At a Glance
What is it?
A magic and variety show from “America’s Got Talent” veteran Nathan Burton.
Where is it?
Is it worth the cost?
It’s a little pricey for a daytime magic show but if you’re a fan of the genre, it’s probably worth it.
Why should I see this show?
Because you need something to do in the afternoon and you’ve already seen Mac King.
What else do I need to know?
There are a bunch of variety acts sprinkled into the show.
What’s the bottom line?
Not the best magic show in town but still solidly entertaining.
Magician Nathan Burton has been one of the mainstays of Strip entertainment for years now, hosting a reliably entertaining afternoon cavalcade of illusions, comedy, and other bits of random entertainment at various theaters since 2008. Although not as high-profile as Penn & Teller or David Copperfield and not as gleefully amusing as Mac King, Burton puts on a good show that is worth your attention, especially if you are looking for something to do during the day other than sit by the pool or blow more money in the slot machines.
The David Saxe Theater in the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood Resort (how’s that for a title?) is Burton’s home these days and it’s a relatively comfortable and intimate space in which to see a little magic and a little comedy. Burton’s style is more of the contraption variety, with various people and/or things appearing and/or disappearing from inside cabinets, on top of platforms, behind drapes, and the like. It’s the stuff that the Copperfields of the magic world have been doing for decades only with a lower production budget. The fact that the boxes that people pop out of are a little less sparkly doesn’t really diminish the effect, but if you’re looking for big spectacle illusions, you won’t find them here.
Burton is a genial presence and he certainly keeps the production moving, but the overall mood of the show has transitioned over the years from featuring a lot of the inspired antics that helped him make a splash on “America’s Got Talent” to being traditional. There’s nothing here that breaks new ground or is “OMG” worthy of a tweet later. Or perhaps some of things he does that used to feel fresh and inventive have been done by him and others so many times that we feel as though we’ve seen it all before.
Which is not to say that he isn’t good at it. Just because I’m jaded when it comes to Vegas magic acts doesn’t mean that those moments where he pulls up a drape and then drops it to reveal a person that wasn’t there a split-second ago aren’t still fundamentally impressive. It’s just that one of the keys of effective magic is the unexpected nature of it; making the audience gasp because they didn’t know what was coming next. Audiences have seen the drape/box/cabinet person/thing appearing/disappearing type prestidigitation done a billion times and it just isn’t surprising anymore.
Burton turns over big chunks of his show to other acts, giving it a bit of a variety show feeling. These may vary from time to time but expect close-up magic and comedy bits, like Russ Merlin’s audience participation mask routine, in which people are suckered into wearing wacky Halloween masks and basically making fools of themselves. Merlin has been doing this exact same shtick in Vegas shows forever – I swear I’ve seen it a dozen times – and while still inherently amusing, it too doesn’t break any new ground.
There will probably always be a space for traditional magic shows like Burton’s in Las Vegas and if you’re in the mood for one, his will deliver everything you are expecting, but probably not much more.