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By Chuck Rounds
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Now Playing at the Westin Casuarina
Houdini Lives! is playing at the Union Plaza Hotel and Casino. Dixie Doolie portrays his skills in the art of magic and escapology in this afternoon show dedicated to the style and life of Harry Houdini. Doolie does a good job at entertaining, but has a lot of problems drawing audiences to this downtown entertainment.
As far as the magic goes, Doolie does a pretty good job at executing the illusions. Most of the tricks are pretty standard fare. We have seen most of these tricks before, but they are still entertaining. It takes a lot of skill to sell these tricks, and what really separates good magicians from great magicians is the ability to find truly interesting variations on these basic tricks. Doolie is a good magician.
Unfortunately, Doolieís assistants donít really help in adding inspiration to the presentation. The assistants donít bring any style or professionalism to the production. They come across as stagehands that were thrown into these positions. They do their jobs, but they donít bring any showmanship with them.
The best part of the afternoon were the escapes. The show is dedicated to the life of Houdini, and while Houdini was a magician, he is best known for his escapes. It is Doolieís knowledge and practice of escapology that truly makes this show interesting. I would have enjoyed seeing even more of these types of skills performed.
The show is being performed in the theatre inside the Union Plaza Hotel and Casino. This is certainly not helping the show. It is tough enough to get people to downtown Las Vegas to see a show, and the Union Plaza is part of what is wrong. It is unfortunate...it really is. When the Union Plaza first opened in the early seventies, it was a jewel in the city, but the hotel and casino has become run down--It is really showing its age. The place just hasnít been maintained, and it is pretty much time to implode the place. The show would be good for children, but I doubt that many people would want to take their kids down there. The theatre is poorly equipped. The auditorium smells. The speakers all squeak and crackle, and none of the employees seem to care.
The bottom line is that Houdini Lives! is a pretty good show. Dixie Doolie is a pretty good performer. Doolie is in desperate need of a better venue--a decent theatre in a decent location. He needs good and strong assistants that will support his act; and he needs the technical facilities that will help add a sparkle to his production. Doolie has the capabilities, but he cannot do it alone. If his production and his performance had the needed support, it could bring the panache that would make this a great show.