Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Discuss the latest news and rumors in the magic world.
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Richard Kaufman
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Re: Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Postby Richard Kaufman » November 1st, 2008, 11:48 am

Here's the first one I've found:
http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2008/no ... s-believe/

Some quotes:

"In fact, theres shockingly little magic to be seen in this much-anticipated Cirque du Soleil spectacle constructed around a celebrity magician. No shock, no awe, precious little surprise, even.Cirque throws everything in its considerable arsenal of stage genius at Angel the expected array of lush, loud music, expert dancers and aerialists, lavish settings and boundary-breaking special effects, all intended to amaze. The single most amazing thing about Believe is that its still so boring. For a reported $100 million, Cirque has bought itself its first bona fide bomb. ... Camp followers the types who relish gems of unintentional badness like Showgirls and well, Springtime for Hitler are advised to get tickets soon. As I said, magic-lovers are shortchanged. We get a remote-writing trick involving a suspended locked box, a flock of doves that appear and fly above audience, some piddling flashpaper fire-work, lots of clever screenplay, with Angel popping in and out of the projected images, and an enjoyably gory set piece with Angel sawed in half by a chainsaw-wielding bunny. All his illusions are obscured by flashing strobes, clouds of fog and other standard methods of distraction and misdirection. The Fright Dome Halloween haunted house at Circus Circus employed many of the same effects, to better result, for $35.A charmless mook, Angel is a rudimentary stage performer hes barely believable playing himself."

Ouch.
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Re: Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Postby Richard Kaufman » November 1st, 2008, 11:51 am

Another:
http://www.lvrj.com/news/33685929.html

Some quotes:

"The magic makes it painfully obvious that Angel is a showman whose gift was creating his persona, not anything new in his field. The dude's buff and tough enough -- hanging upside down over the audience in a straitjacket -- but the big illusions plod to predictable conclusions; dressed-up versions of the typical Vegas big-stage show. The touted innovation is that instead of boxes and cabinets, the trickery is concealed by the fabric of fans or cloaks, or fog machines. Big whoop. Angel's speaking role has expanded since previews began, a double-edged sword. Remember, Cirque isn't big on the talking thing. But this is a star vehicle, and the star's gotta say something, right?
So you might be lulled into the haunting imagery the same way you might be hypnotized by an old horror movie on TV. But then your roommate comes in and starts with the wisecracks and it goes the way of "Mystery Science Theater."

Ouch.
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Re: Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Postby Kevin Connolly » November 1st, 2008, 11:56 am

It looks-like the ones in-the-know reviews above are as good if not better than the "mainstream" bs artists. IMHO.
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Re: Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Postby David Nethery » November 1st, 2008, 12:12 pm

The whole Long Island Goth thing isnt just incongruous, its jarring and completely upsets one of Cirques main strengths, which is transporting you to a dream world and KEEPING YOU THERE.

And its not edgy and tough and cool to swear and make genital-based jokes. It comes across as pathetic and desperate and sad.


This doesn't surprise me , but what I'm really puzzled about is how did the Cirque people not KNOW this was going to be the result ? Are they surprised that his persona comes off as an embarrassing disaster in a Cirque show? (If "surprised" is the right word for it) That's just Criss Angel being Criss Angel . So who was the person in the Cirque organization who green lit the show to begin with ? I just can't figure out how anyone thought this would be a good idea for a show.

What a waste. I'm sorry to see such a high profile "magic show" go down in flames, but honestly who didn't see it coming a long time ago ?

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Re: Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Postby Rick Ruhl » November 1st, 2008, 12:17 pm

I think this quote from the LVRJ says it all:

"Moments like that make you wonder what this show could have been if Cirque and David Copperfield had come together 10 years ago.

Copperfield understands that the best illusions are little one-act plays, each building to a carefully constructed payoff that isn't just an effect, but the climax of the story."

I don't think David ever got a bad review of his shows at all from the critics, Richard, do you remember any?

I found a good review from 2004 for David

http://www.igoshows.com/reviews/review113.html
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Re: Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Postby Adrian Kuiper » November 1st, 2008, 12:32 pm

The shows single most memorable image involves a giant severed bunny head that rolls over and tap dances on its ears.



Man....that's enough to make me pack up my oxygen...hop on a bus and get to Vegas before the show ends!!!

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Re: Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Postby Gord » November 1st, 2008, 1:05 pm

I'm really sorry to hear all of this. I really liked pre-A&E Angel and hoped for the best. *sigh* Oh well.
On the other hand, I've thought for years that Cirque De Whatever needed something like this. They were getting far too big to be feasible in the long run.

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Re: Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Postby Gord » November 1st, 2008, 1:10 pm

Rick Ruhl wrote:I did my annual garage magic show for the neighbood, and about 250 people showed up (more than normal), Did an appearance, levi, zigzag, handcuff escape, etc.Can't wait to see his review tonight, I do hope it's good, for magic's sake.


What an amazing idea. Did anyone else do this?

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Re: Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Postby Rick Ruhl » November 1st, 2008, 1:31 pm


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Re: Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Postby Richard Kaufman » November 1st, 2008, 2:00 pm

The end of the LA Times Blog Review that Rick just posted a link to is interesting:

"Still, with all the talk of presales in the $5-million range, "Believe" is here to stay for a bit, and Cirque and Angel will have time to continue trying to make improvements. But I am reminded of the terrible opening of "Le Reve" at Wynn (in which the director had pregnant women falling from the sky as one of many disturbing images); Steve Wynn eventually bought out the original director (a Cirque alum) to make a show that would work and sell tickets at his casino. The show has the same name it did on the night it opened, but much of the rest has changed. And, in the long term, it is hard to see any incarnation of this "Believe" lasting a decade as scheduled when their best hope is to play up how bad the thing is on the off-chance that "Believe" manages to find a niche willing to pay Cirque prices to see the theatrical equivalent of "Showgirls." My guess (and this is only a guess) is that by the one-year anniversary of "Believe," this will either be a Cirque or an Angel show. But this awkward mix will have to be rethought eventually. And although this show hardly offers much evidence of Angel's stage talents, the demand for him doing a show right now is far greater than the need for Cirque's sixth show on the Strip. Perhaps, in the end, breaking new ground for magic was not what needed to be done. The real answer might have been simpler if obvious: Take what works so well for Angel on television and find a way to translate that to the stage. Yes, that is a difficult challenge, but Vegas is known for giving audiences what they want, no matter how difficult. And this Salvador Dali-inspired, pretentious excursion into artistic abstraction does not lack effort, only quality. Simply put: This not what the audience wants from a magician who has made his career offering visceral thrills. This was a brave experiment, but at some point, the fact that it simply does not work will have to be reckoned with one way or the other."
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Re: Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Postby Roger M. » November 1st, 2008, 2:11 pm

Honestly, Jarrett's review above tells me what I need to know about the show, and is an excellent review for a magician to read to boot!
Because he doesn't have an axe to grind, I find it safe to assume I'd come out of the show feeling pretty much like Jarrett and his partner felt.
Supported by mainstream reviews, it seems the production can't hide behind Preview's any longer.

I'll not give up on it yet though. With the amount of money, and level of ego and prestige at stake on all sides, I will be interested in seeing what this show looks like in six months, or a year.
I don't think it's likely they'll shut it down, but rather re-work it until ticket sales are steady, and reviews have either stopped being issued, or are at least more "ticket sales friendly".

In the end, I'd not be terribly surprised to see Criss depart from the show, to be replaced by another magician more interested in blending magic with the now traditional Cirque dogma of what a live show should look like.
The IDEA of Cirque and Magic blending together is (IMHO) an excellent one, but one that apparently might have more readily achieved success with a magician more oriented to the main stream.

I believe Cirque and the Luxor folks will continue to support the idea of Cirque/Magic whether Criss is involved or not.

I also think that because of the Cirque resources available 24/7/365, it's not impossible to imagine the entire show being re-written and re-engineered over the next 6 to 10 months, with Criss remaining on board.

One thing is certain, the show will change.

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Re: Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Postby Rick Ruhl » November 1st, 2008, 2:19 pm

Gord wrote:
Rick Ruhl wrote:I did my annual garage magic show for the neighbood, and about 250 people showed up (more than normal), Did an appearance, levi, zigzag, handcuff escape, etc.Can't wait to see his review tonight, I do hope it's good, for magic's sake.


What an amazing idea. Did anyone else do this?

Gord


Gord as an FYI, this wasn't my idea orginally. When I was first exposed to magic in 1968, my next door neighbor Theo Lockhardt, did this for our neighboorhood in GA. That was the man that got me into magic. I've lost track of him over the years, but still have a well table he gave me in 1969. I used it in my first show in 1970.

Now back to Criss.

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Re: Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Postby Richard Kaufman » November 1st, 2008, 4:09 pm

If Criss departs from the show, doesn't that mean Cirque can claim its $100 million insurance policy, close the show, and not lose a penny?
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Re: Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Postby Roger M. » November 1st, 2008, 4:25 pm

I would guess that there will come a point where the show will either meet both Criss, Cirque, and the spectators needs, or both Criss and Cirque will be looking at ways that they can save face and get out of a situation that may have become equally unworkable for the two of them.

One truth that too easily gets glossed over in many "quick and dirty" reviews of shows is that there isn't a Producer or Star anywhere that will bail on a show that's making money (in this case rather large money)......regardless of the reviews.

They'll simply highlight that the reviewers don't have a clue, and that the shows revenues are obviously doing all the "talking" that needs to be done.

During the timeframe that "Believe" is making money off pre-sale tickets, there's lots of opportunity to re-work those things that the audience isn't responding well to.

The possibility that Cirque and Angel may not be able to formulate a vision that's workable for both of them does exist though, and at that point in time it's easy to imagine Angel willfully leaving the production with Cirque's blessing as one of the possible solutions.

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Re: Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Postby Rick Ruhl » November 1st, 2008, 4:31 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:If Criss departs from the show, doesn't that mean Cirque can claim its $100 million insurance policy, close the show, and not lose a penny?


Depends on the way the policy is written, but if Criss leaves the show and that's one of the parts of the policy that is paid on, then yes, they may be able to recoup some, if it not all of the moneys stated in the policy.

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Re: Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Postby Richard Kaufman » November 1st, 2008, 4:41 pm

Well, someone with knowledge of simple math or stats should be able to tell us how many nights of Believe have been sold if they have 5 million in pre-sales."

Two weeks? Two months?
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Re: Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Postby CraigMitchell » November 1st, 2008, 4:45 pm

Jarrett mentions "the Criss Angel team"

That's the problem ... he no longer has one left. He appears to have alienated just about everyone in magic ... leaving very few with honesty to speak the truth ...

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Re: Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Postby Tim Ellis » November 1st, 2008, 5:19 pm

This sort of situation isn't, unfortunately, new in magic. Back in the early 80's the hottest Aussie magician teamed with the hottest new stage director and we all prepared for an amazing show.

The magician had one vision, the director had another, and because neither would compromise or see the other's viewpoint, each diluted the other's strengths and the show was a big disappointment.

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Re: Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Postby Ian Kendall » November 1st, 2008, 6:43 pm

Quote: I also think that because of the Cirque resources available 24/7/365

Flipping heck! We only have 52 weeks in the YouKay year...

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Re: Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Postby Gord » November 1st, 2008, 6:48 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:Well, someone with knowledge of simple math or stats should be able to tell us how many nights of Believe have been sold if they have 5 million in pre-sales."

Two weeks? Two months?


Didn't some of the pre-sales come from shows that were later turned into preview nights?

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Re: Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Postby Joe Pecore » November 1st, 2008, 6:52 pm

Luxor Theater Capacity: 1,200
Tickets average $100

Sell-out = 1,200 * $100 = $120,000

$5,000,000 / $120,000 = 41.66 sell-out shows

2 shows a night = 20 days

Correct?
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Re: Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Postby Richard Kaufman » November 1st, 2008, 7:05 pm

So they'll be seeing half empty houses by January.
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Re: Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Postby AJM » November 1st, 2008, 7:10 pm

We're assuming the pre-sales are for the next 20 performances - don't Vegas shows release tickets in blocks of, say, 3 months ahead?

So depending on how far ahead they've taken bookings, you could see half empty houses in the next week or so?
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Re: Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Postby Roger M. » November 1st, 2008, 7:14 pm

The show is dark Wednesdays and Thursdays which extends that timeline a bit further, and it's likely that there are many nights represented in the dollar total that aren't sold out shows.
That would mean that the reasonably strong houses would probably stretch into 2009. but your formula is certainly a good representation of the time frames involved with the stated dollar totals of pre sales tickets.

Regardless, they'll have to sell enough tickets to make their nut into their 2009 season, the formula for which would be a closely held number the Producers don't wish to make public (none ever do).

Normally, a show doesn't need super-strong positive reviews to make their nut (witness the many shows in Vegas, on Broadway, etc that are "OK", but that play for months if not years).......but, they do need to avoid over-the-top negative reviews that will chase people away (which certainly seems to be something Believe might have to concern themselves about based on current press and public opinion).

There are still far more shows in Vegas than the typical vacationer or conventioneer has time to see during their typical stay, so "Believe" has to certainly change up the current public opinion in order to at least draw houses that will cover the nut while (and if) they decide to make changes on the fly to improve the show.

I'm not sure there's as short a crisis timeline as folks are implying though.
Believe is large enough all around to actually behave like somewhat of an institutional undertaking.......certainly Cirque has a large element of that "institutional" thinking on everything they produce, and institutions don't make changes in days or weeks, they tend to make them in months to years.

We shall see!

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Re: Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Postby Richard Kaufman » November 1st, 2008, 7:26 pm

As noted, there are many shows competing for dollars in Las Vegas. There are enough Cirque shows, and magic shows, that have great reviews and great word of mouth. BeLIEve has neither--so how will it compete for dollars? Poorly, probably. What generally happens in this case is that the casino starts papering the house--giving tickets away to people staying at the Luxor. We'll hear about that pretty quickly when it starts.
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Re: Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Postby Roger M. » November 1st, 2008, 7:37 pm

Las Vegas is similar to Broadway in that there are always far more people in the geographical region than there are available tickets to all shows combined.

In other words, on any given night there's never enough tickets to go around were everybody to want tickets.
That never happens of course, but it helps understand the attraction producers have to Las Vegas and Manhattan, and why shows like Believe aren't in imminent danger of closing just because of a few bad reviews leading up to opening night.
Of course if the bad reviews turn into an ongoing bad rap that can't be put down......the gate will certainly suffer and decisions will have to be made.

A lot of shows like "Love" are sold out months and months in advance, with perhaps only single tickets available for sale over the counter (if you're lucky...and alone).

Like Broadway, it's the shows that don't sell out well in advance (perhaps Believe) that pick up the bulk of single tickets "day of" sales. They're often the only tickets you can get your hands on if you didn't purchase months before coming to Vegas. (some of the older Vegas Cirque shows like Mystere have served this market for years now).

It's hard to imagine Believe playing to empty houses with this in mind.

If it's open, there's going to be people in the seats.

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Re: Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Postby Steve Bryant » November 1st, 2008, 7:55 pm

If you go to this site

http://www.cirquedusoleil.com/believe/e ... /intro.asp

and click on the video updates, you can see a nice montage of the show.

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Re: Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Postby Gord » November 1st, 2008, 8:10 pm

This is a question that has probably already been answered 20 pages ago, but ...
Is the show in cooperation with the Luxor or is it just renting the theater?
Because if it's with the Luxor that adds another layer to the decision making process.

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Re: Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Postby Jim Riser » November 1st, 2008, 8:14 pm

Roger;
I've been to a number of Vegas shows over the years that were playing to less than half full houses.

To all;
I think it would be wise to consider the current state of affairs in Vegas and at the Luxor in particular.

The number of visitors to Vegas has dropped off significantly in the past year. I receive at least 10 "special offers" from casinos per week. Vegas is getting desperate for visitors. Vegas, Atlantic City, Reno (closing casinos right and left), and even your local Indian casinos are all hurting.

Couple this with all of the changes at the Luxor and you have serious problems. The Luxor started out with its Egyptian themed casino, clubs, dining areas, and rooms. Over the past two years or so much of what I liked about the Luxor is gone. The casino area (formerly one of our favorite spots for gambling) has been "updated" to a sterile modern look as have their clubs. Evidence of the Egyptian theme has mostly been removed. The buffet quality/selection has gone down while prices approach those of the better Vegas buffets. The rooms have been allowed to wear out and start to fall apart. Even light bulbs are burnt out in the rooms.

We quit staying at the Luxor several years ago. Last August we walked through the Luxor casino and my comment to my wife was that I never have to come back here.

With a cold uninviting casino, poor shopping areas, too many expensive slots, worn out rooms, overpriced dining, and catering to a non-attending crowd coupled with a lousy show, you have a perfect scenario for failure.

Things do not at all look good for the Luxor at this time IMHO.
Jim

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Re: Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Postby Mark Paulson » November 1st, 2008, 9:15 pm

Is there any chance of Criss' Cirque show going on the road if it doesn't do well in Vegas? In this case, I really do hope what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.
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Re: Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Postby NCMarsh » November 1st, 2008, 9:16 pm

The visuals on the Believe site are stunning...phenomenal design work

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Re: Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Postby Richard Kaufman » November 1st, 2008, 9:19 pm

The Luxor has always been one of the lesser quality hotels on the strip. It was in the same league as, and owned by, Circus Circus and The Excaliber. It was always not the cleanest, not the most well-run, and so on.

While you would think the Egyptian theme is classical, and thus eternal, it didn't attract customers. Perhaps the shabby hotel is what didn't attract customers, but that's not the way most corporations think.
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Re: Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Postby Roger M. » November 1st, 2008, 9:50 pm

I hear you Jim, and don't disagree.
Often though, half full houses easily cover any given shows nut.

Although producers are always on the hunt for shows that make obscene amounts of money, covering the nut allows decisions to be made in terms of re-making the show to something more able to sell tickets.

My only real point was that doom and gloom amateur reviews don't at all relate to shows like Believe shutting down within a few months of opening. There's always much more to the process, and many alternate roads a show can travel to begin to turn a dollar.

I don't know the hotel as you do though, I've never been a Luxor customer.
My Vegas trips alternate between business (LDI) and poker, and the Luxor serves neither.

My personal plans are to see "Love" and go a second time to see "Ka" on my next trip, so "Believe" isn't in my near future regardless :)

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Re: Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Postby MaxNY » November 1st, 2008, 10:19 pm


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Re: Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Postby Jim Riser » November 2nd, 2008, 12:04 am

Richard Kaufman wrote:The Luxor has always been one of the lesser quality hotels on the strip. It was in the same league as, and owned by, Circus Circus and The Excaliber. It was always not the cleanest, not the most well-run, and so on.

While you would think the Egyptian theme is classical, and thus eternal, it didn't attract customers. Perhaps the shabby hotel is what didn't attract customers, but that's not the way most corporations think.


Richard;
As far as I know, the Luxor is still part of the MGM-Mirage group which includes:

Belagio, MGM Grand (which used to be grand), Mandalay Bay, Mirage, Treasure Island, Monte Carlo, New York-New York, Luxor, and Excaliber

When built and for about 10 years, the Luxor was decent. Circus-Circus was always a dump and is no longer one of the group (along with Edgewater or the Colorado Belle - can't remember which - in Laughlin).

There is currently little to draw visitors/gamblers to the Luxor. I'd rather stay at the Riviera! In the old days the Luxor with the RA club was the "in place". Those days are gone. Things have not really been replaced by their new LA club.

None of this helps fill the seats at Believe. And the show may well not help fill the Luxor.

Actually there several cool motorcycles of Criss' in the old Galleria area. Those might be the biggest draw.
Jim

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Re: Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Postby CraigMitchell » November 2nd, 2008, 1:27 am

The video montage previously posted at http://www.cirquedusoleil.com/believe/e ... /intro.asp

gives a nice feel to the production value of the show.

The texture and visual elements really do look amazing. I think everything just has this enormous sense of disappointment thinking "what could have been"

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Re: Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Postby Tim Ellis » November 2nd, 2008, 3:10 am

I'm not sure if half full houses would be very pleasing to Cirque. Doesn't really match their corporate image.

And Craig you're right, the video montage looks fantastic. Except for the end with only two or three people doing the standing 'o'...

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Re: Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Postby Richard Kaufman » November 2nd, 2008, 6:47 pm

It's hard to imagine a hotel less appealing than the Riveria (except, perhaps, the Tropicana).
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Re: Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Postby Jim Riser » November 2nd, 2008, 7:34 pm

Richard;
I received an email from the Trop this afternoon. They have rooms from $30 this month. Get 'em while you can!

Neither of the two "big shows" at the Trop have been the money pit that Believe has been - and these shows probably attract visitors/gamblers.

If the Believe fans are middle school kids, then parents have to bring the kids - then go home with them after the show. This does not add to the Luxor gambling income.

BTW - the updated Riviera suites are really not bad.
Jim

LV720
Posts: 30
Joined: September 7th, 2008, 9:02 pm

Re: Criss Angel Believe Buzz

Postby LV720 » November 2nd, 2008, 8:49 pm

The Luxor has undergone a substantial facelift over the past year(s). Virtually all the Egyptian motiff has been replaced by upscale lighting, carpet & decor, similar to the facelift Planet Hollywood (formerly the Aladdin) has phased out all the Arabian Nights type decor. The IMAX theatre is no more, now replaced by the BODIES exhibition with TITANIC (formerly at The Tropicana) to open soon. With Company, LAX, Cathouse (Seth and Doug of the Gamesters fame) it's more along the lines of what one would expect from an MGM/Mirage property.


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