Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Exclusive: Siegfried & Roy's Canceled Third Trick

The part of the Siegfried & Roy TV special on ABC on Friday that nagged at me most was anchor Elizabeth Vargas' repeated reference to multiple animals backstage at the Bellagio on Feb. 28. Both in person and on the televised version of the brief farewell performance, audiences saw just one tiger. We were later told that tiger was Montecore, the animal that attacked Roy Horn on stage and ended his career on Oct. 3, 2003.

I mentioned this in my late Friday post about the "20/20" show and the Review-Journal's Norm Clarke also baffled over this in his Sunday column when he wrote: "Vargas and Siegfried both mentioned that the rehearsals involved "tigers," not a tiger. I had mentioned on my Web site a few hours after the event that a spy said two tigers were involved in rehearsals. Did somebody decide a two-cat act was too risky? Why?"

Now it can be told. And the truth may be far less interesting than what we imagined.

There was, indeed, a planned thir
d act, very reputable sources -- including a former S&R cast member who helped out -- tell me. And there were not just other tigers but also white lions backstage at the Bellagio. But the trick was called off on Saturday because of a mechanical problem that had nothing to do with Roy or his condition.

The original plan included three tricks. The first was the part where Siegfried emerges from the fiery cauldron, the second was when Siegfried and the white tiger switched places in glass boxes. After that part, Siegfried and Roy let out Montecore, took off their masks and soaked up the adulation of the audience.

Had all gone as planned, though, the duo was to have come down from the platform (where they stand in the photo above) and done a third trick involving the other animals. Then, at center stage closer to the audience, they would have revealed themselves and waved to the audience.

Unfortunately, the mechanical lift built into the platform where they stood after the second trick did not work during two auditions on Saturday. Rather than risk it failing during the show itself, they aborted it altogether.

See? That wasn't so bad. But, of course, S&R's folks won't talk about about it. I received a terse statement in response to an inquiry about this that reads: "There's nothing to add or comment on regarding their performance. They got to say goodbye on their terms and were overwhelmed by the response from those in the audience and the millions who watched the 20/20 Special on ABC."

Just another example, I suppose, of the mistrust bred by S&R's folks by the stonewalling and misinformation over the past five years. Is there some shame to having to cancel part of a performance? Does it sully what they actually did or their legacy? Of course not. Then why the bunker mentality? Like so much else involved in this , I guess we'll never know.

By the by, S&R proved ratings gold for ABC. The network tied for first on the 9 p.m. hour. I've asked whether the "20/20" special resulted in a surge in traffic and donations to KeepMemoryAlive.org, the web home of Cleveland Clinic Ruvo Center for Brain Health that was the beneficiary of the Bellagio fundraiser where S&R appeared. If I find out, I shall onpass.


Anonymous said...

why wont they sy what the trick was? S&R fans demand to know!!!

Anonymous said...

To the Anonymous poster above...you really aren't serious are you? Demand to know? LOL...that made my night and hopefully it was supposed to. Thanks either way.

Anonymous said...

The tiger in the show was NOT Montecore. The tiger was Jaipur, according to one of Siegfried & Roy`s animal handlers.