New ‘Criss Angel Mindfreak’ show coming to Las Vegas Strip

Updated July 31, 2018 - 6:24 pm

Criss Angel will make his oft-anticipated move to Planet Hollywood in time for the holidays. As an early gift, the hotel is renaming its showroom for him.

The veteran Strip illusionist opens “Criss Angel Mindfreak” in Criss Angel Theater, formerly Planet Hollywood Showroom, beginning Dec. 19. Angel and Caesars Entertainment announced the move in a news release this morning. Angel’s impending move to Planet Hollywood was reported in this space in December.

Angel said in today the Dec. 19 date is a “soft” opening during the traditionally slow holiday season. He’ll likely celebrate his grand opening in January, though that date is not finalized.

“This is not me taking my Luxor show and moving it to Planet Hollywood,” Angel, who closes Oct. 28 at Luxor, said in a phone chat Tuesday morning. “This is an entirely new show. We’re renovating the theater and bringing in a whole new production.”

“Criss Angel Mindfreak” will run Wednesdays through Sundays, with tickets starting at $69 (minus fees) and going on sale 10 a.m. Friday.

Angel will have spent a decade at the pointed resort, first in “Believe” and later “Mindfreak Live.” Thus, he effectively fulfills his original, decade-long contract with Cirque du Soleil and MGM Resorts.

“It’s amazing to be back home at Planet Hollywood, where I began ‘Mindfreak’ in 2005,” Angel said in a statement earlier Tuesday. “As that TV series changed the trajectory of magic on television, I believe my new show will do the same for live performance, creating a brand-new immersive experience that the world of entertainment has never had.”

Angel promises 75 illusions with 20 new effects in his new show. He plans to tell his life story throughout the upcoming production, but as he forms this entirely new show, his cast will be different.

Gone, especially, is the previous production’s comedy elements.

Angel’s onstage sidekick, Mateo “Maestro” Amieva, will not make the move from Luxor. Amieva showcased his own “Action Man” one-man show at The Space in May. Also ending their run with Angel in October are comic great Penny Wiggins, or the dancer/magician Angel once promoted as his co-star, Chloe Crawford. All of those artists, familiar at Luxor, are seeking new frontiers after “Mindfreak Live” closes.

A tireless artist known for his work ethic and boundless ambition, Angel reshaped the original “Believe,” which opened to scathing reviews in November 2008, by stripping the show of its Cirque elements in favor grand acts he himself conceived. More favorable reviews, and audience response, followed.

“Mindfreak Live,” which opened further advanced Angel’s vision of magic-as-spectacle. That show reached back to Angel’s highly rated “Mindfreak” TV show, and he is again drawing from that series in his stage production.

Crucial to Angel’s move to Planet Hollywood is Caesars Entertainment’s ownership of Planet Hollywood Showroom. Caesars took over the venue from Base Entertainment this year, and now has total control over the productions staged there. Planet Hollywood Showroom has been a difficult room in which to sell tickets (similar to many large-scale showrooms in Las Vegas). The last residency production show to succeed in the showroom was “Peepshow,” which closed five years ago.

Caesars has also bought out the “Crazy Girls” producer Norbert Aleman at the smaller Sin City Theater, across the mezzanine level from Planet Hollywood Showroom. Consequently, by the time “Mindfreak” opens, Caesars is expected to relocate Sin City Theater magicians Murray Sawchuck and Xavier Mortimer (but not “Crazy Girls,” which will continue to run as scheduled).

This is to satisfy a non-compete clause in Angel’s contract that prohibits any other magician headliners in his host hotel. Angel enacted the same provision during his 10 years at Luxor.

Angel is producing the show under his long-running Angel Productions Worldwide Incorporated (APWI) company, which he established in 1989 with his father, John Sarantakos. Base Entertainent and Caesars Entertainment are his as a production partners, billed as “presenters” of “Mindfreak,” working as investors and also as marketers.

“Criss Angel is one of the most innovative magicians in the world and we’re ecstatic to bring his brand-new show to Planet Hollywood,” Base Entertainment Chief Executive Officer Brian Becker said in a statement. “This show will shock and charm audiences with Criss’ personal stories intertwined with revolutionary illusions and extraordinary advances in the art and technology of magic on stage.”

Said Caesars Entertainment President of Entertainment Jason Gastwirth: “Planet Hollywood continues to be at the forefront of entertainment in Las Vegas. Criss Angel’s ground-breaking new show ‘Mindfreak’ is an entirely new approach to magic and solidifies Planet Hollywood’s reputation as a premier destination for the absolute best in live entertainment in Las Vegas.”

Angel’s former theater will itself undergo extensive renovations for a new Cirque du Soleil show, which is reportedly centered on motocross and BMX performances. The company will have closed the lid on magic at the Luxor when “Mindfreak Live” loads out.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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