Review: `Siegfried and Roy Present Darren Romeo: The Voice of Magic

Jun 11

NOW CLOSING JUNE 29

Musical theater turns magical – somewhat
«« ½ Flash, bang, wallop

Darren Romeo is many things over the course of his 90-minute magic and music show with the cumbersome title.

He’s a magician, as promised, and a singer, as promised. He’s also, as the title reminds us, the protégé of master Vegas magicians Siegfried and Roy. But Romeo is also a magic enthusiast eager to share his hobby, a musical theater aspirant who wants to move people with the sound of his voice and an old-school Vegas entertainer with a lust for flash over substance.

That’s a lot to pack into a small frame, but Romeo does it. He’s also a young man – I’d guess around 30 – so he has the need to make it all fresh while paying homage to all the magicians (and boy have there been a lot of them) to come before him. Being classic and new is a tricky maneuver and one Romeo is still working his way through in The Voice of Magic at the Post Street Theatre.

There’s still a lot of Vegas cheese in the show and a few Branson, Mo., clunkers left to smooth out. But Romeo has his charms, nowhere more apparent than when all the set pieces and flashing lights and overstrained songs are set aside and he goes one-on-one with a kid from the audience. On Tuesday night, that kid was 10-year-old Ashley, a charmer in her own right. She and Romeo sat at the edge of the stage, in front of the curtain, and Romeo did a simple but impressive (and slightly icky – in a good kid way) card trick. The number was meant to recall Romeo’s Long Island youth as a kids’ party entertainer and to show us how far he’s come. But Romeo would be wise to build a little more of that human element into his show.

Just as Romeo is attempting to be many things as a young, singing magician, so too is his show attempting to be spectacular and intimate, romantic and funny, impressive and silly. It doesn’t all work, but Romeo has the energy to keep it all together. He builds nice rapport with the audience, even if his fake giggle grates from time to time, and when he’s more natural and less “on” he’s quite appealing.

Romeo seemed to have a case of opening-night nerves on Tuesday and probably wasn’t as slick as on other nights when his mentors aren’t sitting in the orchestra (Siegfried and Roy, who is still recovering from a near-death encounter with one of their famous white tigers, received a standing ovation from the crowd). Some of the tricks and entrances were a little rough and revealed maybe more than the magician would have liked.

And he seemed to be suffering some vocal troubles that plagued certain numbers. But Romeo is enough of a pro that he pulled it all off with panache.

I can neither sing nor do magic tricks, let alone do both at the same time, so Romeo is well ahead of me in both departments. What he’s doing on stage is much harder than he makes it look, and some of it is beguiling. He serenades an audience member while singing Billy Joel’s sweetly sad “And So It Goes” while making a paper rose then, in a fiery flash, turning it into a real rose. He changes places in a flash several times with his leading lady, Kristy Michelsen, who also does some tricks and sings some songs of her own.

And then there’s the bit with the animal puppets on sticks and the furry little wormy things that dance and talk following “Talk to the Animals.” Cheesy. And so’s the “sawed in half” number, when it’s clear Romeo is wearing something bulky apparatus under his black T-shirt (the same Darren Romeo T-shirt available for sale in the lobby). “Gethsemane,” from Jesus Christ Superstar, is probably better when Romeo’s voice is stronger, though the Roman centurion contraptions worn by the dancers (Mariko Takahashi and Terrin Kelly) looks like a leftover from Siegfried and Roy’s show at the Mirage, and the finale of that number, when Romeo levitates, is awkwardly Christ-like.

He sings show tunes from Barnum, The Fantasticks, My Fair Lady and Kiss of the Spider Woman and even throws in a Melissa Etheridge tune and some originals. Somehow it all seems a little retro with the sparkly curtains and overly-flashy lights. When Romeo goes acoustic as it were, when it’s really just music and magic and a whole lot less flash, that will be something to see. If he really wants to take the show out of Vegas and the Vegas out of the show, there’s still some work to be done.

Siegfried and Roy present Darren Romeo: The Voice of Magic is at the Post Street Theatre, 450 Post St., San Francisco through JUNE 29 (earlier than previously announced). Tickets are $45-$65. Call 415-771-6900 or visit www.poststreettheatre.com. Darren Romeo’s Web site is www.darrenromeo.com.

15 comments

  1. mugician /

    this was one of the most bizarre and hilarious and heartbreaking things i’ve ever seen performed on a stage – ever. there are no words. i must congratulate you for having the ability to actually review it. wow. unbelievable.

  2. Colman Domino /

    Imagine a man who does a show in which he sings and does magic and neither very well and you are left staring into the mind of a madman. Darren Romeo is a man who claims, against all conceivable odds, that he’s straight and to prove it has scantily clad women continually torture him in one depraved s/m scenario after another. He is a man who laughs at his own jokes with the maniacal fortitude of a cartoon villain because he is hiding some insane secret at which we we can only guess. He is a man who performed a levitating trick on a mini-forklift as Jesus Christ while similacrum puppets of what can only be described as slutty female centurions waved like an awkward 7th grade chorus doing “I Will Survive” on his flanks, and you have an evening which will shake your frame with derisive laughter that you will last you a liftetime. This show should be studied as one of the most important pieces of self-parodying, non-ironic theatre in Western culture.

  3. Jim Mosley /

    We find the show quite enjoyable. It’s original, light hearted and fun. It’s clearly is not trying to be more than entertainment with some warm fuzzy moments. I find the attempts to disect the show as you would a theatrical masterpiece more of a shame for the commenter and reviewers than for the show itself. Romeo is an original as I cannot compare him to any other performer, if anyone knows of someone who sings while performing magical feats please speak up. While I find the review accurate I’d like to add that my kids absolutely love him.

  4. Katelyn24 /

    Who ever was the second to comment on here, GET A LIFE! so, what IF Darren’s gay? He is straight. Someones sexuality does not define their essences. I swear if i ever hear another ignorant person, say Darren or anyone else is gay, they will be sorry they even said it. If u dont like other people sarting rumors about ur sexuality, DONT DO IT TO OTHER PEOPLE. We dont give a flying heck if u dont like him. Darren is one of the most amazingist guys I have ever met in my life. He is living his dream. Now, back off. I dont care if u say im gay. Im 10000000% straight. I’m really sick n’ tired of people who say things like that about other people. Check ur facts.

  5. Stephen O'Hara /

    While Darren didn’t realize my presence, I left him to enjoy his show. I’m astonished at some of the literally sick comments made across the blogs toward Darren and the show. Why the personal attacks? In a town like SFO, why is there even question as to sexuality? What has happened in this country where entertainment must be sexual, political or blood and guts to be entertainment? It remains interesting to me that all the blood and guts movies combined typically won’t bring in the same box office as Family Entertainment. Clearly, to deliver the show that Darren delivers speaks to the grounding and wonderful family in which Darren himself was blessed enough to have been raised. Is it any wonder our country has the challanges it has? Go get ‘em Darren!

  6. Stephen O'Hara /

    While Darren didn’t realize my presence, I left him to enjoy his show. I’m astonished at some of the literally sick comments made across the blogs toward Darren and the show. Why the personal attacks? In a town like SFO, why is there even question as to sexuality? What has happened in this country where entertainment must be sexual, political or blood and guts to be entertainment? It remains interesting to me that all the blood and guts movies combined typically won’t bring in the same box office as Family Entertainment. Clearly, to deliver the show that Darren delivers speaks to the grounding and wonderful family in which Darren himself was blessed enough to have been raised.

  7. Deborah /

    I loved the show. I thought Darren was charming. His boyish enthusiasm and obvious love for what he is doing shines through as does his respect for Siegfried and Roy and all the others who have helped him along the way. Straight/Gay – who cares? He is adorable.

  8. Kenny /

    I saw this show as well and absolutely loved it. Although some points of this review may be true, who cares??? The audience loved the show and gave Darren a standing ovation. Everyone I walked out of the theater said wonderful things about Darren’s onstage personality (he had the audience in the palm of his hand from the beginning) and they loved the magic and way he interacted with the audience throughout the show. When I heard about this show, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’m not necessarily a magic fan and I’d never heard of Darren Romeo, but we went anyway, mostly out of curiosity. This was indeed a great show performed by someone who truly has a passion for what he does. I’ll be bringing some friends back to see it again next week.

  9. I caught Darren Romeo’s show the last preview before official opening.
    He’ll be in San Francisco for a bit over a month.
    Great to see a full-out Illusion Show in a fairly intimate space!

    He’s personable, energetic, and charming,
    He has some first-rate props (some from the Siegfried & Roy collection).

    I hear he’s been tweaking the show, adding this, removing that,
    and his decision to use the Blackstone Floating Bulb as his finale,
    is theatrically sound.

    What I enjoyed a lot was his audience interactions,
    he’s kind to his spectator-assistants, and does not insult the crowd.
    He comes down into the audiences, select his person,
    then guides them carefully to and from the stage,
    in a gentlemanly and caring manner.

    The “hook” of his being a pop/broadway singer AND a magician,
    pretty much totally works live and in person,
    he has a strong and pleasing voice,
    and does some strong and pleasing magic,
    and they blend together more successfully than one might imagine.

    If you want to see some flash and magic,
    and want to hear some good tunes well sung,
    try to catch this run.
    Siegfried was in the audience, to coach and give feedback no doubt,
    and the evening went smoothly and quickly.

    It seemed half the magic-community showed up last night too,
    the good, the bad, the ugly ,and the beautiful, all in one room.

    Magically,
    Walt

    Spellbinder Entertainment
    “spinning tales and weaving enchantment”

    “People need stories more than bread itself…
    they tell us how to live… and why.”
    1001 Arabian Nights-

  10. Carole /

    I was at Darren Romeo’s opening night on June 10. And obviously, some people who posted here just didn’t get it! I personally really enjoyed the show. Romeo is a magician, a singer, an actor who can bring you in Broadway universe. He is offering a unique blend of arts. That show is something different for a city that might think it have seen it all… you haven’t seen it all if you haven’t see that show. And, according to the crowd reactions to the illusions and the music (you know… the AWWWW!!! , the clapping…) and to the standing ovation the performer got at the end of the show, well… I would say many people on the theatre liked it!

  11. We caught the show just two nights before it closed. There were only 125 persons in the 700 seat theatre and the audience were not responding to this young man. He actually had to beg persons to come up on the stage. One elderly woman from Australia seemed very confused as Darren was singing to her. He grabed a 10 year kid to come up and watch him do card tricks. The poor kid just wanted to get off the stage in a hurry. He came off the stage to look at my notes while I was reviewing him. (I am in the back of the theatre far enough way so he can’t see me taking notes) He then gave me a “hip shove” to my left shoulder. I guess that was suppose to be cute.

    During the performance he told his small audience he would be out in the lobby. He sent his girls out but he did not appear. I think he was pissed off with the small crowd and he was being cancelled in two days.

  12. Richard /

    I thought the show was great! He was charming, entertaining, and the show itself was different and fun! Show-biz is a hard business and I believe he’s doing a great job. I’m not the biggest fan of magic, but Darren made it fun and enjoyable and had a fresh new spin on it. Yes you could see the Vegas in the show but HELLO….his mentors are SIEGFRIED & ROY!! Vegas Royalty!! He’s mixing Vegas, Broadway, and Theater all in one show…Mad props and kudos to Darren. Go get ‘em. I’m a fan now.

  13. The prologue peeparrs us well because it vaguely outlines the plot of the play, so the audeince is easily able to follow the rest of the play, but the prologue doesn’t include all the details so it leaves the audience wanting to watch more and see how events unfold. I only really remember the prologue so I can’t help you with the other sections, sorry. But I’m sure if you search online you’ll find something. There’s lots of info about Romeo and Juliet on the web. Good luck!

  14. He is such a talent I have seen him in Las Vegas performing and in Branson. Darren has a great voice and fantastic illusions, if you get a chance be sure and see him in person, great entertainment for the whole family.

  15. Saw Darren in Pigeon forge,TN in opry theatre he was wonderful loved his show and voice Loved his love of what he was doing and connection with audience dont think he needed all the girls or his assistant singing the show is him and should stay just Darren Romeo

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