Resilience is one thing, but creativity is another.
Magicians Steven and Cassandra Best ran a modest little magic show in makeshift spaces for more than three years before getting their shot on the slightly less modest “real” stage at the Plaza.
A lot of bigger, splashier magic shows came and went while they soldiered on. Do we ignore them at our peril this time?
It apparently would not put them out of business. But you wouldn’t be missing much either.
Was there something that made the cheekily titled “Superstars of Magic” special in a converted restaurant at the Las Vegas Club, and more recently, a small comedy room at the Plaza?
Midway through the Bests’ dated, generic magic show in the Plaza’s official showroom, I started to wonder about those earlier efforts I never saw.
The appeal of this 13-week test run seems limited to youngsters (they’re free with a paid parent) who have never seen the classic illusions performed before. It was all so ordinary and out of step with contemporary, personality-driven magic, I thought maybe something got lost in that stretch of casino floor between the comedy club and the showroom.
Perhaps it was better when you were scrunched right in front of them, making eye contact, and scrutinizing the sleight-of-hand at close range. And a smaller room wouldn’t take away the one thing that makes Steven and Cassandra different from their Las Vegas competition: the fact that they are a couple and divide the workload.
He’s the one popping a balloon to reveal a dove. She’s the one opening a box to reveal she had predicted where a guy from the audience would take her on a dream date.
Together, they scrunch their two female dancers into contraptions that get squeezed or split into various shapes, making them vanish or switch places with one of them. And there are no white tigers, but a cockatoo.
The dullness came more from the stock illusions than the couple. I’ve seen magicians (male and female) with more expensive hardware but less personality. The Bests are at ease onstage and seem like nice enough folks. Still, they tend to talk side by side to the audience instead of trying to get a “Steve and Eydie of magic” chemistry going (there is in fact a Reno-based couple, Kalin &Jinger, who do that very well).
The illusions unfold like a magic primer. The music cues are so old you welcome a shot of “Gangnam Style” to confirm you didn’t go back in time. There’s no individual flair to connect it all in the way of their guest star, Max Clever. His very-welcome 20 minutes comes with actual jokes.
Clever got a TV makeover on “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” so long ago people may not even remember the show that launched the Food Network’s ubiquitous Ted Allen. But Clever needs to bring those gay guys back, or at least show his co-star couple the old video and try to talk them out of their eyesore wardrobe and into some new threads.
Today’s superstars of magic don’t have much in common (and that kind of explains their success). But you sure don’t see any of them wearing those funky spangled waistcoats any more.
Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0288.