of entertainment scattered like petals in the wind.

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At one point I was compelled to assemble a list of the shows I felt were most and least likely to return….along with a bunch that could topple to either side of the fence. I may have swung a bit broadly on some, but others were home runs. On my “Most Likely To Return” collection was the fledgling CELESTIA. Here’s what I said on April 13th of last year:


My insiders at CELESTIA assure me that the fledgling big-top production is on solid ground. STRAT Hotel Casino has a strong financial stake. which seems to be a common thread in the current make-or-break environment. Four-wallers (independent contractors) will suffer while casino-owned shows are likely to last. It all comes down to money.


EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE NEW ‘CELESTIA’ STAR VIP EXPERIENCE

While the reason for my faith in CELESTIA‘s return might not have been correct (The STRAT is now willing to part with the tent-based production), there’s no denying that a family-friendly circus with a desirable price point has built-in appeal for post-COVID Vegas. That’s why the show’s General Manager Kim Scott (formerly of Cirque du Soleil) has dedicated every available resource to making sure the CELESTIA tent reaches towards Vegas skies once more.

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Here’s the letter that Ms. Scott sent out to all 88 cast members, technicians, ushers, front-of-house and other crew just this afternoon. The email was motivated by an article from one of my colleagues, who yesterday announced the show’s permanent closure despite the lack of a formal statement:


Hello Everyone with Celestia,

I hope this finds you all well and enjoying the reopening of Las Vegas.

I want to give you an update on the status of Celestia and its future in Las Vegas. As you know, COVID hit many businesses hard and our company ownership has tasked me with finding new ownership for the tent and show.

I have been working nonstop to source a buyer for the tent and a company interested in running the show. I want you to know that finding a new home for Celestia has been my only priority during the shutdown.

We do have a few companies interested in the tent and a potential company interested in operating Celestia.  While I cannot guarantee that Celestia will return to the stage, I can ensure you that I am working to make that happen for all of you.  I can confirm that Celestia and the tent will not remain at The STRAT and will be relocated until a new owner can be identified. The move will happen within the next few weeks.  

I want to sincerely thank all of you for your patience as I work to navigate the next steps focus and your courage and commitment to Celestia during this past year.

Please don’t fall into the rumor mill of Las Vegas. If you have any questions, please reach out to me directly.

Kim Scott

General Manager Intrigue Shows, Inc.


Regular readers will remember that I’ve published a number of articles about CELESTIA, from a stellar original review to an insider’s view via their STAR VIP EXPERIENCE (with onstage seating) and a profile of their latest electrifying cast addition, DUO TRANSCEND from America’s Got Talent.

As an avid supporter of every hard-working individual who dedicates their talents both behind the scenes and onstage, I’m excited for the possibilities awaiting those involved with CELESTIA.

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Support from large corporations and casinos may come and go with wildly unpredictable results. But Intrigue Shows, and Kim Scott in particular, have years of experience behind them. They know the do’s, the don’t’s, and B.S. that get tossed around by big-talkers. They’re independent thinkers with a passionate desire to put on an old-fashioned spectacle….just what we need in today’s turbulent environment.

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Photo by Cipriano Moreno Aparicio

Don’t count out CELESTIA just yet. You might be in for a pleasant surprise.

Photos: Sam Novak, Intrigue Shows, Cipriano Moreno Aparicio

‘APÉRO’ is a Sexy New Way to Get Your Vegas On

European-influenced acrobatic production packs a lot of flirtation into a gorgeously lush showroom…


“Love comes from the most unexpected places.” – Barbra Streisand

It was inevitable. With Cirque du Soleil on an ongoing hiatus and both ZUMANITY and Le Reve – The Dream shuttering forever, it was only a matter of time before some of their top-level talent came together to create something new. And as I’ve said many times before, COVID-19 has had an ancillary effect of spurring creativity. Combine those two elements, drop them into a stunning cabaret and you have APÉRO, a delightful new show at Baobab Stage in Town Square.

APÉRO‘s premise is built around aperatif, the oh-so-French tradition of early-evening libations and nibbles (something you’re invited to partake of at Baobab Cafe adjacent to the showroom). An ultra-hot cast of three men and three women meet, greet, flirt, switch around…and try to impress each other with feats of grace and strength. A threadbare concept to be sure, but who cares when the antics are this sexy?

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APÉRO is geared towards adults, but there’s no nudity (the guys do get shirtless, thank goodness) or anything overtly sexual. Just a bunch of charming young people strutting their impressive bodies skills and having a great time.

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The sensual atmosphere and strikingly-appointed Baobab Stage create a total escape from reality. You’ll believe that you’re in a vintage European cabaret. I was hard-pressed to look away from the stunning wall coverings, overstuffed love seats, ornate light fixtures and artwork. A 20-minute intermission allows you to drink in the settings and indulge in another aperatif or share a bottle of wine with your companion.  But….back to the show.

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The cast of APÉRO is a veritable who’s who of the athletic arts. Towering Damir Mouzdybaev is 6 feet, 3 inches of chiseled muscle who opens the production. Lithe, God-like, and sensual, he guides the cast through their various interactions…and has his own adventures along the way. Damir was most recently in Le Reve – The Dream, and has performed in Ringling Brothers and “Marvel Universe Live”

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Damir Mouzdybaev (with Angelique Janowski), photography by @benjaminhphoto

Aerial hoop artist/dancer/choreographer Angelique Janowski spent several years at ZUMANITY until the pandemic clipped the show’s wings. Undeterred, she and a few colleagues formed Visionary Pack Collective, which produces APÉRO. A graduate of two art schools in France,. Ms. Janowski performed hundred of hours for audiences in Paris before coming to Las Vegas. 

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Angelique Janowski

Dazzling Natsumi Miyazaki performed in Le Reve alongside Damir Mouzdybaev, where the two of them soared through the air and danced on water. APÉRO finds the award-winning synchronized swimmer airborne once more, this time via an amusing pole sequence. Her charming character is a little sassy, a little sweet, and a whole lotta “wow”.

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Natsumi Miyazaki, photo by Charles Lohman

Beefy, brooding Roman Tomanov is the “bad boy” of the cast. Decked out in a leather jacket and ribbed tank shirt, he performs gymnastic feats, then takes flight for the aerial straps. Roman has been in the casts of ABSINTHE and   (by Cirque du Soleil), along with Cirque’s KURIOS and LE NOIR in Tokyo.

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Roman Tomanov strikes a pose in APÉRO

Mongolian contortionist Tsatsral Erdenebileg will have you gasping with her stunning flexibility. That’s certainly what occurred when the audience I was a part of saw her abilities. You’ll be awed, amazed, and perhaps even cringing when you witness what this Guinness World recordholder can achieve. Tsatsral also comes to APÉRO by way of ZUMANITY.

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Tsatsral Erdenebileg is APÉRO’s stunning contortionist…

Is it possible for juggling to be sexy? If the performer is Vladislav Miagkostoupov, then the answer is a resounding “Yes”! Part clown, part underdog, and the “nice boy” of the troupe, Vladislav combines dancing and juggling into a hysterical mixture which defines his signature style. The European acrobat entertained Vegas audiences in ZOMBIE BURLESQUE and V: The Ultimate Variety Show before landing on his feet at Baobab Stage.

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Vladik Miagkostoupov will juggle his way to your funnybone…

There is plenty of DNA from ZUMANITY behind the scenes of APÉRO, too. Niccole Dunn, co-founder of Visionary Pack Collective, spent seventeen years at Cirque‘s first adults-only show. Skilled at backstage duties and wardrobe design, Niccole created the costumes for APÉRO and is entrenched in making the public aware of their new production.

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Pavel Gurov…

Pavel Gurov serves as Artistic Director/Acrobatic Advisor, and Jorge Salomone (Niccole Dunn’s husband) is Technical Director. Salmone was involved in the video elements of ZUMANITY, and Gurov is a performing artist himself.

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The Baobab Cafe, Boutique and Showroom are all operated by Wassa Coulibaly, who spent several years as a dancer at New York NY‘s resident Cirque show. In some ways, she seems to have become the de facto “mom” of this ambitious endeavor, and shares the Collective’s enthusiasm.

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Wassa Coulibaly

The fact that APÉRO was born from the shockwaves of an international pandemic isn’t forgotten by the cast and creative team. All performers wear masks during the show, the audience is capped out within legal limits, and there’s even a COVID-19 protocols/procedures page on the show’s official website.

Final bows after a recent performance…

With live entertainment just now ramping up after almost a year of darkened stages, the producers knew they had to work long-term sustainability into their model:

Visionary Pack Collective was born of a small group of artists and industry professionals eager to create something sustainable and beautiful in this unprecedented time. The Baobab Stage is a cool small theatre and we wanted to make a show that would feel huge in this space, and give the audience the feeling of seeing something truly extraordinary in a way they could not have in the past. The show combines extraordinary talent and all the trappings of a
production usually seen on grand stages and in arenas playing to thousands.

So when you’re ready to rediscover the magic of sensual circus artistry, head to Town Square on South Las Vegas Boulevard and immerse yourself in an evening with APÉRO.

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APÉRO performs Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 7pm. The show runs approximately 90 minutes with intermission. Tickets are $50.00 (plus tax/fees) and can be ordered here

Photos: Sam Novak, APÉRO, cast members via Facebook

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rant: I Don’t Need Your Approval To Have An Opinion


There’s always a price to pay for being honest…

For the past two years, I’ve had the opportunity to write for a couple of different publications. One is an online ticketing site that publishes show articles and helpful visitor information (currently it’s in limbo). The other is a well-regarded print magazine found in the majority of Las Vegas hotel rooms, pre-COVID. It’s only available online for now.

When the pandemic upheaval is over and tourists return en masse (with luck), I hope to regain those freelance positions. They gave me the opportunity to learn, reach larger audiences, research unfamiliar artists and discover subjects that might otherwise have dodged my radar. They were also gainful employment, since this blog is a passion project, not a revenue generator.

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Please read all precautions before proceeding…

Before accepting those jobs, I made it clear that I would continue maintaining Vegas Unfiltered Blog, which doesn’t always present things through rose-colored glasses. It felt necessary to make one thing clear: as a hired writer, I’d be wearing a different hat for them, separate from my personal site. When I’m paid to write for you, I work for you.

Seems simple, doesn’t it? Well, not so fast. The arrangement was working well for all involved (at least to my knowledge) until Cirque du Soleil decided to follow Criss Angel – Mindfreak Live with an even worse abomination called R.U.N. It premiered in Luxor‘s showroom in the fall of 2019 to horrendous reviews from critics and audiences alike.

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As the fates would have it, I  was assigned articles on R.U.N. for each of my paid gigs. Having seen this travesty, I decided to delay my own review until the others were submitted. The paid pieces didn’t require my opinion…just descriptions, what the production involved, types of acts, specifics on the plot, where it was located, etc.

The funny thing about this is the subsequent negative feedback I received. For instance, some dim bulb going by the name of @butterpunker tweeted “I’ll be honest. After reading the online reviews and then reading your review, I’m less inclined to trust anything you write about shows anymore.”

Guess what, genius…they weren’t reviews!

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Then I published an actual opinion piece, which you can see here. And yes, it was so scathing that I called R.U.N. “an epic disaster. An ugly, inconsistent, poorly-planned and sloppily-executed mess that lies there like a dead body in a ditch.”

So, my question to you is this…are people so stupid that they can’t tell the difference between a review and a so-called “puff piece”? A tourism magazine/website is there to present you with vacation options, then YOU decide what to spend your money on. A blog is a whole different ball of wax. But in this day of internet courage, emboldened armchair critics can hop onto Yelp and eviscerate a business from the safety of their laptop. Or call a critic out for doing the very thing he/she is meant to do.

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After that stupid scene went down, a marvelous and professional editor at one of the freelance outlets expressed concern. He/she asked a few sensible questions and we discussed shows/celebrities/subjects to avoid in order to prevent future backlash. Very considerate and supportive, they were. And it felt wonderful.

There have been many times when I’ve been confronted, either online or in person, after publishing an unflattering review. I’ve been accused of causing harm to livelihoods, putting people out of work, and threatening the security of entire productions. Somehow the blame for a bad show often gets put on little old me.

Show business is one of high risk. The chances of being a part of something successful are very slim. For every thirty or so television programs that debut each fall, only a handful get a second season. Movie studios can spend upwards of $300 million on a film that ends up playing to empty theater auditoriums. Nothing is a guaranteed hit. That’s just the way show business works.

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In Las Vegas, it’s not unusual for twenty or more shows to give their final bows in any given year (2020 was a bloodbath, but that was different). When a production shuts down, it’s not the fault of the actors, set designers, lighting technicians or costumers. But small-scale blogger Sam Novak often gets the blame.

Yesterday, a colleague in the entertainment industry attacked me for my opinions on the terrible Star Trek: Discovery television series. He accused me of causing harm to the industry, the actors, the directors and the entire CBS All-Access platform. Wow, who knew I was this powerful? Yeah, right…

His next words were what got to me the most: “You better hope that you don’t rely on Paramount, Warner Bros, or CBS for anything, because they won’t like what you wrote”. To which I responded “Don’t put out shit, and you won’t get shit from me. Especially on a fledgling, failing pay site that’s already in its death throes and about to be re-branded.”

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Apparently, I upset the cast and crew of Star Trek: Discovery…

I won’t compromise my integrity to please people in the entertainment industry. There are plenty of critics in Las Vegas who already do that. Most of them are high-profile names that attend nearly every function, often get onto the microphone themselves, and walk the line between journalist and celebrity. And they RARELY give an unflattering review.

I personally don’t care if people like my published critiques. They’re honest and brutal, whether favorable or not. I like what I like, hate things that suck to me, and I speak out to praise or warn. It’s my responsibility as an entertainment writer to share the emotions, reactions, and thought processes experienced from a meal/hotel stay/performer/activity.

In 2017, I was offered a position at an established tourism site. I accepted on the condition of full autonomy, so that I could be truthful about subjects that personally mattered and would hopefully have value to my readers. The webmaster agreed to that condition, yet of my first three articles, two were considered “too controversial” and she refused to publish them.

“We supposed to be encouraging people to come here and spend money” this Pollyana told me. My response was something along the lines of “You also have a responsibility to paint an authentic picture…and to honor your arrangement with your writers.” She scoffed, I walked, and within two hours, VegasUnfilteredBlog was born.

When I relocated from Oregon to Las Vegas, I promised to continue this column from the perspective of a visitor. Your discretionary income is too hard to come by, and you deserve to spend it wisely. I have no problem saying that The Vegas Room is an awesome supper club, The Garage is the best value for your cocktail budget, and Magic Mike Live is the worst pile of feces since….R.U.N. 

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“Hey, over here! We’re the worst show on the Strip” – MAGIC MIKE LIVE

The late media personality Robin Leach was guilty of publishing lots of flattery and fluff in his final years. Public relations firms knew to give Robin an “exclusive” when they needed a boost for their client. I’m not Robin, although I certainly appreciated his flair when it came to arm candy. The guy never went anywhere without a babe on each arm. A cool and iconic man, but not an objective critic. May he rest in peace.

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Robin referred to me as “The gay guy from Oregon”. Funny man…

No amount of money is going to make me switch to autopilot. If you want your reviews and opinions to be thoroughly researched, deeply detailed and backed up by facts, Vegas Unfiltered Blog is the place to be. Thanks for being a loyal reader. Best wishes in 2021.