"Casting him as an understudy would mean that he would be in rehearsal and able to perform the show at any time. Then, when Cirque managed to get Criss out, they would be able to continue the show with major changes without having to deal with Criss."
The replacement would surely need to be performing a completely different version of the show ? And the show without a celebrity would now need to be so mindblowingly good - otherwise it would hardly be able to compete in the current entertainment landscape in Vegas.
And can Cirque deliver on such a show that has a flawed foundation ?
Looking at the scenario - I can't see 'Believe' continuing without Criss ( and if the reports are accurate, nor can it continue with him ) - if Criss departs & Cirque keep the venue, can Believe stay - surely it would be a permanent scar / reminder to Cirque of their "failure" ? And more importantly to audiences as well ?
Unless Believe version 2.0 with Criss works - the show is going to be tainted for a long time to come.
Contractually - it would be interesting to know the fundamentals of the deal and who is in the driving seat with regards to exit clauses, control over rights / venue etc.
If Criss does walk - what is the strategy to ensure he exits the deal with minimal negative PR ? And would another casino invest in a Criss Angel only show given what they've seen in Believe ?
But with the economy as it is - no matter what the end result ... no audience in attendance = no show, no matter what !