World of Wonder

Rick Thomas is no flash in the pan. He might be flashy and incorporate all kinds of shiny things in his “grand illusions,” but Thomas is a polished performer with so much more than a little magic up his sleeves.
His show is an innovative, magical theatrical futuristic-steampunkish spectacle combining creativity, drama, comedy, and dance, with the forever, reoccurring theme, “nothing happens until you dream.”
Thomas was one of the few leading the charge when he first came on the scene more than 20 years ago. His illusions came from the visions in his own head, his strongest desire was to bring those visions to life. He didn’t follow others, or borrow from textbooks or predecessors performing the same old, same old tricks. He followed his heart and his own dreams.
He certainly wasn’t about simply “fooling” people either — he took them on a journey of wonder and awe through his own world of magic instead.
His fresh approach to illusion made him one of the top magicians in the world; his shows were “must sees” in Las Vegas, where he performed on The Strip for more than 15 years.
The veteran showman always has been about creating his own effects, and working to find ways to make them even better. He’s constantly thinking outside the traditional box and finding his own way in the world of magic because Thomas likes being different. It is a philosophy that has served him well his entire career.
While times change and the entertainment climate in Vegas also changed, Rick Thomas continues his journey, indulging his creativity and innovation even more, taking his show on the road and around the world to the people, while also finding a new home in Branson, Missouri, at the Andy Williams Performing Arts Center. He returns, yet again, to Harrah’s Laughlin’s Fiesta Showroom for a series of shows Wednesday-Sunday, Feb. 5-16 (8 p.m. NV time).
“We’re going to rock Laughlin again,” Thomas told the Laughlin entertainer. “The moment our show ends, Harrah’s is there asking us, ‘are you coming back,’ so we’re back by Harrah’s demand.”
Thomas’ career honors include Magician of the Year by the Academy of Magical Arts and magic’s highest recognition, Illusionist of the World by the World Magic Awards. He has been featured on numerous national television specials including the NBC series “The World’s Greatest Magic,” “Masters of Illusion” on CW, as well as on MTV, FOX, TLC, Animal Planet and the History Channel. He also had his own special on ABC.
Thomas cites Liberace and Freddy Mercury of Queen as a couple of influences when putting together his act because what Thomas saw in the pianist and singer was magic of a different kind. It was the magic of entertaining and mesmerizing a crowd through style and technique. Thomas’ over-the-top illusions are innovative, slick creations of his own design, making him one of those guys other magicians regularly “borrow” from and emulate.
“I have a residency in Branson where I perform my show ‘Mansion of Dreams,'” he said. “I’m bringing a few very special pieces from that show to Laughlin so the show will rock. It is ever-changing and I’m continuing to present the finest theatrical magical production in the industry and it’s right here in Harrah’s Laughlin.
“It’s mind-blowing grand illusions, stunning dancing and hilarious comedy and it’s all part of this great show for your entire family,” he added.
“What’s so strange is you have a motorcycle, a helicopter, and every grand illusion on the one stage, but what sets the show apart is my presentation and personality,” he said. “There are crazy effects people will witness in this show, but some of the memorable moments are quite beautiful.
“There is a piece in the show I call Liquid Glass,” he said. “I talk about people’s dreams and how I’ve always been fascinated by glass — that it’s not only solid, it can become a liquid. I demonstrate that people can pass through glass as a liquid and the way it is presented it is a piece not soon forgotten, it’s an awesome thing to see. It’s beautiful, it rich and is indicative of the whole show.
“No doubt, the show will make you laugh, it will make you cry, and you will be moved by the production. People will feel it in their bones — not so much with the question of ‘how’d he do that?’ Anybody can do a trick, but few can perform magic,” he said.
Thomas is one of those few. He lives by example, showing the world how to follow their dreams by living his own.
One of the show highlights is magic of a different sort, the relationship between a husband and a wife.
“This particular segment demonstrates the show isn’t all about Rick Thomas, but everybody in the room. They’re important and they have lives and stories to share. I give a husband and wife an opportunity to share their story — how they met, their first kiss and it’s charming to listen to a couple bicker about the answers. It’s so funny,” he said. “The hardest thing for me to do is to go to a party with my wife and share a story with anybody. She will stand there and correct everything wrong with my story. I take that situation, have a couple share the story between them and it turns out to be one of the most unique parts of the show and it’s very funny.”
Thomas promises audiences a show that is unlike anything they’ve ever seen, because the most important part of the night is building an honest relationship with them.
“I don’t like magic shows, I’m doing something far beyond magic and someone trying to fool you,” he said. “The relationship between me and the audience is a special relationship. I want people to walk out saying, ‘I’ve never seen a magic show like this.’ That’s what we want and things seem to be going in the right direction.
“I know how to take the top hat off and leave it on stage,” he added. “I was born an illusionist. You don’t just become one. I consider myself a live artist of illusion and fantasy. I first started as a contract magician for Disneyland Hotel when I was very young and I was there for two years. I progressed and performed across the world and what I know and when I’m on stage, everything you see, I truly believe and I’m part of it. I’m amazed as much as you, the audience is. The truth is being told and I’m proud of that.
“The thing is, this isn’t a small show, but a big show,” he said “I bring in absolutely everything I can fit on that stage. I promised a show people will never forget. ”
That is a promise Thomas delivers on time and time again. So instead of trying to figure out how things are done, just sit back and enjoy the ride. It might get a little bumpy.


RICK THOMAS

Fiesta Showroom at harrah’s

Wednesday-Sunday, Feb. 5-16 (8 p.m.)

See “Showtimes” for ticket info