Can master illusionist Guy Laliberte turn a turkey into a long-running turkey? Among seven or eight recent consumer reviews on BroadwayBox.Com for Cirque du Soleil's new Vegas show, Believe, all of them in negative territory, here is one from EastDakota, titled "Terrible":
A group of us in town from Boston saw the Chris Angel show last night. I had a free ticket and I still felt ripped off. It is sad to watch Cirque, which I generally have enjoyed over the years, put their name on something so awful. There hasn't been a great Cirque show in Vegas since "O" and that was 10 years ago. The Chris Angel show sets a new low.
Unlike "Le Reve" or "Ka" or some of the other Cirque-like shows that started bad but
they have tinkered with and made fairly good, the Chris Angel show seems unlikely to be fixable because the concept itself is so flawed. Magic is about taking the ordinary and, when it is touched by this one special figure, it becomes unusual. That's why magicians come off as these ego-driven, pseudo cult figures -- for which Chris Angel could be the archetype.
Cirque, on the other hand, is about transporting you to a place and a group of people who are otherworldly from the get go. Things appear and disappear out of no where. The stage is nothing but trap doors. But the extraordinary thing is that even though this place is so strange, you know that the two guys on stage balancing on a broomstick are, in fact, human beings just like you. Knowing that somehow these performers have trained and trained and trained to get to the point that they can make the impossible look effortless is why Cirque is magical.
On the other hand, back in the supposed "magic" show, the audience won't be impressed when someone disappears from under a sheet if they know the stage is riddled with trap doors. And you can't do a cliche saw-the-man-in-half trick as the show's climax after you've shown the audience earlier that you have the puppeteering technology to not only make supposedly sawed-off legs writhe around on a table but, back in the first act, dance about on stage.
The anonymous, masked performer who turns out to have some physical skill that is beyond belief is the hallmark of the best Cirque shows. That is the opposite of what a magician is. It's not surprising, then, that the traditional Cirque athleticism is almost entirely missing from the Chris Angel show. I'm sure that Mr. Angel was concerned such demonstrations of real talent would up stage him.
The show had either extremely eager, sycophantian fans or, more likely, plants who were just hanging out in the bathroom striking up conversations about how great it was with anyone who would listen. I'm guessing plants since 3 friends went to the bathroom over a 20 minute period and ran into the same woman. It wreaks of desperation. If anyone tells you the show is good, ask them how much of a kick-back they're getting from MGM/Mirage.
I give the show 2 months. Tops.
If you're a fan of magic and want to see a good show, check out "Penn & Teller" at the Rio or even Lance Burton or David Copperfield when he's in town. If you'd like to see something Cirque-like, go see "O" or "Mystere" or "Le Reve."