Criss Angel to close one Luxor show, open another

Magicians are good at transformations, and Criss Angel has announced a big one: closing one show at Luxor and opening another. The long-running “Believe” will end April 17, to be replaced by “Mindfreak Live!” on May 11.

“I believe it will be my greatest work to date,” Angel said by telephone Thursday. “It gives me a license to create what I’ve always wanted to do, things I’ve been working on for many, many years.”

Cirque du Soleil will continue as producer in the new effort, which stems from a show Angel has performed outside the market. Angel will carry the title of executive producer and director. “I have no handcuffs on me at all,” he said.

“When we saw Criss’ new production ‘Mindfreak Live!’ on tour, we realized how much he has continued to push the envelope, and the show’s unlimited potential for Criss’ fan base and Las Vegas’ international audience,” Jerry Nadal, the Cirque vice president who oversees its resident Las Vegas shows, said in a statement.

Angel said 2½ years still remain on his original 10-year contract with Cirque.

“Mindfreak” continues the name of the cable TV series that brought the 48-year-old illusionist to national prominence. The original version of “Believe” was considered a misstep when it opened in October 2008; it was more of a Cirque du Soleil production show with the magician disconnected from the persona he had created on TV.

Angel reconfigured “Believe” into more of a straightforward illusion show, stripping away the choreography and narrative.

But even when he got the show streamlined into more of what fans expected, “I had to play in a sandbox that was already constructed. I wasn’t really able to go outside that box,” Angel said, in terms of spending more money on sets and costumes beyond those in the original show.

“With this show, I’m able to start from scratch and not have to repurpose things and work within the parameters of Cirque du Soleil,” he said. “I have the freedom to start from the ground up and really see through what my vision really is. And it’s an ambitious vision, but one that is incredibly different (from ‘Believe’).”

Angel said the new show will use new 3-D immersion effects, cutting-edge video walls and a new levitation technique. It will be connected with an autobiographical thread.

“The show essentially is the evolution of Criss Angel,” he says. “For people who don’t know me, they’ll get to understand who I am and understand the genesis of my career and how I got to where I’m at.”

“It’s very theatrical,” he adds, with less of him talking to the audience than in the current show. “I’m going back to things I’ve done and performing them in the form that I did them years ago. People will really get to understand and see my career and what affects me in my personal life.”

The show will include a piece to raise awareness for pediatric cancer, tied to his 2-year-old son’s battle with leukemia.

Angel is planning a Sept. 12 celebrity auction and benefit show in which he hopes “to raise a million dollars in one night,” he says. “Every single cent raised, not one cent will come out for so-called expenses. I will fund it myself.”

“I believe my son’s situation happened because I’m meant to do something for the greater good and to be a voice for these kids,” he added. “I’m trying to take lemons and make lemonade.”

“The crazy thing about this is I had been dealing with kids from Make a Wish and The Sunshine Kids for many, many years,” he said. “I have relationships with these kids. I give them my cell number, they call me any time they want.

“I had such a connection because these kids, even though they’re going through this, they always find something positive. They always have a smile on their face, they’re always upbeat and optimistic. It really motivated me and really was an inspiration to me. And then to find out my own child has cancer was unbelievable.”

Read more from Mike Weatherford at reviewjournal.com. Contact him at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com. Follow him @Mikeweatherford

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