Tag Archives: mike weatherford

Magicians labor in shadow of big names, but they’re tenacious..

By Mike Weatherford for the Las Vegas Review-Journal

“Welcome to my new stage,” Jan Rouven says. Then, as he steps down from it to a folding chair that serves as the halfway point to the floor, “It’s not a step, it’s a leap.”

Nice one. But it’s not even the best metaphor of the conversation.

I’ve come to talk to Rouven about his step/leap to the Tropicana. The new show opens Friday at a relaunched property with promise so far unfulfilled. It also puts him on the same intersection with David Copperfield and Criss Angel, two more famous magicians with bigger marketing budgets.

To make things even more interesting, Rouven’s old room at the Rivera has been taken over by Dirk Arthur, who opens there Dec. 1. Arthur is calling his show “Wild Illusions,” while Rouven’s is still called “Illusions.”

Arthur is “a clever marketing guy, obviously,” Rouven says.

“Don’t be nice,” chastises his manager and show producer, Frank Alfter. Then he adds, “Everything is good, but they could have avoided this one. It’s confusing for the customer.”

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Murray moves, Mac King extends contract for magic afternoons…

Fans of comedy magic won’t have to worry about either Mac King going anywhere or having an afternoon alternative in Murray SawChuck.

King has signed a four-year contract extension at Harrah’s Las Vegas that will take his long-running show to 19 years at the hotel.

Murray (who is billed by his first name) is moving into the Sin City Theatre at Planet Hollywood Resort, with afternoon shows starting Dec. 20 that will compete almost directly with King’s. Murray’s showtimes will be 2 and 4 p.m., while King’s are 1 and 3 p.m.

Both magicians will be at Caesars Entertainment properties, but the corporation has never been too assertive as a landlord when it comes to refereeing rival shows within a genre. And, much like the arrangement he had at the Tropicana’s Laugh Factory, Murray will be a step removed from Caesars. The Sin City venue is leased from Planet Hollywood and run independently by John Padon and general manager Pete Housley.

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First magician to win ‘America’s Got Talent’ credits Las Vegas star

For nine years, Las Vegas based magicians have competed on “America’s Got Talent,” from Nathan Burton in season one to Smoothini the Ghetto Houdini this year.

But on Wednesday, it was non-Nevadan Mat Franco who became the first magician ever to win NBC’s talent contest and its $1 million prize.

Still, the city is so thick with magicians that it’s no surprise Las Vegas can claim a little piece of the 25-year-old magician’s victory.

“It’s not little at all,” Franco said by telephone from New York today. “Jeff McBride was the biggest magic influence in my life growing up,” he says of the Las Vegas-based veteran who stages the monthly event “Wonderground” in Henderson.

“It was just a complete obsession ever since I saw him on ‘The World’s Greatest Magic 2’ on NBC back in ’95,” Franco says. “He’s just a huge inspiration to me, big time.”..

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Magic’s ultimate local booster collects people and ‘toys’

Gary Darwin’s collection of magic memorabilia fills his eight-room house, surrounding and distracting him as he speaks from the sofa that is just about the last outpost of actual habitation.

I’m there to talk about him, specifically his 50 years of presiding over a weekly magic club. But Darwin’s life is so wrapped up in other magicians — and the books, posters, magazines, props and you-name-it relating to them — the conversation frequently strays to another artifact, and/or the magician who has signed one: “Norm Nielsen, you ever heard of him? He went all around the world doing the floating violin. He’s as crazy as me. He collects posters.”

But Darwin’s ultimate collection may be all the people who stopped in over the years to attend one of his weekly gatherings in countless backrooms or bars around town.

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