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Criss Angel




Tesla Coil
Dolls & Doves
De Kolta Chair
Dance Off
In Two




Costumes & Characters

Criss Angel BELIEVE is a journey into the improbable, a voyage into the unconscious of an ingenious master of illusion who moves back and forth between the real world and a surreal, dreamlike parallel universe that is the product of his own twisted imagination, Criss Angel plays the part of a mysterious dark prince endowed with magical powers. In his waking dream, he sees extraordinary characters and creatures such as the dazzling Kayala, the fiendish Crimson, four frayed ushers - the guardians of an old imaginary baroque theater - and a chorus of characters appearing as rabbits, cockroaches, and crows. Imagine a fantasy, an allegory, a highly theatrical tableau of mood, reverie and emotion set against a backdrop of dreamlike darkness and light. The complex, multidimensional costumes of Criss Angel Believe contribute to much more than the show's look; some are not quite what they appear, as their design or materials turn them into veritable magic props.

Costume Design

    "Fabric is between the flesh and the soul. This is where I love to slide."
    — Mérédith Caron, Costume Designer

The show explores the theme of desire and seduction, this is reflected in the choice of intense colors and attention to detail in costume making and design. Mérédith Caron’s designs had to be complex and multidimensional because so many of the costumes contribute more to the show than simply a look. Without giving away any of the illusionist’s secrets, many aspects of the costumes include features and choices of materials that put them into a category that is somewhere between costumes and props. Individual garments, rags and bits of fabric may be integral to the illusionist’s performance, whether Criss Angel is wearing them or another performer is contributing to the astonishing happenings on stage.

The overall look of the show is rich and imbued with a patina of Victorian atmosphere overlaid with a dream-like surrealism that the show’s director Serge Denoncourt has dubbed “Weirdtorian.” The costumes play a major role in creating the look, and are designed to mesh with the set designs, the masks and puppets, the lighting and so on. This is achieved through fabric choice, colors and cut. To this end, leather, garnished gold, and jewels are used to full effect, while pleated and stiffened fabrics undulate like waves. Other materials include linen, whose fibers preserve the memory of the wearer's shape and gestures, as well as cotton netting, crushed velvet, jute and help. For the dancers, stretchable tweed is used for freedom of movement, while crinyl creates volume. The cut of the coats – especially the men’s coats – is long and sweeping with deep vents that are reminiscent of Victorian topcoats, but Mérédith Caron is at pains to state that she has no interest in recreating precise replicas of 19th century costumes. These are interpretations that use the Victorian era as a jumping-off point for entirely modern designs.

Mérédith points out that the “Weirdtorian” costumes contain references to the worlds of Charles Dickens and Tim Burton, and therefore convey a sense of darkness in all senses of the word – and the best fabric for that is velvet. However the velvets she has used are by no means off-the-shelf fabrics. Some are printed, others have three-dimensional Paisley-like designs that reflect two surfaces very differently depending on how the light strikes them. “There are a lot of black fabrics in the costumes and that is unprecedented for Cirque,” says Mérédith. “But they are a living black.”

Desire and seduction are integral to the show’s themes and many of the more striking costumes evoke this through intense colors and richness of detail. When Mérédith first met Criss Angel she studied the contents of his own wardrobe and decided – as a first step – to build on that by magnifying certain aspects of his existing personal look and blending them with the visual direction of the show. When he saw the finished costumes for the first time, Criss Angel had a special request. He asked for the three letters “JDS” to be embroidered in the collar of his coats. They are far too small and subtle to ever be seen by the audience, but they mean a great deal to Criss because they are his beloved late father’s initials.

Puppets, Masks & Props

    "Everything on the stage is charged with magic. So given that we are doing a magic show, we knew that everything, starting with the classic magic show elements: the hat, the chair, the stool, and so on, would be under constant scrutiny." — Michael Curry, Props and Puppets Designer

The lines between puppets, masks, props, costumes and scenery are not always clearly defined. A mask may blend with a makeup design or a costume. A puppet may be more like a costume than a marionette or it could be big enough to be on the scale of the scenery. For example: an electronic tornado is unleashed at one point in the show that is considered part prop, part puppet, part set design – and all illusion.

  The rabbit that delivers the pre-show announcements is equipped with 11 servos: He is completely robotic and is linked to the theatre’s sound system. There are five other robotic and computer-controlled puppets. One is a huge robotic flower that delivers the aerialist playing the part of Kayala.
There are many puppets in the show, including costume hybrid devices worn by the performers, playing characters that have just come out of the coma into which Criss Angel has been plunged. Many of the puppet characters are animals, and many of them are rabbits – and they come in all shapes, sizes and personalities. Some are cute and adorable, others more threatening and evil. There are also rats, moles, birds and sinister giants that are built from human bodies – a hybrid of the performer’s body and the creature. “This gallery of phantasmagorical characters puts forward odd, quirky and avant- garde concepts that we would probably expect to see in a contemporary opera or a fantasy film festival,” says Michael Curry.

There are many masks in the show. Masks have the ability to sharpen the characters and keep them present. While they primarily help to establish character, some of them may be involved in the illusions: During one scene there are 15 versions of Kayala, all created using the masked face. Lightweight materials make it possible for the dancers to perform wearing masks that extend two feet in front of them.

Kinetics are a major feature of the set design and the props, which are integral to the illusions, blend not only with the set design but the lighting and projections too. The Birth Machine and the War Machine are two of the major contraptions: they are not static objects, they move, they spin, they roll, they catch fire, they transform, so they are regarded as somewhere between props and puppets. The chainsaw that cuts Criss in half has a real blade and has smoke billowing out of it. It is operated by a flying performer. "The sheer precision of the trick props have been a wonderful challenge."


    As a monster of nightmarish proportions, Crimson is the antagonist of the show. You'll find her often dressed in reds and blacks to symbolize her evil nature. She fights desperately for Criss' love, and when she doesn't get it... to destroy his life. Hidden behind her zippered mask, Crimson is wearing a costume made of both genuine and fake leather - particularly for the gaiters and leggings - and "Mirror of Holland" linen. The skin effect was created by two layers of flesh-colored linen covered by black netting that has been slashed and sewn back together, as though the body had been scarred. Whether born from a world of excess or someone's subconscious imagination, this disturbing character draws on northern European influences.
    A foil to Crimson, Kayala is Criss' reciprocating love. She's a wondrous beauty draped in white; born out of a large poppy, she acts as the force of good. With its praying mantis-like bodice and its black crinyl and organza train, the dress worn by the spectacular Kayala is dripping with 18th century decadence. The dress is embroidered with strips of gold and silver braid, with the whole pattern being reconstituted and remade with a three-strand braid.
The Dolls
    Inspired by models from the early Victorian period, the Dolls (Gigi, Taz and Charissa) are damaged and their porcelain heads are cracked. The Dutch tulip designs printed on the back velvet are based on 17th Century paintings and enlarged paisley patterns.
The Ushers
    Maestro, Luigi, Slim and Lars assistants to Criss, bumbling about and acting as his link between the real world and the world of Believe.
    Lucky is a white rabbit who turns up from time to time...
Other Characters
    Hyena (a rabbit gone rabid), The Paparazzi (with cameras ablaze), The Crowmen (black birds to prey on the weak), Grand Master Tronik (a grand and beastly puppet), Mole (a creature of the underworld), Zangelica (half girl, half rabbit, all legs), Dega (a young rabbiteer), Auntie B & Father Luminus.




{The Dolls}

{The Ushers}

{Other Characters}

{The Crowmen}


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