Criss Angel burns up the stage with a Mindfreak Live, an illusion spectacular of magic and a whole lot of Criss

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“Criss Angel: Mindfreak” by Cirque du Soleil at the Luxor: Criss Angel burns up the stage with a little magic and a whole lot of Criss

“Mindfreak,” indeed. It’s a more fitting moniker than “BeLIEve,” the first title affixed to rockstar magician Criss Angel’s collaboration with Cirque du Soleil on the stage of the Criss Angel Theater at the Luxor.

Sure, it calls back to the breakthrough TV series that made Angel a celebrity. More to the point, Cirque du Soleil makes external tentpoles out of deeply internal processes. As such, Criss Angel: Mindfreak by Cirque du Soleil at the Luxor is a journey into Angel’s mind … and, surprise surprise, he’s a bit of a freak.

A handsome and magnetic freak, though, with a goth-rock aesthetic that he has aged into extremely well over a decade on this stage. The aggressive jet-black hairdo, the leather, the guy-liner and nail polish … it all still fits him. The man is ageless, with the moves of a rock-n-roll frontman still well in his prime.

The walk through the foyer on the way to your starting-at-$91 seat takes you past display cases containing Angel’s tricked-out motorcycles and other accoutrements of his outsized life. It sets the tone well for a highly-entertaining, if somewhat self-involved show.

Angel puts himself out there before he even takes the stage, kicking off the spectacle with an extended video presentation about his early life – son of a donut-maker, took up magic at seven, performed his first show at twelve, hit the road with various traveling troupes straight out of high school. Interesting stuff, if you’re fascinated by what makes Criss Angel tick.

After this long build-up (and a hilarious comedic opening act) we launch into a show that isn’t exactly a big-top Cirque extravaganza, though there are moments – a large cast of nimble dancers dressed in heavy-metal leather and latex, large industrial set pieces to complement Angel’s signature industrial-rock instrumentation.

Instead, the focus is on Angel, who crams more than 50 illusions into 90 minutes. Taken as a whole package, it’s a whizzbang of a show, entertaining from start-to-finish as Angel conjures fire and doves, escapes from a straightjacket while suspended upside down (a classic of Angel’s idol, Harry Houdini) and levitates objects great and small, including himself, all set to the tune of appealingly dark rock music and numerous pyro cues.

From a magic-purist standpoint (any stingy magicians out there?), the bells and whistles have a tendency to overwhelm the tricks themselves. Levitating an object the size of a tennis ball is cool enough, but it loses something when juxtaposed with a leather-clad babe on a Harley. (The show isn’t explicit, but parents of children at formative ages beware of a certain heavymetal prurience throughout the show).

The illusions mount in scale and drama as the show progresses, but to hang in there from the autobiographical intro, you have to really love to watch Criss being Criss. Fortunately, he’s very good at that role – extremely charismatic, never campy, heroically devoted to his craft.

Verdict: Don’t go to see “Criss Angel: Mindfreak” by Cirque du Soleil at the Luxor Hotel expecting a run-of-the-mill magic show. In fact, you just might be disappointed – “Who’s the guy with the eyeliner?! Somebody turn down the music and pull a rabbit out a hat!” But if you dream of taking Angel by the hand and being lead into Angel-world – a rabbit-hole of dark sights, sounds, sensuality, and a few thrilling tricks along the way – boy, has Criss got a show for you.