Las Vegas, known as “The Entertainment Capital of the World” is the number 1 tourist destination of the United States. In 2022, forty million tourists (over 100,000 per day) spent 45 billion dollars there.
Numerous luxury resorts line the Strip and the Downtown areas, each more opulent than the last and each with its own pool, casino, food court, shops, restaurants, and theaters.
There are two versions of Las Vegas, side by side occupying the same space like separate but equal universes. One is the family friendly Vegas with roller coasters, children’s shows, and kiddie pools. The other is the lurid Vegas overlapping the other with gambling, drinking, drugs, smoking, burlesque shows, strippers, and four-letter word comedians.
And they both have jugglers.
The shows are always changing, new shows are added, old shows are removed or remodeled, performers are switched around, fired, replaced, and promoted. There is a lot of work and the performers are well paid and treated well. But it’s a demanding lifestyle and tough to maintain for a long term commitment.
The Spiegelworld show, “Atomic Saloon” is being performed twice a night, 5 times per week in the theater of The Venetian resort. The theme of the show is,”Way Out West.” They got cowboys, cowgirls, country music, dirty jokes, and sexy nuns. The custom-made theater puts you in an old-time saloon with swinging doors and six-shooters. Enter the star dancehall girl, Fanny.
Fanny aims to please. Fanny is played by Geraldine Philadelphia, an award winning juggler. In 2019 she won the Silver Prize at the International Circus Festival in Vietnam. Her prop of choice is hula hoops. She spins them 4, 5, and 6 at a time vertically and horizontally.
But toss juggling is her forté. She juggles 3 and 4 in a variety of patterns. She balances a hoop on her head and spins one on her ankle while juggling 4 in a fountain. She drops the balance into the pattern and juggles five in a cascade. The contrast of the chaos all around and her precision skill is astonishing.
Cirque du Soleil is doing well in Vegas with no less than seven separate resident productions being performed nightly, each in a different resort. The newest and most comedic (which opened in May 2022) is “Mad Apple” now showing in the New York, New York resort/hotel.
The opening act for Mad Apple, is Adam Kuchler. Adam was a featured juggler for The Big Apple Circus in 2018. His prop of choice is colorful cigar boxes. First a fast paced routine with three, showing take-aways, tosses to balances, and pirouettes. Then grab and trap with sixteen boxes. Adam is from Milwaukee. He has performed in 47 US states and 14 countries. In 2012 he received a prize for clowning at the International Circus Festival in Spain.
Other acts in Mad Apple include basketball acrobats who flip and twist and slam dunk the ball while fancy dribbling and ball spinning, an aerialist on aerial pole, a risley foot juggling team, a shadow puppet artist using only his hands, a “Spinning Wheel of Death,” and an extended stand-up comedy routine (adults only) by Harrison Greenbaum. Manhattan native, Greenbaum won the Andy Kaufman award for originality in 2010 and the 2011 Shorty Award for excellence.
Most of the productions are performed at 7pm and 9pm showings but for a matinee 2:30pm show there is the family friendly Popovitch Pet Theater Comedy Show, six days a week in the V Theater in the Hard Rock Resort.
Gregory Popovitch was a Moscow Circus headliner, known for his 5-club backcrosses and nine ring cascade on free-standing ladder. His parents Alex and Tamara Popovitch were jugglers and dog trainers.
In his Vegas production which he has been producing successfully for over 15 years, he and his team (which includes his daughter Anastasia) present trained animal acts using shelter and rescue pets, mostly cats and dogs, but also some exotic birds and a miniature horse.
The well kept quadropeds rescue a baby (cat) from a burning building, and execute other comedic adventures.
Gregory also performs a cigar box routine, devil stick, rola bola (5 level stack), and juggles balls, rings, and clubs. He flashes 9 rings and does three and four clubs on a free-standing ladder. Popovitch is a juggler’s juggler. His precision and timing is stupefying. The overall effect of his comedic trained animals and superlative juggling is a throwback to the long lost days of Russian circus at its peak. After the show the performers are on hand to meet and greet, sign autographs and shmooze.
There’s other juggling around town as well, in Absinthe and Opium (Spiegelworld) and the constantly changing line-up at Circus Circus resort at their Midway Arcade and free stage.
If you’re looking for work or you need to laugh and be entertained, Las Vegas must be the place.