Last week, I posted an entry on some outstanding presentations of the classic “Sawing a Girl in Half” illusion. One of those magicians featured was Siegfried & Roy. You can read avery brief history on them on Wiki here.
While the Wiki briefly talks about their history, most of the article is on Roy’s tragic tiger ‘attack’ accident. Luckily, a few years ago, an IMAX film was made on their lives/ magic which, in a way, preserves their legacy as “Masters of the Impossible”. They used the word “SARMOTI” as a magic word and to descibe themselves which basically is an abbreviation for “Siegfried & Roy Masters of the Impossible”.
The IMAX film called “The Magic Box” is wonderful journey into the spectacle that was their show and also gives a dramatised look at their history. There are several parts to the entire movie and you can watch part 1 of “The Magic Box” here.
Naturally, anyone who is in magic would have heard of S & R even though the prominent parts of their career have been in Las Vegas. In fact, they are the pioneers of the Las Vegas Magic Show as we know it it (although the styles/ concepts of the Vegas shows have changed now). They personalified the glizy, flamboyant and spectacular production shows that defined the 1980s – 1990s era of Vegas entertainment.
Of course, they are most known for their use of exotic animals such as white tigers, lion and elephants in their show. No one has used large animals to the level and scale that S & R did, and probably, no one else will ever do; especially after the tiger attack.
Years ago, I remember watching their shows on TV and always remembered the spectacle of their magic. However, I never got a chance to watch them live. I passed on the chance to watch them when I was in Vegas in 1995 mainly because I was told by many people that the show was mainly production dance numbers, animals with little magic. I also had the impression (possibly by the bits I watched on TV and what other magicians told me) that their magic was very standard but made different only becaue big the animals.
Now, more than one and a half decades later, upon watching the videos, I have a new opinion. Yes, their show is a spectacle with lots of animals, costumes, sets and dancers. And, it is true there are a few standard illusions in the show. However, all their standards have the S & R twist because of the way they incorporate the animals. Just like their Interlude presentation which I shared 2 weeks ago.
As an experienced illusion designer looking at their work now, I can see just how sophisticated their illusion methodology is. The amount of illusioneering that went into their theatre is staggering and I wonder if any other illusionists will ever have that degree of creative control built into their venue.
Here are two awesome illusions, that to me, are just S & R at their finest:
The first is the most amazing and direct version of such an illusion ever staged. Remember, this is performed up close to an almost surrounded audience.
This next video showcases their personality and chemistry.
Finally, check out their farewell performance that they gave earlier this year. This is 6 years after the accident which left Roy partially paralysed and doctors did not expect him to walk again. The tiger used in this inspirational performance is the very same one that caused Roy his career-ending injury.