To count the ways Luxembourg isn’t like Las Vegas, where would you even start?
Maybe with the density of magicians.
“Because of the size of the country I became famous very quickly, and it was very quickly ‘David Goldrake.’ Not ‘the magician David Goldrake,’ ” the Tropicana’s new headliner says.
He took his American wife, Abbey, on a tour and “the first day we visited four countries in three hours,” Goldrake says of his European nation that’s about the size of Rhode Island.
But now Goldrake has opened his “Imaginarium” show across the street from David Copperfield, and not too far from Criss Angel, Mat Franco and Penn & Teller.
Goldrake is optimistic — “If shows are closing, then theaters are open” — but not naive. He has worked in Reno and at Hollywood’s Magic Castle nightclub, studied the Las Vegas landscape for three years and thinks he can offer something the other shows don’t.
“My European charm,” he says with a laugh. “That was my Siegfried impression.”
(He and Las Vegas legend Siegried Fishbacher have become good friends.)
The real answer? “It’s beauty, it’s stories. We’re going to tell stories to the audience they can relate to. It’s going to be about the audience … I always call it ‘you-focused.’
“The themes of the show are about subjects that matter to the spectators. Things that we deal with in everyday life, be it self-deception, be it love, be it time, or aging. People can relate to it on a personal level.”
What it won’t be is “about me,” he says. “It’s not my life story.”
That’s where he can’t compete with the magic celebrities. “People don’t care about me yet. They don’t know me yet.”
Goldrake does hope there’s a niche on the Strip for a “beautiful” illusions show that will fill the Tropicana stage that long hosted “Folies Bergere” and magician Rick Thomas.
“I think this room needs production value. This room needs a theatrical show, and not just a concert of illusion,” he says. “There’s a storyline, not just one trick after another.”
Goldrake brought in director Doriana Sanchez, best known for Cher’s elaborate concerts, to helm a physical show featuring “four guest performers who are not dancers, but acrobats, aerialists, contortionists.”
‘Magician or ninja’
He speaks seven languages, but Goldrake has an extensive martial arts background and says, “My body is my way of expressing myself.”
Goldrake was 8 years old and “already immersed in the martial arts” when he first became captivated by magic in a children’s magazine.
“When I turned 12, I came home and announced to my parents that I wanted to be a magician, because that’s what made sense. But deep inside, it was either the magician or the ninja. Those were the two options in my mind,” he says with a laugh.
Because Luxembourg is so small, “I was forced to do everything” as an up-and-comer. “Corporate shows, public shows, children’s shows. You name it, I did it. It ended up being a great school, because I learned to do a lot, and it taught me to be on my own very quickly. To fill a stage and be responsible for everything on stage, without being a supporting act.”
Now 43, Goldrake says his training in karate, ninjutsu and other martial arts enables him do a two-minute water-tank escape that is not an illusion.
His dexterity may also have saved his wife’s life, when an illusion collapsed with both of them atop it while she was his stage assistant in October 2015. They fell 10 feet, and Abbey suffered serious injury to her neck and spinal cord.
“I caught Abbey to the extent that it kept her alive, but not enough for her to not break anything. We were on top of (the illusion) and it fell with us.”
Now she sits in a Tropicana booth to watch rehearsals, making amazing process toward recovery. Perhaps that’s what informs Goldrake’s sunny outlook for a show that may just offer the right attitude for divisive times:
“At the end of the show, I hope people leave it going, ‘Hey, we are wonderful beings. We are living in a wonderful world, and we can be great.’ This show’s not about me showing them how great I am. It’s about showing them how great we can all be together.”