The longest magician David Goldrake has ever held his breath underwater while padlocked is two minutes and 24 seconds. If he does not escape his chains by then he drowns to death. It’s a nightly dice of high drama and the audience is on the edge of its seats watching the clock tick precious seconds away. He’ll performed it at the July 20 official premiere of his new “Imaginarium” show at the Tropicana.
I watched a preview performance where he was just one second shy of the two-minute mark in his escape. This is not the magical part of his production. It’s an old-fashioned piece of escapism that could easily go awry every night. But it’s the routine he adopted from an original Houdini escape act that causes members of the audience to hold their breath until they let out cheers, whistles and applause when soaked to the skin he stands on stage freed from the bonds that really did hold him captive — all supervised by two unknown audience volunteers.
“That was longer than usual” he admitted to me afterward. “You enter a real danger zone if you go past that two-minute mark.” It’s a heart-stopping moment as he’s trapped inside the glass tank as his two of his four dancers pour giant pots of water over him until he’s “buried alive.”
The dance with death will certainly have people talking about the unknown showman who is within shadow distance of rivals Criss Angel at the Luxor and David Copperfield at MGM. Perhaps, he’s pushing himself with the escape because when his wife, Abbey, was his stage assistant one of the illusions crashed down on the two of them leaving her badly injured with damage to her spinal and neck cords. Today, she critiques each of his shows from the safety of the sound booth as she makes progress for a recovery.
He admits he’s entering the Las Vegas magic scene as a near unknown from the tiny country of Luxembourg in the center of Europe, which is helping him bankroll the production as a part tourism booster. Government ministers from Luxembourg attended the premiere.
However, with appearances at Hollywood’s Magic Castle, earlier try-out shows in Reno and an amazing record of 3,000 sold-out performances across Europe where he speaks seven languages fluently. David created a show that’s different from his rivals — although in honesty some of the tricks have been previous familiar Vegas winners. His English is near perfection and has a charming lilt of accent to it when he’s storytelling the setup to his tricks.
But what is different with his show though is that he hired superstar singer’ Cher’s director, Doriana Sanchez, to stage his production, which features two women and two men who perform acrobatics, aerial maneuvers and contortionist routines. David says he spent three years preparing the production by monitoring the Vegas magic landscape.
“We tell a story with magic that’s focused right on the audience with very personal relatable illusions they really want to see. And it’s all there in plain sight with nothing hidden,” he told me.
Perhaps that’s the reasoning behind the bare-bones stage, which although uses a fair amount of video-mapping could be enhanced with some better expensive scenery .
David tells his audience he’s wanted to be a magician since the age of 12 when he first read about the art in a magazine. He could easily have become a martial arts fighter with his ninjutsu and karate skills.
He arrives for the show “flying in” from the theater-stage ceiling. It’s a wow opening and the kind of trickery that Copperfield claims to have invented and has sued other magicians and former assistants over the reveal of its secrets. But this “new magic guy in town” adds to it with a swing over the audience to disprove any wires.
His show is packed from start to finish with illusions and tricks. But the one that blew me away was the simplest of them all. David who admits it’s his own personal favorite wades into the audience inviting people to hand over their favorite rings. On a magic wand, he mysteriously links three of them together which is really an impossibility. It brings a kind of a hush of respect from the audience as they realize he may well be the “new guy in town” but he’s got all the qualifications for a long-term stay.
If you’re into magic and want all the family to enjoy the art of illusion and prestidigitation then ‘Imaginarium’ is definitely a solid night of theatrical entertainment for you.
David Goldrake presents ‘Imaginarium’ nightly at 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday at the Tropicana Hotel.