Have you recently seen the Penn & Teller show at the Rio Las Vegas? If not, I urge you to give the twosome a new look. The show has been updated and is great fun.
I recently gave blood and the reward for giving (during the holiday season) was a voucher for two tickets to Penn & Teller. Teller (the short fella) returned to the show a week earlier after recovering from recent back surgery, and Penn (the tall guy) announced that the twosome had devised a whole new show, and to me the show seemed very new.
I have seen Penn & Teller before and all I can really remember from those shows was Teller standing way away from Penn and somehow catching a flying bullet in his teeth.
That trick was not in last week’s show. In fact, I saw a number of tricks that seemed new and were as interesting (and confounding) as ever.
Penn & Teller’s evening begins with an entertaining pre-show piano concert (I do remember that) from their long-time friend and collaborator Mike Jones (Penn sometimes accompanies Jones on on the electronic bass.) Jones also invites audience members on stage to examine a bin full of ping-pong balls. (I think I remember that, too.) The music is grand and the folks coming up to take selfies are fun to watch.
The audience last Tuesday night filled the downstairs seats, but not the back area and balcony which means we all had great seats. (Ours were particularly great — seventh row, aisle.) We were seated next to two gentlemen from Tennessee, one a doctor and the other his physician’s assistant. (The doctor’s wife didn’t want to join her husband on the short “free” trip.)
So the show begins with Penn doing all the talking. He seemed a bit hoarse and had gained just a bit of weight from his skinniest and looked great. Teller is just so cute that we can’t help but love the silent 71-year-old who doesn’t look a whit different than he did years ago. The tricks proceed often involving audience members, a couple of whom were fooled while the rest of us in the audience knew exactly what was happening. Lots of laughs and gasps. Teller had one of the most amazing tricks which he performs solo. I’m still wondering how that trick was done.
I’m not going to recount the tricks except to say that February (a slow month for tourists) may be a good time to see Penn & Teller. Lots of good seats were available on a Tuesday night.
The final trick of the evening invites a bunch of audience members to the stage to watch a live animal magically disappear. The doctor from our row was one of the chosen audience members. When the doctor returned to his seat, he said, even though he was not 10 feet from the animal, he had no idea how the trick was done. He said heard a bit of bustling behind a curtain, but saw nothing that would indicate how the animal vanished. And he’s a doctor!
Penn and Teller have been together 45 years and their history is recorded in a special display in the hallway leading to their theater. After the show, both magicians come out and pose for free photos (mostly selfies) with their fans. Social media then advertises their show world-wide. Penn & Teller currently appear five nights a week (Saturday through Wednesday) at 9 p.m. They have been headliners at the Rio since 2001.