“I believe I am producing a new form of entertainment combining music, pyrotechnics, illusion, and movement that really pushes the envelope,” an enthusiastic Criss Angel told MagicTimes as he traveled in a car from his home in Long Island to the World Wrestling Federation Theater in the heart of Times Square. Angel’s MINDFREAK has received fine reviews and full audiences since the previews began in late November.
The New York Times lauded the show on opening night in December. The limited run through the end of January may not be so limited. “Word of mouth has been great” the illusionist said. “I don’t care about reviews positive or negative. People in seats seeing something they have never seen before, that’s what this is about.” He has also produced and written the entire score to his production. Renaissance man Angel says, “The show we have created, where avant garde creatures seamlessly meld into one another is the furthest thing from a magic show…more like Terminator or The Abyss.”
Tony award winning lighting designer Jules Fisher, Steve Johnson (Academy Award winning designer) and Debra Brown, of Cirque du Soleil, are the creative team behind Angel’s six on stage performers in this production. Right now he’s busy putting in 22-hour days as the star, writer, director and producer (read sole financial investor) of MINDFREAK (“I chose that title because people were always saying to me ‘you’re freaking my mind out!'”). The exhausting schedule has produced his desire to do what he does best: magic on stage.
Performed in an intimate 160-seat theater in the round, Angel only has one box illusion in the show, “The Metamorphosis” which he regards as a signature piece. The 70-minute show runs without an intermission and does not have any spoken dialogue, but rather “a common thread that basically is about the audience entering my mind; and dealing with overcoming fears, emotions, and obstacles, culminating in the controlling of the mind.” The final illusion has Angel trapped inside a scarecrow-like sculpture with a wow finish.
There are transformations with people amidst the more intimate wonders such as metal bending. However, one illusion that has bewildered veteran magicos was Angel’s levitation of a woman who turns in a complete circle while air born not four feet from the closest table. Given that the show is in the round, Angel comments, “many of the magicians that have visited are really impressed by how I have met the circumstances by standing on people’s tables…the stage is only 10 by 12 feet, so I had to make the show work for the space.” The show advertises “magic up close and in your face.”
Angel began studying music and rhythm at age six, and took up the wand at age 10. After the general scope of birthday parties and sweet 16’s, he wanted more from his art. “Tricks to me is a dirty word in magic. I prefer to represent what I do as the Art of Illusion.” Having said that, Angel adds that he will be performing a stunt in Times Square (late January) of mind over matter that is no illusion. Suspended by eight fish hooks placed in his back and calves he will become a human suspended swing.
For further information about Criss Angel click: HERE.
For tickets and show times click: HERE.
Ben Robinson is a magician and writer who lives in New York City. He wrote “Twelve Have Died,” the definitive book on the Bullet Catch, and is a recipient of the Milbourne Christopher Foundation award for his notable contributions to magic. He is the co-founder of The Art Rock ‘N Roll Circus and produced STOMP at Lincoln Center. His latest book “Ben Robinson On Synchronicity” was published last year on CD. For more information visit: www.illusiongenius.com.