Updated October 3, 2022 - 10:27 am
David Blaine tells us, near the start of his production at The Theatre at Resorts World: Whatever our vision of a Las Vegas magic show is, this isn’t it.
Good. The magic community can stand to mix it up a little, with artistry from a superstar willing to submerge himself in the Vegas scene.
Eschewing many magical traditions, Blaine just casually goes about his business while blowing a few thousand minds.
Consider his application of balloons. Traditional magicians will twist them into animals, maybe pop them while joking about their crude skills. They might use them to reveal a cellphone they’ve procured from an audience member.
Not Blaine. He fills a couple-dozen big red balloons with helium, hooks them to a harness and floats around the room. This is what you see as you The Theater, the superstar overhead, cheerily describing this high point of his career.
And boxes? Magicians for years have made their assistants disappear into, and reappear out of, some version of a box. Ta-da! Blaine asks audience members near house left to assemble dozens of 24-by-24 inch boxes (like, U-Haul moving boxes) while he climbs eight stories up on a ladder at the side of the stage. “The highest I’ve ever jumped into boxes,” he says.
After what feels like an interminable delay to set this scene, including the positioning of a tarp bearing the Blaine logo across the boxes, he asks the crowd to count down from 10. Then he drops about 80 feet, into that stack of boxes. Whoomp! And is pulled out, grinning, champion of this boxing match.
Those linking acts open Blaine’s “In Spades” show at Resorts World. He opened with a Friday/Saturday doubleheader, returning Oct. 28 and 29, then Dec. 16 and 17. Blaine has his own way of performing magic, what he considers “quiet” acts. He says no “exotic” animals are used, and he’s correct unless you consider a couple of frogs (which he regurgitates) and an alligator (who joins him in a giant fishbowl in his water-submersion number) to be exotic.
Blaine works without a sidekick, unless you count the great actor Ed Norton as such. He showed up to emcee Blaine’s water routine, in which he (spoiler alert) holds his breath for nine minutes. If you’re not impressed at this feat, try it yourself. Norton asked the crowd to do that, and most folks gasped for breath after about 60 seconds.
Before the show, Blaine emphasized that the theater dimensions and technological capabilities finally compelled him to play Vegas. But aside from the opening sequence, this show could pay in a lot of theaters and showrooms. Or, even on Circle 17 on the Fremont Street Experience, should Blaine want to do some anonymous, guerrilla marketing of this show.
Blaine’s close-up work rules much of the night. He asks an audience member to help sew his lips shut, then pulls the thread free to show a card that was pulled from a deck — inside his mouth. He up-chucks the frogs, as the crowd becomes sufficiently grossed-out.
For sure, if Blaine’s audience is wincing and turning away, he’s done his job.
And the 49-year-old stunt artist has a mastery of tension he builds suspense for 12 minutes before falling into the boxes. Several acts are performed at a measured pace, as Blaine toggles the audience’s stress level. This approach takes a lot of confidence, especially in Vegas, where crowds have notoriously short attention spans.
In fact, Blaine’s most daring stunt is slotting in an 18-minute intermission — in Vegas! No one does this! He’s crazy!
Blaine closes the show with a mind-blowing card reveal involving the entire crowd. We all cut the decks in different ways, then tucked a card, face-down, under a leg. Everyone produced the same card. Nice, especially for you 10 of Hearts fans.
So the superstar starts the night with an eight-story plunge into, and ends it with a card trick. It might seem backward, but not for David Blaine. Trust him, and you’ll walk away, blown away.
The opening-night scene spilled to Jalisco Underground, underneath Wally’s Wine & Spirits. Norton, Woody Harrelson, Ed Lars Ulrich, Logan Paul, JR, Guy Oseary and Alex Honnold were among the VIPs on the scene.
Cool Hang Alert
How about it for Maxan Jazz and Sushi & Jazz. The emphasis on jazz is so strong, they use it twice in the title. From 7 p.m.-10 p.m. Thursday, the legendary Ronnie Foster Trio hits the scene. This is Foster on the Hammond B3; his son, Chris, on drums; and Michael O’Neill on guitar. Foster has returned to the Blue Note label where his career launched some 50 (yes, 5-0) years ago. Elton John tracked Foster down a few weeks ago. So should you. Go to MaxanJazz.com for details.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.