Las Vegas Sun

August 20, 2014

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CRISS ANGEL:

Believe’ two days from public debut

After weeks of performances, Cirque show’s progress evident

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Criss Angel

Practice has made nearly perfect for magician Criss Angel.

After weeks of special “preview” performances, his $100-million Cirque du Soleil show, “Criss Angel Believe,” is in its final stages, almost ready to be unveiled to the public.

Tuesday night was the 35th and final preview performance before Thursday’s media-only show. On Friday, the show opens to the public during an extravagant Halloween night premiere.

“There’s nothing safe about this show,” Angel said. “Here you have lighting, you have costumes, you have special effects, you have the illusion, you have the artist, the character development. All of those things have to work harmoniously together in order to have the effect pulled off.”

The 90-minute showcase has been delayed three times and originally was scheduled to open Sept. 1. While both Angel and Cirque’s camps cited technical reasons for the delays, others speculated that the show wasn’t coming together as planned. “Believe” eventually opened Sept. 26 and has had several weeks of sold-out performances.

“The show speaks for itself. I don’t have to defend the show,” Angel said. “It’s like off a duck’s back, (the criticism) doesn’t affect me at all.”

The show has evolved considerably since the curtain was first raised last month. Several new sequences have been worked into the act, while additional props and new illusions have been incorporated into the show.

The performance now has a different ending -- Angel no longer sings his signature “Mindfreak” anthem -- and the timing throughout the performance appears to be spot-on.

With months of rehearsals and three dozen preview performances under his belt, Angel said he, and his cast and crew, are ready.

“Each person that’s in the audience is paying their money -- their hard-earned money in this very difficult economy -- and I want to make sure I give them an experience they’ll never forget,” he said.

“Believe” is the culmination of years of work for the 40-year-old Angel. While he co-wrote the production with prolific Cirque director Serge Denoncourt, Angel began writing the production 15 years ago and has incorporated many of his favorite and most famous illusions into the act.

The woman who first introduced him to the world of magic, his aunt Stella, was in the crowd Tuesday to cheer her nephew on.

It has been nearly 33 years since she taught Angel his first card trick.

Angel’s mother, Dimitra Sarantakos, sat next to her, while her son’s latest rumored femme de jour, star of E!’s “The Girls Next Door,” Holly Madison, sat to Sarantakos’ left.

Palace Station’s resident magician, Jeff McBride, was also in the audience Tuesday.

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