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MAT FRANCO: MAGIC REINVENTED NIGHTLY

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The Linq

3535 Las Vegas Blvd. S.

Las Vegas, NV 89109

702-777-2782

website

$30-$95

Thu-Fri, Sun-Tue 7pm

Sat 4 & 7pm

Magic

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AT A GLANCE

What is it?

A fantastic sleight-of-hand magic show from the winner of season 9 of "America's Got Talent."

Where is it?

In the remodeled theater at The Linq on the Center Strip.

Is it worth the cost?

100% yes. This is one of the best shows in Vegas.

Why should I see this show?

Because you enjoy magic that takes talent instead of hydraulics.

What else do I need to know?

If you saw him on AGT you'll recognize some of the tricks but it doesn't make them any less impressive.

What's the bottom line?

How does he do that?!

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FULL REVIEW

In the nearly two decades I have been writing about Las Vegas, I have seen approximately 752,629 magic shows. Or at least it feels like I have seen that many. A few are worthwhile - Mac King, Penn & Teller, David Copperfield if you like spectacle, Criss Angel if you like lots of spectacle plus rock music - but most are just bad. Really bad. Did anyone else see Showgirls of Magic? I still have nightmares.

So when I had to go review magic show #752,630, you can imagine why I wasn't exactly thrilled by the idea. Mat Franco changed my mind and may have changed the magic show entirely. There's a reason he calls it Magic Reinvented.

Before we get into the show, let's talk about the showroom. The theater dates back to the 1980s and used to be one of the most uncomfortable places to see a show in Las Vegas. The old-school tables, where you have to crane your neck to the side to see the action, were terrible. The good news is that a top-to-bottom overhaul of the room has turned this into a clean, modern space with comfy chairs, swank loungers, and high-top tables that actually face the stage. Very well done, The Linq.

Some of you may know Franco from his win on season 9 of "America's Got Talent" and if you do, he is just as personable, charming, and impressive live as he was on TV. He has a natural enthusiasm for the craft of magic and he does it better than just about anyone in Las Vegas by eschewing the grand "I'm going to make this plane disappear" type of stuff and instead using smaller, sleight of hand tricks that will leave you shaking your head in wonder.

By relying on talent instead of hydraulics and trap doors, Franco taps into the wonder that really good magic tricks can inspire in people. With the "whirling blades of death" type of stunts, you know there's a trick involved that is most likely mechanical in nature. It's fun to watch but it's impossible not to think that you could figure out how it's done if you puzzled on it long enough. When Franco makes cards appear out of thin air or turns a $100 bill into a $1 bill right before your eyes it's done with such elan that you almost want to believe that it actually is magical.

If you saw him on AGT, you'll recognize some of the tricks but it doesn't make them any less impressive. Leading that category is a bit where he borrows the phone from someone in the audience and then gets two more people to randomly pick cards out of a deck (in this case it was the 2 of clubs and 6 of diamonds). He has the person with the phone take a selfie with the two cards with their own phone and then makes it "disappear." A call to the phone from the audience member's husband and everyone could hear the phone ringing somewhere in the showroom. I won't spoil the rest but it's almost literally unbelievable.

Likewise his closing act story of each particular show told with randomly chosen playing cards shot from a cannon that somehow manages to tie virtually every single trick back together in a way that will bring you to your feet.

I really wish I had seen Mat Franco before I did my Top 10 Awards of the Best Shows in Las Vegas for 2015 because this would have not only been on the list but near the top of it.

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