by DW Grant
Take the magic and mystery of Lance Burton and scramble it all up in the frenzy and irreverence of Rock and Roll and you just may have the written the script for Criss Angel?s ?Believe,? now playing at the Luxor Hotel Casino. Even the theater itself seems to be an outrageous homage to one of Angel?s mentors.
Like Burton?s theater Angel?s play house is huge and gaudy, and curtained in deep reds and bronze. The audience is watched from on high by gilded gold figures, but in this theater the statues are giant rabbits in chains. The evening is a collaboration between Angel and Cirque du Soleil. With Cirque?s influence it?s like Mindfreak and a little Mystere served up by punk clowns and rabbits in a steaming cup of hallucinogenic brew.
The show begins with a rabbit. Rabbits both large and small come out of nowhere at any time, and rabbits ride and drive the monster sets and morbid machines that make the illusions work that wow the audience. At one point Angel even has a tug of war with a bunny, trying to pull his pet rabbit ?Lucky,? out of a video screen. Why rabbits? Angel says that after seeing Siegfried and Roy as a kid he asked his parents for a white tiger, but only got a white rabbit.
True to both magic and Rock and Roll Angel?s show is cool, creepy at times, bloody, trashy, edgy, and full of fiery booms and bad language but he practices ?safe? magic, he says. As scantily clad women assist him, Angel insists ?It?s all in how you hold the mic.? Most of the music is composed by ?Celldweller,? an electronic music project headed up by Scott Albert, who has worked with Angel on other projects.
Wikipedia says the official soundtrack for the show, by French composer Eric Serra, was released in late November 2010 exclusively through Cirque du Soleil’s web store. His two best illusions are when he fills his mouth full of real razor blades while standing over a bloody towel, and when he saws his beautiful assistant in half with a theater size buzz saw run by a 7 foot tall rabbit. The kick comes when?well, maybe you?ll see the show and believe, as we did. As a $100 million production it is the first time Cirque has teamed up with an individual performer. Is it worth the price? Judgment is in the eyes of the audience. Dee and Sprocket, two pug dogs sitting near me enjoyed the show like it was feeding time. I laughed and my 20 year old son thought it was cool.
Any write up of ?Believe? should also mention Angel?s bumbling assistants, Maestro, Luigi, Slim and Lars. Maestro is particularly entertaining in his efforts to try and duplicate Angel?s illusions but utterly failing at them.
Angel has described the show as ?About my life. It’s Alice in Wonderland. It’s The Wizard of Oz. Mindfreak. It’s about the demons in my head, the good that’s out there, the angels and love and lust? all that stuff mixed up.” Serge Denoncourt, the show?s Cirque director, says he was ?trying to direct a show for people who love it but also for people like me who hate magic.” The show tries to fool, trick, and confuse, as well as wow you, and it succeeds.
Be sure to take the time to look over Angel?s memorabilia on the way out of the theater. Just about every contemporary entertainer and sports figure has his or her picture with Angel hanging on these walls. There are also costumes from Mind Freak and other Angel productions on display.
Even though the show, whose 10 year contracted run started in 2008, has had a sometimes controversial history (and what Rock and Roll show hasn?t), you still might see celebrities in the audience on any given night. Along with Dee and Sprocket it was rumored Rapper Ludacris was in the audience somewhere the night we saw the show. Magic, mystery, and Rock and Roll, are worlds destined to collide and fuse one day, that day seems to be today, thanks to Criss Angel and Cirque du Soleil.