The hands of the clock say it’s finally time for this Big Reveal.
Dutch magic sensation Hans Klok is coming to Excalibur. Formally titled “Hans Klok: The World’s Fastest Magician,” the show opens July 29 inside the newly renovated Thunderland Showroom at ExCal. The show is to run nightly at 7:30, with 4 p.m. matinees Saturday and Sunday (tickets range from $44.95-$104.95, on sale 10 a.m. Friday).
Klok is alternating show times with established acts — the long-running male revue “Thunder From Down Under” and popular Australian Bee Gees tribute production — in the Showroom. The multimillion-dollar, 425-seat venue is in the same second-level location as the former Thunder Showroom, but has been wiped out for a total renovation headed up by Klok’s arrival.
Klok is famous for his blond mane, square jaw and velocity on stage. He’s known to perform up to 50 large-scale illusions in a 90-minute production.
The 50-year-old illusionist has toured Europe extensively and appeared on London’s West End, often selling out 3,000-seat venues for his international audiences. Klok most recently headlined in Las Vegas at the cavernous Planet Hollywood Theater for the Performing Arts in 2007, when Pamela Anderson served as his salacious sidekick.
Klok began checking out Las Vegas shows again a couple of years ago, with the idea he wanted another shot at a Strip residency.
“I had such a fun, great time, in Las Vegas before,” Klok said in a recent interview at the offices of Adam Steck of SPI Entertainment, which is producing the show. “I was getting tired of touring constantly in Europe. I had a lot of success, but I wanted to see about Las Vegas. When I back came here to see the shows, I loved the magic, but most magicians are talking a lot, thinking they are stand-up comedians. My show is very visual. There is a little story, but it’s really about the magic that I present.”
Steck, meantime, was looking to add another show to a production lineup that includes Boyz II Men at The Mirage, Human Nature at The Venetian and the shows at Excalibur.
“I had no magic shows,” said Steck, who was approached by veteran agent Steve Levine, who reps Klok. “I learned that Hans was doing great business in Europe, and this project became more and more expensive, it made sense to add a third show.”
Also, MGM Resorts was willing to take on another magician headliner after Criss Angel closed at Luxor in October. Steck also said that MGM Grand headliner David Copperfield had no problem with Klok opening in the new showroom.
“It’s a completely different style of show,” Steck says. “David is a legend. It’s amazing to be in the same resort corridor as him, but what Hans is doing is a bit of a throwback to the Siegfried & Roy days, but in a lot more intimate room.”
More important, Steck says that Klok can sell 200 tickets per show and make money. That is not the case in any large-scale magic production in Las Vegas.
“I’m a scrappy producer,” Steck says, laughing. “I’m lean and mean, without compromising quality.”
That Thunderland box office is going busy,”Thunder” and the Bee Gees also performing full-time. A bar and lounge is being built at the entrance, similar to the concept of Flirt lounge outside Chippendale’s theater at the Rio.
The “Thunder From Down Under” is stripping it down and dressing it up at Excalibur.
Not to be lost in the Klok announcement, “Thunder” has signed a 10-year contract to perform at ExCal. The show opened at the hotel in July 2002 after spending a year at the since-demolished Frontier. It remains the city’s longest-running male revue, and also the biggest revenue producer in its class.
“Before Thunder, there wasn’t a show like this for women,” Steck said. “There were just topless shows for men.”
The Thunderland venue is being built with three main performance stages, a few smaller platforms and new lighting, special effects, mobile LED screens and areas around the room for dancers to explore.
“I told the guys, ‘Find places to perform,’ ” Steck says before reciting what is now a familiar refrain among show producers. “We want immersive entertainment in the room.”
Steck is halting one of his “Thunder” touring shows to boost the Vegas cast from eight to 13 dancers. The ExCal will offer headlining entertainment nightly beginning with Australian Bee Gees.
“It’s a lot of work, but I love it,” Steck says. “This theater is going to be a destination.”
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.