Vegas Magic Theatre –Revisited
I took the opportunity to revisit ‘Vegas Magic Theater’ this weekend and see what was happening at Paul Stone’s latest production in Las Vegas. It was also a chance to see an extended version of Jason Andrews fine manipulative act which actually got me to budget my crazy schedule to include the visit. I was very glad I did.
I (totally by accident) attended the Press Night event for the show recently. I am really no big fan of press nights or the way they introduce a show. The emphasis on the press corps, food & drink and celebrities in the audience often change the flavor and ‘shape’ of the actual show. I certainly found my second visit to the ‘Vegas Magic Theatre’ to be a much more rewarding affair.
We missed the opening close-up segment, which featured a ‘Dueling Magicians’ segment that seemed to be a huge hit. Given the success of the current breed of dueling pianists across the country this is a smart move. The very nature of the idea breathes fresh life into the concept of adding the close-up magic segment to the show.
Another nice surprise was to see headliner Kevin James open the bill with a really great, intimate, low key and VERY effective set. In the comedy club world this is often referred to as a ‘Boston Bill.’ In the city of Boston, shows would usually open with the headliner hitting the crowd hard, before, introducing the rest of the show and then returning as the finale. It worked great.
Kevin is a complex and gifted magical thinker and a great performer too. I personally thoroughly enjoyed watching him perform a scaled down set without any entourage or additional personnel involved. Kevin may just have returned from headlining a show at the Sydney Opera House, where I’m sure he featured many of his gloriously off-kilter and eccentric illusions, but this was ‘Kevin James: Unplugged!’ It really highlighted a very likeable, touching and vulnerable side to Kevin that was highly effective and extremely commercial. Kevin can achieve enormous results with just his ‘presence’ and a few small props, and did so with great aplomb and success. I will look forward to seeing what Kevin has cooked up for the new magic show at the Plaza Hotel ‘Avant Garde.’ I thoroughly enjoyed both his sets and they created a fabulous bookend effect to the evening.
Ben Stone continued to impress as the host of the show. His singing adds a lot of texture and some nice razzle dazzle to the show. He has a great voice and a lot of charm energy and onstage charisma. Oh, my wife took me for task last time I reviewed the show for not commenting how handsome he was! That is a comment I’d probably never, ever have have thought to make, however, sitting flanked by two ladies (Susan and the irrepressible Karla Kwist from the Mac King showroom) I realized that this was indeed the case and that it was a huge plus point to the females watching the show!
Aside from singing, Ben performed an excellent comedy sleight of hand routine featuring cards that worked very nicely indeed. The first time I saw him hosting the show his comedy magic was featured after another comedy magic act and suffered by the balance that this created in the show. On this occasion, veteran performer Tom Ogden appeared later in the bill and it was his turn to suffer from the similarities that always (myself, included) can follow from two comedy magicians appearing in the same bill for a lay audience.
A verbal and a physical comedy magic show, in the same bill, might be a better balance in a comedy club format show such as this one. A good variety performer also makes a strong addition to the event. I am sure this is something that Paul will adjust accordingly as he continues his fine-tuning of the show.
Just returned from work in China and Japan, Jason Andrews was a superb highlight in the center of the show. He performed his classic award winning manipulative show and it resonates with style, class and personality and drew very heavy audience response. It was great to see him add a new final segment to his show. This is not a performer who is going to be lost in the world of 8-minute acts for long!
I have seen Jason perform his illusions and also his comedy magic show and they are both as effective as his award winning silent act. I hope the magic community will allow him to fully develop into the role of fully rounded performer. He has future magical superstar written all over him. Several times during the evening I heard him referred to as the next Lance Burton and that sells him short—we already have one Lance, but a fully developed Jason Andrews is going to create a stir all his own.
To my mind, Jason could best be categorized (Yikes, I hate to ever do this, but I will) as the next Fred Kaps. Fred was a manipulative performer who developed and progressed into arguably magic’s most sophisticated all round performer. I will continue watching Jason’s ascendancy in the magic world with great interest. Catch his act now and enjoy watching him develop.A great evening, great acts and all the performers out onstage for a final bow—the professional way to close a variety show! Kudos to Paul Stone for his part in exposing Las Vegas to some new talent and old favorites, keep it up!