By Jacoby Bancroft

A magic show’s main goals are usually to simply entertain and leave the audience stumped by a series of dazzling illusions, but magician Dirk Arthur aims to take it one step further.

Through his act, “Wild Magic,” Arthur works to promote awareness about the dangers certain felines face in the wild, while also stressing the importance of habitat preservation. His show, currently running at Harrah’s, gives audiences the chance to witness some of the animal kingdom’s mightiest wildcats take part in a wide array of illusions and tricks.

The entertainer does not redefine the field of magic with any game-changing illusions, but rather he uses the animals to put a unique spin on some of today’s most well-known magic tricks. To watch a person suddenly appear inside a glass box has been done ad nauseam, but to see a Bengal tiger suddenly materialize out of nowhere gives the show a creative edge over other magic acts.

His act also showcases a very diverse group of big cats, which includes a young lion cub, a black panther and an incredibly rare snow leopard.

Although the felines are the big draw, his act also includes plenty of ducks, chickens and doves. These smaller animals pale in comparison to the large cats, but still help elevate certain illusions to something quite enjoyable.

The show only runs for about an hour, but Arthur fills the time with an abundance of lights, fog and dancers that turn his magic show into a full-fledged entertainment experience. Between the scantily clad women pretending to be spies and the stagehand suddenly appearing out of a box to dance to Usher, the show was filled with exciting moments that stretched beyond just a magic act.

In between his grand illusions, Arthur took the time to perform smaller, low-key tricks, which included tearing a newspaper to shreds only to have it magically come together again or pulling up an audience member to help perform a card trick. During his performance, Arthur interacted heavily with the audience, and his charisma helped move the show along in between a few lackluster illusions. Besides the wildcat appearances, the best parts of the show were when Arthur was down in the crowd, scouring the audience for volunteers or attempting to rile up an enthusiastic response when energy seemed low.

Though the show was fun to watch, it might be a challenge for everyone to see it. General seating is $42.70 and VIP seats are $52.70, which might not sound appealing for some college students, especially when the show only lasts an hour. That being said, the chance to see the wild cats definitely makes it a worthwhile buy.

Today, it is hard to come up with new illusions that have not been seen before. Almost every trick is a variation of another, and anyone with a smartphone can discover the secret of how it is done almost instantly. To make up for that, a great magician needs to have a large amount of stage presence in order to make the show fun and enjoyable, which is something Arthur excels at. His passion and enthusiasm are apparent in every aspect of his show.

Although the price of admission might deter those on a budget, the beautiful, magnificent animals, coupled with Arthur’s charming personality, carry the show’s otherwise unimaginative illusions.

Jacoby Bancroft can be reached at thersko@sagebrush.unr.edu.