Thursday, March 17, 2016 | 10 a.m.
Criss Angel Believe
After more than 3,000 performances, magician Criss Angel will shut down his show “Believe” at the Luxor on April 17. “Believe” recently celebrated its seventh anniversary and has thrilled more than 4 million guests since its October 2008 opening.
Then after a three-week installation at the Luxor theater, he will open “Mindfreak Live!” in preview performances May 11. Criss will officially celebrate the new show’s star-studded premiere June 23.
Vegas DeLuxe readers first learned of these changes in an earlier Wicked Whispers & Racy Rumors story in our daily Strip Scribbles column.
The new, immersive spectacle is based on the successful touring version, which performed to sell-out houses across the country and was hailed as the “Magic Experience of a Lifetime.”
Said Criss: “It’s been an amazing seven-plus years, and I am so excited to bring ‘Mindfreak Live’ to my home at the Luxor. Thank you to all the Loyal fans who made ‘Believe’ the bestselling magic show in Las Vegas.” (Criss’s fans are called The Loyals.)
Criss promises that the all-new production will contain 90 minutes of spectacular, original and revolutionary illusions all based on his hit A&E series “Mindfreak.”
Nik Rytterstrom, general manager of the Luxor, said in a news release today: “For the past seven years, Criss has been entertaining millions of fans with ‘Believe’ at Luxor. We look forward to unveiling his new, groundbreaking show to our guests this summer.”
Criss will be joined by a cast that includes some of the world’s most talented specialty artists. Their names will be revealed soon. Criss says this has been an 18-year vision of his life coming to fruition with a blend of heart-stopping original illusions, state-of-the-art animated LED lighting and RGB laser explosions, LED virtual worlds, 3-D immersive effects, pyrotechnic landscapes, musicians and a DJ. Audiences will be seated inside a 360-degree experience of pyrotechnics and explosions.
Jerry Nadal, senior vice president of Cirque du Soleil here, added in the news release: “Criss is a pioneering and visionary artist, and together we created ‘Believe,’ a first-of-its-kind magic stage phenomenon of which we are all tremendously proud.
“When we first saw his new production, ‘Mindfreak Live!,’ on tour, we realized how much he has continued to push the envelope and the show’s unlimited potential for his own fan base and the international audience here in Las Vegas. We are very enthusiastic to continue our partnership with the biggest name in magic as Criss brings his latest unparalleled vision to life at Luxor.”
“Mindfreak Live!” was created by Criss, who also will direct it. The show’s executive producers are Cirque and Criss’s company APWI. Tickets go on sale now starting at $59 for performances beginning May 11 on Wednesdays through Sundays at 7 and 9:30 p.m.
“Mindfreak” on A&E is one of the most successful magic shows in TV history, resulting in more hours of magic primetime than any other magic show. In November 2013, large independent production and distribution company Endemol announced that it had acquired global TV distribution rights (outside North America) to the series. Now the show is seen in more than 100 countries.
Criss also is one of the most watched magicians in Internet history. His “Walk on Water” clip has generated more than 60 million views, and his clips combined have generated more than 300 million views. Criss also has a large social media following at 6 million.
His most recent series, “Criss Angel Believe,” premiered on Spike TV in October 2013 as the cable network’s most-watched original series premiere in more than 18 months.
Sources tell me that Cirque permitted Criss to create, direct and executive produce the new show because their goal ultimately is to extend and exercise their five-year option to partner with him in the future because of “Believe’s” success. One publication ranked Criss for bringing in $150 million at “Believe.”
Criss told me: “My life’s work is going to be revealed in this show … the genesis of it came from Cirque seeing my touring shows and being, quite frankly, blown away and realizing that this was something that I’d wanted to do from the beginning.
“We’re incorporating the most sophisticated, state-of-the-art, latest technologies from 3D immersion experiences to video mapping to the latest, greatest Barco LED video walls, the latest lighting, almost 500 lights. They are the latest, greatest, moving lighting instruments. We have the best cutting-edge technology in the world as the brains for an incredible system that’s going to run the show.”
My questions about its costs were unanswered, but sources tell me if it had been created from concept, it would be a $100 million investment.
Criss continued: “This show incorporates illusions that I wanted to do 18 years ago like the levitations that I told you about years ago. There are more levitations in this show than any other magic show. It really shows the genesis and the evolution of me and my career.
“It goes back taking moments of my career and brings them to life from the video walls. … It all comes to life onstage, so you’ll see me performing from different eras. You’ll see the entire transformation.
“It’s a roller coaster. You never know what’s going to happen next. It’s scary, it’s seductive, it’s mysterious, it’s dangerous, and it’s heartwarming. I am beyond words and emotions about this show. I am so passionate about it. I think this is my greatest work to date. It’s going to change the face of magic on many levels.
“For the first time, the audience actually gets inside the magic and feels it as well as sees it. The magic of emotion is going to be so relevant in this show that people will not look away. Nobody will be able to sit back and relax. People will feel moved and have an amazing time.”
Criss has been building the show for several years: “About four years in my studios and fabrication shops with experimentations and toying around with a concept, seeing what’s possible, then finalizing the direction that we’re going to go. It’s really been a scramble because Cirque said if we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it soon.”
“Believe” had planned to go dark in May, so that hiatus was moved up to start the third week of April when “Believe” is removed. The brand new show, not a refresh or “Believe” with a different name, will then be installed.
“I’m working on this right now no less than 20 hours a day seven days a week,” Criss continued. “I’ve been doing it now for about eight weeks and have five more weeks to go. It’s going to evolve and transform. I have to listen to the audience and change things and tweak things so by June 23 on our opening, we will be solid with everything dialed in.
“It’s a very, very ambitious show from an illusion perspective, from a technological perspective. The ability to pull off a show like this is really mind-blowing.”
Meantime, his other show “The Supernaturalists” will continue its tour with European and South American dates in August, then new U.S. and Canada dates — and expect another major announcement for the development of that show.
Criss also has set Monday, Sept. 12, as the date for his first cancer charity concert at the Luxor as a follow-up to his 21-month-old son Johnny Crisstopher currently undergoing chemo treatments in Australia. It has been named Heal Every Life Possible. The other one is the Johnny Christopher Children’s Charitable Foundation, which is “a hand in a hand.”
Criss returned this week from Australia and expects to be traveling back and forth there for the next three years of his son’s treatments: “I am and I have been. Last week, I was in Australia. Johnny is going through his treatments right now, and he’s going through a block of chemo that’s one of the most difficult blocks of chemo to go through.
“It’s incredibly difficult. I went with him to the hospital and got his chemo and stayed with him and was with him every day. We went to the park, we went to the museum, we did a lot of things together.
“Australia has been amazing. …The children’s hospital that he’s in follows the protocol of the American treatment that they do for children’s pediatrics cancer, and their doctor even had a conference call with Johnathan Bernstein, who runs the children’s cancer specialty center here in Las Vegas and really spends a lot of time doing the research. He’s been amazing in lending his support, as is St. Baldrick’s and Cirque Couture.
“Everybody has been so wonderful. He told me I could be assured that the treatment that they’re doing for Johnny is exactly the same treatment that Johnny would get if he were here getting treatment. Eventually, he will be able to come and visit me. I assume every month he will be able to spend time with me. My family and I are very much looking forward to that opportunity.”
Criss had a relationship with Australian singer-songwriter Shaunyl Benson here in Las Vegas for two years. She is the mother of their cancer-stricken son. Criss told me: “Shaunyl has been doing an amazing job taking care of Johnny on a day-to-day basis when I can’t be there.
“He can’t travel to Las Vegas because his immune system is too low, but my hope, God willing, on Sept. 12, Johnny will make an appearance on that stage because he’ll be through the worst part of chemo, and he’ll be able to make the trip. It’s a 20-hour journey, but I hope he’ll be able to join us onstage.
“Shaunyl and I have a great relationship. We’re doing what’s in the best interest of our child, and we get along incredibly well. We get along better now than ever before. I think she’s an incredible mother. She will be at the event, as well.
“They’ll be performing a song that’s written about the trials and tribulations of children’s cancer. We’ll also see some of the footage from a documentary about pediatric cancer and what it’s like for a family to go through that.
“We’re looking to really bring in legends of the entertainment world and all of the other folks who are in Las Vegas to participate either in the celebrity auction or show.”
Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” fame has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
Follow Las Vegas Sun Entertainment + Luxury Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.
One of the most iconic resorts on The Strip, the Luxor pyramid invites curiosity while the resort’s interior rewards visitors with equal parts excitement, mystery and intrigue.
This 4,405-room resort features a wide variety of entertainment including world-famous dance crew Jabbawockeez (spring 2013), the Cirque du Soleil production CRISS ANGEL Believe, the provocative adult revue, FANTASY, the hilarious comedy of Carrot Top, Menopause The Musical and the exclusive LAX Nightclub.
The property also offers a spa and salon, wedding chapel and inviting pool complex and is connected to Mandalay Bay through The Shoppes at Mandalay Place — a collection of unique boutiques and restaurants.
With a 120,000-square-foot gaming area, delectable restaurants and top-notch nightlife and entertainment, Luxor provides an unparalleled travel destination.