Criss Angel: Sensory evolution
It’s one week and a day before the mid-December soft opening of Criss Angel MINDFREAK, an “immersive Vegas spectacle,” at the newly christened Criss Angel Theater inside Planet Hollywood Resort. Angel has been working nonstop since finishing his decadelong run at the Luxor in October, testing and tweaking more than 75 illusions and 20 previously unseen effects he says he has planned for the new production. It’s a homecoming of sorts for Angel, who made the property that is now Planet Hollywood his headquarters when he began filming the Mindfreak television series that made him a household name in 2005. Everything must run perfectly.
“This show is incredibly complex,” says Angel. “Technologically, it’s the most sophisticated show even the entertainment capital of Las Vegas has ever seen. In order to do it, obviously, there are two components: the show, and the retrofitting of the theater. The theater itself had to be completely redone, engineering-wise, and a lot of permitting had to take place.” His plan in developing the next chapter in his stage career was to pack Criss Angel MINDFREAK with more illusions than any other show of any kind, period, driven by advances in technology that occurred during Angel’s run at the Luxor. Visuals, pyrotechnics and LED effects needed to be taken to a new level. Angel wanted to bring the audience into the show, rather than have them just watch.
He ticks off highlights of the advanced tech, including approximately 2,000 lights (“more lights than any show in the world”), a half-billion pixels of video on LED screens that stretch over the entire audience, projections on the walls, a 150-speaker theatrical surround-sound audio system, revolutionary illusions. “It’s just insane,” says Angel. “It’s an immersive experience. It’s not like I took what I did at my previous show and just transferred it over. It’s a brand new show.”
With a limited amount of time to develop a new production informed by 20 years of ideas and experience, Angel worked nearly round the clock seven days a week. “It all starts with, ‘What is it that I want out of the show for the audience?’” he says. “And as a fan of theatrical experiences, I wanted to have an emotional connection with the audience. I wanted to give them an experience that is unexpected, an experience that constantly changes and transforms. … So what I did was I took my success of my brand, globally and in Las Vegas, and I was able to leverage that with companies that had the best products.”
He also leveraged relationships with Korn singer Jonathan Davis for a music and video collaboration featuring his alter ego Xristos, and Paul Stanley of Kiss for a painted portrait of Angel—half of his face in the makeup of his shadow persona—that can be found among the lobby’s interactive installations. Davis, Stanley and friends such as Gary Oldman all attended a Dec. 26 sneak preview performance. By all indications, everything ran perfectly.
Planet Hollywood Resort, 7 p.m. Wed.-Sun., starting at $69 plus tax and fee, 21+. 702.777.2782