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By Jorge Labrador
What would a magician do when his act gets mixed reviews for having too much going on and too much filler?
He'd make those parts disappear, of course.
And in true magical fashion, he makes them re-appear as something much better.
The recently revamped Criss Angel Believe from Cirque du Soleil brings out more of what Angel's fans have been clamoring for in the first place: magic.
This production has seen some significant changes in response to feedback from guests and critics alike, and the end result is a highly focused and entertaining show.
Criss Angel Believe takes his illusions and stage presence, combined with the flair and artistry Cirque is best known for -- with just enough of each to make fans of both happy.
Although the magic acts in Criss Angel Believe form a loosely-connected narrative, this story is secondary to wowing the audience with illusions. From levitation to "how'd-he-do-it?" disappearances, Angel brings out all the acts he has made famous on "Mindfreak" and then some, along with some more traditional illusions with an added "Mindfreak" twist to them.
From the theater itself to the set pieces used during Angel's performance, the whole atmosphere is dark with gothic accents, reminiscent of old-fashioned circuses and carnivals with a morbid twist.
Angel's back-and-forth interaction with the audience throughout the show keeps things interesting, but his bumbling assistants -- four "ushers" named Maestro, Luigi, Slim and Lars -- ensure that the whole experience, from start to finish, inspires both awe and laughter. Expect lots of dark humor, as Angel has snappy commentary to accompany many of his illusions.
"You're applauding this woman being cut in half. Really, that's horrible. Just horrible," he says with a sarcastic grin, after a scaled-up take on the classic "saw a woman in half" trick. We've never thought about it like that, but Angel generally has an entirely different way of thinking about these illusions than your average magician does.
If you've ever wanted to be a part of a larger-than-life, stage version of Angel's "Mindfreak" program -- this is the show to see.
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