Criss Angel BeLIEve is back, and it's getting even better.
America's premiere magic show returned to the Luxor Hotel and Casino on April 15, to sold-out houses and plenty of curiosity about how it would compare to the grand spectacle that paused in January. Since we reviewed BeLIEve in September before the break, we ventured to Las Vegas to check out the first four performances, and came to a surprising conclusion.
If Criss's recent significant injury wasn't mentioned near the top of the show, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference.
For those of you who didn't hear: it's not like he broke a nail. Following his double straight-jacket escape in Times Square last fall, Criss discovered he'd severely damaged his shoulder, including tearing his bicep off the bone. Given the severity of his injury and the physicality of his profession, a little doubt about his return to form would be healthy. In fact, nobody could've blamed him if he'd just packed it in for a few more months, and taken a well-deserved break from his rigorous show schedule. He'd suffered something that would leave most people on the sidelines.
But pressing pause was contrary to Criss's well-known commitment to his fans, cast, and crew. He performed BeLIEve almost right up to the date of his surgery, then debuted a limited engagement production, Criss Angel MAGICjam, to keep everything going until he was ready to make his full return. And when he could've just brought BeLIEve back as it was - already the best live show in Las Vegas - he was proactive and continued to evolve the show.
The "new" BeLIEve, as we'll call it, still contains all the best parts of the previous incarnation. The major pieces that impressed us so much before haven't gone anywhere, like the deceptively low-key razorblade demonstration that never fails to make us sit on the edge of our seat, and Criss's interpretation of Houdini's Metamorphosis. Audiences will also get to enjoy an appearance by the talented Krystyn Lambert, who's stayed on with BeLIEve after appearing in MAGICjam.
Yet there are other elements that haven't been seen previously, like a different opening and other fresh illusions that still prompt the same sense of wonderment that Criss is so good at creating. We can also say that this is only the beginning; there are more new demonstrations on the way.
Most importantly, the man himself is still at the top of his game. As we mentioned above, if you weren't aware that he was coming off of major surgery, you wouldn't be able to tell from watching him perform. There's no visible difference between the before and after, no sense that something's being held back because of the circumstances.
And the real heart of the show - Criss's rapport with his audience, the warmth and charisma that he brings to the stage - is still very much alive. He's still able to share the fondness and the passion that he has for magic with his audience, getting us to see this historic art the way that he sees it. That's something that never changed.
Since its return, BeLIEve has been playing to sold-out audiences, and it's incredibly easy to understand why. It's not simply that the most mind-blowing show in Las Vegas has returned; it's that it's back and striving to beat its own high standard. There's nothing to doubt and everything to look forward to. Welcome back, BeLIEve; it's wonderful to see you again.
You can purchase your tickets to see Criss Angel BeLIEve by visiting the Luxor website (luxor.com) or calling the box office directly at (702) 262-4400. For more on Criss Angel, you can visit his website (crissangel.com), follow him on Twitter (@CrissAngel), and check out our past coverage here.