Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011 | 5:50 p.m.
Often, people approach me and ask, “Steve, what is the best-value show in Las Vegas?”
“Mac King,” I usually say.
That’s because Mac King is at the top of his field, which happens to be the magic/illusions/sleight-of-hand field. He blows your mind, every time. He appeals to everyone except, perhaps, felines. His afternoon show costs $32.95, running daily at 1 and 3 p.m. at Harrah’s (dark Sundays and Mondays).
What you get is one of the best close-up magic artists in the world who leaves you rapt even after you’ve seen the same routine a half-dozen times. Famously, even Teller, one of the great authorities and practitioners of magic, has been fooled by King’s bit where he pulls a rope into several segments, then reattaches it while holding both ends aloft.
If he fools Teller, he is fooling you.
A Strip headliner for more than a decade, King is about to take his act overseas for a rare visit to England, to the storied London Palladium. On Monday, he headlines a lineup of 10 magicians for “Palladium Magic,” marking King’s first visit to the grandiose venue that last year marked its 100th birthday.
King is actually co-headlining this show, according to the official flier promoting the event. It reads, “Starring Las Vegas Headliners Mac King and Hans Klok.” That would be true if this were 2007, when Klok was actually headlining his short-lived show “Beauty of Magic” at Planet Hollywood.
No biggie, though. King is eager to perform at a tradition-steeped venue that, at a capacity of 2,286, is more than four times larger than King’s room at Harrah’s.
Much of King’s act is close-up magic, such as his work with goldfish. That’s too tiny for the Palladium, but King can reach that theater’s nether regions.
“I’ve done some bigger theaters before, and part of it is, the really big props are the people from the audience,” King said during a phone conversation Thursday afternoon. “I just need to pick people who seem expressive.”
King will employ familiar bits from his stage show at Harrah’s, including his Cloak of Invisibility (which is actually just a yellow raincoat and matching hat) and his paper bag routine (which he smashes with his hands as if his head is still inside the sack).
King is traveling with his daughter and will spend three days in London before the show.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” he said, “because even if it sucks, I will be at the Palladium.”