Criss Angel celebrates third anniversary of ‘Believe,’ new levitation
Criss Angel, with Sandra Gonzalez, launches MagicPlace.com at Bare Pool Lounge at the Mirage on Aug. 15, 2011.
By Robin Leach
Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011 | 12:30 p.m.
As Mindfreak magician Criss Angel prepares to celebrate the third anniversary of his show Believe with Cirque du Soleil on Halloween Monday at the Luxor, he said: “A lot has happened the past 36 months, and we have come a long way. Three years in -- now just seven more to go on the first contract!”
Criss said that it’s been an amazing journey, and for him every night is still like opening night. He’s proudest of all surpassing the 1,000-show mark and now has more than 1,300 under his wizard’s hat. Today, he jets to Chicago to appear on Rosie O’Donnell’s Halloween show -- airing Monday -- where every member of the audience will receive his Magic Kit, a bestseller in 40,000 North American stores.
“Many wonderful things have happened since we opened: I got engaged, I bought my new home in Vegas, we launched our Magic Broadcast network (MagicPlace.com), and we still have audiences loving this show every night,” Criss said.
From a rocky first-week start with critics, Criss completely transformed Believe and with the full support of Cirque wrote and directed the new version, which Newsweek reported sold $150 million in tickets the past 12 months. An enormous achievement selling more seats per night than any other magic show in America.
“We not only maintained, but we grew,” Criss added. “It’s evolved beautifully, and I am so grateful to everybody. In this economy, we really do follow the guiding principle to ensure every fan walks away saying they got more than their money’s worth. I am passionate still about what we perform every night.”
During the Believe run, he has performed on Oprah Winfrey’s show three times, and she simply raved about the show, “The best, the best, the best!” Some of the stars who have seen Believe the past year and become Loyals (Criss’ fans) include Jose Canseco, Ke$ha, Gary Oldman, Korn, Salt N Pepa, Gene Simmons, Chris Bosh, Jennifer Lopez, Venus Williams , Ice T and Coco and David Hasselhoff.
Backstage, Cirque’s artistic director Ria Martens explained the force of the show’s success: “Since its creation, the show has changed entirely. Criss has been an incredible workforce -- he is so dedicated, passionate and driven and has a great work ethic. The artists have been going through a lot of changes during creation and fixation and have now found their groove.”
Tony Roan, the operations production manager, added: “We have added 80 percent more illusions. Now that we are in operation mode, the shows are running very consistent. The crew has been tested and has prevailed as a strong operational team.”
Peewee Steelsmith in the illusion’s department agreed: “Criss is always creating. He never slows down. He never stops wanting to add something. He gets everyone involved creatively and physically.”
Criss has added a VIP Vault Tour that allows guests admission into the theater early for a tour of $2 million of his most coveted motorcycles and choppers, in addition to magic memorabilia that he’s collected throughout the years and were featured on his A&E hit series Mindfreak.
To celebrate the anniversary, he’ll host the first meet-and-greet, limited to 100 guests, on Friday night after the second show. In addition to the vault tour, fans will have the opportunity to be filmed for a new Believe commercial and receive a poster that Criss will autograph.
BTW, that fire Criss uses every night is real, and Believe sets off 14,400 firework pieces each year. Some 3,900 pounds of Mylar confetti have been used over the three years, plus another 3,000 pounds of white streamers.
Criss summed up: “It’s all been a real big deal. Everything in my professional and personal life is fantastic. I am blessed each night to do what I love to do. We’re getting fans from as far away as Europe, Russia, Japan and Canada.
“Now with six seasons of Mindfreak behind us, I do promise news of my next TV project as soon as it’s all firmed up, but we’re well along with those discussions.”
Criss isn’t resting for a moment -- he’s already planning to unveil a new illusion for Believe early next year with a brand new levitation experience.
“It’s the most sophisticated levitation ever attempted from a technical and presentation point-of-view. No magician has ever levitated like this. It’s still in development, but I’ve played with the idea for many years, and we’re using past and future magic along with inventing certain techniques.
It’s completely out in the open, very exciting, and somebody each night right in the audience will levitate from their seat with me.”
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.