Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Discuss the latest news and rumors in the magic world.

Postby Jonathan Townsend » 09/29/08 12:19 PM

I don't understand this rush to judge a show from it's first previews - especially when the show is scheduled to open for Halloween a good month away.

What I'm looking for in this discussion is an idea of how well Criss does in performing with the Cirque players and how well the show flows as an entertainment.
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Postby CraigMitchell » 09/29/08 01:40 PM

From the Cirque side - things appear to have been very positive ( with greater focus now on dance than the usual acrobatics ) Great costumes, lighting, music, stage et al ... the biggest disappointment from early reviewers has been the magic ( Criss' side )but quite a few effects have yet to been finalised, still to be added or still being polished ... so there is still hope.
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Postby CraigMitchell » 09/29/08 04:11 PM

LA Times has feedback:

http://vegasblog.latimes.com/vegas/2008 ... -at-a.html

"That said, this show has serious challenges that are impossible to ignore ahead of it. I will offer my thoughts in a moment on those challenges. But my opinion is not important compared with the paying audience. And, though less jaded than I, the audience also saw the obvious problems with "Believe." Vegas audiences are usually very forgiving; look at the people who still applaud the living remains of Wayne Newton. But the audience that saw "Believe" with me was appalled, based on the comments I heard. And Doug Elfman of the Review-Journal was outside the theater the night I was there and the next night recording audience reactions that were uniformly negative.

Whatever the problems with "Believe," the show is not "unsalvageable." The costumes, look and music of the show are impressive props. The dancers are talented. The problem is the very confusing premise that I think is at the core of the show, and even that premise is promising. Illusionist Angel, through an accident, winds up in a Cirque-created world of magic. But if that is the story of "Believe," then Cirque has to reconcile itself to having a headliner whose personality puts over the show. Right now "Believe" loses energy the moment Angel enters the mystery world of Cirque and becomes, for the most part, a spectator. He possesses mighty powers, hangs out a little and returns to our world healed enough to sing along with a taped version of his television theme song as the audience walks out. Where is the man's dialouge? Does he have thoughts of what is going on with his body in the "real" world or what he is viewing in the land of Cirque creations? We never learn. Angel turns mostly silent."

and some telling comments on the need to integrate the world of Cirque with that of Angel:

"But "Believe" dodges this question by depriving Angel of almost any dialogue in response to the visually lush, dark and heavily symbolic world he lands inside. Angel and his compelling personality may be the center of the show but they are not at the heart. Instead, Angel is at the side figuratively and literally for much of the show. He can not dance as well as the dancers, move as well as the acrobats or meet the talent demands of any of Cirque's routines, and so he is a spectator when not brought out for an illusion. This results in two shows in desperate need of a writer to bridge the gap and offer the audience some sort of compelling story that pulls the production together in a way not clear yet from viewing it.

Another issue is the basic illusions Angel offers in Cirque's world. To varying degrees, they are tricks that are familiar, surprisingly predictable on the Strip. The illusions include escaping from a straitjacket while suspended in air, making birds appear in his hands and having a dancer crawl out of his stomach (this is an illusion staged in Vegas for years by many, including mediocre and forgotten talents). If these are the illusions' caliber, why get Criss Angel to perform them? Of course, two illusions were not presented while I was there. They may also have helped make the story clearer."
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Postby CraigMitchell » 10/01/08 04:04 AM

And a layman's take from Tripadvisor:

http://las-vegas-hotels.tripadvisor.com ... evada.html

"...When the show starts he comes out and talks to the audience and mentions Mindfreak and shows on a screen what amounts to a commercial for it. The clowns that wander around the audience and quake when the clock chimes seven and keep repeating his name over and over get you in the mood for something scary, not what you actually get.


When Criss gets "electrocuted" early on in the show, it's actually funny. The fan sitting next to me was horrified, but many people giggled (myself included). We were supposed to believe that the contraption on stage was producing 6,000,000 volts of electricity. You know, that thing they have at every science museum that makes a large continuous spark? Yes, every night for 10 years, Criss & Cirque are going to take the chance of sending a 6,000,000 volt bolt of electricty into the audience. RIGHT!


When the show starts you can see where the trap doors are in the floor (they are going to have to fix this). When people float out, you can see the wires.


Now here's my interpretation of the show. (and obviously we're all entitled to our opinion) It looks like Criss is unconscious and what we are watching is what he is dreaming while he is out. I guess his camerawoman (who comes back in his dream as an evil female demon) was supposed to have rigged the accident. Now I may be wrong, but this is what I took away from the show.


So in his dream, Criss must be one sexy guy because every dance either involves a woman putting her face in his crotch, or simulated sex. Uh, I find Criss creepy, so it was hard for me to watch. I wish he would have stuck with the magic. I wish Cirque would have more input in this show than Criss.


I liked the Cirque dancing. I liked the huge scary monsters than came out and then separated into dancing mole/anteaters(?) and the scene with the windstorm. But, as far as magic goes, I didnt' pay all that money to see him put on a large jacket and pull doves out of his sleeves. One trick that involved him running behind a large screen an coming out with a different colored costume on got old after the third color. He did rely on the large TV screen a lot and some of the tricks were done farther back on the stage. It was just disappointing. I kept waiting for a "WOW" moment and it NEVER came. I do feel like I wasted my time and money. I went with an open mind and left disappointed. His loyal fans stood and clapped at the end, but everyone else stayed seated ..."

What is particularly humorous on the same thread is mention by another contributor of DC stooging his encores ;-)

"As for people in the front row you describe as "loyal fans" I would be suspicious of them. Last year we saw Copperfield and were in the front row. Prior to the show a member of the crew came to us as well as others near the front and asked if we would be "part" of the show. Our "role", in short was: at the end of the show Copperfield would throw a handful of sand in the air, at this point our table as well as others near the front were suppose to stand and start a boisterous sustained standing ovation. It was kind of funny because we were actually told that it was up to us to get the crowd up to ensure a "really amazing encore trick". We just laughed thinking that if a standing O happened or not maybe DC might have something to do with it. Needless to say the show was alright but not great. As the sand flew our table remained in our seats as did the huge majority of the theater. A few people near the front stood-up and cheered wildly doing their best to ensure an encore which never happened."
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Postby Brandon Hall » 10/01/08 04:12 PM

Great, now I'm jaded
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Postby Dave V » 10/01/08 05:46 PM

I just heard another unsolicited report from a layperson who went to the show last night.

"Waste of time, wasted evening."

The set was gorgeous and the dancers were good. It seems everything about the show was okay, except for the parts that Criss was in.

The worst part in her opinion was when he tried to sing.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/01/08 06:40 PM

Well, everyone should already knows what it sounds like when he sings, since he sings the title song of Mindfreak on every episode.
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Postby ChristianCagigal » 10/01/08 07:29 PM

This is off topic but, speaking as a person who holds DC in complete idol worship because he always did it better than everybody else and most can't begin to understand how good he really was however, 4 or 5 years ago I saw DC. The show and the new material in it were disappointing. Yet at the end of the show we could hear wild amounts of applause from behind us. We looked back wondering what that sound was. Oddly enough there was nobody behind us. We were in the last occupied row of a half empty Orchestra section.Maybe it was just an echo from the Balcony above.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/01/08 07:58 PM

Maybe it was pre-recorded sound track. Siegfried and Roy used to have that at their show--loud applause and so on, mixed right into the music at the end of the show.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/01/08 08:43 PM

Dave V wrote:...
The set was gorgeous and the dancers were good. It seems everything about the show was okay, except for the parts that Criss was in.

The worst part in her opinion was when he tried to sing.


Merlin? Sounds like Merlin... with a twist of Lidsville.
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Postby John Carney » 10/01/08 09:36 PM

Richard Kaufman wrote: he sings the title song of Mindfreak on every episode.


that song always makes me cry.

jc
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Postby Michael Close » 10/01/08 09:56 PM

John Carney wrote:That song always makes me cry.

jc


Especially if you know anything at all about music...
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Postby CraigMitchell » 10/02/08 09:13 AM

The chorus of negative reviews grows louder ... Cirque have their work cut out for them !

http://www.lvrj.com/blogs/elfman/Criss_ ... me_In.html
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/02/08 09:17 AM

John Carney wrote:
Richard Kaufman wrote: he sings the title song of Mindfreak on every episode.


that song always makes me cry.

jc


When you play it at home you can replace it with the theme song to "Mr. Ed" if that works better for you.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/02/08 11:19 AM

From Craig's latest link to the Las Vegas Journal Review, this online response is interesting--it's wicked in its criticism:

Foster Grant wrote on September 29, 2008 02:25 PM: A lack of practice is NOT the problem with this show. I saw it Saturday with rabid Angel fans and they were embarrassed. Angel should have been embarrassed. Cirq folk were WONDERFUL!!! But Angel (and his obvious doubles) kept taking the stage.

Fans of his muscles should note that "cumberbund-like" belt hides more than just his "flying" harness.

Funny how collapsible capes and hoods cover Angel at the same 3 points on the floor for EVERY disappearance, or watch to see him dash up-stage through smoke. And if the body on that chain-saw table looks human to ANYONE, you need to look at more people! I suspect the torso was cast from Angel 10-15 lbs. ago, or "touched up" - it's the only time one sees what is supposed to be his "waist."

I expect the only "mind freak" going on is Angel backstage just before the start of this bomb each night (Oh, be good if he could improvise his patter to reflect when there are and are NOT two shows nightly, but that's obviously beyond this clod's skills.) It's hard to sort out which parts are most uncomfortable in this show for the audience - when Angel speaks, or when he performs "tricks." Both made me queasy.

Finally, neat trick with the "Surprise" 'We love you Chris' banner, with Angel usually out of synch with the supposedly live video on screen. Time lag can be sold as a tech effect, but the words and movements STILL have to match, and they don't. Oh, and Chris, don't start peeling off one costume before disappearing behind the video screen. And we know your double sometimes comes out the other side.

It's as if this guy has done only TV magic. Sadly, sloppy magic on stage can't be "cleaned up in post."
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Postby CraigMitchell » 10/02/08 11:34 AM

If its any consolation to Criss ... Le Reve was panned by critics when it opened - and some 3 years of continued changes later - I'm told that they've finally got it right ...
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Postby Brad Henderson » 10/02/08 11:43 AM

I saw Le Reve two years ago and it was awful. Weakest show if its kind I have seen.
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Postby ChristianCagigal » 10/02/08 02:38 PM

Richard Kaufman wrote:Maybe it was pre-recorded sound track. Siegfried and Roy used to have that at their show--loud applause and so on, mixed right into the music at the end of the show.


I didn't wanna say it myself...
I still don't know if it's extremely clever or a bit sad for performers at their level to do that.

As for La Reve, I have a buddy in that show. Brad's comment explains a lot.

As for CA. Wow! I hope magic happens between now and "Opening Night". But, these audience reviews are not looking good.
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Postby Terry » 10/02/08 04:41 PM

On TMZ last night, they quoted an audience member saying, "Angel makes David Copperfield look good and he's an old guy".

Real difference in edited TV and a live show.
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Postby shaena engle » 10/03/08 12:20 AM

The press nights for Believe have been changed numerous times and we have been assured that Oct. 30 is now set as the official press night. Journalists, including myself, have been provided press seats for Oct. 30, before the grand opening on Halloween. The Cirque pr folks told press that they are "still working out the kinks" in the show. So far, I have only heard negative reviews about the show. After the 30th most of the reviews from press will publish.
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Postby Steve V » 10/03/08 01:43 AM

Okay...I'm in desperate need of employment so since Criss can't hack it I, yes I, volunteer to replace him.
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Postby LV720 » 10/03/08 08:14 PM

This was printed in the Las Vegas Sun today...Interview with Criss regarding Believe:
See below:

LAS VEGAS SUN:
October 3rd, 2008

Criss Angel has 30 days to make believers.

His Cirque du Soleil show, "Believe," premieres at the Luxor on Halloween, leaving a month to put the finishing touches on the $100 million production. The show opened softly Friday to a sellout crowd and previews of the work-in-progress will continue until the Oct. 31 premiere.

"Believe" originally was scheduled to open Sept. 12, and some have suggested the delays indicate deep-rooted and serious problems are afoot. It isn't the first Cirque show to be delayed: "K" was delayed about seven months before it premiered in 2005 at the MGM Grand.

Critics have taken swings at "Believe" as the preview performances ramp up.

A column in Mondays Review-Journal called "Believe" an "unsalvageable waste of time that literally bored some audience members to sleep." Though columnist Doug Elfman said he didnt see the show himself, he talked to several people who saw the show Friday and Saturday. He also eavesdropped on ticketholders as they left the theater to reach his conclusions.

"Not one person I talked to said it was good," he said during a phone call Wednesday. "I wasnt trying to stack the deck one way or another I put in all the positive stuff I got."

Tuesday night's crowd wasn't as tough.

Cheryl and Randy Dalton, of Canton, Ohio, sat in Row M of Section 102. After the 25 percent preview price discount, their tickets, came to just over $100 each.

It was definitely worth the money, Cheryl said after the show. "(Angel) tied everything together, made it more of a performance, a story," she said. "I didnt think there was going to be a storyline. It was kind of like an extra treat."

Said her husband, Randy: "I wouldve liked to see a little bit more illusions, but still it was very good."

Jason Koehn, Celeste Mansanz and Shawn Reiter came to Las Vegas from St. Paul, Minn., to see "Believe" and do a little gambling. Masanz said "Believe" was the highlight of the trip, while Reiter said he felt there was "a little too much of the TV stuff," but he still enjoyed the show.

When asked Tuesday night about the magic to song-and-dance ratio, Angel said there are more illusions in the show than most people realize. By his count, the show has about 25 significant so-called "mindfreaks" in the 90-minute performance.

Angel has learned a few things in these preview shows. The illusionist noted some aspects of the show that never were intended to be magic have been misinterpreted as illusions-gone-wrong. Case in point: the cables used in one sequence that suspend costumed Cirque performers above the stage.

"I never set out to try to fool anybody. Those people are hanging from a line," Angel said. "Theyre not supposed to be levitating or flying. Theyre hanging from, you know, a typical Cirque rig."

The 40-year-old Angel sat cross-legged on his dressing room couch, joking about his show being under a misguided microscope. "People in the audience are sitting there like, 'Oh, look at that girl flying like a bird! You can see a line!'" he said.

Yes, you can see the line! Im not trying to hide a line. The line is like this big, he said, laughing as he held his fingers and inch or two apart to show the line's diameter.

He cracks jokes as he discusses the ups and downs of the creative process. Still, he said theres a lot that remains to be done before the show opens next month.

Is the show done? No, its not done, he said. We have a lot to do in the weeks coming.

He said two or three illusions have yet to be worked into the show, while other aspects still need tweaking.

We have work to do but its not unexpected, he said. We need a period of time to evolve and develop and to perfect and to utilize the audience as a barometer to be able to go through that process.

Once it opens, "Believe" will be performed twice a night, five times a week for the next decade, if not longer. For now, however, there is just one show a night, at 7 p.m., allowing the production team time to evaluate audience reaction and the performance itself and make changes as needed.

And changes are needed.

After gauging audience response over the first five "soft performance nights," Angel said he wants to modify the part of the show in which he gets sawed in half.

"People are having a very hard time responding to me getting cut in half because, you know, theyre applauding my death and they dont want to do that," he said. "Im going to come here tomorrow at noon and I will work with the director and try to kind of change the routine a little bit."

He said the shows music has to be adjusted, too, to allow for applause in areas where no one anticipated people to cheer.

Three things didnt go as planned Tuesday night: A chair didnt spin when it was supposed to and, twice, a streamer didnt shoot across the stage as scripted. Most in the audience didn't seem to notice when the relatively minor details didnt fall into place as planned.

Without going into details, Angel acknowledged one of the shows major illusions still needs work. He said Tuesday marked the first time he felt he pulled it off sufficiently, and even so, it's nowhere near where he wants it to be.

Im very, very excited about where were going and by Halloween were going to be 110 percent perfection, he said.

Angel's public relations rep, Steve Flynn, said the show is "very much still a work in progress.

The skeleton for the show is in place," he said. "Now we just have to put meat on the bones."

Angel said there are several things, both big and small, that need work.

"A major thing would be it rains in the show, and unfortunately, we couldnt stop it from raining in the show (on Sunday and Monday), he said. On Tuesday, the waterworks seemed to be in order and the rain machine stopped when it was supposed to.

He said the show is falling into place for the Halloween night debut.

"I think were in really good shape," Angel said. "People dont stand (and applaud) if they hate something. People dont stand if they feel that they didnt get their moneys worth."

"Believe" joins "K", "Zumanity," "O," "Mystre" and "Love" as the sixth permanent Cirque show in town. Tickets for "Believe" are available at the Luxor box office and online.

They range in price from $59 to $150, plus taxes and fees, but are discounted by 25 percent during the preview phase. The show is sold out through Oct. 6.
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Postby CraigMitchell » 10/04/08 05:03 AM

"Believe" will be performed twice a night, five times a week for the next decade ...

--> That is one serious show schedule ... we forget what a gruelling committment S&R, Lance Burton, DC and others make when joining the ranks of permanent shows ...
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Postby CraigMitchell » 10/05/08 06:08 AM

LVRJ continues its assessment that the magic in Believe is nothing revolutionary:

http://www.lvrj.com/living/30482954.html

It's getting harder to believe in magic.

The nice folks at Cirque du Soleil were kind enough to let me in to the new "Criss Angel -- Believe" last week without me sneaking around to buy a ticket, partly in response to poisonous exit interviews first-weekend patrons gave the Review-Journal's Doug Elfman.

I agreed not to review the show before its official Halloween debut, keeping with the newspaper's policy when preview tickets are discounted. "This is called a soft opening," Angel reminded the audience at the end. "It's still being evolved and developed."

But there isn't much time left to live up to promises made when the show was announced in March of last year. "Imagine if we could reinvent magic like (Cirque du Soleil) reinvented the circus," Angel said, pledging "an experience that redefines what magic is and what it can be."

"What we're working on and workshopping, the world of entertainment has never seen," added the show's director, Serge Denoncourt. "It's never been done before. I know that's hype but it's true."

They still have 26 whole days to put that stuff in. So far, Angel has made good on one vow: not to box in the tricks with cabinetry. But the illusions are otherwise the same ones seen up and down the Strip. (That's fact, not critical opinion.)

One, where a person appears to pass through Angel's torso, has its own Wikipedia entry explaining the secret. I wondered how any of these classics could be kept secret in the Internet era. Apparently, they can't.

It could be Cirque didn't go to the right people. A handful of behind-the-scenes illusion builders are recognized as the go-to guys for the major magicians. It's said they did not sign on with Cirque because Cirque wanted to buy their work outright. The usual practice is that the builder retains the rights to the proprietary idea, selling the same illusion to different magicians.

Given Cirque's immense resources, maybe the idea was to avoid the usual suspects and recruit some new thinking. Hey, they still have three weeks to make some calls.

One of the self-described "nuts and bolts guy(s)" is Bill Smith, a Las Vegan who works for Lance Burton and others. "There are only so many things you can do onstage. Cirque has found this out," he says. "It's hard to take the stuff that already exists and improve upon it."

Still, he reminds me of a couple of recent successes. Penn & Teller have a gory new twist on the old sawing-in-half trick. David Copperfield and another person vanish astonishingly from a type of forklift suspended over the audience. Both, Smith says, apply new procedure to old principles.

OK, so maybe I still do believe in magic. So far, it's just not at a show called "Believe."
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Postby chipper » 10/06/08 05:10 AM

The article is from Mike Weatherford, who is actually a pretty honest and straitforward columnist in Vegas for many years now. He pretty much "tells it like it is" in his articles, columns, interviews, and reviews.

QUOTE:
"Imagine if we could reinvent magic like (Cirque du Soleil) reinvented the circus," Angel said, pledging "an experience that redefines what magic is and what it can be."

Nice idea except for a few things to consider: Cirque's original 'take' on the circus was simply their version of a one-ring "european" style circus, which was already much more theatrical and artistic before Cirque came along than the American counterpart of circus culture. It was us, the United States, that basically "bastardized" the concept of circus by creating more style than substance, and running with the "more is better" theory which expanded the single circus ring into 2, then 3 and even 5 rings. More acts performing at the same time for bigger "spectacle", but lesser quality of the acts performing since the focus was never on one singular act in particular.

When Cirque appeared in the States, it was a GODSEND. Suddenly we were back to presenting artists in their best light, with all the focus directed solely on them in a single ring. Lighting and music and even thin storylines woven into the performance was a nice and welcome surprise for westerners.

(Trust me. I grew up traveling and performing on circuses with my parents since the day I was born, until I was about 16 years old. When I saw Cirque for the first time in Los Angeles in 1984, I cried. -- Because I finally got a chance to see someone bringing the true european style of theatrical circus to our country. Finally! Yay!)

When Cris talks about reinventing magic, he seems to be missing the fact that THAT is EXACTLY what many before him had ALREADY accomplished and done. Doug Henning? Copperfield? Even taking a "bad boy" angle on magic for comedic effect by Penn & Teller? All of them NICELY REINVENTED, thank you.

Lastly, many of the people who have caught these 'preview' shows have been mentioning some similar themes of disappointment: Like being able to 'see' the holes in the stage where performers appear or disappear during production or dance numbers, or the cables "flying" Cirque gymnasts and dancers about in the show. Doesn't the creative team realize that NOBODY would mention those things if the show was simply a CIRQUE show on its own?

But now that "MAGIC" is themed into this production, the audience will take the theme ultra-seriously and will constantly look at the supposed "gaffs" like cables, holes, etc...

You can't jump back and forth between visual, magical "imagery" and then suddenly "real magic". There HAS to be a solid environment and foundation for the ENTIRE show where the 'rules' are specified and are adhered to very strictly throughout the show. Otherwise, it just doesn't work.

That would be like performing Swan Lake, and then halfway through the evening, actually releasing real swans among the ballet dancers.

Anyway, I sincerely hope their next 26 days are VERY PRODUCTIVE. I for one would really like to see a really great show.

Fingers crossed.
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Postby Roger M. » 10/06/08 12:01 PM

Many excellent points in your post chipper, I enjoyed reading it.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 10/06/08 02:14 PM

I cant think of Criss Angel now without giggling because of how Joel McHale described him a couple weeks ago on The Soup:

a lisping Doug Henning who in six months will have a career as a childrens party entertainer.

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Postby Terry » 10/06/08 07:22 PM

Dustin Stinett wrote:I cant think of Criss Angel now without giggling because of how Joel McHale described him a couple weeks ago on The Soup:

a lisping Doug Henning who in six months will have a career as a childrens party entertainer.

Dustin


Maybe for the Addams Family children. . .snap snap. . . .
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Postby CraigMitchell » 10/09/08 11:10 AM

And it continues:

"

Caught BeLIEve - horrible. It will close within a year, maybe sooner. I know for a fact that the creative team are tearing their hair out. I've worked in theater for 20 years and I can attest to the fact that previews are basically there to iron out complex technical issues. Not creative issues. The foundation and concept of the show should be set, solid and flawless by the time previews start and the tech previews are to orchestrate the heavier technical elements.

Even if I was a huge fan of CA I would have a tough time staying one after this fiasco. A lot about it, most of it unrelated to the show's star or the 'magic', was very impressive. The sound, music, costumes, choreography, design and stagecraft is breathtaking. But what about the meat of it - the central performance, the MAGIC, this 'groundbreaking' stuff we were promised?

Well, that was hype, obviously. The truth is this show is just too abstract and half-baked. The people who DON'T know who CA was, who had just come in out of curiosity, were as confused as anyone. Angel was IN the show, sort of drifting in and out, but he said little and had such little presence it may as well have been your mailman, or the guy who works in valet parking at the Luxor.

It doesn't know where its focus is. With a Penn & Teller show, with Copperfield show, you know what you're getting. With this, nobody knew and it didn't get clearer either. Having him end the show by miming to his TV show theme song was just excruciating and obviously tacked on in lieu of a real climax. And a pseudo-thrash metal track seemed oddly out of place considering what we'd just seen was meant to be this delicate, poetic 'magical' experience.

But in public, his diabolical - and frankly nauseating - attitude and overwhelming arrogance at a time in the entertainment business when a headliner needs to show a little modesty and offer added value to get people to fork out $$$ for tickets to this shamefully under-cooked thing is going to bury it. I feel bad for the crew and the creative team who have obviously put a lot of hours into this production.

Ultimately, I don't think CA has enough of a fan base to sustain a long-term residency. Is this guy really as popular as everyone thinks? Did Cirque think there would be enough Cirque fans to sustain it? Maybe.

Big difference between Mystere, O, Zumanity, KA etc and BeLIEve - a 'star' with a total lack of tact and apparent apathy towards his collaborators. Who on earth would actually do this much verbal damage, directly or indirectly, knowingly or otherwise, to a production financed and created by people who believe in him enough to put their money where their mouth is to actualize the show? Doesn't he GET what a golden opportunity this is, how privileged he is to have Luxor/Cirque resources and backing, and how they must feel when he says or does something that damages their investment in him?

Cirque can also thank him for bringing about the backlash Cirque has managed to dodge for what, more than 10 years now? Cirque basically repackage the same formula time and time again and the audience began to get that around about the time Zumanity opened. Cirque has been a trend on the Strip that has been mightily successful, but times change.

So, what will happen next?

Cirque will see the threat this show poses to their previously untarnished track record and their future reputation as a prestigious company, cut their losses, say that they're going to retool it for Broadway as a test ground and then try again later. And that will be that. Instant wipe, like it never happened.

This could - with the right amount of development, thought and vision - have actually been a very compelling, dream-like, interesting show. But they rushed it all in and it shows.

Hearing "we're going to retool it" is a standard thing to say when really it's code for "we know it's awful and we're going to try to salvage it before it gets any worse". Look at La Reve at Wynn - I don't know how many times that show has been reworked, but it doesn't get any better in my opinion. It was a Cirque rip off and always will be.

My point is some productions are doomed from the start. They open with such a welter of baggage and negativity that NOTHING will save them. I've seen it myself and from what I saw of BeLIEve and what I hear, this sounds like an example of "sounded like a good idea at the time".
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Postby Michael Pascoe » 10/09/08 12:53 PM

The people I heard that saw it says it is horrible. The president of the Luxor walked out. Some said they saw the traps and it was just terrible. He is out of his element now that he can't have edits and trick photography. This is just bad for magic all around.
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Postby Rick Ruhl » 10/09/08 01:22 PM

Terry wrote:On TMZ last night, they quoted an audience member saying, "Angel makes David Copperfield look good and he's an old guy".

Real difference in edited TV and a live show.


Hmm Criss is almost 41 and David just tuned 52. 11 years difference doesn't make David and 'old guy', he's just been around longer, like since he was 19! Maybe that makes him seem older.
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Postby Ray T. Stott » 10/09/08 09:50 PM

[size:11pt][font:Times New Roman]October has been a historically tough month.

In 1844 the followers and some of the clerics of an autodidact interpreter of Biblical prophesy named William Miller, founder of the "Millerism" religious movement, announced the exact date of the Second Coming of Christ during a New Hampshire camp meeting

That day was to be 22 October 1848.

Previously, Miller himself predicted the date to be between 21 March 1843 and 21 March 1844 which missed the mark.

Many of the Millerites gave away all their earthly possessions stood watch on a New York state hilltop and, obviously, the predicted second Parousia, failed to materialize.

The non-event became known as "The Great Disappointment" by his followers many of which went on to form the forerunner of the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

There several parallels in the above and the 31 October opening of Believe.

A mention was made of efforts that were doomed to failure at inception.

Based upon what I have read here, this performer's current effort stands a great chance of being referred to as, "The Great Disappointment", by his legions of devotees and audiences in general thrown in for good measure.

On the positive side, and in the spirit of September/October 2008 season, the Fed should be an easy touch for a hundred large to bail out this corporate blunder.
[/font][/size]
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Postby skeptic555 » 10/10/08 02:39 PM

So, here is one more "review" - this one from a decidedly CIRQUE point of view. Taken from the Cirque Tribune (which is a Cirque Uber-fan forum). Ill be seeing it with my own eyes in a little over 2 weeks, and will be sure to weigh in after that:

After reading Doug Elfman's now-famous column outlining the audience reaction to the first previews of BELIEVE, I just HAD to go see it before Cirque either a.) fixes it, or b.) closes it for major re-working.

Caught the show this past Saturday night, and the bottom line is that it truly is every bit as bad as the Review Journal made it out to be. BELIEVE is flat out boring, silly, and unengaging, but somehow better than ZAIA.

Like ZAIA, though, the root of the problems lies in inept writing/direction. Trying to re-write the rules of theatre is one thing, but being oblivious to the basic principles is another. On the whole, BELIEVE comes off as if the Goth kids from High School were given $85 million and a DVD of Julie Taymor's production of "The Magic Flute", and given the mandate to create a Cirque-style production.

The premise is promising, but saying it is poorly executed doesn't even start to do it justice.

The show begins as a typical Las Vegas magic show, though following a staged accident, we're transported into Criss' subconscious where the rules of logic, gravity, and reality need not apply.

Sounds cool- right? It's not.

Flawed from the outset, after the accident where there should be a big TRANSPORTIVE MOMENT, the show comes to a grinding halt with a video clip, followed by a puppet rabbit reading the "rules of the house", followed by the big rabbit dance number. That critical moment of engagement/buy-in never takes place, and therein, the manifested universe is not once convincing or especially interesting.

Sadly, it's downhill from there. The show degrades as it wears on, as exemplified in the following sequence;

On the large screen, GIANTS emerge from the foggy woods as physical GIANTS (Michael Curry puppets) come in from stage right and stage left. Criss rips off their frocks to reveal that they are not giants, but rather half a dozen MOLE PEOPLE working the inner mechanisms of GIANT "ROBOTS". Having seen through their act, there's only one thing left to do- a DANCE OFF!

We go to the underground lair home to the mole people, who therein perform a large dance routine before Criss rises from his throne only to win the "dance battle"- a display so powerful it sends the mole people running off in all directions.

Criss assesses the situation and the scattered remains of the giant sitting on the floor, and REFERENCING THE AUDIENCE, tell the four Valet characters that "these people paid good money to be here tonight! We should build them something!"... ... ... makes sense- right?

So, as the Valet characters start putting these pieces together, Criss turns to the audience and explains "now, you're not gonna believe this! this happens every night! every night around 7:50, these guys fall for this! watch!". The monster constructed from the pieces comes to life, chases everyone around the theatre a bit, and eventually it turns out to be Criss inside the puppet (one of the show's several obvious uses of body doubles).

Sadly, this is a mild example of the show's many inane sequences that border on bad children's theatre with a budget.

In the end, you're left initially with a sense of "what the [censored] was that", followed by a bitter taste that for me, now 5 days later, still hasn't shaken off. "This Gig Is F****d" indeed.

Given the technical elements in place, BELIEVE is fixable, though by my estimation only 15-20% of what's on stage now is salvageable. A new director with a solid vision is what's needed to recoup this train wreck. I would also suggest re-thinking the price structure- regardless of what the future holds for BELIEVE, it will never be worth Cirque's top price tier, and quite frankly feels rather out-of-place in a setting such as LUXOR.

Most significantly of all, is that this is the first time the public is calling Cirque out on its faltering standards in a big way.

Anyone else who's seen the show agree? Disagree?

Man I hope ZED is great...
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Postby Ray T. Stott » 10/10/08 03:19 PM

[font:Times New Roman][size:11pt]Sounds like the groundwork has been laid for a 21st century version of the 1849 Astor Place riot with the notable exception of the actions of only one prima donna precipitating the affair.[/size][/font]
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Postby Paul Q » 10/10/08 04:27 PM

Maybe this whole "preview season" is one big mindfreak.

Maybe on Oct. 31st the whole show changes into something brilliant and unexpected.



and maybe monkeys will fly out of my butt!
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/10/08 08:35 PM

Whether monkeys depart from Uranus or not (and for my British friends, we pronounce the name of the planet with a long "a"), considering the withering comments about the previews, and the economic catastrophe engulfing the economy right now (and this includes tanking hotel bookings in Vegas, among other resort destinations like Walt Disney World), it will be very hard to fill the Believe theater twice a night at those prices.

As was reported months ago, almost a million dollars was cut from the magic budget for the show.

Despite the anonymous review above which Craig Mitchell posted, from someone who has "worked in the theater for 20 years," much creative work is in fact done to shows during previews. This is the history of the musical theater: whole song and dance numbers are cut, others are quickly written; scene order is shuffled; actors replaced; directors replaced; and so on.

I'm not going to defend or condemn Criss Angel at this point. They've got just over two weeks to get ready to open. They know what their problems are, but whether they'll get fixed is another story. Cirque has insured the show in case Criss walks or fails to perform. The reviews will speak clearly on Oct.31.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/10/08 09:25 PM

Ray T. Stott wrote:[font:Times New Roman][size:11pt]Sounds like the groundwork has been laid for a 21st century version of the 1849 Astor Place riot with the notable exception of the actions of only one prima donna precipitating the affair.[/size][/font]



Not sure about the riot part but a sort of magician's duel, as in the latter part of the movie "The Prestige" might be fun for audiences and good for both of them. IMHO this could work well given their basic branding is distinct.

Now as to which if either could take the stage and do a better Hamlet...
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Postby castawaydave » 10/10/08 10:41 PM

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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/10/08 10:58 PM

Okay maybe he looks more like Brian Malko of Placebo than Olivier doing Hamlet but I'm still hoping the show pulls together and we start hearing about strange guest appearances as the show becomes a standard in Vegas.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/11/08 12:27 AM

Jeez, you can't believe some of the quotes in the new LA Times piece that Dave linked to above:

I mean, how screwed up does this sound: "Cirque has never put its clout behind an individual performer this way before. And the troupe made a counterintuitive choice in hiring 'Believe's' co-writer and director Serge Denoncourt to bring it to the stage. 'I'm well known in Quebec to be stubborn and hands-on and a control freak,' Denoncourt said. 'As well, everybody knows I hate magic. I'm trying to direct a show for people who love it but also for people like me who hate magic'."

So, Cirque hires a guy to direct the show who hates magic? A guy who's a control freak to oversee Criss Angel, king of the control freaks? Does it take a genius to foresee what the result of that would be? It's either a stroke of genius or a catastrophe ...

And this:
"It's a Cirque show where he is the main character," Ste-Croix said by phone from Montreal last month. "We used this man who has the following of a star, but in our scenario. It's not MGM with Criss Angel, it's MGM with Cirque du Soleil. Because he is the main artist, we had him participate with input."
To underscore his Cirque-centric viewpoint, Ste-Croix added: "Maybe, you know, if Lance Burton or David Copperfield had said, 'We want to do a show,' we would have considered it. We thought about the opportunity with Criss and said, 'We can do this.' It's as simple as that, how we ended up with Criss on the marquee."
Never mind that until Ste-Croix began suggesting otherwise, Angel -- not Cirque -- had been positioned as the show's headlining draw. To wit, a 43,000-square-foot billboard of the "Mindfreak" star's face stares up from a side of the pyramid-shaped Luxor.
Backstage, Angel bristled at the characterization. Turns out Ste-Croix made similar remarks to a local newspaper that happened to be unfolded in the magician's lap.
"That's not the case," he said, looking to a coterie of managers, publicists, lawyers and illusion specialists in his room for confirmation.
"We need to have a conversation with Mr. Gilles Ste-Croix."

That certainly doesn't sound like a group who are working harmoniously toward creating a coherent show. The story is certainly the most coherent piece written so far about what's happening with Believe and I encourage you to read it:
http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/ne ... full.story
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