Bankrolling a major Strip spectacular is a major financial undertaking -– not just in these uncertain economic times but any time! Meet Luxor President Felix Rappaport, who made the ultimate $100 million bet on Cirque du Soleil and Mindfreak magician Criss Angel to underwrite their new partnership -- and his 15-year-dream to bring Believe to fruition.
Now, just four days away from the glittering and glamorous first night gala, the MGM corporate executive is cool and calm about the mega-million dollar commitment he made the final “go-no-go” solo decision on. He told me: “I’ve been through this before. I understand how the creation process works -– and all that it takes to go from idea to final execution. I was at our other MGM hotels when Cirque launched Mystere and Zumanity along with their other Vegas shows. I have never met a more disciplined hard working star than Criss to ensure this works as a huge winner. I have absolute belief in Guy Laliberte and his Cirque team of creators and that they are 100 percent behind this being a total success.
“I know neither of them will rest until it is the best. The audiences will tell us what they like and want and I feel comfortable with all the progress the process has made since the first day of previews a month ago. Criss and Cirque will go on tweaking -- that’s the way it is but I can tell you it is a spectacular entrance for the audience and just as spectacular a finale for them to remember.”
Rappaport acknowledged that some people who saw the first preview showcase were unhappy about certain aspects of the show. “It’s come a mighty long way -- 10 times better -- since then. There were so many construction and permit difficulties making a new showroom specially for this show. It’s turned out to be an incredibly marvelous and beautiful theater. Once previews got underway all the additional new illusions could be worked in -– and now they are all working incredibly well in Believe. Some members of the initial audiences didn’t even notice the other cast illusions because they focused everything on Criss but now people are understanding the show they see all of its other aspects of creativity. There are over 20 magical elements in this production -– not as stand-alones but as an integral part of the storytelling -– and that’s a real first.
“Like all Cirque shows this is a tremendous evolution process but it will be the best show possible -– and it will continue evolving even five or six months after this week -- so that it will be a solid 10-year hit and beyond even that. Our faith has been borne out already with four fully sold out preview weeks. The gross was $5 million and in terms of daily sales
Believe is averaging higher or equal to all the other Cirque shows here. Cirque never leaves a show alone even when it’s up and running -- they go on always improving it for the better and the same will be true here.”
The casino resort president told me that he and Criss are expecting a full turnout of stars -- including numerous Vegas-based magicians and Strip entertainers -– for Friday’s celebrity gala on the “black carpet” and at the Halloween-themed pool party after the premiere performance. “It will be a fabulous night -– the best that show-business can be,” he promised.
Luxe Life returns with Day 3 of our countdown tomorrow -– after my backstage visit to Criss following tonight’s kickoff to the final week of previews. Luxe Life will interview Criss, Guy, director and co-writer Serge Denoncourt on Friday just hours before the curtain rises -– and we’ll have all of that incredible first night coverage with videos, photos and stories here at our new VegasDeluxe site as of 6 a.m. Saturday morning.