Updated June 9, 2021 - 5:33 pm
He’s trained as a prime-time mime. He’s also been the kid with the glove in “Michael Jackson One,” a TV personality, TikTok sensation and finally, a Las Vegas Strip headliner
All these descriptions apply to Xavier Mortimer, the talented illusionist who is moving to a new home, The Strat Showroom. Mortimer’s “The Dream Maker” opens July 1. Thus ends his residency show at The Magic Attic at Bally’s, and his affiliation with Caesars Entertainment.
Mortimer is now the 6 p.m. headliner at The Strat, dark Tuesdays, tickets starting at $39 (not including fees) onsale at xaviermortimer.com or TheStrat.com.
The 40-year-old Mortimer was lured to the renovated tower, and its 600-seat showroom, by Golden Entertainment Senior Vice President of Marketing Brad Goldberg. The magician is produced and directed by French TV and stage star Alex Goude, and performing in a showroom under the management of SPI Entertainment CEO Adam Steck.
It’s a big move for Mortimer, who has only grown in stature during COVID, amassing 3.3 million TikTok viewers and more than 5 billion views across all social-media channels. Almost all of those followers locked on to his page during the pandemic shutdown.
He is shown floating through shopping-center parking lots, riding a bicycle with his body separated at the waist, and pretending to make a WalMart employee appear from under a beach towel.
“I love doing the videos, and when I started, when the first one went viral, I was like, ‘Who knew?’ ” Mortimer said Friday. “But there is nothing like being in front of an audience. I will be reborn when I walk back onstage.”
The production also features the talents of Allie Sparks as Belle, and Nicholas Marco as Hypnos, a new character in the show.
Mortimer is especially eager to perform his headlining show for the first time in a venue actually built for entertainment. He worked it out in a converted conference room, Sin City Theater at Planet Hollywood, from 2015-2018. The Magic Attic was originally the Bally’s buffet, converted into a theater, another of Caesars Entertainment’s after-market projects.
“This showroom is so important, because I’m working on a more grandiose show, more upscale, more magical,” Mortimer said Wednesday. “The theme of the show is the same. But the pace is going to change. We will be losing three or four acts, and putting in one grand illusion.”
Mortimer has forged a scripted story arc guided by his cagey illusions and tricks. Now he can explore the space, in one moment a bathtub filled with bubbles simply flies off the stage. That tub would have quickly crashed into the ceiling at his other two venues.
“We are working so hard to make the show fit this showroom,” Mortimer said, “and I know every inch of that room.”
Goude, who has worked with Mortimer throughout the magician’s Vegas residency, says the 6 p.m. slot works for Mortimer’s show. The show appeals to (but is not limited to) all-ages audiences. Team Mortimer is also OK with the hotel’s position at the northern tip of the Strip (and we argue that the Strip does begin with the Strat).
“We have been at 6 p.m. at our previous home, and we can bring in the families who want to do more than just see a show and also want to get to bed a little earlier,” Goude said. “Some say it is a crazy move not to be on the Strip, but news flash. It’s still on the Strip, and we have Resorts World, Circus Circus, the Fontainebleau has just been bought, the new Convention Center, Sahara, all around us.”
He continued, “Not being right in the center is a bit risky, but the show’s value will be so much better to draw people at the Strat.” Goude also sought other Caesars Entertainment venues for Mortimer, including Jubilee Theater (home of “Extravaganza”), but there were no immediate openings for the magic production.
Steck and Goude initiated talks about a Mortimer show during the pandemic, as Mortimer’s commitment at Bally’s was timing out. Steck, who last week announced he’d signed iconic magician Mac King at Steck’s Thunderland Showroom at Excaliber, says Mortimer “checks all the boxes” in what he wants at The Strat.
“Xavier has a lot of potential. He’s something special, a true artist,” Steck said. “He’s the perfect ‘second choice’ show, the next show someone wants to see after a big superstar headliner, like Aerosmith and Bruno Mars, and then think ‘What else?’ It’s a different time slot, different go-to show, after those major residencies.”
As he’s established a career outside of his Cirque days, Mortimer has appeared on “America’s Got Talent,” “Masters of Illusion” and “Penn & Teller: Fool Us.” His TV exposure, live appearances and social-media presence have combined to make him a recognizable name across multiple platforms.
This is a relevant development, as there is no certainty whether millions of TikTok followers translates into sold-out Vegas showrooms.
We have joked that Mortimer is so famous, he can’t walk the streets of TikTok.
But the debate about social-media impact on the box office continues.
“When you have billions of views, it’s a good thing, it show’s you’re more than just a random person,” Steck said. “But if you’re a blip on TikTok or YouTube, it’s not the same as someone watching a 20-minute special, because they are not as invested. The exposure is definitely a positive for someone’s brand, but it does not always translate into ticket sales.”
Goldberg says he saw a comparison from his days at Luxor, when Criss Angel was headlining during his “Mindfreak” A&E series.
“When I think about that show, and who attended that show through its run, a vast majority were there because they were aware of the performer from his TV show,” Goldberg said. “So, in my mind, this isn’t that much different. if you see the conversion from TV viewers to social media, and Xavier is a social-media dynamo.”
Mortimer will continue to cut dazzling, quick-shot clips as he opens at The Strat. It’s certain he will use the tower itself in his TikTok and marketing campaigns. He’s also currently working on something “very strong, very magical” in the desert, involving water, sand and illusion.
As for social-media’s impact on ticket sales, Mortimer says the power is in the magic.
“My theory is, it depends on what you do,” he said. “If you just going to the fridge after waking up in the morning, people will not be interested in buying tickets. But if you are doing incredible stunts, jumping over the street, flying around — they want to see that. They want to see more of your magic.”
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.