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December 13, 2018

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Q+A: Jarrett & Raja of ‘America’s Got Talent’ follow in Siegfried & Roy’s footsteps

Jarrett and Raja


Jarrett and Raja.

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Jarrett and Raja.

'America's Got Talent Live' in Las Vegas

Performance painter David Garibaldi, right, rehearses for Launch slideshow »

'America's Got Talent Live' at the Palazzo

The Olate Dogs perform during Launch slideshow »

A dream of Las Vegas magicians Jarrett & Raja is coming true. Not only are they following in the footsteps of their idols Siegfried & Roy, but now, after years of touring and overseas shows, they also are starring in the new “America’s Got Talent Live” at Palazzo -- allowing them to live and work at home.

They dazzle audiences with three illusions; one to close each night’s show of the run includes the cast mysteriously appearing from a suspended empty box. “We are going big. It is time to go big,” Jarrett told me.

“There has been enough close-up magic in the past 10 years with David Blaine, street magic, all of that. It’s time to go the Siegfried & Roy route and go big. Some of the effects of what we did on ‘America’s Got Talent’ we are going to reproduce in the live show -- what people saw on TV, they’ll be able to see live. At the top of the show, we have designed three new pieces, in succession, so it’ll be a one-of-a-kind thing.”

Raja told me: “The timing is so right to have that kind of a magic show again. We have always had Siegfried & Roy as inspirations, not just magically but artistically, their attention to detail. We are also very detailed guys, very specific about what we want.

“Everything you see onstage, from the magic props to the costumes to the originally composed music, the arranged music, everything you see, we go through with a fine-tooth comb. We really have used the guys for now 10 years as a source of inspiration after getting to know them back in 2003.

“We also want to stage a show of that size when we have our full show. So, yes, that is our goal, and I think Las Vegas is ready for it now. Over the past few years, we have seen smaller shows, we’ve seen a twist of magic, we’ve seen reality magic, and, except for Penn & Teller, which is a very different show, there has not been a double act like Siegfried & Roy since Siegfried & Roy. We said this on ‘America’s Got Talent’ that we see ourselves as the next Siegfried & Roy.

“They know of us very well and give a lot of respect to us. I think in 2003, they were both at Golden Rainbow, and we did our shower scene, which went over very well. They loved it. So, yes, I guess they did see us once. They’ve given us many words of encouragement and continue to do so to this day. They will be coming to see us in this show.”

With 10 years of touring the globe from Singapore to New York and the string of “America’s Got Talent” appearances, I had to discuss overnight success. Said Jarrett: “I laugh at that overnight success. Where they say it’s one night and 10 years in the making, it is so true. Over the years, you stumble, you fall, you pick yourself back up, but you’ve got to keep picking yourself back up.

“You just go from one door to the next door and continue. Now we have come to the Las Vegas Strip, finally, The Magic Capital of the World, which Las Vegas has been and still remains. It is just a dream come true.”

The duo combine music skills with the mastering of magic in their shows. Raja continued: “Obviously, music has been a part of magic shows from the beginning, but I believe we are the first in history to combine a musician live and center stage as well as the magician so that the two interact.

“The two are in conflict with each other, the two egos play against each other, and of course the musician is caught up in the magic, as well. So, yes, we believe that we are the first in history to have this unique combination.

“As the musician of the two of us, I am not a magician. I am in a magic act, but if you asked me to do a card trick, I couldn’t even begin to tell you how it is done. I’ve got a deep respect for Jarrett and his wealth of knowledge when it comes to magic history, magic effects and his background with the greats like Blackstone and Charles Reynolds, his mentors.

“He has a lot of knowledge as to magic effects in history and what to draw from, and what effects have not been done in the past 70 years. He’s brought back some of these magic effects from a long time ago that people haven’t ever seen. I have a lot of fascination for his process when you design an act.”

Jarrett interjected: “And it is interesting on the flip side with the music end of it, as well, because Raja also draws from music from the past and upstanding it and making it more of a fusion, a rock fusion with the classical back bones on it. We have composed new music for this run of ‘America’s Got Talent.’ ”

“AGT Live” is at Palazzo nightly through April 14 with 13-year-old singing sensation Anna Graceman, the $1 million winners Olate Dogs, comedian Tom Cotter, electronic storytellers Lightwire Theater and speed painter David Garibaldi. My opening-night review was posted Feb. 26.

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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