The string of achievements and accolades that superstar magician Criss Angel has racked up in his career is simply amazing. But he’s proudest of all with the raves he’s now receiving from audiences, celebrities and critics for his revamped Believe from Cirque du Soleil at the Luxor.
The most-watched magician online with more than 100 million YouTube views literally pulled off the impossible when he turned around the original production, which was hit by critics, into the bestselling magic spectacular in the world, with 3,068 seats sold nightly.
Celebrities, from Gary Oldman to Chris Tucker, and other magicians including Lance Burton have become part of the now-nightly ovations. “Not only the best magic show in Las Vegas but the world!” Lance said. Siegfried & Roy added: “Greatness is he who reminds of you no other -- such a man is Criss Angel.” Oprah Winfrey, Celine Dion, Jennifer Lopez and Paula Abdul have raved about Criss after seeing Believe, with Jay Leno saying: “The greatest illusionist in the world!”
“It’s an entire 100 percent change, a brand new show,” Criss told me. “There’s not 5 percent of the original left. I started over from scratch doing the writing and directing myself with the amazing support of Cirque and MGM Luxor. We now have over 40 illusions inside an incredibly entertaining show, and these illusions you won’t see anywhere else in the world.” Lance touted, “There's so much great original magic in Believe.”
“People wanted to see live what I did on Mindfreak, so now we have many of those Mindfreak illusions integrated, but Believe takes it even further and shows people a different side of me, as well. It’s amazing, sexy, funny, scary, dangerous, exciting and, most important, an experience -- that’s a good, fun time for everyone. I love performing this show!”
Cirque officials told me that the new look of the show and its newest illusion -- The Phenom, making an audience-selected motorcycle appear instantly onstage -- is “beyond their wildest imagination.” You are blown away by what Criss has achieved. It is truly remarkable. This far surpasses the word ‘good’ -- it’s totally brilliant and beyond what we ever thought was possible for him to create and execute. Our audiences are totally blown away by what they’re seeing.”
Even some hard-boiled critics are now giving raves to Believe. The Toronto Star headlined: “The most exciting thing now onstage in Vegas! Absolutely knockout illusions. … Heart-stoppingly exciting.” This week, BBC critic Alex Beifield described Believe as “A+. By far the most spectacular and amazing magic show in Vegas -- and I’ve seen them all.”
Criss told me: “I’m proud we could take a show and change its perception. But I’m not stopping there. I’m still working on new material and illusions. Now I’m working on a brand new levitation, which I've been developing for years that is insane, but I can’t say anymore about it yet. Believe is a living organism that is constantly changing and evolving.
“I love that we can keep on developing new illusions, and the show can evolve, and it will until my very last performance. Ultimately, I just want to be the best I can be and provide the most entertaining experience to the public and my Loyal fans worldwide who are the best!”
The latest illusion has audiences amazed. “There are more than 10 motorcycles that we have on display in the lobby. They have all appeared on Mindfreak. The custom-made choppers include The Skeleton, The Phantom, The OCC Bike and The Phenom. I throw a T-shirt into the audience, and then whoever catches it throws it again, so it’s a completely random member of the audience who gets to come onstage. They yell out the motorcycle of their choice, and instantaneously under impossible conditions, it appears in a split second on the stage beside them. People rush out to the lobby to check, and, sure enough, it’s not there!”
Criss has two projects that are hidden up his sleeves, although I can tell you there will be big news about Mindfreak soon and the debut this summer of MagicPlace.com -- including the Magic Broadcasting Network with 13 weekly shows launching for anybody interested in magic. Siegfried & Roy, Jeff McBride, Lance and more have taped segments for the Web site.
“Everything magic will live here, and it’s free,” Criss summed up.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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