It's been exactly thirteen years since Luxor Hotel-Casino was infested with a stinking pile of garbage known as Criss Angel. On October 31st, 2008, the egomaniac faux-showman who swindled American taxpayers out of eleven million dollars during the pandemic (read about his disgusting feat here) unleashed BeLIEve. That notorious turd will forever be remembered as one of the worst productions to ever hit the Strip.
Pity poor Cirque du Soleil and Luxor execs, who were forced to endure Angel's diva-like behavior and poor showmanship for an entire decade. But once they took out the trash, something even worse happened....a stillborn abomination known as R.U.N. Blame Cirque for that one, a $60 million mind-numbing, ear-blasting atrocity that was mercifully buried after only four or so months. One would assume that the hazmat crews spent weeks scrubbing every bit of remaining stench from Luxor's grand showroom, but the effort was worth it. The legendary pyramid finally has a large-scale show to be proud of, and it's AMERICA'S GOT TALENT: Las Vegas Live.
The Silhouettes and Jimmie Herrod
AGT Live could easily be categorized as the "ultimate variety show". It gathers winners and high-ranking fan favorites from several seasons of the NBC talent-competition hit, a brainchild of American Idol creator Simon Cowell. Alumni of AGT have parlayed their appearances into Vegas residencies that have been wildly successful (Piff the Magic Dragon, Tape Face, Shin Lim, Mat Franco), socially tone-deaf (sleazy Terry Fator), critically disastrous (iLuminate), or quickly forgotten (Paul Zerdin: Mouthing Off).
Luxor's new production is interesting in a chicken-or-egg way. Contestants have always battled for a Vegas headlining gig. Now the series itself has spawned a Sin City residency. While most of AGT Live's acts could easily attract their own audience, being part of a superior ensemble ensures that the evening is fast-paced, packed with astonishing talent, and able to thrill fans of many entertainment genres.
LIGHT BALANCE AGT Live Vegas
The emcee is comedian Preacher Lawson, a season 12 finalist. While I found his oversize persona to be overbearing on the small screen (think series hosts Nick Cannon and Terry Crews), Lawson's spontaneity and audience interaction make him the perfect fit for Luxor's massive stage.
Electronic dance crew LIGHT BALANCE opens the show with an explosive number that surrounds the audience with dazzling colors and precision moves. They're everything that iLuminate set out to accomplish in their already-revamped STRAT show. That's followed by angelic singer Jimmie Herrod and stunning DUO TRANSCEND, the high-flying aerialists/acrobats whose inspirational journey we covered here.
DUO TRANSCEND AGT Live Vegas
Things return briefly back to Earth for a mind-bending session with The Clairvoyants, the subjects of another recent Vegas411 profile. Then it's back to death-defying chills with superb knife-throwing thrills courtesy of former CELESTIA main attraction DEADLY GAMES. Mohawked hunk Alfredo Silva provides the evening's biggest gasp with a blindfold sequence involving the world's scariest knives. He and his team are followed by a collaboration between Jimmie Herrod and the gorgeous shadow performance troupe THE SILHOUETTES.
If there's one caveat to AGT Las Vegas Live, it comes at the two-thirds mark, when guest performer Brandon Leake takes to the stage. A spoken-word artist who clearly pleases himself more than his audience, Leake brings the show to a crashing halt with a supposedly lofty pontification that makes for the perfect bathroom break. Fortunately, the talking head is slated for a limited run through December 9th. Unless you have a weak bladder, there's clearly no reason to appreciate this time-waster.
Brandon Leake or Depends undergarments...take your pick.
Fortunately, the show gets back on course once season 14 winner KODI LEE arrives. This 25-year-old blind, autistic prodigy may be the purest talent ever to have been discovered by AGT. Lee, who was seemingly born to sing and play piano, receives the greatest amount of stage time. His act is clearly the high point of an already exemplary collection of entertainers, leading to an emotional standing ovation as Lee was escorted offstage by his mother.
KODI LEE AGT Live Vegas
The final performer of the evening is Dustin Tavella, who won the most recent season of AGT. A youthful magician with an easygoing rapport and an absence of pretense, Tavella will win you over with his warm personality and style. Not necessarily a dazzler, but it's easy to see why the charismatic young man raked in the votes. Tavella was also the last person to be added to the large cast, which comes together for a musical finale.
Although AMERICA'S GOT TALENT: Las Vegas Live has only been open for two weeks, buzz has been largely positive and ticket sales are solid. Expect the show to quickly receive a lengthy extension. But you should rush to see it just the same. AGT Live is a true winner, and Luxor's first big hit in a very long time.
AMERICA'S GOT TALENT: Las Vegas Live performs Wednesday through Sunday at 7 pm and 9:30 pm at Luxor Hotel Casino. Tickets start at $49 (plus taxes/fees) and can be ordered here. VIP packages are available.