Critics and preview audiences have panned the show with adjectives ranging from “unwatchable” to “unsalvageable” to “a train wreck.”
But, as Groucho Marx would ask, “who are you going to believe, Criss Angel or your lying eyes?”
Even in Vegas, $100,000,000.00 is a lot to gamble.
The Las Vegas Review Journal‘s Norm Clarke tested the limits of Believe’s supporters belief in a call with Criss Angel this week.
“Ultimately it’s up to the public, and the public has spoken,” the Mind Freak star pronounced.
Criss Angel says advance ticket sales make Believe the “number one best-selling show in Vegas.”
Yes, but what about the critics and the preview audience?
“I mean no disrespect to the Review-Journal,” he said, referring to some critical accounts of preview shows. “But it doesn’t really matter what you, the Review-Journal, Criss Angel or (director) Serge Denoncourt think.”
The public is all that matters, he said. “They’re the ones that made me the No. 1 show on television and made me the No. 1 Cirque show in Vegas.”
Unfortunately, Inside Magic’s Theatre Reviewer, was not invited to the previews and cannot not weigh in on whom to believe.
The Review-Journal ‘s Doug Elfman found two die-hard Criss Angel fans who flew from London to attend the preview. Their report is discouraging:
“We were hysterical about coming. We came. It was a waste of time,” Jordan Wilson said. “The magic’s not even magic.”
They complained they could see wires and stage holes used in unconvincing acts.
“Belief was not suspended once,” said Steve Moffett, who called the show a “dead end.” “They fake an accident at the beginning, and it sets the tone of the rest of the show — fake.”
“David Copperfield is better, and he’s a boring old” guy, Moffett said.
Wilson said it should be called “Criss Angel — Don’t Believe.”
Well, at least some of the critics thought the scenery was pretty. Everyone seems to like the Cirque’s trademark elements such as the red-motif, great costumes, professional dancers and set design and construction.
Backers are quick to point out that the preview audiences saw a work in progress — not the final production. Changes are being made to improve and perfect the show prior to its opening on the 82nd anniversary of Harry Houdini’s death.
Perhaps in response to critics, Criss Angel promises a new illusion will replace his singing at the end of the show. A magic finale to a magic show sounds like a step in the right direction. Time will tell if the show has legs.
A September 29th L.A. Times review of the preview noted the same problems cited by Mr. Elfman and Mr. Clarke but observed:
Cirque’s capacity for reinvention has proven significant. As for Angel, he needs to equal his media claims that this show comes from his personality, because right now his personality is the most glaringly missing element in Believe.
If Criss Angel’s new show is missing the key element of Criss Angel, it could be doomed from the start.