Criss Angel offers life lessons and levitations in new Luxor show

Criss Angel 2008: “This show is beyond my wildest fantasy, is beyond anything I could comprehend. This show is an experience that is unlike anything the world of entertainment has ever seen. Believe.”

Criss Angel 2016: “It’s beyond anything, any other magic show in Vegas or the world for that matter … . One thing I know, it will be without a question the most mind-blowing, revolutionary magic show ever to be performed live, with more magic in it than any other show ever.”

Does the guy ever learn?

As a matter of fact, he says, yes.

“I could have sat here and been very coy, but honestly I’m bursting with excitement,” says the magician not known for coyness. “But I know what we’re doing, I know where we’re going and I know what else is out there.”

The relaunch of Angel’s long-running Luxor showcase “will really show how far magic has come and how kind of dated a lot of the magic shows are,” he says. “Magic, I’ll be bold and say, has never seen anything like this.”

Though his knack for self-promotion hasn’t changed in more than six years on the Strip, Angel says other things have since the infamous debut of “Believe” on Halloween 2008.

“I’m a different person artistically and as a human being than I was eight or 10 years ago,” the 48-year-old New Yorker says. The goal now is to “try to take the lessons that I’ve learned and to try to put in on the stage in a way that really is something unique and original and, quite frankly, revolutionary for the art of magic.”

He gets that chance in the new “Mindfreak Live,” essentially the third version of his Luxor showcase. What remained of the original “Believe” closed in April to make way for the retitled makeover, which had its “soft opening” last week to gear up for a grand reopening June 30.

The new show features cutting-edge video mapping and more than 50 illusions. He hopes those who saw the original, misguided version of “Believe,” will “come away (and say) ‘Hey, this is what you should have done from the beginning.’ ”

Angel now carries about every credit you can think of — director, creator, star, executive producer — on the title that still falls under the banner of Cirque du Soleil, but one the company has kept creative distance from since its first year.

The original “Believe” was a beautiful Cirque fever dream, but its laughable storyline struggled to figure out what to do with the goth-rock magician that people expected to see from the “Mindfreak” TV series.

“The biggest problem with the show was Criss Angel was in it,” he is able to say now. “If there was an unknown magician in there, it probably would still be running, because it was a good show.”

But after three years of his A&E channel show filled with daredevil stunts and illusions taking place everywhere but a proper stage, “People were conditioned to think of Criss Angel in a certain way,” he says.

“Cirque, and really the director (Serge Denoncourt), hid the fact that I was Criss Angel. Wanted me not to act like Criss Angel. Which is crazy if you think about it. But at the time, I went along for the ride.”

At least for a while. Though “Believe” never went through a long shutdown, within a year it shed most of the dancing rabbits and showgirls in bondage wear. Cirque still ran the business side and included “Believe” in its collective marketing, but stepped back to let the star refashion it into the straight-ahead magic show most fans expected.

The guy not known for introspection — or at least not for sidelining it from his overall enthusiasm — said, “I wouldn’t change anything. It’s the way it was supposed to be.”

The new show reflects “the knowledge of trials and tribulations I had to go through to get to this point,” he says. “You can’t just come out of the box and be able to do that. You have to go through this kind of life experience and have the incredible support and infrastructure that I’m blessed to have.”

“Mindfreak Live” has an autobiographical thread, which starts with a pre-show video and continues in the show referencing early career successes, such as his off-Broadway breakthrough in the early 2000s.

Recent life challenges are included as well. A straitjacket escape is now framed in terms of the sacrifices the real Christopher Sarantakos endured in the name of Criss Angel, with footage of past stunts and the shoulder surgery that a Times Square escape led to in 2014.

Another segment addresses the leukemia battle of his young son, Johnny Cristopher. “One of the most important things I’m doing in the show is showing the reality of pediatric cancer, what it’s like to have a son who has that,” he says. “And it’s done in a very artful way.”

The segment aspires to take audiences “to the point where they are seeing a real difficult subject matter expressed through art, and hopefully come away with hope. These kids are really special and magic in their own way.”

If that doesn’t sound like the bare-chested, gold-chain magician parodied up and down the Strip — the sketch show “Spoofical” even planned to portray him as literally a giant douche bag — the older, wiser Angel still hopes to continue his legacy as the guy who brought magic to pop culture “in a way that utilizes and embraces all of these elements you would see on an awards show.”

The new show makes extensive use of video mapping to create 3-D effects. In a video-game battle with a “sword-fighting ominous character” (who just might sound like retired magician Lance Burton), “the whole scene turns 360 degrees, both me and him and the background.”

Another levitating effect will reveal “essentially a whole 200-year-old city starting to grow out of the ground … being built from the ground out of the earth,” he says. “Not only do I go up, the perspective for the audience changes as I go up. You see over the roof, over the skyline. The audience feels like they’re going up with me.”

Cirque fans take note: There will even be acrobatics. “You will see people doing what’s called tricking, where they can flip and do crazy things with their bodies. But it will be presented as a way that’s seamless within the illusions and the emotion I’m creating.

“We’re using things that tie into the magic and using the illusions as the (acrobatic) apparatus, as opposed to bringing in the apparatus you would see in a typical Cirque du Soleil show for them to do their physical magic,” he adds.

Not for the first time does the conversation drift back to 2008. “It’s how we should have incorporated what they do and what I do from the beginning,” he says. “But it’s easy to say that. Hindsight’s 20/20 now.”

A 60,000-square-foot warehouse to create illusions, some of which were road-tested in a touring show that Angel performed outside the Las Vegas market, puts the magician in a rare position to push a stalled art form forward again.

“I work harder than anyone out there, I know that, and I have an incredibly talented team that is beyond what anyone else out there has,” he says. “I know at the end of the day, we’re going to do something I don’t think the world of magic is going to be able to top for many, many, many years to come.”

Bold claims again, but …

“It’s just the right time. I couldn’t have done this 10 years ago, let’s put it that way.”

Read more from Mike Weatherford at reviewjournal.com. Contact him at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com and follow @Mikeweatherford on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
5 albums to soundtrack your holiday gatherings in style
1. Various Artists, “Holidays Rule," with Rufus Wainwright, The Shins, Calexico and more. 2. Various Artists, “We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year," with Lemmy Kilmister, Alice Cooper, Chuck Billy and others. 3. Various Artists, “Christmas on Death Row," featuring Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg to name but a few. 4. Bright Eyes, “A Christmas Album.” 5. Various Artists, "The Motown Christmas Album." (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
WinterFest
WinterFest in Henderson.
Miss Rodeo America Fashion Show
The 28 women contestants of Miss Rodeo America compete in a fashion show at the Tropicana on Dec. 7, 2018.
Tournament Of Kings Holiday Show
Wizards and warriors are ready for the holidays at Excalibur's Tournament of Kings Holiday Dinner Show.
Take a dive with the Silverton mermaids
A visit to the Silverton Casino Hotel is not complete without taking in the popular, and very unique, mermaid show.
Cowboys and western aficionados can buy virtually anything at Cowboy Christmas
Vegas Golden Knights Christmas Display
In the Las Vegas Valley, the chances of getting a white Christmas are slim. But this year, you can have a “Knight” Christmas. A Henderson resident has a Christmas lights display that is synchronized to the entrance music for the Golden Knights. GG Misa’s Knights light show is played every 30 minutes from 5 to 10 nightly. His light show consists of two songs: Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and the entrance music, “Le Castle Vania,” from the movie “John Wick.” The display is located at 730 Bollons Island St. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Reivew-Journal)
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez is Just in Time For Repeal Day And Christmas
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez Is Just In Time For Repeal Day And Christmas. Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal
TV's LGBT superheroes
Green Valley Ranch's Winter's Village
The Mob Museum
Best Friend Menu Reveal Wednesday
Chef Roy Choi tells us what to expect from Wednesday’s Facebook Live Menu Reveal for his new Park MGM restaurant Best Friend. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Quick Chat With Criss Angel
James D. Gish and Susan Anton rehearse
Susan Anton will be special guest at James D. Gish’s holiday concerts Dec. 7 at Summerlin Library and Dec. 9 at Clark County Library. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio Winter Wonderland
"Majestic Holiday Magic" at the Bellagio Conservatory.
Underwater Santa At The Silverton
Santa takes a dive Sunday, December 2, at the Silverton Casino Hotel. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Cowabunga Bay Christmas Town
Las Vegas Natural History Museum
Las Vegas Natural History Museum, which opened in 1991, has exhibits of mechanical dinosaurs and taxidermied animals, along with live snakes, fish and sharks. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Magical Forest Lights
Cirque Du Soleil Performers Team Up For New Show "Kinekt"
Through dance, acrobatics and aerial arts, “Kinekt” tells a story all too familiar to modern families: how to maintain a human connection in the digital age. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ethel M Holiday Cactus Garden
The Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas
The Pinball Hall of Fame was created by Tim Arnold and opened in 2006. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jump! The Ultimate Dog Show at Springs Preserve in Las Vegas
Trainer Lou “Mack” McCammon guides several rescue dogs through a series of tricks and jumps two shows a day weekends through December at the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Buddy V - Sep 21 Confidante
Famous Infinity Mirror Room is open in Las Vegas
Yayoi Kusama's "Aftermath of Obliteration of Infinity" mirror room is open at the Bellagio in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Glittering Lights dazzles Las Vegas
The Glittering Lights holiday display is shining at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (Mat Luschek/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Skybar at Waldorf Astoria lets you sip your way through Las Vegas history
Skybar At Waldorf Astoria Lets You Sip Your Way Through Las Vegas History (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Stan Lee in Las Vegas for Madame Tussauds unveiling
Stan Lee Las Vegas speaks with the Review-Journal's Chris Lawrence about his love for his fans and shared universes. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ultimate Belgium Waffle Sundae at Lavo
Lavo at the Palazzo serves a 16-scoop ice cream sundae that costs $800. (Rochelle Ricahrds, Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A New Zip Line Is Opening On The Las Vegas Strip
A New Zip Line Is Opening On The Las Vegas Strip (Janna Karel lLas Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like