When you step inside the intimate Starlite Theater at the Riviera on the Las Vegas Strip, little do you know the charismatic Jan Rouven performing death-defying stunts on stage could very well be the next Siegfried and Roy.
And not only because they have the home country of Germany in common.
Rouven, who first saw the famed illusionists on stage when visiting Vegas as a 16-year-old, is noted for his creativity and charm, and his ambition to create bigger and better illusions for his show.
Tony Hassini, head of the International Magicians Society, the largest organization of its kind with 42,000 members, recently presented Rouven with the Illusionist of the Year Merlin Award, the society’s greatest honor to a practicing magician.
He said that when selecting the magician to receive the award, his organization looks for originality above all else.
“I suspect that Jan Rouven will be the next Siegfried and Roy,” said Hassini, 73 years old and a retired magician. “He has charisma, people take a liking to him. Mark my words, he will probably be the next big name in Vegas for many years to come.”
Siegfried and Roy have received the same Merlin award, as have other Vegas headliners David Copperfield and Criss Angel.
“This is a great honor,” Rouven said. “This is the organization that gave Siegfried and Roy the Magicians of the Century award that they always had on their billboard. It’s a big thing for me.”
This year, Rouven added an illusion in his show that was gifted to him by Siegfried Fischbacher. The retired magician worked with Rouven, helping him develop the duo’s “Origami” act as his own. In the act, one of Rouven’s assistants is folded up, much like the centuries-old paper art.
“It was a big honor,” Rouven said. “(“Origami”) is out of their museum and they gave it to me, so it’s a little tribute to Siegfried and Roy. People love it. They mention it often. When I ask after the show, what was your favorite act? They say, that one from Siegfried and Roy.”
For his other acts, Rouven said he is inspired by films, classic magic books — some as old as 150 years — and audience suggestions after the show when he greets them outside the theater.
“I see myself as an entertainer who uses magic to entertain,” he said. “And Celine Dion, she is an entertainer and she uses singing to entertain. That’s also an important part. It’s not just the illusions. It has to be an entertaining show. But usually, when I work on new acts, I ask people after the show, what would you like to see? And then they say something that is not possible, and then I have to come up with an illusion with a solution to solve it.”
His show includes modern music and is suitable for all ages.
“I like to show people new things they never have seen before,” Rouven said. “Magic always goes back to some classical secrets and methods, but I try everything I have presented with a new switch to it.”
Illusions starring Jan Rouven performs at 7 p.m. Saturday – Thursday at the Riviera. Tickets are priced from $54.90.