Breaking free: Five neato things about the Stratosphere’s ‘Spy Escape & Evasion’

Hanson, right, shows how it’s done during Spy Escape & Evasion.
TG Miller

A few months ago, the Stratosphere debuted Spy Escape & Evasion, a 75-minute show that doesn’t feature makeup-caked acrobats or topless models reenacting a Robert Palmer video. Rather, it teaches you real-life skills to better protect yourself. What was once a seminar offered by former CIA officer (and now show host) Jason Hanson has now become the most unique production in Las Vegas. Here’s why.

1. This is actually in a Vegas casino showroom. Shows on or near the Strip aim to help audiences run away from the real world, but Spy Escape actually makes you confront it by teaching you how to remove various shackles and defend yourself from perpetrators with as little as a tactical pen. Here, escape does not mean escapade—it means survival.

2. It’s the most relevant show on the Boulevard. Watching people break free from duct tape might seem like survivalist burlesque. But with violent crime and identity theft on the uptick, the strategies Hanson demonstrates carry value.

3. It’s actually entertaining. Hanson only cracks one scripted joke, but his magnetism (and humor) surfaces when he ad-libs with onstage volunteers and answers personal questions from eager audience members. What Spy Escape lacks in Vegas glitz, it makes up for in charm.

4. You can take your kids. And they’re the first to raise their hands to get bound up and break free. Another way to look at Spy Escape: It’s like a magic show, but the tricks are explained.

5. Best merch booth ever. You can buy the very gadgets and tools Hanson uses onstage. Who needs a show program when you can buy a survival guide? And for the price of two Britney Spears tank tops, you can get three of those tactical pens. I wouldn’t be caught dead with either. March 9-11, 5 p.m., $37-$63, Stratosphere.

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