Does the word “magic” makes you think of your annoying uncle saying “Pick a card, any card” or pulling endless coins from your ear? Then you’ve definitely never seen a magic act in Las Vegas. Magic shows are one of the most enduringly popular types of entertainment in the city, and while they’ve been around for eons, they’ve certainly changed with the times. From comic to creepy, these are some of the best acts in the biz, and you can find them all in Las Vegas, on or near The Strip. One thing’s for sure: the art of magic is not about to disappear.
If you can only name one magician, it’s probably Copperfield. He’s as well known today as Houdini was in his lifetime, and has received more awards than any other illusionist. Forbes magazine calls him “the most commercially successful magician in history,” and with over 40 million tickets sold, that’s no exaggeration. Copperfield’s show doesn’t hold back on spectacle–this is, after all, the man who made the Statue of Liberty disappear on live TV. Copperfield’s show at the Hollywood Theater is a chance to see a living legend in action.
Big, goofy, smooth-talker Penn Jillette and his ever-silent partner Teller have become as popular for their humor as for their magic, and their show has plenty of both. While the acts features lots of sleight-of-hand tricks, expect the unexpected. Even when the eccentric duo appear to “explain” their tricks, there’s almost always a twist. Stick around after the show: Penn & Teller always come out to meet the audience and sign autographs.
If you’re familiar with Criss Angel’s television show Mindfreak, you have some idea what to expect from his stage show at the Luxor. The act is a partnership with Cirque du Soleil, though it’s more about magic than acrobatics. Angel performs forty illusions, but also adds a personal touch, taking the time in between to talk to the audience about his life and what it takes to become a magician.
Dressed in a trademark plaid suit and looking like the quintessential nerd, Mac King is a lot smarter than he looks, and he’s crafted a solid show. His afternoon performance time and sleight-of-hand schtick make his magic/comedy act one of the best bets for families with smaller children. Even better is the fact that you can often score free tickets at Harrah’s if you buy just one drink.
It would be hard to find a magic show that’s got as much Vegas sensibility as Nathan Burton’s. The America’s Got Talent alum combines illusions with comedy club elements while performing tricks like escaping from a huge microwave or making a five-foot Barbie come to life. The showgirls are pure Las Vegas: tall, pretty, and garbed in spangled and feathers. The Planet Hollywood show manages to be family friendly, yet high in entertainment value.
Jan Rouven may be the best magician you’ve never heard of, but the young German illusionist is quickly generating buzz around Vegas. His show has been labeled the most dangerous act in the city, and many of his tricks, such as the Bed of Death or the Water Tank, certainly qualify as death-defying. Rouven isn’t afraid to get uncomfortable (or wet) if it means a breathtaking audience experience.
7. Tommy Wind: Magic, Music and More
If you can’t decide what kind of show to see in Las Vegas, Tommy Wind is a good bet. His one-hour show is just what the name suggests, combining illusions, rock and roll music, dance, mental-ism, and even some martial arts. Even the magic tricks have a music theme, so it might be your only chance to see levitating guitars.
Vegas’ longest-running comedy hypnosis show is headed by Kevin Lepine, who knows exactly what you want to see from a hypnotism act: people doing crazy things. The show is decidedly for adults only, as its impossible to predict just how far the volunteers will go while under the spell. Have a good laugh at their expense, or volunteer yourself if you don’t embarrass easily.
9. Mike Hammer Comedy Magic Show
There’s never a dull second at Mike Hammer’s show, thanks to his quick wit and improvisation skills. Audience participation is a big part of the act, so it’s never exactly the same twice. The fact that he swallows razor blades might seem tough, but he’s one of the nicest guys in the biz. Don’t be surprised if he poses for pics with you after the show, or responds personally to thank you for a kind online review.
10. Murray: Celebrity Magician
You might have seen Murray on America’s Got Talent, or as the magic historian on Pawn Stars. If you want to catch him in Vegas, you won’t have to stay up late: the afternoon show is perfect for those who have evening plans or like to actually sleep at night. Don’t miss Murray’s signature illusions, which allow you to see 360 degrees around the act.
Brendon has been in the Las Vegas travel industry for the past 15 years. As a frequent traveler to sin city he maintains a respect for Americas playground.
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