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Monday, Jan. 21, 2019 | 4:30 p.m.
On a sports-heavy Saturday night when 40-year-old boxing legend Manny Pacquiao proved he was still a force to be reckoned with at MGM Grand and the Vegas Golden Knights topped the Pittsburgh Penguins at T-Mobile Arena powered by a hat trick from fan favorite Jonathan Marchessault, Criss Angel presented the grand opening performance of his updated, illusion-filled “Mindfreak” show while celebrities like Oscar winner Gary Oldman, “Property Brothers” Jonathan and Drew Scott, Raiders owner Mark Davis and Vegas legends Wayne Newton, Carrot Top and Lance Burton cheered him on.
So it goes in Las Vegas in 2019, another extension of an era of entertainment without equal. The Strip’s offerings continue to expand and diversify, and the 51-year-old, New York-born magician continues to create his own unique universe there, now returning home to the place where he filmed the early editions of his “Mindfreak” TV show at Planet Hollywood.
Before the packed-house performance, the rechristened Criss Angel Theater hosted a red carpet reception and more celeb friends and fans, including Korn frontman Jonathan Davis, UFC icon Randy Couture, rapper and TV personality Flavor Flav (who leaped out of his seat enthusiastically to applaud several times) and “Vanderpump Rules” reality star Lala Kent (who was called onstage during the creepy segment where Angel cuts a woman in half). Jonathan Davis and Dee Snider (of Twisted Swister) contributed music and videos to the show, a visual feast that jams the theater and stage with customized, cutting-edge technology and effects, totally transforming the mezzanine-level theater and creating a fully immersive experience for the audience.
The show features Angel’s greatest hits illusions, including one of his oldest tricks, the “black star” sleight-of-hand routine; a strait jacket escape performed while dangling above the audience; the mystifying manifestation of one of his motorcycles out of nowhere; and the signature and still mind-boggling levitation routine. Angel also showed off several new segments and illusions, explaining from the stage at the end of the show that only now has he been able to fully demonstrate his vision in his own Las Vegas production. Angel previously performed for ten years at Luxor in a successful collaboration with Cirque du Soleil.
“Mindfreak is a show designed to overload the senses and I would not have been able to create such an insane, monumental production without the incredible work of the entire Mindfreak team, the best partners in the business, friends and family far and wide, and of course my loyal fans,” he said later in the evening.
Angel was surprised onstage by executives from Caesars Entertainment and Base Entertainment, co-producers of the show, who surprised him with a $10,000 donation to the Johnny Crisstopher Children’s Charitable Foundation, established by Angel in the name of his 4-year-old son who was diagnosed with leukemia in 2015 and is currently in remission. He also joined his dad onstage, who happily told the audience that Johnny received what should be his last chemotherapy treatment a couple months ago. Angel also teased an event later this year in which he hopes to raise $5 million in one night to battle pediatric cancer.