Q&A: David Goldrake
Magician David Goldrake is motivated to up the stakes of what audiences expect from Las Vegas magic shows with the debut of Imaginarium at the Tropicana. The grand illusionist known as “The International Man of Mystery” will no doubt wow audiences with his magical versatility, for which he has won both the Mandrake d’Or—think the Oscars of magic—and The 2015 Merlin Award for Best European European. Las Vegas Magazine’s Jason Harris caught up with the busy magic man as he preps for his debut.
What made this the right time to set up a Las Vegas residency?
I think it's the fact that we've been working on this specific show for a couple of years now. We have toured with it in Europe. It was the goal to bring it to Las Vegas at some point. We had hoped to bring it to town a little earlier, but I think the energy of this city didn't really make it the right time before. A lot of shows closed in town last year and we ended up talking to a lot of casinos including the Tropicana, and it ended up being them. It's just a matter of timing in this case.
Explain to people who aren't familiar with you what it is that makes your show different than other magic shows.
There are different things that set us apart from the typical Las Vegas magic show. If you look at shows around town, you could consider them concerts of illusions. There's one illusion after the other without a story—David Copperfield is obviously the exception. My show has a theme both visually and content-wise. It's not about me. It's about the audience. It's very youth-focused. It's very interactive. We have a lot of big illusions but we also have a lot of interactive moments with the audience doing mentalism, escapology, having them participate on stage actively. The other aspect we have is that we have four performers—acrobats, aerialists, and performers doing the German wheel—they all add a different level of entertainment to my show. What you're going to see is not just my magic show, it's going to be a magic show with variety acts in between. We are also incorporating projection mapping.
How does projection mapping that play into the world of magic?
It's a lot of digital content that will create an immersive experience for the audience. It's been used in various art forms, but magic is probably the only art form that has used it very sparingly for obvious reasons, one of them being that you need to be really careful that the digital world becomes an element that enhances what is actually happening without detracting from it. We're working with the team that did the Celine Dion show and Le Reve to create a very specific universe that relates to the show itself. Within that show you have different elements—let's call them separate rooms of the same house. Every illusion will play in that specific room, in that specific world, and it will also transcend towards the audience. We have different layers of curtains, of fabric, a rear projection screen, a front projection screen. We have five screens. The goal is to have the audience believe that they're in this 3-D world and they can only really step into it without being passive spectators.
You mentioned that you toured the show in Europe for a couple of years. Have you modified it to make it specific for Las Vegas?
Oh yes. (Laughs). What we did in Europe, was, I'd say it was approximately 50 to 60 percent of what we're going to present here. It's obviously a different culture. I'm very happy and grateful to work in the US. I've been a regular performer at the Magic Castle in Los Angeles for 15 years now. That allows me to understand the American audience versus the European audience, and as you know, Vegas is very unique. It's a very special vibe. I have a wonderful team, a lot of people—directors, designers, scriptwriters—who have helped me customize the show to a Las Vegas audience.
Have there been any specific performers—not just magicians, but performers in general—that have influenced you?
Not magicians. I was an avid reader as a child. I am to this day. But I also love music. I inspire myself from what I read and what I see. My persona is basically an extension of my own personality. I was faced with a choice, like every performer at some point, you either create a completely fictitious character and you pull it off 100 percent or you take your own personality and you extend it, you enhance the elements that you want to, you hide the elements you want to hide. I decided to go that route because it makes it more personal to me and helps me connect better to the audience. As a magician, we try not to have this fourth wall. Even though my show will be theatrical to some extent, I'm all about connecting with the audience.