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Raiding the Rock Vault has seen its ups and downs at
LVH Westgate. Las Vegas Sun’s John Katsilometes has followed the saga as one of the show’s creators, Asia frontman and bassist John Payne, was given the glam rock boot this summer by fellow Raiding the Rock Vault producer Harry Cowell. Other performers have come and gone over the show’s run. Of course, many of them were only contracted for short stints, but several of the more longstanding performers have had their contracts come to early ends.
Tonight will be the last performance of Raiding the Rock Vault, according to Westgate hotel officials. If you’re unfamiliar with the show, it’s a literal rock of ages, as in it takes guests through a rock’n’roll odyssey with a sampling of hits from the various eras. All the music is performed live by musicians and singers who used to make up the likes of bands such as Bon Jovi, the aforementioned Asia, LA Guns, The Offspring, Heat, Deep Purple, Quiet Riot, and many others. You might think it’s like a pre-retirement home for washed-up rockers, but this writer didn’t find that to be true. I’ve seen the show several times and was always impressed by the level of musicianship. The odd storyline the show struggled to incorporate seemed a little cumbersome, but the music was great. I’ll probably see it again at its new home at Tropicana where it begins November 1.
Vegas on TV / Syfy / Wizard Wars / Magic / Magicians / Penn & Teller / Rio Las Vegas / → All Tags
Debuting Tuesday, August 19, the SyFy show, Wizard Wars, will be the magic equivalent of Project Runway. The reality series, featuring Vegas magicians and Rio headliners Penn & Teller, will challenge the magically inclined to "come up with magic made from things you’d never expect.” Sounds like a fun "unconventional" challenge on a certain aforementioned show, right? Well, make it work designers.. umm.. magicians.
Penn & Teller serve as celebrity judges and executive producers of the competition-style show and the show's online description sums it up neatly:
Magic / Wizard Wars / Vegas on TV / Syfy / Penn and Teller / Murray Sawchuck / Nathan Burton / Tommy Wind / → All Tags
Back in February, a war on wizards was declared. Or, at least, a show called Wizard Wars was uncovered. You can read all the details here but the Cliff Notes version is it's a Syfy Channel magic-themed reality show pitting teams of two against each other in competitions based around the same item. Think Iron Chef except the secret ingredient is magic.
Wizard Wars was originally set to premiere in March, but was pushed back to a later date. We now have a few more details, including the new airdate. First, six episodes were filmed with lots of Las Vegas connections. Penn and Teller are judges while local talent Justin Flom and Shimshi star as the wizards which, in this case, are the "Iron Chefs" of the show and will be the home-team magicians that contestants will compete against.
Last night, the Vegas bar magician was featured on NBC's America's Got Talent and blew away all four judges with his close-up sleight of hand. Howie, Mel B, Heidi Klum and Howard Stern each weighed in with a yes vote sending the self-called "Ghetto Houdini" onto the next phase of the reality competition. The former Marine tells VegasChatter he was confident that he would move on and that it was the reaction of the audience that really moved him. If you missed it, here's his appearance:
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Back in 2011, we declared him a magical must see in Vegas. Three years later, that still holds true. Smoothini the Ghetto Houdini is one of the best acts on The Strip. Unfortunately, you've probably never heard of him.
That will change in a very big way as America (ahem) is about to see just how talented (Ahem) Tomas de la Cruz is when it comes to magic. The former Marine recently auditioned for a major television competition and, let's just say, we will all need to show him our support to make sure he's got (AHEM) this.
VegasChatter Reviews / Magic Shows / Jan Rouven / Classic Vegas / Shows / Entertainment / Magic / → All Tags
Recently, we told you of our affection for the Riviera. We’ve appreciated its old-school charm and vintage-Vegas vibe enough to stay there three more times since January. Even if you prefer to stay elsewhere you should still drop in to experience one of their best offerings, Jan Rouven’s Illusions.
These days, it’s tough for aging Vegas properties to remain appealing. Shiny facelifts will only take you so far (cough...Tropicana... cough) and you can throw just so much at the wall, hoping for something to stick. Downtown’s Plaza has been the worst at that approach, with their mini-golf nightspot Swinger's Club and lingerie-themed Exposed Salon both gone and forgotten. And, that three-month-old Bier Garten has barely caused a ripple.
Magic / Wizard Wars / Vegas on TV / Syfy / Penn & Teller / David Copperfield / → All Tags
Syfy viewers might recognize a couple of familiar Las Vegas faces on the new show Wizard Wars debuting March 4. The new magic-themed reality show will pit two-person teams of magicians against each other in a unique competition. Unlike open-format TV talent shows, this one has a twist. Competitors will try to one-up each other by creating tricks based upon the same item.
Magician and Wizard Wars creator Rick Lax said some of the more unique items that tricks were created around included a human skeleton and pink footie pajamas. Lax came up with the idea based upon meet-ups he routinely had with magician friends where they would do various tricks with the same prop. He figured the process of perfecting these tricks might be just as interesting as the end result, and Syfy agreed.
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Holly Madison once called it her favorite Vegas production and now, after a three-year absence, it's about to work its magic on downtown again.
Superstars of Magic first
poofed popped up on the Downtown Vegas scene in early 2009 when it debuted at Las Vegas Club. Magician Steven Best and assistant Cassandra weren't able to mesmerize audiences for long, though; the show closed the following year.
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We're not sure if we've discovered a trend or if all magic roads are currently leading to the Vegas suburb of Summerlin. In December, we alerted you to former Strip magician Rick Thomas's return to the Vegas scene. And, he chose to stage two gigs off-Strip at the Suncoast. Right next door, at the Rampart Casino we just discovered that magician Michael Turco will be performing February 15 in the Grand Ballroom.
Turco's Magic & Mayhem show was recently an afternoon show at the Saxe Theater in Planet Hollywood's Miracle Mile Shops. A former America's Got Talent contestant, Turco left his PH spot in October. And in the unusual, but predictably musical chair world of magicians, Nathan Burton moved from the Flamingo to take his place in the Saxe Theater. Still keeping up? Nathan Burton was also a former America's Got Talent contestant.
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The Amazing Johnathan is quitting Vegas.
A long-running Vegas mainstay, Johnathan recently began a residency at Bally's. But, he's giving up after reportedly receiving no love from Caesars Entertainment when it came to letting folks know he was actually there.
Johnathan let fans know about his decision via his Facebook page early this morning:
Magic / Rick Thomas / Vegas Returns / Suncoast / Sad Vegas / → All Tags
Magician Rick Thomas is returning to Las Vegas. But, sadly, missing a long-time partner. Last month, Thomas tweeted the death of his 500-pound white Begal tiger named Samson. The tiger was a main feature of every Rick Thomas show, led into a large box and magically "shrunk." Here's some vintage video of the majestic Samson in action:
Thomas has performed at the Tropicana, Stardust and was the resident magician when the Sahara closed in 2011. Always a family friendly show, the big cats were a big attraction. He's spent the last six months on an Asian tour, but announced his return to Vegas with two performances at the Suncoast with an unexpected update: