Las Vegas is not only the world’s gambling capital, but perhaps also its magic capital. It has been home to top magicians like Doug Henning, Mark Wilson and Lance Burton. Perhaps most famous are Siegfried & Roy, whose illusion show featured white lions and white tigers, and epitomised the glitz and grandeur of Las Vegas. The duo stopped performing in 2004, but a statue of them remains on the Las Vegas Strip as a tribute to one of the most successful magic acts of all time.
Vegas continues to be home to world-class magicians, and here is a guide to some of the magic shows out there, as well as a look at some of the city’s magic shops, in case you feel inspired to try some magic yourself.
Penn & Teller at Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino
Magic duo Penn & Teller rank as one of the most unique and innovative acts around. They blend comedy with dangerous feats and baffling magic to create a very polished show. Penn, a long-haired giant of a man, delivers machine-gun dialogue, while the more diminutive Teller remains silent throughout. It’s a contrast that they use to wonderful comic effect. I wrote in a previous blog about their fantastic show at London’s Hammersmith Apollo. Penn & Teller are a must-see.
The Mac King Comedy Magic Show at Harrah’s
This show is a hidden gem. It’s an afternoon show, tickets are cheap and there are no dancing girls or large-scale illusions. But don’t be put off by how unassuming the show is, it’s a master-class in how something can pack small and play big. Mac King is a hilarious comedian and a gifted magician, and his show is expertly scripted and choreographed. You can’t help but leave this show with a smile on your face. Check out some clips from Mac King’s show on YouTube.
David Copperfield at the MGM Grand
This is a chance to see possibly the most famous magician of all time in action. Forbes called him the most commercially successful magician in history, and his television specials have won 21 Emmy Awards. He has performed incredible effects, such as walking through the Great Wall of China, making the Statue of Liberty disappear and flying. He combines amazing illusions with a great understanding of drama, artistry and movement, and his shows really are something special.
Vegas Wonderground at The Olive
The Vegas Wonderground is home to world-famous magician Jeff McBride, as well as other top magicians and variety performers. The show takes place on the third Thursday of every month and is streamed live on the internet.
Criss Angel at Luxor Hotel & Casino
Criss Angel has teamed up with Cirque du Soleil in the show Believe. Criss Angel is the most-watched magician in history, with over 200 million views on YouTube alone. Unfortunately, the show is a little disappointing and doesn’t live up to his reputation, nor that of Cirque du Soleil. There are some good illusions, but they lack variety and become quite repetitive. The overall structure is disjointed, plus the language is a little blue considering that it’s a family show.
If you feel inspired to learn some magic tricks, there are plenty of magic shops in Las Vegas. I recommend a trip to the Las Vegas Magic Shop in the Stratosphere Casino, Hotel & Tower. They sell lots of great tricks, and the people behind the counter are very entertaining and always happy to show you some magic.
In many of the venues in Las Vegas, you will find a Houdini’s Magic Shop. These are also great places to see and buy magic tricks.