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Jan Rouven unveils unbelievable Illusions in new show at the Riviera Las Vegas

“Everything in life is predetermined,” explains Jan Rouven as he prepares the audience for the outcome of yet another of his signature, mind-blowing illusions in “Illusions.” The new show premiered at the Riviera Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas March 1.

Although Rouven keenly demonstrates how that evening’s performance will be the crossroads of predetermination for an unsuspecting audience member chosen at random – much to the amazement of the remaining audience, he’s able to magically fill in the blanks about some past whereabouts of that individual – the recipient of the “Audience Award Monte Carlo Magic Stars” may just be experiencing predetermined events himself.

In other words, not every entertainer started a career early-on with a stint at the local theme park, although Rouven, whose first boyhood magic was the “rising card” trick, interestingly got one of his first real gigs performing magic at Fantasia Theme Park near Cologne, Germany. And while American showman Steve Martin is known more for comedy and acting, he too sold and demonstrated magic tricks as a youngster inside Disneyland at Merlin’s Magic Shop in Fantasyland. Coincidence perhaps, but Rouven has even been told he resembles a youngish, pre-gray Martin…now that’s wild and crazy!

The point is, could the American stage have telegraphed Rouven’s arrival? his predestination? After all we’re talking magic here. It’s very conceivably so, but with show segments titled “Blades of Doom,” “The Bed of Death,” “Hand Stab,” and “Water Tank Escape,” the question is not whether the Vegas stage is where he was meant to be, but rather will his life-and-death occupation keep him around to see even greater success.

There is every ounce of air-gasping suspense in the Rouven performance. For example, in The Bed of Death, the “Magician of the Year” lays supine on what appears to be a four-poster bed with canopy. A mirror is affixed to the canopy so the audience can see his reflection on the bed. Attached to the canopy are also razor sharp swords that are released from their fixed position just under the canopy using levers operated by an audience member. “Always trust you’re inner voice,” proclaims Rouven as the levers are activated thereby placing the swords in a free-fall upon him. Each time a sword drops, one hopes they don’t penetrate his flesh—audience gaps would hope the same.

And then there is the puzzle trick that sparks imagination and wonder. With a simple jigsaw puzzle board mounted on an easel so the audience can watch, Rouven shuffles and adds pieces, but the puzzle itself remains the same size. Far from the three-card monte hustle, there is no apparent sleight of hand involved. Perhaps a life lesson about adaptation?

Dancing and heart-pounding music rhythms during interludes while the stage is reset, allowing Rouven to make yet another quick-change, reinforce the upbeat tempo of the show. Lighting and fog-machine effects add intrigue, heighten mood and sharpen the expectation.

Rouven is a communicator: he speaks to his audience, engages them, describes his next feat of daring, or breaks the suspense with comic relief: taking a cue from his Doppelganger Martin, the Teutonic entertainer brings astute one-liners to the stage. For example, as he sets-up the Blades of Doom sequence, he quips, “If I’m using the wrong words, please don’t make fun of me. I came all the way from Germany.” Or during a segment where a 6 x 4 ft. physical obstruction is created on stage using cement block, he quips, “We know how to build walls in Germany.”

A first glimpse of Rouven when the curtain is lifted reveals a boyish, effervescent grin. It’s almost as if he can’t wait to unleash his surprises-in-waiting on the audience. His high energy is palpable, uncontainable: he runs, dances and climbs around the stage with the primal excitement of a youngster getting that much-wanted Houdini magic kit for Christmas. The illusions are first-rate and cause one to trigger the inner detective for answers behind the questions: so…how did he do that?

“Herzich Willkommen” to the Vegas show scene, Herr Rouven! Is it predetermination you’re here with us?

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