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April 23, 2014

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Criss Angel reveals new Luxor show to run during rehab for shoulder surgery

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Spike TV

Randy Couture puts Criss Angel in a choke hold on Angel’s Spike TV series “Believe.”

Criss Angel’s ‘Believe’ on Spike TV

Criss Angel’s “Believe” on Spike TV.

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Criss Angel prepares for surgery on Spike TV's 'Believe.'

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Criss Angel celebrates the fifth anniversary of his Cirque du Soleil show “Believe” at the Luxor on Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, at a party at Rx Boiler Room in Mandalay Place.

Shoulder surgery that Strip illusionist Criss Angel faces in January has led him to create a show to take the place of “Believe” at Luxor during his February and March rehabilitation therapy.

This morning, just hours after Tuesday night’s finale of his 10-part Spike TV series “Believe,” Criss officially confirmed what I have rumored at Vegas DeLuxe the past few months.

Criss is now set to launch a limited-engagement show, “Criss Angel Magic Jam,” that will showcase in place of “Believe” for two months. Criss will return to “Believe” in April for the second five-year run of his current 10-year contract with Cirque du Soleil.

Criss, who headlines the bestselling magic show in Las Vegas at his 1,533-seat theater, has invited some of the world’s greatest magicians and specialty acts to be part of his newest production, a magic variety production. It will spotlight select cast members from his current Spike series.

“It’s the best of the best for a once-in-a-lifetime limited run,” Criss said. “Audiences will witness the impossible in the form of an exciting variety format.”

Longtime Las Vegas comedy-illusionist Nathan Burton; Banachek, the world’s premiere mentalist; and new female magician Krystyn Lambert, who has been prominently featured in the Spike series, will be joined by grandmaster manipulators Jason Byrne and Tony Clarke, supreme close-up artist Armando Vera and the magic comedy of Russ Merlin.

Criss, who wrote and directed the new production, in addition to his “Believe” series, says he will play onstage host to his friends and the nightly finale featuring some of his own revolutionary illusions.

But because of the surgery and the rehab he will undergo daily starting next month, he won’t be seen swinging from the Luxor theater ceilings in his straightjacket escapes or taking on other body-punishing stunts.

The shoulder surgery and the doctor-mandated therapy have unexpectedly led Criss to fulfill a longtime dream.

“ ‘Magic Jam’ is something I have wanted to do for years,” he said. “I’m so excited to bring the most talented artists in their respective disciplines — all of whom I’m so fortunate to call my friends — to the Luxor. It is going to be a blast.”

Cirque officials made the announcement official this morning. There will be two “Magic Jam” performances Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 7 and 9:30 p.m. and one performance at 7 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays. The show is dark Sundays and Mondays.

During the Season 1 run of his top-rated “Believe,” Criss performed 120 illusions and demonstrations. Key YouTube clips from it have registered record-setting numbers of more than 15 million viewings, the most ever for any magician.

“It was a very difficult and demanding schedule,” he told me. “No magician in history has ever done what we just did the past few months. It was emotionally, mentally and physically draining.”

For now, he’s not even talking about a Season 2 of “Believe”; he’s focused on “Magic Jam” and the rehabilitation.

Criss talked previously with me about his ever-worsening shoulder injury, which he finally wrecked while filming a double-straightjacket escape in Times Square while hanging upside down by heavy metal weights.

“I put off surgery for so long,” Criss told me. “Now it has become so bad I have no other choice. It is under the knife, or I would have to give up my career.”

There are unconfirmed rumors that after the limited Strip run, “Magic Jam” will hit the road next spring and summer on a world tour.

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.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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