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Believe opened to the worst critical reviews any Cirque production has endured (this was typical) and initial audience response was no better. As a result it was retooled, dropping the original storyline linking the tricks together and from there most of Cirque's conceptual contributions. Criss was signed on to perform at the Luxor for ten years, and the show has been better received since the Retool.
To make the trope examples short and sweet, they are divided between the original version of the show and the Retool.
The original show (2008-10) had examples of:
- All Just a Dream / Dream Land: The show started as Criss performing a Mindfreak-styled revue until a trick with a Tesla coil went horribly wrong, plunging him into a gothic dream world. There was even a But You Were There and You and You moment at the end (besides the Ushers, Crimson was the counterpart of a camerawoman in the "real" world).
- Bloodier and Gorier: For Cirque; this review of the original take called it "the most death-obsessed show to emerge from Sin City since CSI".
- Costume Porn
- Creepy Doll: Creepy, life-sized, cracked porcelain lady dolls, a trio of whom Criss encountered.
- Hair-Raising Hare: Many, many rabbits (mostly dancers) who provided the show's big visual motif. They were dropped in retooling due in part to complaints that they got too much stage time.
- Pull a Rabbit Out of My Hat: The ubiquity of this trick was the basis for the dance "Homage to the Rabbits" (specifically, those that didn't survive it).
- Take That, Critics!: When notorious celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton attended in April 2009, he sent Twitter messages to his followers during the performance to tell them how bad it was. Criss found out about this by the time the show was over, and during the curtain call pointed and profanely chewed him out in front of everyone. In the end, it was Criss who bore the brunt of media criticism for childish, unprofessional behavior, especially since he never apologized for it (though Cirque management would).
The current version still has, or has added, examples of:
- Audience Participation: Among other things, one of the tricks is the old magic standby in which the magician asks audience members simple questions (name, hometown, etc.) and the answers appear on a large piece of paper that's in a locked box, itself hanging above the stage long before the show starts.
- Fairytale Wedding Dress: For Kayala in the "Wedding" act. The train is so big that it covers the back wall of the stage, and from there Criss walks down it.
- Never Trust a Trailer: The original trailer wasn't replaced with a new one until December 2010, even though the bulk of what was in the ad (dancers, Costume Porn, etc.) was dropped from the show long before then.
- Plucky Comic Relief / Sidekick: The four ushers who serve as Criss's assistants.
- Saw a Woman In Half: An elaborate take on this trick is the show's climax. (Originally, it was Criss cut in half.)
- Something Completely Different: For Cirque du Soleil.
- Woman in White: Kayala, an idealized "dream girl" who's one of the assistants, though her white ballgown only appears in the curtain call now.
- X Meets Y: Cirque du Soleil meeting Criss Angel; generally, contemporary circus meets magic show.